Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

The Monkey Mind

By Tamara Martfeld

The Monkey Mind is described as a mind where the thoughts jump quickly from one to another, like a monkey jumps from tree to tree. People with a Monkey Mind have a constant chatter in their heads which can prevent the individual from focusing on a single thought or task and can contribute to stress. These individuals also tend not to enjoy the present because they are generally focused on the past and/or future.

The Monkey Mind can be tamed. It took several months for me to train my Monkey Mind to the point that there is no longer constant chatter in my head. I have not taken the time for meditation, the most recommended method of training.

My progress was made by first identifying that I had a Monkey Mind. Once identifying the problem, I observed what I was thinking as much as I could. If what I was thinking had nothing to do with whatever I was doing at the time I told myself to stop thinking and did my best to focus on the present. At first the Monkey Mind started again within minutes. Now it is rare for me to have a Monkey Mind and when it occurs I am usually stressed about a given situation or angry.

The advantage of using my method is that it can be done at any time. For example, when one is in a boring meeting and the Monkey Mind starts, focusing on the speaker will help train the mind. Since people generally do not know what is happening inside another person’s head, the training can occur without disturbing surrounding people. I have used this method during meetings, while working on the less stimulating portions of my job, and even when eating.

This method sounds easy and it is easy. However, it does take a lot of time and vigilance. Perfection is not necessary. The benefits include 1) less stress due to not continually going over past events or worrying about the future, 2) more enjoyment of life as one is more involved in the present, and 3) peace and quiet as the chatter slows down and eventually dies.

For other methods of training the Monkey Mind and for more information, Google “Monkey Mind”. Much of the good information is within Buddhist texts and meditation sites. I strongly recommend not discounting the information if Buddhism happens to be outside your belief system. Every belief system has nuggets of information which everyone can use to better themselves, and one does not have to believe in a system to be a beneficiary of that system.