What is Monkey Mind?
In the context of yoga or meditation, Monkey Mind refers to the mind jumping from thought to thought, as a monkey jumps from tree to tree.
Despite its negative connotations, Monkey Mind has an important purpose. It exists to process information necessary for both survival and problem solving. Monkey Mind is activated when there is more information than the mind can process.
Can the Monkey Mind be tamed?
The good news is that learning meditation techniques can help to tame the Monkey Mind! Meditation is a practice that develops focus by relaxing the body and mind. If your mind jumps from place to place when meditating, don't be critical of yourself. Critical thoughts and words are counterproductive. Even if your mind wanders, you'll still feel the effects of meditation. It takes time and patience, but with consistency, staying focused will become easier and easier. Over time, you'll be rewarded with an increased sense of inner peace.
Are there rules in meditation?
No, but there are some guidelines that may increase the benefits of your practice. For example, your body should be aligned in a way that allows you to maintain focus. How that appears is different for every individual. It is recommend that you find a comfortable space where you can relax. Quiet places are best for beginners. Next, sit in a chair or on a cushion and maintain an upright position that keeps your spine straight.
Try using a mantra (an inspirational word or phrase) in coordination with your breathing patterns. Attending to your inhales and exhales allows your breathing to naturally slow down.
Consider using the mantra “I am peaceful" to complete this two-step process:
1. While inhaling, say to yourself "I am"
2. While exhaling, say to yourself "peaceful"
What if my mind wanders?
You might find your thoughts wandering or shifting or your body may get the urge to fidget. When this happens (which it will), simply return to your mantra. The trick is to learn to observe the thoughts without engaging in them. A relevant analogy is to see the mind as the sky and the thoughts like clouds passing through.
Returning your attention again and again to the breath will always help you detach from the thoughts and return to the present moment. Using the mantra “I am peaceful” and breathing act as anchors to draw you back to the present moment. So get comfortable, breathe, repeat your mantra and when you're done, treat yourself to a banana:)
There's always more to learn about yoga and in turn, learn about yourself.