The monkey mind is a term which comes from the Buddist tradition and it means being unsettled, restless, confused. In yoga it’s called “Chitta vritti” and it’s the tendency of the mind to constantly jump from one thought to another, all the time.
Did you know that your mind can generate 50-60 thousands thoughts per day? That’s impressive, isn’t it?
Sometimes this intense metal activity is overwhelming, so much so that it manifests in your body too -i.e. fidgeting, a feeling of clenching in your stomach, digestive issues, headache, irritability.
The good news is that you’re in the right place my friend!
Yoga & meditation are AMAZING tools to help you to quieten the fluctuations of your mind. That’s the reason why the ancient sages invented these practices in the first place!
Here are 5 tips to help you to calm your monkey mind:
#1 - Make peace with your thoughts
If you live on the illusion that by doing some magical practice your mind will be empty, you set yourself up for failure and disappointment my friend. Get off that train! The nature of the mind is to think. So make peace with your thoughts, because they’re not the enemy. They’re doing their best to help you navigate all the different situations in your life. Do your best to accept the fact that the mind thinks and keep reading to learn some strategies to start training the mind.
#2 - Tone your awareness muscle
There are many metaphors used to describe the mind like clouds in the sky, watching a movie at the cinema or watching buses (thoughts) passing by. I like to think the mind is like a puppy. Every time your puppy mind goes off and chews on your slippers, you tell her to come back to the present moment either through bringing awareness to the breath or to any body sensation you can feel. Keep practicing it over and over again until you train your puppy mind.
#3 - Slow it down
To balance the active nature of the mind which is very much associated with a yang / sun / masculine type of energy, you have to invite in more yin / moon / feminine energy. You can do that by slowing it down. Find YOUR way to feel nourished, restored, replenished. You can read a book, take a walk in a park, painting, drawing, dancing in the living room, cooking and eating your meals mindfully, give Slow Flow or Yoga Nidra a try!
Let me know in the comments below, what’s your favourite way to slow down?
#4 - Label your thoughts
This technique helped me tremendously when I did a judgement detox a few years ago. After toning my awareness muscle, I realised that I was judging people all the time, in the office, at home, in the streets, at the supermarket. I was judging how tall / short, slim / fat, kind / rude they were, the food they bought, the clothes they were wearing, what they thought about me, etc...and OMG, I felt sooooo depleted by that constant mental chatter, I was wasting so much energy!!!!
How did I stop this vicious cycle?
I start labelling my thoughts. Every time I caught myself judging others I repeated in my mind or I said out loud “JUDGEMENT”. The simple act of labelling the thought helped me to stop it there, without entering the vicious judgemental cycle.
TRY THIS! - If you’re catching yourself thinking about work or judging other people all the time, label those thoughts as “WORK” or “JUDGEMENT”. Repeat the label mentally or say it out loud as soon as you’re catching yourself jumping on that mental train.
Acknowledge the thought, label it, jump off the toxic train and move on!
#5 - Practice, practice, practice
Let’s get honest, because I’m not here to sell you rainbows and unicorns…
Bringing your mind back to the present moment is a lifetime practice!
Please, please, please, don’t get discouraged by this though. Take one baby step at the time and once you start to see the benefits of incorporating mindfulness and yoga practices into your life you’ll naturally want to do more!
Plus, you’re not alone. All the people reading this article and myself are on the same journey, experiencing similar challenges, so we got you!
TRY THIS! - to get you into the rhythm, I’m inviting YOU to choose 2 moments in your day (like before you eat your main meals) where you stop, place your hands on your belly and you take 3 deep conscious breaths.
These were my 5 tips to calm your monkey mind. Thank you for reading till the end, you ROCK!
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Until the next time…
Be WILD, be YOU!