Calming the Monkey Mind
The modern world is over-stimulated and hyper connected, it is easy to become victims to chronic stress and if undealt with can evolve to anxiety. Anxiety causes us to become stuck in a mindset of fret and inadequacy. It is this state of arousal and stress sensitivity that is known as the ‘Monkey Mind.’ In this state our mind switches to operate thoughts and behaviours in primitive form (emotionally based) shutting out the ability to think rationally and / or logically. To prevent operating in Monkey Mind, as soon as we begin to worry we need to put methods in place to shift away from fear and uncertainty, the catalysts for anxiety.
Here are 5 basic things you can implement to maintain calmness and clarity:
As cliché as it sounds, regulating your breathing and quieting the mind is a great way to prevent anxiety. When the Monkey Mind takes over it can seem impossible to break out of it, however focussing on deep breathing and the expanding and retracting of your chest can calm your mind and body and keep you in the present moment.
Shifting your mind to then think of someone or something that you are grateful for will enable you to sustain a calm mind and regular breathing.
When it comes to worry we tend to sit and wallow in the situation rather than taking control or finding a way out. This can cause us to feel overwhelmed, stuck and useless. To avoid sinking into the Monkey Mind get up and get physical.
Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins that reduce our perception of pain and make us feel good. Physical activity is also a healthy avenue to utilise the drive given to us by stress hormones.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine?’ Well there is a whole lot of truth to this!
Humour is a great way to calm the Monkey Mind. Being amused or laughing decreases stress hormones, improves immune function, strengthens memory and builds resilience. Finding something funny in your day can take away from the stress, busyness and worry and maintain a more relaxed and creative state of mind.
Finding humour does not necessarily mean laughing out loud, although that is very healthy, but rather finding something amusing. Make it a practise to find something amusing every day. After making this conscious effort for a while you will come to notice humorous things frequently throughout the day and your ability to transition from thinking about one concept to another (your cognitive flexibility) will increase.
Music is often referred to as the “international language,” meaning that everyone understands it no matter what language the artist may be singing in. Music has a way of bypassing the logic and humanoid part of our minds cutting straight into the Monkey Mind, immediately connecting with our emotions. This is a useful tool in calming the Monkey Mind.
Create a playlist of music that helps to calm you in times of worry and stress. Over time the music will act as a trigger to your brain and the shift to this calmer state will become quicker.
Music can also be used to increase productivity, confidence and overall performance.
Although it can seem like a difficult task, finding meaning in the challenges of life can be the best preventative to Monkey Mind and anxiety. Asking questions in these times is vital such as, ˜what is this teaching me?” ˜how am I helping others through this?” and “what am I aiming to achieve from this?”. Asking these questions not only help us to avoid Monkey Mind but also increase our problem-solving skills and resilience.
A person who is able to find meaning and a lesson in challenging times will be the one who will continue moving forward and eventually succeed and grow from them.
The Monkey Mind takes affect for a reason, it is a form of dealing with times of danger and gives us our survival instincts. The Monkey Mind becomes a problem when it takes control in our everyday life and becomes our main operating system.
By learning to recognise the Monkey Mind you can reduce your levels and frequency of anxiety, and increase your daily performance and productivity.
Don’t let your emotions and your Monkey Mind take you down, rather become in control of your mind, attitude and energy.
Worry – to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.
Stress – a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.