The Monkey Mind is the part of our mind that works against us.
The Monkey Mind is the combination of thoughts and emotions that keeps us awake when we need to sleep, it is the part of the mind that says we can have ‘just one more’ drink or that we don’t need to exercise. It is the part of the mind that keeps our worries and fears in the forefront of our minds and that pops up images and emotions related to difficult memories. It is the tape that continually runs in our heads. It criticises, it complains, judges, compares, and chides.
In the 21st century, the Monkey Mind is the backdrop of our lives.
The Monkey Mind is also the part of our minds that stops us from being happy.
This is what I teach. I teach my students how to calm their Monkey Mind.
When there is a great deal of thought and emotion, the mind is like a river in flood. There are waves, noise, froth, silt and foam. We can’t see below the turmoil on the river’s surface. There are whirlpools waterfalls and rapids. The river becomes dangerous and disquieting.
When the river calms, the surface stills and the water becomes clear. We can see the bottom clearly. We can also see any obstacles that are there. We can see the rocks and holes, the old shopping trolleys, the pieces of rotting wood and rusty metal sticking up like stakes ready to impale us.
To cross the river safely, we have to clear the obstacles when the river calms. We must climb in, discover and dispose of each obstacle in turn so the bottom becomes clear and we can navigate the river bed without fear.
In the river of the mind, both the current and the obstacles are thoughts and emotions. This is what the mind is: thoughts and emotions. Thoughts can be many things: memories, an inner dialogue, images, rehearsals, mental movies more. Emotions are often sensations in the body but for some they can be the speed and nature of thought or just our unconscious and sometimes unhelpful responses.
Certain thoughts and emotions become linked together in the mind. Sometimes, a thought arises, then an emotion might follow. At other times, we might feel an emotion which then triggers the thoughts that are linked to it. I call this entanglement. Entanglement of thoughts and emotions can become incredibly complicated and difficult to remove.
Mindfulness meditation enables us to separate our thoughts and emotions.
If we can calm the mind enough, we can observe the thoughts and discover how transient and temporary they are. We can then observe our emotions arising and subsiding entirely separated from the thoughts. Eventually we can learn that thoughts and emotions are transient, temporary and unconnected. When this happens, these entangled thoughts and emotions lose the power to fill our awareness. We can then choose whether to allow the mind to continue to flow, or instead, we can connect with the sensory present moment.
By connecting to the sensory present moment in the absence of the confusing turmoil of entangled thoughts and emotions, we discover the only thing that is permanent in our lives. We discover the infinitely changing and vividly rich experience of our sensory present moment and how it can be cleansed of turmoil, become calm and peaceful to then be filled with beauty, wonder and the joy of life.
This is happiness and peace of mind. It is accessible, sustainable and available to everyone throughout our lives by engaging with the ancient practices of mindfulness meditation.