By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Some people find the term, “monkey mind,” upsetting, derogatory, and insulting. This is a shame, as the point is lost, the ego is involved, and a natural human defense goes up. After all, we are supposed to be the kings of the primate family, aren’t we? This subject is worthy of debate in an academic setting. Yet, we must accept the fact that mind chatter can make meditation and decision-making challenging at times.
The Monkey Temple
The first time I heard the expression, monkey mind, in regard to Yoga meditation, I thought of Swayambhunath Stupa, in Kathmandu, Nepal. Sometimes, this is named, “the monkey temple,” and it made me laugh inside, as monkeys need supervision in human settings. The picture of unsupervised monkeys got into my head, and I was suppressing laughter during a serious conversation. After all, we don’t want a monkey temple in the mind.
Some of my friends from India do not find monkeys so amusing and consider them pests. To make a parallel comparison: In Attleboro, we have squirrels and we might find a squirrel to be “cute,” but a few squirrels can quickly destroy your home. Monkeys can also be nuisances when allowed to roam without some guidance, and it is the same with the untrained mind that runs from topic to topic, without getting much accomplished. So please do not waste time being offended by the term, and try to look at the comical side.
When you allow yourself to enjoy life, and try not to take anything too seriously, you can see that monkeys do not have it so bad after all. Very often, the human mind spends too much time defending, worrying, posturing, influencing, fearing, and feeling embarrassed, to enjoy life to its fullest potential. In fact, you are not your mind. Of course, this is a universal principle within Yoga. You are responsible for your actions, but many things happen in the thought process before you do take action. For example: When you think, images and options are created. As a result of those images, you get a physical feeling somewhere around your heart.
Knowing Right From Wrong
Whether the feeling is, good or bad, you process it into action or treat it as a fleeting thought that passes and may be forgotten. So if you have a fleeting evil thought and it passes – should you waste time feeling guilty about it? The natural safeguard for ethical behavior is your heart or gut feeling. This is the best indicator of wrong or right. Yoga teaches us to connect with our feelings and to think carefully before taking action. We cannot afford to let the “monkey” run our lives.
States of Excessive Confusion
Mankind has the ability to influence the universe, and create different realities, but separating what is sacred, from what is evil, has been a dilemma for thousands of years. The disconnection from your inner self, nature, and God, has led to excessive confusion. Thank God for Yoga meditation; it allows you to harness the power of the mind, settle down, and focus, on one subject at a time. If you take the time for a daily Yoga meditation practice, your decision-making process will be much more controlled and clear. The end result will be to look at the monkey with much more respect, appreciation, and a bit of humor.
How to Stop the Chatter
Whether you call it mind chatter or the monkey mind, you can’t turn it off. In general, we process 6,000 thoughts per day. Apparently, the mind is busy processing thoughts 24-hours per day. Meditation slows the number of thoughts because we practice focusing. Therefore, with practice, we learn to train the monkey mind. It is important to realize that we have an ocean of thoughts. However, the ocean produces an abundance of saltwater, which is harmful to drink. The purpose of meditation is to train the mind to focus on a thought. To clarify this comparison: we only need to drink one quality glass of fresh water at a time.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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