Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monkey Mind: To Tame or to Trust?

 (click image to enlarge)
Photo/Text © 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

"I found this hard today - monkey mind very insistent. Tomorrow I shall find a guided meditation on YouTube to help. I need the peace." Anna
Hello Anna,

Thank you for participating in today's first-ever Mindful Living Monday, and for then taking a moment to leave your above comment.

A few important things to keep in mind: 1) be gentle with yourself, and try not to judge that you found the practice difficult, 2) trust — until you know firsthand — that the practice will become easier over time, that it can take a while for our monkey minds to settle down, and 3) don't concern yourself with achieving a goal.

If we try to quiet the monkey mind through thought, or any other doing, we'll, in fact, fuel it. There's nothing we need to do to quiet the monkey mind; rather, it will, of its own accord, become quieter when we stop fueling it by hooking into thoughts, by judging ourselves, and by trying to "do something".

Give yourself a lot of space in which to be supremely gentle with yourself, and allow everything which is part of your present moment to be just as it is while you practice bringing that simple, uncomplicated awareness to your world, both within and without. Don't try to change anything, to wish anything away (including monkey mind), or to wish for anything.

Simply observe reality as it is, without judgment or commentary. Stay with the physical sensations, be curious about them, but don't engage them via thought. Simply witness them.

You might also find the practice easier after exercise — be it walking, doing yoga, swimming, or what have you, as exercise itself helps us to relax, both our minds and our bodies.

Let me know if you have any further questions. And, for now, I wish you well, and thank you again.

With warm regards,



  1. The photo is of our much-loved sock monkey, handmade by our friend (and writing student-folk!) Erica.

    He was quite good about modeling within the Tibetan singing bowl which I bought several years ago in Tarragona, Spain, but he was mumbling something about how it's not exactly good for his lower spine, you know.

    He realizes, though, that it was for a good cause, and that earning a living in the art world ain't all it's cracked up to be anyway.

  2. Ah! how lovely to see one of my favourite monkeys keeping busy!

    My very first yoga teacher used to say 'The mind is like a monkey'. She would also say, whilst we were lying in Shavasana (on our backs on the floor), 'Put your mind in the palms of your hands'.

    I find this a good way to quieten the monkey mind. It's like unplugging it... because your focus is then on your body and not in your head.

    So, I think the monkey should try sitting in the palms of your hands next!

  3. Brilliant, Erica, that the social media gods guided you so quickly to this post!

    Well, it's wonderful advice, what you've said. But your very own sock monkey creation says you (and I) have another thing coming if you think he's going to sit in the palms of my hands. He insists that he's a free soul to damn well do as he pleases, and then, again, muttered something rather, well, ungenerous about those who sit at the feet of gurus, or in the palms of their hands.

    Anyway, he's taken himself off for the day, though he did send you his love just as he leapt out the window and began lowering himself to ground level via the drain pipe.

  4. Thank you Sean for this considered reply. I'm up to my neck in complicated family stuff, but I'm keeping on keeping on. Anna

  5. You're welcome, Anna. Thank you for leaving a comment which inspired the considered reply which, then, got promoted to its own blog post.

    And, yes, I understand being up to one's neck in complicated family stuff, and how much courage and persistence it takes to keep on keeping on. So, well done, and remember to be gentle with yourself.


  6. For those who are following sock monkey's rise to fame and fortune, well, he's says it's not that he cares so much for fame in and of itself, but that it might help him find a mate.

    He's a practical sort of chap (and he still suffers from that age old illusion that a mate is like the Holy Grail).

    He then said something about how it ain't that easy to display his wares when he spends most of the time cooped up on the radiator Behind the Blue Door. He's hamming it up a bit, here, as those who've made it this far down the list of comments know, full well, that he flew the coop just 24 hours ago (and didn't come home 'til dinner time).

    Anyway, I've told him — if for no other reason than to get his mind off his just-reached double-digit Facebook shares — that we'd take him into Brighton today, and let him loose on the beach (a warning for those of you who may be considering going to Brighton Beach today as well).