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Managing the Monkey Mind

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What would happen inside your mind if I told you that while reading this blog, I don’t want you to think about sandwiches? Would your mind immediately latch on to sandwiches? Would you then start to think about maybe, the last sandwich you had, or the fact that you haven’t had one in a long time, or even the wide variety of sandwiches that exist in the world? Anything and everything about sandwiches. How long would it take for you to recognize that you went down a “sandwich thought” rabbit hole?

I start this week’s blog this way not to make you all really hungry, but to show you just how easy it is for our minds to wander, grasp on, and take completely random concepts for a ride, without us really intending or permitting them to do so.

Many people lovingly refer to this phenomena as “the monkey mind”. Our minds can be just like a monkey in the wild: unpredictable, uncontrollable, and scattered.

The reason why this all matters is because our thoughts are incredibly powerful. Our minds are always thinking, that is it’s job. We think on average 50,000 thoughts each day, and what we think is co-creating our reality, our life experience, and our mental state.

I know from personal experience that when I’m fully engaged in my monkey mind I don’t feel that great, I’m not as productive, I’m more irritable, and I feel completely worn out. Which makes sense!

Luckily, there are ways we can begin to manage our minds and take back control, and this week I’m here to share my top tips in doing so!

  1. Become aware. Awareness is always the crucial first piece when looking to create change. Now that we know what our minds are capable of, we know what we are working with, we can have a solid starting point.
  2. Give your thoughts a place to go. Our thoughts can often times repeat themselves, become negative, or take us on wild rides. Sometimes it can feel like an endless cycle. It’s helpful to release these thoughts, fully express them and give them somewhere to go. My favorite practice in doing so is journaling. Often times putting pen to paper and letting the monkey minded thoughts flow creates space for clear mindedness. Think of it as a brain purge, so that you can begin again with a blank canvas.
  3. Train your mind. The brain is a muscle, and just like you go to the gym to strengthen the rest of the muscles in your body, we can also strengthen the mind, by practicing conscious thinking (aka meditation). When we sit with the intention of thinking or concentrating on one specific object, and consciously bring our mind back to that object when it wanders, we strengthen the mind and heighten our awareness to our thoughts. By training the mind in this way and in this practice, we can start to notice the mind wandering sooner, and bring it back to the present with greater ease and peace.
  4. Have a plan. Create thought alternatives for when your monkey mind acts up. You can use affirmations and mantras to bring back a sense of focus and calm. You can also set limits for your thoughts. For example: I will let myself think about sandwiches for the next five minutes, and then I will move on. Having a plan equips you with the tools to empower yourself when confronted with scattered or difficult thoughts.

I hope these tools help you to start cultivating a relationship with your mind so that you can feel more in control, more present, and more mindful!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!

xo,

Michelle

Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at 
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