Wondering how caffeine and calm, poured into the same coffee cup, can help you mindfully meditate? This blog offers a bit of Zen philosophy and shows how you can bring your inner nature into all of your everyday experiences -- to mindfully meditate through the ups and downs of life.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Monkey Mind

When you finally have and/or make the time to enjoy a peaceful moment all to yourself--just you and a cup of coffee--and you've decided you're going to mindfully meditate and be present in this moment of here and now, what usually happens? Your mind won't be quiet. A zillion thoughts rush and careen through your mind. All you wanted was peace and quiet, a mindful moment of silence to sip your Zen coffee. Instead, you're listening to all the chatter running through your mind. This is called a monkey mind. Not too flattering, I know, but it happens to all of us when we meditate. Our mind goes in a zillion different directions at once, like a crazy little monkey jumping from one thought to another.

The cute little monkey in the picture is holding a branch from a coffee tree. He, or she, has just had his/her Zen coffee by nibbling the coffee cherries. This monkey looks pretty calm, as if he/she is truly having a mindful moment. Probably doesn't have any thoughts running through his/her carefree little mind. Probably laughing at us humans who can't quiet the constant chatter in our minds.

So how do we quiet our mind so we can focus on the present moment?
By being accepting of our thoughts and being detached from them at the same time. Accept that thoughts are going to run through your mind but don't become attached to them by thinking about them. Calmly watch them come and go. Notice that you're having a thought, but don't pay attention to what the thought says. Without an audience, your thought will leave, and then another one will come running through your mind. Let the thought go, and the next one, and the next one, and so on.

Just breathe. Focus your mind on your breathing. Notice how you're breathing in and out, back and forth, inhaling and exhaling. Breathing in ... breathing out. No room for thoughts, only breathing in and out. Just breathing, being present with your breath.

Your mind will leave you alone when you don't pay any attention to it. Your monkey mind wants attention; it wants an audience; it wants you to listen. When you simply notice that you're having a thought and don't focus on it, then the thought will wander away by itself, wondering why you're not listening, but hey--you're being mindful and breathing; you're not listening to thoughts, you're listening to your breathing. Just breathe. Just be present with your breath.


Caroline said...

Ahhhhh...so nice to read. I feel like I have 10 monkeys in my mind today (well, you read my last post!). I am looking forward to coffee and quiet...someday...

ClaireWalter said...

I never thought of these as "monkeys" -- but they sort of relate to the old "monkey on my/his/her back" analogy.