Silencing the Monkey Mind

Photo by Rob Wingate

The monkey race

How fast can our monkeys within the mind run? Real fast. Often at record breaking speed during big events of our life.

What if they actually can runs even faster than that? Yes, the speed of our mind goes faster than our imagination. This super computer within us is what keeps us alive and living in premium condition.

In the background it processes loads of information from our 5 senses including those we are not aware of. It runs our body function systems, experiences recording, planning and executing, micro managing our life journey. It runs analytics of everything and anything. It creates all the potentials in our life and keeps us away from danger.

So, our conscious thoughts are actually what is tabled to us for choices and options after some rounds of screening within our mind. Wow, that is a lot of data processing for our monkey mind is it not? How can we not trust it?

Well, every computer has its bugs, so does ours. To understand what races our monkeys are engaged in will allow us to streamline and reduce unnecessary races that our mind often are engaged in.

Positive experiences yield positive outcome, negative experiences yield negative outcome. Our mind often has monkeys that like to "monkey see, monkey do", hence much of our monkey races often table things that are of our interests and believes.

Our mind has a strong protective mechanism as this is all about survival in the world out there. Our mind loves to run risk factors, even on the slightest risk. These must always be tabled and put to the front from the mind's eye.

Self preservation nature of the monkey mind will also require it to spot potential enemies or danger around. Often than not we do tend to forecast what others think or what their monkeys will do, in order to prevent us from being harmed unknowingly.

Some of us will have other processes that will result in the other bugs that gives us misinformation, or these thoughts truthfully the truth?

Truth or not, the monkeys in the mind races further with all good intentions. Till we realize what is an effective, quality, high level race.

It is all the process and practices of the meditation, mindful living and etc. As we debug our mind, it will eventually be a clean race with only the participation of the elite few, with a super fast speed and productive result.

Let not your mind run wild. Let your mind illuminate your life towards wholesome living.

Photo by Markus Spiske

To kill the monkeys or not

May have repeatedly mentioned about having a mind full of thought and how impossible it is to silence it during meditation.

Many have placed efforts and emphasis into forcing the thoughts to disappear or killing the monkeys within the mind. Usually, when such efforts are placed, over some time, we wonder why we are doing meditation in the first place. We get tired and perhaps we may realized that the issues seems to be getting bigger and bigger and bigger as we meditate to clear our mind off these problems. Some of us may even find that for every monkey being killed within our mind, 10 others appears.

There was a student that came into the class and mentioned that the technique he used was to focus on an orange within the mind. Well, the reply given to his was that the session will ensure that the orange disappears by the end of the session. He truly enjoyed the session that night and felt much better in his meditation experience without the orange. Yes, the orange is the monkey in disguise. Well, let's not discredit any meditation techniques, Focusing on an orange, apple or object is a technique that helps many to learn meditation. It does have its benefits especially for some students. However, as one progresses, then the orange becomes a fixation. Hence, it becomes the monkey that tells one to stay still and not be aware or observe.

Another student defocuses himself in an attempt to "empty his mind" and ended up struggling within his own personal session trying to sort himself out within the melting pot of lost and issues till his technique is adjusted in a facilitated session.

Now that we are confused over to kill the monkeys or not, lets understand the monkeys in the mind.

The most fundamental monkeying in the mind is about yes and no. What bothers us is something unresolved or is not in balance. To do or not to do. He like me or he likes me not. To kill or not to kill the monkey. All our thought begins with two or more camp sites, after which each camp team members will network out a web of supporting points for their camp sites. Hence, fundamentally, we need both yes and no to make a decision or choice.

With action there is an reaction, then there will be, as a result, another series of thoughts or monkeys for follow up action.

How then can these monkeys be killed to extinction? It is possible if we "redefine" extinction.

When we are taught to silence or kill the monkeys, it is about monkey management. To start there has to be monkeys to manage. Hence the existence of monkeys in our mind.

We then need to master monkey nature, learn their language to get them sorted out. That marks our practice as an observer.. Do consult a facilitator on this to ensure management technique is appropriate for each of us.

Meditation technique with proper practice will allow the monkeys to leave on their own accord. Techniques guided by qualified facilitators will allow the process to be smooth and to guide towards how some monkey resistance can be managed.

Yes, a successful murder of the monkeys in our mind is to allow the monkeys to leave the crime scene on their own.

Best wishes for the monkeys and the management of them.

Photo by S Migaj

Emptying of our mind

During meditation, we have been taught to empty our mind. What does it mean? Many have thought that it is all about not thinking, not thinking and not thinking...guess what, we are thinking of the very thought of not thinking!

Emptying our mind is also not about defocusing. In meditation there are two methods, focusing on something and emptiness. Mastery of meditation is the mastery of both and all that is in between. As a start, we all have to empty our minds.

To defocus will only allow our lack of direction to be amplified and that is not what meditation is all about. In fact, such defocusing during meditations only confuses the meditator and may create issues as a result of wrong technique.

Emptying our mind is simply to declutter and to free our mind to do what it does best. Manage, calibrate solutions and allow us to achieve our goals. Basically the issue is not the issue, hence techniques are taught to practitioners of meditation on what needs to be kept and what need to leave our conscious mind.

There is some degree of "focus" when we empty our mind actually. It all begins with awareness of our presence within the practice of meditation. Our presence is within the space of emptiness itself and it remains there throughout the session. Even when we disappear in the later meditation level, our presences are still present as part of the space within and we are aware of that. Please consult meditation facilitators and masters for guidance on this.

Emptying our mind is a useful technique even at a beginner level. This process of emptying is very much like us pressing the control, alternate and delete buttons for our laptops and computers. What it does is to reset our system and clear the RAM. Random-access Memory (RAM) of a computer stores our working data and determines the speed of performance of the computer. Our RAM is the main part of our mind, when we clutter it, we slow down. When we periodically reset or empty it, we are able to function efficiently as an individual.

Emptying our mind takes practice. The more we practice, the finer and bigger the space we have within. There are various techniques to do that and it may vary for individuals. Patience is the key to the practice and allow it to just happen. Remember, it is not thinking of how not to think.

Meanwhile, breathe and allow our breath to remind us of the space we own as an individual....our body and presence as living being on Earth!

Photo by Massimo Sartirana

Master or Monkey

As a meditation practitioner, the mastery of the mind has become an art in itself. Having practiced meditation for two decades and also having been with national team for the same period of time have allowed my understanding towards the mind to be quite comprehensive.

Yes, each of us are wired quite uniquely. Though there are schools of thoughts or techniques which coaches and psychologists uses in order to help individuals perform better, the mind remains intriguingly complex to master.

In a elite level of competitive sports, the power to pin down the monkeys and focus towards the end goal have allowed much rewards and successes in many athletes.

In meditation, we learn about the monkey or monkeys that loiter around distracting us from what is important, awareness of what is around or within us, clarity and many aspects of our life. We try to understand them and be their master. To be honest, it is a life long process of constant awareness and realization. Having a teacher or facilitator helps a lot as we are able to learn faster and spot how our minds (monkeys) play tricks on us. We then practice and learn to discipline our minds (monkeys) for a more efficient and fulfilling life ahead.

Whatever we wish to achieve, be it success, peace, love or harmony, have we not experienced moments of cluttered mind with situations/thoughts being complicated after all the talks within our mind. Have we not experienced our mind talking us into believing something not so true, only to realized we have lost more that we should, had we not listen to the mind?

Yes, some of our repeat experiences are partially due to our mind looping its thoughts and experiences. Hence, the first part of meditation is about emptying our mind.

Emptying the mind is not about learning to the thoughtless about things, It is also not about loosing focus. It is about the awareness of the monkeys and how to silence them. More will be discussed about emptying the mind in future posts.

The mastery of the mind is an interesting and ever on going process. As beginners, we empty our mind, make the monkeys disappear. As we progress, the monkeys on the street may have gone, but we soon realize there are monkeys hiding in the forest next to the street. It goes on as we practice meditation, we go deeper and deeper into the forest realizing more monkeys that have more artfully camouflage themselves.

As Masters of our minds and monkeys, eventually it is not about making sure that the monkeys become an endangered species or even eventually becoming extinct. True Mastery is the wisdom of our selves, how the monkey behaves and fulfilling the purpose of our lives, achieving wholesome living undistracted by the monkeys within us. Yes we co-exist.

At the end of the day, it is not that difficult to meditate and be a master of our lives. Meanwhile, have fun with the monkeys!

Photo by Jaime Lopes

World conference of monkey mind

Ever heard the chatters in the mind? Whenever we encounter something that upsets us, the mind jumps in to provide counsel. After much thoughts we believe that we have come up with the best answer and solution.

Yes, the mind is a powerful tool that allows us to find our ways through life, or is it a hinderance? Fine line, read on and let's get to know the mind from within.

When we meditate, clutters of thoughts pops up from past issues, present situations to future potentials, from our daily activities to our dreams to come through, from conversations with people to much more intricate relationship issues our mind doesn't seems to cease. Such awareness is good actually, because this is when we meet the president of the monkeys in the mind. It highlights the key agenda of the World Conference. Which is virtually everything.

First we must understand that the mind takes up the role of a manager. As a manager it believes its role is to manage. It loves to manage what comes its way, what will affect us (be it situations or people), how we should run our internal and external wellness, whatever information we have put into it, our learning, lessons, our experiences of the past, dreams of the future, what others say, what we think...and the list goes on. Some of us loves to see the big picture of things, some of us micromanages. Whatever it is, the mind has been trained by us to think the way we think. The mind is powerful isn't it? What if, this is not how the mind works? More about the mind will be within future blogs, sessions and workshops. But for now, let's just enter the conference of the monkey mind and see what is going on there.

When we first meditate or look into an issue, thoughts or voice comes out with a list of key points and highlights, that is the president of the monkeys in the conference! These pop up thoughts that jumps in simply lay a series of concerns haphazardly. Some concerns can be pretty out of point sometimes, these are just concerns that perplex the president itself.

Then as we progress deeper into the meditation, many ideas pops up left, right, and around. Yes, surround sound of the World Conference within and we have entered the center space of the exciting meeting that will affect us (the world). Actually, as our meditation skills improve, we will notice more members within the conference. The difference is better and more refine skill sets to manage the president and fellow monkeys within the conference.

Imagine leaders of various nations sitting within the conference, they have the rights and welfare of their countries to protect and defend, they have the overall welfare of the world to ensure. Same goes for the monkeys in our mind. From monkeys in-charge of our health ( body, mind, emotions), relationships (internal and external), information and know-how specialists, analytics and statistics, financial, advisory and counsels, inner healers and counsellors, voices of various rights and many more roles we can or cannot imagine, they are there to ensure their rights. The only issue is that they are monkeys (no offences to the actual animals, they are awesome). Yes they do care for us, but when so many monkeys chatter at the same time on multiple topics, it is not very productive in such conference.

So what do we do? Well, during meditation or certain private session conducted, we remove the monkeys. Such world conference is non-productive and the mind itself actually can work more efficiently without these monkeys or the World conference.

I once facilitated a meditation session on these monkeys or narrators within the mind and the participants had an ah ha moment before beginning the meditation itself, after the meditation, there were amazement on the number of the monkeys and how they managed to use the tools taught to silence these monkeys. One of them proudly shared how she was focusing and doing this and that during the session until I pointed out that President Monkey has brought her totally out of the context of the meditation, depriving her of learning, practicing of what was taught and yes, the take home of her sharing is on how she has been taken for a ride personally by the head monkey itself thinking she is on the same page as everyone within the class. Yes, such live practices are awesome as the facilitators and participants learn through experiences during meditations and improve collectively.

In summary, silence the monkeys and let the mind work the way it should. The best answers and solutions will come at the click of a finger. (just read this last paragraph, this is the point)

Photo By Carol Jeng

Minding your mind

The power of mind is amazingly complex. Many of us have spent a significant part of our lives trying to master it.

From the educations that we have, learning all kinds of information and analytical techniques. From the society, nations, friends and family, we have learnt our cultures, traditions and social skills. Even our life journey and experiences have also had great amount of inputs into our mind.

Yes, we use our mind a lot, or rather our mind manages quite some part of us. Who is the boss then? Well, guess what, definitely not the mind. The mind takes the role of a manager in our life. As a manager, it ensures the good running of us in relations to others, situations and our journey. It ensures our physical systems gets its SOP (standard operating procedures), it attempts to manage or override emotions when deemed inappropriate to let emotions take over. It runs like a high powered computer system with self managing capacities to create all potentials and possibilities for us to explore our options and choices in life. Yes, busy, busy, busy. Guess what, it even finds time to chat with us so that we buy in to ideas from the mind. Wow, powerful it is not? Shall we just listen and follow?

Well, the mind is powerful. It does have our best interest at heart. But as with many programs, we are ushered towards its function and capabilities. Each of us are unique individuals, hence we develop the "software" of our mind in various ways and each of us are stronger at varying aspects of it.

One thing is common though, our feedbacks based on our life experiences will be the proof of truth. That may seem right, except that we have already some preset ideas of how things should be and it may at times cross path with coincidences that creates the certain outcome. That will potentially become the prophecy which we deemed as the truth.. Which is not always the absolute truth..

So what do we do? Let the manager do the work or fire the manager? Fine line is it not? Well, first lets look at the actual job scope of the manager. Ensure background smooth running of all operations, this we do not see but it includes all forms of SOP needed to keep us well, from day-to-day to crisis management. Checked. End goal optimization. What is this? Well, as manager, if tasked with a set goal, it will tabulate the fastest route there. Yes that is all we need from the mind. Solutions and results. Skip the noises and focus on the goals set.

In meditations, we learn to manage the mind.. We become the boss that governs the mind and ensure its smooth running. Managing its content and understanding how it works are important skills to ensure the efficient running of our lives and the successes we may experience. The mind is not exactly for us to store information, it has more important things to do. The mind works at a high speed, however with the clutters we have placed within through redundant thoughts, repeated reinforcements of false feedbacks (such as self talks, emotional manifestations and etc.), excessive inputs of suggestions and etc., slows it down. In fact all these creates the sleepless nights many of us experiences.

Minding our mind begins with empty it. Our store rooms have to be cleaned regularly for more to enter. We need space for the mind to work efficiently. Yes, the mind is more like the RAM in our laptops and it needs a clean desktop for us to find things.

Breath and allow all our thoughts and flow out of us, it give space for the mind to think faster and better. Cut all discussions and meetings and just set the goal and it will calibrate the best result for us.

Photo by Ahtziri-Lagarde

Thoughts that never rests

Many people have commented that they can't meditate as there are lots in their mind that cannot be removed. "Whenever I try to meditate, lots of thoughts pops up and I have to stop", they say. But don't we all have a very powerful mind that has been running our lives?

Then, how can we ask the mind to not work? Well, the running of content within the mind itself is often terms as the monkey mind. From the conscious level of day to day thoughts & actions to the subconscious responses and running of our internal systems, our "monkey" needs to run. Freely? Well, that depends. We need to understand it, allow it, and yet mange it. Meditation is the tool for this, and believe it or not, seeing the monkey running around during meditation is the first step into learning and doing meditation.