How often do you have a sense of inner quietness, calmness and piece? My life has been very overwhelming at times and lately more and more events appeared that keep me busy. My inner peace and calmness got replaced by a very active monkey mind. And yet, today felt different and a certain sense of inner peace and calmness came back into my life. In this episode I share a little on what’s going on in my life and how this calmness feels and what the immediate results have been. In the article I have a look at the monkey mind and how I and you can tame it.
Calmness And The Monkey Mind
The term monkey mind or also mind-monkey is a Buddhist term and an animal metaphor. Those are very common in Chinese and Japanese culture and mythology. They often model animal traits that we can see in human behavior. The term means “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”. This definition shows what probably all of us have felt already: business. The mind never comes to rest and always wanders from your to-do-list, to things one has forgotten, task unfinished and maybe creative ideas to follow up.
In case you are looking for a personification of the monkey mind I’d like to send you on a Journey to the West with the Monkey King.
The important part of this mind monkey is to accept its existence. It is not only okay to have a monkey mind, it seems to be a rather normal trait. That being said, it’s also important to highlight that you ought to quiet your mind deliberately and consciously to benign with and to know that this feat is actually achievable by anyone.
Calmness And Acceptance
Once you’ve accepted your monkey mind, you can start to work on achieving inner calmness, peacefulness, quietness – or how ever you want to label this state of being. To me the key concept of becoming calm again is by acting mindful. There are unlimited ways of practicing mindfulness and there is no right or wrong. There’s only things that work for you or don’t. That being said, there are certain things that seem to work well for most people.
Calmness And Meditation
Meditation is probably the first thing that comes to mind. The difficulty within a meditation practice is to get it flowing. The sheer act of doing nothing and not thinking about anything and only focusing on your breath often activates your monkey mind even more (or makes it more aware how active your mind monkey can be). For that reason you can go to dedicated workshops or classes. There you will be guided which is a great way to begin. In case you cannot go anywhere you can always read books and articles concerning the topic. This might be hard to transform into an actual practice, though. At least that was the case for me. I had the chance to practice some meditation in workshops and classes and still struggle. What works well for me when it’s extremely hard to shut of the monkey mind is an app.
I use Aware, an app that features plenty of different helpful guided meditations but also tips and tricks. In case you still get distracted by thoughts popping up and focusing on your breath isn’t possible I suggest that you follow those thoughts and look at them the way they are. You don’t judge them, simply look at them and follow your mind with this perspective. This helped me a lot on those very busy days. It’s important to highlight that meditation like almost anything needs practice. That’s why 5 minutes each day will benefit you much more than two sessions of 20 minutes a week. Also, start slow, with a few minutes and get some positive momentum. You can always do more and try practicing non-guided meditation, too.
Calmness And Active Meditation
Besides this passive form of meditation I like to perform more active versions. That could be a mindful walk in nature or flossing your teeth very mindfully (which sounds funny but is a difficult task). Moving meditation forms work very well for me. Yoga is something I started practicing on an almost daily basis over a year ago and it keeps your body fluent and loose but also will create a remarkable body-mind connection over time. As said before, consistency in this is the key.
Calmness And My Favorite Ways To Tame The Mind Monkey
I enjoy meditation and yoga a lot when it comes to treating myself well. Yet, even if many available options for your mindfulness and meditation practice tend to seem relatively lonely when it comes to your social life, being mindful doesn’t have to be.
When I get home after work, one of the key things I do to quiet my mind is to take some to talk to my wife. This act of communication is very important for me and doesn’t only translate into catching up on the days events but are also my way of sharing my thoughts and feelings. I voice how I feel and as best as I can try to express why I feel those emotions. After I did this I often feel how this wave of calmness flows over me.
Another method that brings me a lot of peacefulness and calmness is cooking. Over the years I made this an art and wrote a long article about it. The mindful act of thinking about what you want to eat, reflecting on why this might be the case and how to prepare it gives you a strong sense of inner focus that leads to a much more tamed monkey mind. To enhance this further it helps a lot to enjoy this process and to build up a relationship with your food.
It will probably instill a certain form of gratefulness, as preparing and eating food is like a mandala. You create it and then you destroy it. The value according to my art of meditational cooking lies in the futility of this creational cooking process and the bio-chemical and -physical transformation process that will sustain your body with new energy. You create, you disappear. You transform by physical labor food into a dish that disappears, then you eat food that dispersal. In both cases, you create value: emotional and physical energy.
I start my days as I finish them, by journaling. You can do it any way you like, what worked well for me is the five minute journal. It doesn’t take much time or effort and quickly became part of my daily routine. Journaling, especially with the five minute journal, is a great way to look forward to a rewarding day and later on to re-evaluate on what has happened, what went well and what you could do to improve. It also focuses on gratitude which has many benefits on it’s own. You don’t need to be religious or spiritual for a gratitude practice. All you need is the willingness to transform.
Calmness And Down-Time
To finish this I want to emphasize that moments of “white noise” or down-time are not a waste of your time. It might feel like it though. Doing “nothing” has often the idea of laziness hanging around. Nevertheless, down-time is necessary to give your mind a break, to work on information you received and to recover. I see white noise as a form of active recovery for my mind and with the use of above mentioned techniques I help myself to grow by letting go and letting in.
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