Friday, January 23, 2009

The Tale of the Monkey Mind

I seem to mention the Monkey Mind often enough that I thought I would write a little bit about it for those that are unfamiliar with the concept. It arises from Buddhism and is culturally engrained in both China and Japan.

Ann Pizer describes it as "The monkey-mind jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree. Rather than existing in the present moment, the monkey mind focuses on one thought after another, and these thoughts distract us from existing in the present."

The monkey mind, at least my monkey mind, is capable of evoking some pretty powerful emotions that have no correspondence to the current moment, sometimes no correspondence to the real world at. They can be entirely thought-constructs. If you have ever had an imaginary argument with someone about something that never happened and most likely never will happen, then you have felt that monkey mind at work.

There are a lot of other places the monkey mind likes to jump out of. If you are in a relationship and struggling with the battles of a past relationship, that is the monkey mind. If you are at work and bearing the wounds of a previous job, that is the monkey mind. If you see something you don't like in one time and space and then carry it into the next time and space, that is the monkey mind. The monkey mind loves to pull you from the present by distracting you with the not present.

Personally, a huge step for me has been recognizing the monkey mind and simply knowing that it is there. Knowing it is there is a good step toward working its way toward the true experience of the present.

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