Calming Down the Monkey Mind

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OK, what’s up with all this monkey stuff, A?

First Monkey wears a watch, now Monkey Mind?

Hahaha, well, monkeys are funny.

They behave exactly like humans, minus the walking and talking.

Also, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey.

So there.

Alright, alright, let’s get on with the article.

“Can you allow your mind to be quiet? Because the mind seems to be like a monkey: jumping up and down and jabbering, all the time.” -Alan Watts

It happens when you’re alone.

Nobody’s saying anything.

There’s nothing to do.

There is this noise.

This continuous chatter.

I challenge you to go on a long walk without music or your phone.

You’ll hear the noise.

I guarantee it.

All sorts of thoughts will be running through your head.

Something you forgot to do, maybe something you’re putting off.

Maybe a heated exchange or argument is replaying itself in your mind.

It’s funny how the perfect comeback always comes to you after the argument is over.

“I should have said (insert witty reply here) to that jerk!”

The reason this happens is because negative thoughts block creativity.

How can you get your mind to be quiet?

Well…

The easiest way to get your mind to be quiet is to be busy.

Be busy with some task, some activity.

Focus on the task and bring your attention to the present.

Any strong sensation will bring you to the present.

Pain from physical exertion.

Getting caught in cold rain.

Stepping on a Lego.

Being hungry.

This is why extreme sports are so popular.

The adrenaline rush is a part of it, but it’s about being in the moment.

Doing a dangerous task requires your full attention, otherwise you will be injured.

The higher the risk, the more sharply focused you become.

“I feel so alive!”

Think of something like base jumping.

It brings you into the now, so you’re not time traveling.

Another way to get your mind to be quiet is with entertainment.

Television, music, video games, books.

The more immersive, the better.

This is why VR is going to be huge in the coming years.

Who wouldn’t want to play God in a safe virtual space?*

This is why people hate being interrupted while reading something or watching something.

It brings them back to the present.

Where the real problems are.

However:

I propose a different solution to the Monkey Mind: Listen to it.

Let the noise scroll by, like you were in a chat room.

Just watch the text scroll by, don’t respond to it.

Pretend you are a guest, watching the chat.

Take a step back and observe.

Be mindful of it.

The next step is:

Try to understand why you’re thinking certain things.

Is your mind on your side?

Or is it a very negative atmosphere?

If you’re having bad thoughts or bad feelings, it’s time to change that.

The first, and simplest step is to change your input.

A second trick to calming down the mind is:

Stop doing stuff you hate.

No, I don’t mean stop doing laundry, or stop taking out the trash.

I mean: Be real with yourself.

If you don’t like an activity, don’t do it, don’t act like you like it.

Sometimes, we feel like we have to like or enjoy certain things.

It’s a survival instinct, that in the old days, would prevent you from getting kicked out of the tribe.

If you got kicked out of the community, you starved to death, it was that simple.

So it was very much important to fit in.

It’s not this way anymore, and the powers that be are very much using this old instinct, to it’s full effect.

They leverage peer pressure against you.

And it’s extremely effective.

Peer pressure is real, and peer pressure is huge.

If you’re in the United States there are various expectations.

There are lots of these unwritten rules.

For example: I ride a bicycle around.

Not because I’m broke(not anymore), I can afford a car.

Not because I have no license, I have one.

But because it’s fun, and keeps me healthy.

You can’t stop and explain that to people though.

And I get weird looks all the time.

It’s the expectation to own a car.

Another expectation is to own a home.

Another is to drink alcohol.

To have a credit card.

But you have to ask:

Who creates the standard, and why is it so important to follow it?

Is it more important than your own mental health?

Is it building you up, in the long term?

Or only making you poor and sick?

Society’s expectations are not all bad, in fact, most of them are good.

There are only a handful that are nonsense.

And it’s up to you to decide which.

Be mindful of the activities you choose to do.

Be real and do you, be very objective.

And if you treat yourself right, your mind will calm down.

The monkey mind will sit down on a branch, eat a banana, and stop acting out.

You won’t have to be entertained all the time.

You won’t hate being alone, and you won’t be bored.

You’ll become full of creative energy.

All the Best.

-A

*I wouldn’t want to, it makes you weak and impatient.

 

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