I don’t know about you, but it’s quite usual for me to experience my mind jumping around all over the place. Always on the move, from the present to the past to the future. Buddha coined a name for the phenomenon and called it “monkey mind.”
Since we’re about to win the 2020 Apocalypse Bingo, it’s worth remembering that a few weeks ago, Thai cities were ravaged by gangs of hungry monkeys. Marauding monkeys invaded the streets, jumping around, screeching, chattering, fighting each other. Your mind can sometimes look like that. Dozens of thoughts all clamoring for attention, never still, leaving you unable to focus.
Fortunately, you can tame your monkey mind. And it’s not that hard.
How Can You Tame Your Restless Mind?
First of all, you don’t need to – and in fact, shouldn’t – trap it. You cannot block the flow of your thoughts and emotions. What you can do is train your mind.
The issue rests on whether you listen to your monkey mind or not. The key here is developing the ability to acknowledge when your mind has wandered off and gently bring it back on track. You don’t need to overdo it. A simple meditation training is all that you need.
Spend some time every day in quiet meditation. Don’t summon up unintelligible philosophical ideas. The idea that you should get your mind in a state of “nothingness” is one of the most common misconceptions about the practice of meditation. Rather than thinking of nothing, focus on one simple thing. This type of meditation is called “single point of concentration meditation” or “calm abiding.”
Focus On Your Breath
To start, focus on your breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Your mind will probably begin wandering around after a while. You may be actually surprised by how energetic it can be. Where is the peace you were promised? Many thoughts start to come up. Don’t follow them. Watch them from a distance. As long as you don’t forget your breath, everything will be fine. You’re doing okay. You don’t need some kind of super-focus. Being aware of your breath is more than enough.
I practice meditation so that I can bring clarity and awareness into my everyday life. With a few minutes of breathing meditation every day, you can do the same, everywhere, anytime. With time and practice, you can learn to train your little monkeys.