The Monkey Mind
One of the most frustrating things we experience is the rumination of our minds. Problems, stresses, conflicts and worry can take over our ability to create and move forward into something more positive. Mindfulness, or the ability to empty the mind and focus is heart and center of enjoying the moment. There are a ton of things screaming for your attention from sirens to commercials, wanting something from you all the time. These distractions do not serve us except to help us stay out of harm’s way.
The difference between monkey mind and mindfulness is living with purpose. Mindfulness brings clarity and a genuine appreciation for the person, skill, or work you are focusing on – this may also be referred to as a state of flow.
People and projects appreciate you back and reciprocate the attention. There is hardly much more off putting than someone checking their phone while you are talking or having dinner and your party is looking over your shoulder rather than actively listening and making eye contact. Improvements in life are incremental and so the steps you must take to bring presence in your life are small and meaningful.
Where to begin
Acknowledge your thoughts. Know they are there and what they are doing. Ask yourself – are my thoughts cycling and if so where do they begin and where do they go? Start to observe the behavior of your thoughts as you might observe your physical behavior in a social circumstance. Once you acknowledge the monkey in the mind, separate it out, give it a name or a job and put the monkey to work on a needed project you care about by visualizing the monkey performing the work – it might be building a shed, writing a book, cleaning your room. Minimize distractions to apply your senses in one direction.
Practice with a New Mind
To do something new is to think about something you have not done before. Shake up any routines that perpetuate a daily reinforcement of similar thinking. Go left instead of right, choose blue instead of red. Create a new circumstance that the brain needs to assimilate and create some learning around for you. Make it work for you. Joining a group activity or class to learn a new hobby or skill is a wonderful way to engage new neural connections. Try yoga, meditation or going for long walks in nature.
Creativity is perhaps the BEST way to balance the mind and enter a state of flow. Not only is the brain more receptive to learning, it invokes a contentment and even bliss in the interaction of the focus.
This is a basic way to begin to master your monkey mind. Moving forward think about incorporating your physical, mental and spiritual health as a living model and way of being. Creating new habits that serve you rather than you serve it will ensure you are the master and leader of your life.