How to Tame the Monkey in Your Mind

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by Rohi Shetty

What I like to do best is to meditate.

How do I do it, you ask?

I sit in a comfortable upright posture, close my eyes and focus all my attention on my breath coming in and going out.

I do this for a few minutes and sometimes for longer periods.

This sounds easy to do but it’s not. It’s simple but not easy.

Because when I meditate, I come face to face with the monkey in my mind.

And the monkey in my mind likes to chatter. A lot. All the time.

Before I know it, I am caught in its chatter.

Sometimes it’s about the things I did or didn’t do or the things I should do or should not do.

Sometimes it’s about things I said or saw or thought or heard or ate or should have.

After a while, I realize this and turn my attention back to the breath. This is the beginner’s mind. It helps me to start again and again and to persist in the face of failure.

Sometimes, I start to write an article or explore an enticing idea or relive a pleasant memory. Sometimes, I fall asleep.

At such times, it’s more difficult to switch off the monkey and bring back mindfulness.

And sometimes, I give up and do something else. Something more or less important but definitely less painstaking.

Mindfulness meditation is my favorite activity. It’s what I want to excel in more than anything else.

And yet, I confess that I am still a novice at it, even after years of practice.

When I say I am a novice, I mean that the monkey in my mind still wins much more often than not when pitted against the lion of my mindfulness. More often than I care to admit, even to myself.

It breaks my heart but I accept this truth. Because in meditation as in writing, the process is more important than the product.

Disinterested action is the key.

As my meditation teacher says, “Do the work and don’t bother about the results because no step on the path is wasted.”

And rarely, I am rewarded with the still mind.

This is the time when the monkey stops chattering and leaves my mind. This is rare, at least for me.

Sometimes the monkey is back even before I realize it was gone, as if it’s a bloody boomerang.

And so I persist. I sit and I observe my breath.

It’s better than sitting around doing nothing. 🙂

How about you? Do you watch the monkey in your mind or does the monkey watch you? Let us know in the comments below.

(8 October 2014)


Rohi Shetty has published five illustrated e-books for children on Amazon. Subscribe to his blog Write. Publish. Repeat. to receive free copies of his e-books and connect with him on Google+.


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