Befriending the “Monkey Mind”

You may have come across the expression of the “monkey mind”, which is often used to describe the way ordinary human thinking works, not too dissimilar to the jumping of a Monkey from branch to branch.

If you ever happened to see a real monkey in its natural habitat, or watched monkey’s behaviour in animal documentaries, you may remember how playful and full of tricks they can be.

The mind, with its ever changing thoughts and emotions is a landscape worth observing. Not unlike watching with fascination the stars on a night’s clear sky, the mind offers so much material to observe night and day, if you are curious. Curiosity, though, may not be the only reason for paying attention to the workings of the mind. Psychological and physical pain and suffering would be another common motivation.

The expression says it all: the mind can be as unsettled, capricious and changeable as a monkey jumping from tree to tree. Great metaphor! However, this animal’s name was chosen for the expression to describe only a fraction of its behavioural tendencies. What lies beneath the surface? Besides the above aspects, there seems to be a lot of morality in a monkey’s behaviour. Something worth looking at.

Another use of the monkeys, and not for an expression but for their bodies, is in animal testing and research. This is because monkeys are primates and biologically so similar to humans. It seems that they are still used in the creation and testing vaccines. But having the monkey’s name in an expression is probably the least harmful way that these animals are used to support humans’ life on Earth.

To connect the monkey with our current realities, the following is what I am wondering about.  There is a lot of conversation in the media these days about the trauma that the current pandemic has caused to people. Not disagreeing with this view, but adding another perspective to the ongoing conversation, motivated me to ask several questions about the involvement of our minds in how the pandemic is managed both at a collective level, and at an individual one. Perhaps the wider pandemic situation has also triggered old, un-acknowledged and un-resolved traumas that people experience in the present under the pressures of the changes.

How often do you look at your thoughts? Do you always believe them? How much do you believe from what is in the media?  Do you experience an exhausted mind that would just not relax or feel content? If any of these questions ring a bell for you, then, the monkey can come to help.

With this in mind, I am posting below the following link of a Ted Talk about monkeys and not only, which may throw some light on the idea: the presence in the monkey’s mind of more constructive tendencies.

There are a myriad of ways for tapping into the unexplored richness of our inner thinking Universe. Every day I am both challenged and fascinated by this ongoing exploration, not without suffering at times.

Meditation is one of the tools readily available to us in today’s world. It can aid the work of taming the so- called “monkey-like” aspects of the mind and cultivating those that we wish to see more in ourselves and others such as: presence, kindness, empathy, co-operation, altruism and fairness. Maybe there is hope for each of us out there. Now, what thoughts do you have about monkeys?