Invasion of the Monkeys!!
No, not the 60's pop group....those restless noisy ones that can be continually chitter chatting in your head, I'm talking about "Monkey Mind"!
Monkey mind is when you have a thousand and one voices all with different ideas and opinions racing around inside your head. No matter how you try they just wont calm down, they wont be QUIET!! They can go on and on all day and all night.
The only time they will truly quieten down is when our minds are submerged in something that engulfs us and makes us feel happy, a hobby or activity that we enjoy will calm them.
If their chatter was of a constructive manner and it made us feel happy then no doubt we would let them rattle on but often this is not the case. The monkey chatter has a very bad habit of focusing on the negative making us feel worried, anxious and stressed....they'll be chattering on about the past especially those parts we'd love to change or relive and if it's not the past they have their eye on its the future! When they look to the future they have endless chatter about how it can look scary or how it looks exciting but the problem with the monkey mind is that it misses out on the here and now.
John Lennon got it spot on when he said "life is what happens when you are busy making other plans". If our monkey minds are forever seeking out the what if's of past and future we will miss out on the present here and now's.
So how do we access the calm, the quiet....how do we put our monkeys down to rest?
There are many options to allow yourself to become mindful and calm, as mentioned above a hobby is a great distraction. When immersing yourself in a hobby you are totally focused on it, you are very mindful of it. Creative hobbies are fantastic at calming the mind and the body....if you are a creative type whether that's creative in art, dance, writing, sewing, knitting, singing, gardening...etc etc then how many of you have been so "in" your hobby you have forgotten all track of time and have even forgotten to eat and drink (not good for the body I know!)? Many of you I expect... and when you step back and look at your creation how does it make you feel? Proud, happy, in awe, excited? These are all positive feelings and I have no doubt that the monkeys didn't even get much of a look in!
Besides hobbies other great remedies of the monkey mind are physical activities. Exercise in any form is good for the brain and the body even a twenty minute walk in the fresh air. It may not remove the chaos in the mind completely but it will give you enough of a boost to help tame it, calm it and cope with it.
Yoga, give it a go if you can. Yoga is a great activity to help you focus the mind and the body. Yoga is great for blood circulation increasing awareness and alertness too.
Mindfulness....now you have stilled the mind and feel more calm and alert you will naturally become more aware of your surroundings. Daily mindfulness will help keep the calm. As you go about your day be mindful of the moments you are passing through....stop and smell the flowers!
Allowing you mind to come into focus you will be surprised by the new things you will see in familiar objects and surroundings. Take a look at your hand, can you see how intricately the skin is weaved how the knuckles create troughs and falls, the creases and lines of the palm and that's a hell of a road map going on just under the skin....the veins that carry all that we need to stay alive!
Focusing our senses will allow you to experience something new from old. Next time you eat your favourite meal, take your time, feel the textures in your mouth next to your teeth, tongue and gums. Smell your favourite perfume and see if you can unwrap the ingredients, what do you smell?
Next time you hold something in your hands whether its another hand, a piece of clothing...anything, really become mindful of what it feels like.
When you listen to your favourite piece of music or song can you pick out the instruments, the words....does the song feel any different once you "hear" it?
Being mindful allows you to live in the moment, live the life that is happening now and not the life that monkeys want you to participate in.
If you try any of these to help calm the chitter chatter you may find you go into a natural state of mediation. Meditation doesn't mean you have to be still it just means you are in a task that is allowing your body and mind to become calm and focused.
Other forms of meditation can involve listening to specific audio tracks that will relax the brain into a meditative state. Get involved in a guided meditation with others. The voice of the facilitator will help keep you focused in the present moment so you are able to relax. Mantra meditation is using a simple phrase or word over and over again which allows and altered state of consciousness. The key is to create a simple mantra that has positive meaning for you.
So there we have it, how to calm the monkey mind and as I am coming to the end of my blog I can now feel their presence waiting on the fringes of my mind to invade so I am off to do something else which needs my complete focus...art room here I come!