The thoughts swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit, and howl. Elizabeth Gilbert, author
What if I can’t get an appointment for my COVID vaccine? I’m sick of cooking dinner. My daughter hasn’t called me lately—I wonder if she’s mad. What’s that beeping noise? I wish I hadn’t posted that last remark. Who will take care of me if I get sick? I don’t want to die alone.
For centuries, Buddhist scholars have called this type of worthless mind-chatter “monkey mind.” I’m guessing that monkey mind is running rampant right now.
Consider these actual guidelines for visiting monkeys. They may help you curb your monkey mind.
1. Watch but don’t stare. Don’t fixate on one thought but let it flow through and out of your mind. This is how meditation works.
2. Don’t take pictures. Holding on to negative thoughts gives them power. Endlessly focusing on a thought is called ruminating, a set up for a negative mood or worse.
3. Don’t feed the monkeys. What we pay attention to grows. Feeding the darker side of monkey mind leads to more. Stop paying attention to these thoughts and they will diminish.
Affirmation: I will practice mindfulness as I distinguish between a thought and reality.
Coaching questions: What’s worked for you as you’ve attempted to tame your monkey mind? What might you try next? Practice by sitting quietly as you let thoughts flow through your mind.