A common expression that is used in Buddhist practice, is monkey mind. This refers to the mind’s ability to jump around from thought to thought, and from story to story. Something that most everyone experiences strongly while trying to meditate. Although, with careful observance, we can see this happens in and outside of meditation.
This morning, during my meditation practice, I realized the source of monkey mind. And that is that I feed the monkeys! As a thought comes into my mind, I give each one fodder for encouragement. By offering a story to any of my thoughts, only stimulates these monkeys to run rampant in my mind. Easily taking over and leaving me somewhere short of a Ring Master at the Circus.
Part of the reason I believe this happens so readily is because monkeys, just like the ones in real life, can be very amusing and entertaining. Just think about seeing monkeys at the zoo. When they are acting wildly and jumping all over, it’s hard not to stop and be entertained.
And our minds seem to work in the very same way with these thoughts and stories that arise.
So how do we stop and eliminate these monkeys from our mind?
Well I’m not sure we ever make them completely go away. Our mind is like the jungle, the monkeys will always be there. But if you stop feeding them, they tend to stop coming around!
And by becoming aware of this, I think we can observe any thoughts that arise and be mindful. Not offering any story to attach to the thought. Just as the thought arose, it can also depart. Just allow that to happen.
And remember that our meditation time is a time to develop our mind so that we may apply this training and wisdom to every moment of our day.
Don’t fight with these monkeys, and don’t try to push them away. Be aware that they exist, and simply let them come and go. Returning to the breath, returning to the moment, coming back to the reality of the present.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.