Calming Meditation monkey mind
You know that feeling. Sitting down, ready to start your relaxing, profound meditation practice. Letting the breath fill your lungs, gentle exhale. Ahh that moment of awareness and settling in, feels wonderful.
Then the intrusive thoughts begin - 'did I empty the trash?' 'I have to go to the grocery store. I need to remember to get tea...' 'I wonder why the sky is blue.' 'Oh shoot, I'm thinking again. I have to meditate!'
If I wrote down every thought I had when I first began a meditation practice, I could fill pages and pages in a mere 5 minutes!
Some Buddhists call this the Monkey mind. Monkey mind is used to describe the experience of untamed and restless thoughts bouncing around.
The good news is, with persistence you can tame the monkey mind! I have been a regular meditator for years now. It was so helpful and transformative in my daily and spiritual life, that I began to teach meditation at the psychiatric hospital where I worked, at the time.
One of the most common disappointments for many when they first begin meditating, is the presence of distracting monkey mind. Over the years, I have found many things helpful in shifting from a wild, swinging from the chandeliers-type of Monkey mind to a calm, in the corner with minimal disturbance monkey mind.
Here is what I have seen work:
1. Persistence and dedication
I know, I know...here you are waiting for your experience of enlightenment and the distraction of a stampede of mental elephants begins. This can be disheartening and may even lead to questions, such as 'Maybe this isn't right for me?' or invalidating beliefs, such as, 'I just can't do it.'
This mental roller coaster is completely normal! In fact, I have never heard of anyone that did not have the experience of a wandering mind, which is more evident in meditation.
Keep in mind, it takes awhile for the brain to begin to rebuild new connections and learn to be still and receive. This is a time to cultivate patience. Think of a diet, you may completely change your ways of eating - in the beginning you may begin to enjoy the process, but it could take a bit of time for you to begin to see the encouraging results.
For many, this exuberant monkey mind may occur the first several weeks of a meditation practice beginning. Keep going! Each time you meditate (no matter how wild your monkeys were) you are strengthening the mental muscle and allowing your capacity for calm and peace to increase. Don't give up before the miracle!
Also, daily practice that occurs around the same time each day, slowly building in length of time is a good way to go and really helps the mind begin to prepare as it gets used to meditation experience.
2. Yoga or physical activity before meditation
Yoga breathing practices, yoga asanas, tai chi, martial arts, walking a labyrinth, are all great ways to move energy. There is more mental energy to burn, if you are not giving your body ample ways to dispose of unneeded energy. These practices can help flush out energy from the meridians (energy pathways in the body), and give your mind a focal point. Without even noticing, the mind becomes more focused and centered. After a good Yogic breathing practice, asanas, or other movement related art, Meditation is infinitely more fulfilling and often it is easier to quiet the mind.
3. In daily life, begin cultivating more mindfulness.
Practice mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful breathing - whatever you feel called towards. When you feel restless, practice not indulging. Let yourself, simply be. In this world, with technology at everyone's finger tips, it is easy to give in to restlessness by picking up the smartphone, etc. This only reinforces Monkey mind connections. Practice giving yourself more mental breathing room, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.
If you need an initial substitute for technology or other practices, try a healing mantra that resonates with you. If you aren't sure what to try, try 'OM'.
4. Essential oils, relaxing music, or guided meditation
In the beginning of a meditation practice, props such as relaxing essential oils, music, or guided meditations can be helpful. It gives the mind an initial focal point. Over time, you may choose to phase some of these out, or not.
5. Balance your third eye chakra
Balancing the third eye chakra with Reiki or crystal therapy can be very helpful! This helps one begin meditation with a more centered energy. Reiki calms the excess mental energy and increases the life force in the chakra for an extra boost during meditation.
6. Don't grab the Monkey's hand
Monkey mind will reach out it's hand to lead you down memory lane or even random thought street. Don't try to control the thought. Just observe and let go. Think of this like an open palm, vs. a closed fist. Don't hold onto the thought, or judge it or yourself for having it...that keeps it there, like a closed fist, holding onto it. Simply let it bounce against the open palm and let it naturally fall away. It will, without you needing to engage or do a thing. It may take a few breaths for it to do so, but with the energy of openness, you will conquer!
The good news is, anyone can learn to meditate! Over time, your mind becomes clearer, as there is less built up (since you are meditating) and as the brain builds new connections centered around having a clear mind. It can be easy to get discouraged if one stays focused on the monkey mind. Instead, focus on how you feel and the benefits you are receiving. It only gets better and better!
In time, with regular practice, you mind in your daily life will become clearer also.
You may also like:
Reiki Healing Meditation