We're not machines- we're monkeys (sorta). It may be part of the problem, but it can be the solution, too. (Image source Jimmy Chan on Pexels)
Put simply the 'monkey mind' is the term people use to describe the constant, random chatter of thoughts each of us deal with daily. I'm convinced some people have more thought-monkeys than others, but nobody is free of them entirely. Most obstacles to building habits are centered, in some way, around the monkey mind.
What Others Say
Forbes has an article suggesting strategies backed by science to calm the monkey mind. Psychology Today offers similar but more targeted methods. The solutions for monkey mind tend to go hand-in-hand with impulse control, self-discipline, and habit development.
The rhetoric seems pretty typical: control the monkeys through meditation and mindfulness. Essentially, most advice here frees you from the cage by putting the monkeys in it. I can't deny that's effective (and at least temporarily necessary for having a basis for comparison), it doesn't seem to have changed in 2500 years. Surely we can add to this strategy for greater benefit?
Or at the very least, isn't there a more exciting way to go about these methods?
Enjoy What You Do...
Sometimes, I spend a day just following my monkey mind. Not all of them, since many happen too quickly and some are damaging. It's a type of mindfulness that allows the monkeys to roam relatively free, guiding you out of your own cage as well.
For example, I wake up and see a bit of trash and a monkey tells me, 'throw that away!' After tossing the trash in the bin, another monkey says, 'maybe some tea?' In making tea, I notice some dirty dishes in the sink- 'bah, clean them now!' Halfway through, the running water persuades another to lead me to the bathroom. There, I'll have a random monkey point me toward a game or show or some bit of entertainment. Invariably, during that indulgence comes a passionate monkey ready to work on something I've been trying to build up the energy to do to begin with.
It's not simply following your impulses, because that can take you down a really bad road. This is more being in the moment, letting that moment dictate what monkey gets to be heard, and responding to it. In that way, you and your monkeys are all working together instead of being separate.
If you've followed my progress, you'd know the system isn't perfect. The biggest obstacle happens when major life changes happen and overwhelm the process - that requires a different strategy (one I'm still trying to find). In times of relative stability, however (no death, health scares, break ups, abuse, or other traumas happened recently), I've found this to be a great adaptation to the timeless methods.
Meditation really helps, too, whether you do it first by forcing the monkeys into a cage temporarily or manage to persuade a monkey or two to be interested enough to guide you willingly. Either way, it's a good idea to make that quiet time of mental exercise a focus. Because even monkeys need to learn to sit down once in awhile.
Even if you do make friends with the monkeys and learn to work together, you still may have another obstacle: you're a scanner, not a specialist. That creates difficulties others don't have and can't help with because they don't quite 'get it.' But that's tomorrow's article. 9a, see you there!
As I begin this anew, I know only one thing: that I know nothing. Learn with me, and together we will figure this out.
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