Do you constantly feel like you have a voice in your head (feeding you negative thoughts!)? Well the good news is that this doesn’t make you crazy, it’s actually built into our DNA to have this pesky sidekick living alongside us. This mostly unwanted friend is often referred to as our “Monkey Mind” and like any monkey – it needs to be properly tamed. If the monkey mind is not properly tamed and we attach ourselves to it, that’s when serious problems begin to arise in our lives.
Here are 6 ways that you can quiet your monkey mind and start living more in the moment…
1. Recognize that it’s there
The minute you begin to notice the thoughts arising from the monkey mind and detach yourself from them, that’s when it will begin to disappear. The monkey needs to know that you are paying attention and believing its thoughts. Starve the monkey by not paying attention to them – even laugh at them (this shouldn’t be hard because many are outrageous if you really stop to think about them).
2. Start journaling
Take notes on what the monkey mind is trying to tell you. Whether it’s a physical notebook or on your phone, begin to document what the monkey mind is saying and when it’s saying it. You should start to notice two patterns in – 1. What it’s saying 2. When it’s saying it (i.e. When you’re all alone). Both of these are equally important and will help you silence it over time. Additionally, take the time to write down what you are grateful for in your life (see #5) – I recommend starting each day with a 10 minute gratitude practice.
3. Accept your past
The monkey mind loves bringing up the past over and over again. It likes to tell you that because something went wrong that ONE TIME, that it’s going to always happen. This is a lie that the monkey mind feeds off of and is something that will bring you down to its level. Take the time to accept that your past happened (the good and the bad) and know that it has little to no bearing on the present (and future).
4. Focus on your breathing
When you start to notice negative thoughts from the monkey mind intruding on your brain, divert those thoughts by instead focusing on your breathing. Take deep belly breathes in from your nose and out your mouth until those thoughts run away. If you want to take this to the next level or have never been “taught” breathing techniques, I recommend exploring yoga – you’ll begin to understand and control your breathe (along with many other benefits).
5. Practice gratitude
By taking the time to think through what you are grateful for in life your monkey mind’s negative thoughts are not able to creep in. Gratitude focuses on the positive aspects of your life, which begins to rewire your brain to think more positively over time. Take 10 minutes at the start of every morning (wake up early if you say you don’t have the time) and write down 3 things that you are grateful for. That’s all. You’ll start to see the benefits on your attitude for the day almost immediately.
Probably the #1 way to calm the chatter of the monkey mind is to start meditating daily. By practicing meditation, you’re telling your mind to be still – only accepting thoughts when you ask for them to come in and join. You can use this skill to counteract a negative monkey mind thought as it comes in.