‘Monkey Mind’ – the state of being when you feel restless, unable to focus, unable to settle down, compelled and distracted; at odds with what you think and feel about what is actually happening around you. In talking with various friends and the people I coach the ‘monkey mind’ has been showing up as a consistent theme.
The question that keeps coming up: How do I stop the stress and the ‘monkey mind’ from running the show?
How do I overcome it?
If you Google ‘monkey mind’ and look for a cure you will see the antidote is Meditation. And yet the very experience of the stress that causes one to feel all wound up in the ‘monkey mind’ makes meditation a challenge. What do you do?
Before I go there, I have to say that monkeys have gotten a bad rap.
Monkeys – I love monkeys. Intelligent beings, beautiful to watch when in motion with eyes that look like they see right through you, they outstrip we humans in ‘cognitive flexibility’ according to a study at Georgia State University published in 2019.
Turns out, when tested in this particular study, we humans tended to rely on rote learning and depended on what we were taught when put through the paces. All the monkeys involved quickly learned when and where to use a shortcut, some right from the start, but 61% of the humans did not.
Bottomline, because we humans rely so much on what we know already as opposed to thinking through and adopting new ways of doing things in the moment we miss opportunities. We make decisions that don’t work for us anymore. We stay stuck in old ways of being instead of trying on something new, hence the well-worn phrase, “I see you are doing the same thing again expecting different results. How’s that workin’ for you?”
When you think about monkeys from this vantage point it seems odd that we refer to our own inability to get quiet and focused as our ‘monkey mind’ at play. In reality, monkeys must have an incredible ability to focus attention to learn new ways of doing things differently to get the reward or outcome they want.
And back to the study, the humans who took part in the study, once they were shown how to complete the task differently via video, turns out more of them took the shortcut, but still about 30% didn’t. I found it fascinating as the study underscored and almost explained to me why it is so difficult for many of us to make changes in our lives stick. We humans tend to gravitate to what is familiar, comfortable, what we are accustomed to – even when it no longer works.
During these incredibly uncertain times, how many of you are experiencing an inability to focus and a restlessness you’ve not known before? How many of you feel stuck in this new reality that doesn’t make sense?
How many of you are confronted with too many priorities – school, work, home, wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, get tested for COVID, don’t get tested for COVID, have your kids tested, don’t have them tested, send them back to school part-time or stick with virtual school?
Are you unable to make yourself a priority right now? Do you feel unacknowledged and under appreciated by those you do much for daily? Do you find yourself in the middle of arguments or discussions that leave you feeling less connected and more unsettled?
So many questions and it all started with the first one, how do I stop the stress and the ‘monkey mind’ from running the show? How do I even begin to implement the antidote – meditation?
Here is how to approach it:
The first step in integrating meditation into your daily practice is to start small. Decide to begin with just two minutes and begin with the breath. I like to use a breathing process of inhaling on 4, holding for the count of 4, and exhaling very slowly on 7. Focus your attention there.
Once you’ve set your timer on your phone for two minutes, take a deep breath, and exhale, then begin to inhale, hold and exhale on the count I just described. When the timer goes off, you are done.
Continue each day with just two minutes until you decide you are ready to add another minute, and then another. Don’t rush it. There’s no place to go. You will eventually reach the amount of time that works best for you.
Practice makes permanent. Start small.
Rule of thumb: No matter what the change is that you are trying to make, begin with one small step.
A big part of how I work with people is grounded in making yourself a priority, giving you the tools to integrate positive changes into your life and the ongoing support to make those changes part of your practice. We design together the road map that works best for you.
‘Monkey mind’ or the ‘cognitive flexibility’ of a monkey? What do you want?
The choice is yours.
If you want to overcome the thinking or habits that continue to get in the way of you getting what you want, let’s chat.
If you aren’t sure you are ready but want to make a change, let’s chat.
Just follow this link to book your strategy session. https://www.dianeweekley.com/booking/
The first step is always the hardest.
The next is easier.
Make your appointment today.