Working with the monkey mind

Posted on July 23, 2010
Filed Under Body, Breathing practices, Buddhism, meditation, Taylor Ellwood | Leave a Comment

One the issues that comes up in mediation is what Buddhists call Monkey Mind. It’s that troublesome voice that starts saying random messages to you and distracts you from meditating. For people who are trying to achieve a state of no mind, the monkey mind is particularly troublesome because its a reminder that your mind isn’t in a place of no-mind. What sometimes occur is that people will attempt to repress the monkey mind, but this usually makes it come back swinging. There’s a reason for that: It’s trying to tell you something.

Instead of repressing the monkey mind, which is ultimately a futile effort, it’s better to work with it. And by that I mean it’s better to start a dialogue with it. When it brings up a random issue, ask it why it brought up and start exploring it mentally. You’ll usually find that it leads you to a source of stress and concern in your life. So you can continue to try and ignore that source of stress or you can work with the monkey mind to resolve the source of stress. Mind you, the monkey mind will raise lots of questions and concerns, but that’s why it’s there. It’s a filter, an agitator, and it won’t go away until you’ve addressed its concerns.

When I work with my monkey mind, I use it as a detector of issues that are bothering me. Sometimes its helped me discover some really deep issues, such as my fear of emptiness and most recently a tendency to fantasize in order to fulfill intimacy needs. And that’s what makes the monkey mind so useful. It challenges me to be aware of my issues instead of trying to ignore them.  I like that because then I can proactively work on those issues via meditation instead of letting them build up and be acted out in my life. So the monkey mind is actually your friend, not your enemy. Make friends with it and find out what it can teach you.

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