A big part of letting go is to actually check in with your thoughts. Check out these 5 tips I used to tame my monkey mind…
Zen Buddhist’s define the monkey mind as the ego. That voice in your head that provides the running commentary on your every movement. You are not worthy, you are not good enough, you need protection, it’ll never work out. The voice goes on and on. These thoughts are created by events throughout our lives. You get caught cheating on a test in grade school, the monkey mind comments “you are not trust worthy.” You are abused as a child, the monkey mind kicks in with “you are not lovable.” Your wife cheats on you, the monkey mind responds “women are not to be trusted.”
Once the monkey mind starts this commentary, we start living life by looking out of the rearview mirror.
An example of the monkey mind:
You walk into work, your boss is sitting in your office and he/she says “sit down, I need to talk to you.” What’s your first thought? Oh shit, what did I do?
That immediate thought of “oh shit, what did I do?” is your monkey mind at work. Before you get to sit down to hear what your boss even has to say, your are picturing how you will tell your family that you lost your job. You are canceling vacations that haven’t been planned.
It’s these automatic thoughts that seemingly “pop” into our consciousness that are running the show. Based on my childhood experiences of sexual abuse, then in my adult life being diagnosed with cancer, I built up many stories.
I’m fine (all one word)
I need to protect myself from this person
I’m not worthy of being loved
People are not to be trusted
As soon as these stories “popped” into my thoughts, I went on automatic pilot. I cut people out of my life (I didn’t speak to my mother for twenty four years). I sabotaged huge career opportunities (I was fired from nine companies in three years) and in general shut down any chance of experiencing vulnerability or trust.
Don’t get me wrong, I had great life experiences, I married a wonderful man, had two amazing children and created a job that I love.
It was only when I began practicing yoga and making the mind/body connection that I began to feel inhibited by these walls, then strangled. I knew that if I wanted ever have the opportunity to experience vulnerability or trust, I would have to learn to observe my monkey mind and learn how to keep it in check.
It took a while and a lot of practice. Sometimes I catch it, thank it for sharing and choose a different response. And sometimes I’m so hooked I wouldn’t hear my monkey mind if it was standing next to me screaming. In those moments, I celebrate my perfect imperfections, recommit and move on. Taming the monkey mind is not for the weak. It takes time and practice to create positive change.
I challenge you to practice these five tips to tame your monkey mind:Clarity – Write out your story, all of it. What happened? What stories did you create about it? How do stories hold you back? Be as specific as possible.
Become an Observer – Your job is to become an observer of your life. Watch your actions/reactions. Without judgement, notice how you react to any situation, good or bad. What are the words you use? What is your tone of voice? Then consider why you chose the words you used? Were you on automatic pilot or did you consciously consider and choose those words?
Breathe – Focusing on your breath is the gateway to transformation. Your breath is the best, most accurate barometer of your emotional state. In any given situation whether positive or negative, take a moment to connect to your breath. In the beginning, put your hand on your heart to connect with your breath. Learn what situations/words/people trigger you in to that automatic pilot. Then consciously choose how you want to interact.
Be kind – Sometimes you will be a master of taming your monkey mind. And sometimes it will be an epic fail. Failure is a good thing because it means you are aware enough to know those moments where the monkey mind completely takes over. When those moments happen, don’t beat yourself up, figure out who you need to apologize to (include yourself in that apology list), recommit and move on.
Practice Gratitude – It may sound corny, but truthfully, without taking a moment to acknowledge the good things in your life, no amount of work you do on yourself will produce results like gratitude will.
Leave me a note in the comments. Let me know what opens up for you as a result of being aware of your monkey mind.