How much of your time do you spend thinking about things that have nothing to do with helping you reach your goals?
If you’re like most people, the answer is, “A lot!”
So many things compete for our attention each day: billboards, television, advertisements, work, family, friends, and that nasty argument you had with the guy in the elevator. In fact, three days later, you’re still replaying that argument in your mind, complete with a revised version that includes what you wish you’d said.
When Buddha was teaching his followers how to quiet their minds more than 2,500 years ago, he said that the human mind is filled with drunken monkeys who are screeching, chattering, and endlessly carrying on. It’s no wonder that we often have trouble concentrating or getting anything done.
When you practice living in the Now Moment, you can more effectively quiet the drunken monkeys. Here are 7 ways to quiet Monkey Mind Chatter:
1. Shift Your Focus
Put your hand up in front of you like a policeman would to stop traffic and say, aloud, “Stop!” Then ask yourself (out loud), “What am I doing right now?” Answer with what you are doing, for example, “Right now, I am standing in front of the kitchen sink and I am washing this coffee cup. Now I am washing this spoon. The water feels warm and soothing against the skin on my hands. Now I am looking out the window” . . . you get the idea.
2. Get Busy
Do something physical. Take a walk. Go swimming. Dance. Clean the house. I once asked my 80-year-old aunt who had lived through the Great Depression and several personal tragedies how she dealt with the difficulties. She said, “Keep moving. Whenever those sad feelings try to take hold of your thoughts, get up and keep busy. Before you know it, you’ll feel happy again.” I tried it and she’s right. What’s more, science has proven that when we move, our bodies produce serotonin, the Happy Chemical.
3. Do Something You Enjoy
People have hobbies because they enjoy doing something they love. When you are working on a hobby, crocheting, gardening, your brain, thoughts, and feelings are focused on what you are doing and you have no distractions. You are absorbed in doing something you enjoy and the world falls away. In other words, those drunken monkeys have no audience, so they quiet down. So get busy doing something you thoroughly enjoy!
4. Plant a Garden
Start a flower, vegetable, or fruit garden. Cultivating the soil returns us to our roots—literally. It helps us achieve an emotional and psychological peace of mind. There’s something soothing about being outdoors, digging in the soil, and growing things. Scientists have discovered that soil contains microbes that have a natural antidepressant effect on our brain. This effect produces serotonin in our bodies and leads to feeling happy and relaxed.
5. Play With Your Pet
Animals are masters at living in the Now Moment. Play with your pet. Toss a ball for him to fetch, play tug of war with a rope, or just pet, cuddle, and snuggle with him. You’ll have so much fun that Monkey Mind will be silenced and you’ll forget the chaos of your formerly racing thoughts.
Set aside some time to relax and meditate. Although it may seem like your thoughts are racing, the mere act of sitting down and taking time to breathe calmly and deeply while focusing your thoughts on your breathing, can help quiet Monkey Mind.
7. Cast the Burden
If you’re still tormented by those chattering monkeys, do as Florence Scovel Shinn suggests in her book, The Game of Life and How to Play It. Cast the burden of those racing thoughts upon the Christ [the Spirit] within [you] and go free, trusting that you will be alright.