Martin Summerhayes (martinsummerhay) wrote,
Martin Summerhayes

Mindfulness and the Monkey Mind

“I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the 'monkey mind' -- the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

I have been practicing Mindfulness almost every day of my live for the past two years.. I have been doing this ever since first picking up the book, Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world Paperback by Prof Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman, and followed the 8 week MBSR - Mindfulness Stress Reduction programme, that they go through in the book.

I generally do both a 15-minute movement practice, as well as a more formal 15-minute practice in the morning before the day starts. At the weekend, on a Saturday, I try to do a body scan, lying down and working through the exercise for up to 30 minutes.. The only day of the week where I do not plan, is Sunday. That is a free form day where anything goes. Sometimes I do something, sometimes I don’t.

During the day, I do short, 3 minute exercises, and even reflection moments. These are ad hoc and are when the moment takes me - on the car journey to work, during a break, at lunchtime, or even sometimes in the middle of a meeting. Now that’s strange where you “zone out” in the middle of a meeting and come back a few moments later refreshed, awake and focused.

However, as my brother Julian, pointed out the other day; there is always the “Monkey Mind” moments. I can go for days, or even a couple of weeks and then things regress. Even if I am following the same practice, doing the same exercises, preparing myself in the same way; at some point, my mind goes off into the hinterland of me and hundreds of thoughts come tumbling through. It’s like they are stored up and everything comes rushing in at once.

There is no rhyme nor reason to it. There are no defining characteristics for it. The Monkey Mind just happens.

I do not criticise myself, or seek to hold the feelings at bay. I do not become angry, or regretful. I do not seek to think I am a failure; a loser; or what I am doing has no effect. I am constantly reminded in the reflections to my actions, words and deeds - that I am changing and developing in a more mindful manner.

Should I change anything I am doing? Should I be worried by this? Do you experience this in your daily, weekly or occasional practices? I’d love to know how you accept or deal with the Monkey Mind?

As for me. Well, I love life and always think that there is a part of me that is still a child - joyful, rebellious, challenging and a bit of a “stick your tongue out at people” kind of guy. Maybe, it is the part of me reminding me of who I am. I’ll never know.

I leave you, as always, with the following quote:

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few. ”
― Shunryu Suzuki

Tags: inner thoughts, memories, mindfulness, monkey mind, shunryu suzuki

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