Monkey Mind is a Buddhist term to describe the swinging of the mind from doubt, to fear to worry and back again, like a monkey climbing from branch to branch. I learned about it in Life Coaching training and have found it a life-changing idea. This function of the brain is centered in the oldest part of our brains that was constantly scanning the horizon for danger. It is still with us, and even though we generally are not dodging tigers, it sees danger in anything new or different. This is particularly true when we are considering something that is important and meaningful to us. While everyone has Monkey Mind, the things it says to us are particular to each person. My MM very pointedly tells me I need to think long and hard about whatever it is I am thinking about attempting (a blog, for instance). It tells me I should probably first read another book about it, or take a class, or put it off until I have figured everything out. Plus, this idea will probably get hard and overwhelming and I’ll just quit, so why even start? Until I knew what this voice was, I thought it was a guiding voice and that what it said was true. IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING. It is the ancient voice trying to avoid anything that signals change. Once I had been made aware of this voice, I realized that Monkey Mind injected doubt or fear into any dream or goals attached to it. I had let it run things for a large part of my life, much to my regret.
The only way to deal with Monkey Mind is not to engage with it. I was taught to thank it for sharing and move forward. Trying to reason with MM only ramps up the chattering. Being clear on what it is I want to do, and why it matters to me can calm MM for a while. Remember, Monkey Mind never goes away, so don’t waste time in trying. Keep focusing on your goal, however small. Keep focusing on why it matters to you. So many dreams and ideas were put on the back burner or tossed aside because MM was telling me I should be scared, overwhelmed and questioning the whole enterprise of my life. It’s just the ancient brain worrying that I might die of embarrassment.
To move past Monkey Mind, you have to know it exists. What follows is recognizing the hysterical nature of its “voice”. Observing this without engaging with it allows us to hear the calm voice of our own wisdom encouraging the following of the dream.
Out of ignorance, I gave Monkey Mind way too much influence in my life. Listening to the scared and worried voice in my head kept me small. The world needs all of us to live to our fullest, to do what we long to do, be who we most want to be and give what is ours to give. I am willing; how about you?
Mary is a certified Life Coach in Omaha where she enjoys reading and sharing books, taking in nature and exploring all life has to offer with her husband Kurt, and rescue dog "Scruffy".