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Ann Pizer

Quieting the Monkey Mind

By January 18, 2007

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The monkey mind jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree. Rather than existing in the present moment, the monkey mind focuses on one thought after another, and these thoughts distract us from exisiting in the present, which is one of the goals of yoga.

Sitting in meditation is a good way to see the monkey mind in its natural habitat. Just sitting still and clearing the mind is so challenging. You observe one thought popping up, and another, and another. This is inevitable, especially when you are getting started. The trick is to learn to observe the thoughts without engaging in them. An analogy I like is to see the mind as the sky and the thoughts like clouds passing through.

Whether you are meditating or practicing asanas, returning your attention again and again to the breath will always help you detach from the thoughts and return to the present moment. Each inhale and exhale exists only in the present. When you are doing asanas, remind yourself to use Ocean Breathing (Ujjayi) each time you catch yourself thinking.

Comments
October 16, 2008 at 11:25 pm
(1) Richard says:

Very simple idea. This is the classic instruction, concisely told. But the metaphor of clouds in the sky is but one possible experience. Weathering a storm at sea might be another. Or a carnival midway, or bleachers at a stock car race. Lots of racing thoughts, in other words. And it can seem as though one must absolutely engage and follow this current where it takes them–because the thoughts seem so compelling and important. They grab and pull and won’t let go. One might even feel glad to have a precious few moments just to think, just to “collect one’s thoughts.” To not think might feel like a waste of a good moment of clarity. I believe this is why maintaining a consistent meditation practice is often so difficult. So much easier for us to let the monkey mind carry us away.

October 23, 2009 at 5:11 am
(2) Lene says:

Hello! My “monkey mind” makes me cracy! My thoughts take all my energy! I get paralised, I can`t work because of the “monkey mind”. I have started to do yoga, and yoga is good for me. I can focus and let these thoughts that rushes through my head pass by! I love it!

December 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm
(3) Tonya says:

Thank you all for the advice

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