I’ve been struggling with my Monkey Mind for the past month. Okay 3-months! The endless “chatter” that fills my head and makes it impossible for any real constructive thought, or sleep, or relaxation. Chatter, chatter chatter it goes. On and On. Never-ending. “Take a breath already!” I say out loud, exasperated. I know why it chatters and makes my heart pound in my throat, choking me from the inside out. FEAR, ANXIETY, UNCERTAINTY, POTENTIAL SUCCESS and FAILURE, RISK, and SELF-DOUBT dance around me like children on a playground, hand-in-hand encircling me, daring me to take a stand.
I want to escape. Go somewhere far, far away where my monkey mind can’t find me. Surely there is a place, I mean really far away. I bury my head in my pillow and wait for tomorrow to come. Tomorrow will be better. My monkey mind doesn’t stop. Chatter, chatter, chatter it goes.
I reorganize my little 200 square foot cottage that has piles of paper all around – different projects I’m working on, research for my next few newspaper articles, rejection letters, travel notes on places I can’t wait to check out. Into binders they go with neatly printed labels and dividers. Decluttering helps tremendously and I begin to feel refreshed. When the chatter returns, I’m feeling less overwhelmed.
“I GOT THIS” I tell myself! I put on some upbeat music and do my own version of a Rocky Balboa victory dance. Fill myself with positive energy. Psyche myself up! Feel the blood pumping into a frenzy and try not to pass out. I shake that monkey into submission. I do really well for a few days. Then my monkey mind returns. Chatter, chatter, chatter it goes.
I focus on my breathing. Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t have to be in a silent room, free from distraction, staring at a wall, empty of mind. It can be done simply by bringing focus to the breath. This puts me into the present moment, “the now”. Breathing in and out, focusing on my breath. If chatter is going on in the background, let it be. It doesn’t matter, just focus on my breathing.
It helps. Chatter temporarily quiets.
When I stop focusing, the chatter starts to return. I listen to the chatter, now that it’s not so loud and deafening. What is my monkey mind saying? Is it worried I’m not going to get a contract award that I submitted? Is it worried I might forget something important? Is it afraid that if I get job I interviewed for I won’t be able to do it perfectly? Is it frustrated that I’m not making the progress I expected?
Depending upon the day it could be any one of these. I take time to talk with my monkey mind. I write down the things I need to remember. I assure myself that if this contract isn’t awarded, another one will. I remind myself that I’m a beautifully flawed human and to embrace my many imperfections. I explain that I’m moving at the pace that is needed, no need to rush, be patient.
And then I realize, “who am I going to disappoint?” Am I worried for myself? Or am I worried because of I’m imposing pressure from society, for what “I think is expected”?
I remind my monkey mind that I’m living for My Own Personal Happiness. If I’m happy, then all is good. If I’m not happy, then it is within my power to change.
Listen to your chatter. Realize its intention. Make friends with your monkey mind.
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