Are you in a constant state of stress, possibly without even realizing it? Could be due to that endless chatter in your head. Time to tame the monkey mind.
Hey, you are not alone. Most of us have some repetitive thoughts going on in our minds most of the time. It’s a state often called “monkey mind.”
Some say this metaphor came from Buddha, others claim it is of Chinese or Hindu origin. Wherever it began, the term monkey mind does a good job of summing up incessant and racing thoughts.
This mental chatter could be causing worry, anxiety, distraction, lack of creativity, and other negative emotions. There are ways to tame these beasts and gain control over your mind.
6 Monkey Mind Taming Tips
1 Strike a Pose: You probably aren’t surprised to see yoga on this list. Why does practicing yoga have a calming effect on the mind? The intentional breathing done while practicing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and slows breathing. Calmer body, calmer mind. Try these yoga poses for instant calm.
2 Get Om: Another usual suspect on getting centered. Sick of the meditation revolution yet? As we’ve said here before, there are many ways to meditate beyond the crossed-legged om-chanting posture. Try guided meditation or get yourself to a meditation studio. And I love this list of fun ways to meditate, especially number two.
3 Do What You are Doing: Sounds easy enough, right? But how ‘in the moment’ are we when folding clothes, doing dishes, making dinner, and other daily tasks? Chances are, not very. These mundane duties give us a chance to plan, contemplate, and make decisions–and fret, worry, and obsess. Eckhart Tolle, master of living in the present moment, maintains that being in the here and now is the route to peace and happiness. It may take some getting used to, but give mindful tasking a try. Need some inspo? Eckhart shares with Oprah two ways to get present.
4 Talk With the Monkeys: Okay. I admit this one sounds a little crazy. But this is an important exercise in confronting your fears. Trying to avoid problem thoughts often makes the issue seem much worse than it is. Ask yourself what it is that’s truly bothering you or that you can’t quit thinking about. What’s the worst that will happen if this thought happens in real life? Can you handle that? Most likely, you can. It’s amazing how addressing fear can abate worrisome thoughts.
5 Step Away From the Device: Yes, the cell phone, tablet, or laptop. What’s the big deal? Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC’s New Tech City podcast, found that less screen time can free up mind space. Through her seven day Bored and Brilliant campaign, Zomorodi put participants through daily tasks aimed at awakening awareness. The biggest take away from the campaign: people felt less distracted and more inspired when they stopped multitasking and allowed their minds less distraction.
6 Gaze in the Right Direction: You may be surprised to learn that what we look at and for how long affects how focused or distracted we are. Duke University researchers studied monkeys’ eyes (I know, again with the monkeys) for links to the brain’s focus. The study distracted monkeys from a task by showing them pictures of other monkeys. By monitoring brain activity, scientist found that a set of neurons were only active when the monkeys were trying to do two things at once, complete a task while being distracted by pictures. The neuron sets were inactive when the monkeys were doing just one task at a time. The theory goes that when humans are trying to pay attention to two different things, it triggers a “conflict” circuit in a region of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). The dACC is part of a larger brain structure that controls rational thought and emotions. Moral of the story, try concentrating your focus on one thing at a time for better productivity and peace of mind.
Quieting the noisy mind is something we all deal with. Do you have other tips to taming your inner monkeys?
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Image of monkeys via Shutterstock