Three techniques you can try at home
‘The Monkey Mind’ is a concept that comes from Buddhism. To have a Monkey Mind is to be troubled by constant thoughts, worries, anxieties and fears; What if I don’t perform? What if I fail? How can I get that person to like me? And what if they don’t in the end?
We hold on to these thoughts and like monkeys swinging from branches, we seize another, before letting it go and so on. This ‘swinging’ from thought to thought means we are never fully focused on one thing and are constantly worrying about the next. To put it simply, to feel more steady and in control, we need to let the monkey rest sometimes.
So how do we do this?
To appropriately and effectively ‘calm the monkey’, we must work together with it. This can be achieved through ‘mindful exercise’ which can include things that focus on the breath like yoga, or on careful, specific movements like Tai Chi or something like Gigong where your coordination is put to the test.
If you start by trying to clear your mind with meditation or just by sitting silently and quietly, you might not be able to and begin to feel frustrated, which makes your monkey louder. So start off with focusing on one of the above exercises!
Turn on some music
There is evidence to suggest that music can help you to focus and therefore be a step towards clearing your mind.
If we think about it logically, when there is music playing, it’s more difficult to hear your distracting thoughts or it at least becomes easier to not hold on to them, to let them come and then go again.
We recommend making your own playlist of songs that you find calming and relaxing. Since everybody’s music taste is different, take the time to sit down and create a playlist that makes you feel peaceful and press play when you feel your mind racing. Play it quietly and focus on the instruments, sounds and the lyrics and your mind should feel a little clearer after a few minutes.
Take A Walk
It sounds almost too simple, but it really works!
When you feel yourself overthinking and your head begins to feel ‘full’, if you can, put on your coat and shoes and leave the house or take a walk around the garden. Once you’re outside in the fresh air, listen to the noises around you, name five colours you can spot or five different plants or trees you see. This will help ground you and help to stop the incessant thoughts of your racing mind.
Credit: Charly Brown