monkey mind
Self-Compassion

Your Mind is Like a Distracted Monkey

“Avoid the temptation to squeeze your mind into submission (in meditation), to confine it and restrict it – that will just make it wilder! Use light concentration, gently correct it when it wanders, and patiently give it time and space”. Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson

This guidance comes from two very experienced teachers of meditation and it’s a great reminder. Meditation traditions often talk about the ‘monkey mind’, comparing the nature of the busy, thinking mind to a monkey swinging through trees, always moving, always a bit wild, and resistant to sitting quietly. The monkey’s a good metaphor because interacting with an animal requires acceptance of the animal’s nature and bringing patience and gentleness to the encounter – exactly the way we need to treat our own minds in bringing our mindfulness to the fore.

I find it fascinating how difficult it is to just be rather than always doing something in our minds. It’s a great paradox really – that it’s so difficult to do nothing! Distractions like TV, where it looks like we are doing nothing provide some relaxation, but are not the same as just being without distraction

In meditation we simply sit and gently experience ourselves – but lightly – without analysis, without judgement, without doing anything. Thoughts rarely stop for most of us – they come, they go – so let them, no need to become involved in the movements of the monkey and start swinging with it – only to observe. In that way you can rest, learn about yourself and switch modes from doing to being for a deep time-out from your normal state of mind.

Teacher Pema Chodron speaks of the importance of having an attitude of unconditional friendliness to the self when we’re learning meditation, like sitting with an old friend. Compassion for the ‘old friend’ can mean accepting that sometimes they’re as distracted and restless as a monkey, but they’re still a great friend.

Meditation is a way to bring out the mindfulness that is inherent in you, to access it as a power that is yours to harness. You don’t have to become a regular meditator to use your mindful awareness in every part of life.

Just BE the love that you ARE x