Saturday, 13 June 2015

Taming Our Monkey Mind

Our mind, on average, has over 50,000 thoughts in a day ­ even while busy with a certain task, it is forever racing ahead with numerous other thoughts ­ of potential rewards, missed opportunities, future actions and so on. Besides, for many of us, a large proportion of these thoughts have a negative slant ­ thoughts like, "I wish i were healthier; I dislike myself for being so socially awkward; I doubt if i will ever be successful; My spouse or colleagues don't really value me; What if i don't get promoted or lose my job? I wish my children were smarter or respected me more; If only i had taken that step", are all too commonplace.

This mental chatter is no passing cloud, but a permanent `noise' in the background. Driven by our karmic imprint and our life experiences, particularly during the impressionable childhood years, the monkey mind is a result of our deep inner insecurity about our physical life form and a constant endeavour to somehow control our destiny .

While some of this noise goads us towards personal and social development, much of it is dysfunctional. It restricts us from fully enjoying the present, resulting in lower effectiveness and a diluted sense of fulfilment. The negative undertones of many of our thoughts generate heightened emotions of fear, anxiety, anger or envy, making us restless, confused and impulsive.

Here are five ideas for taming the monkey mind.

First, eliminate comparisons. We routinely judge ourselves in comparison to others.Since there's always someone who's richer, more beautiful or more knowledgeable than us, it accentuates our inner insecurity. For a quieter mind, we need to get comfortable living by our personal values and inner yardsticks of evaluation rather than any external comparisons ­ build high self-respect and recognise that only when we respect ourselves do we earn others' respect.

Second, be more grateful. In our achievement-orientated society , we get easily caught up in wanting more of everything in life, making us discontented with whatever we have. We experience a sense of lack because we are constantly thinking about what we don't have rather than be grateful for all that we do. Focussing on the numerous gifts we are blessed with strengthens our sense of inner security.

Third, realise our wholeness. At a deeper level, slowing down the restless mind involves realising how whole and complete we already are, even if our mental models, steeped in the physical and material world, make us believe otherwise. We can break a glass container into as many pieces as we want, but the innate nature of each of those pieces remains the same. Each of us is one of those pieces of the perfect universe.

Fourth, trust the universe. We need to let go of our incessant desire to control all our outcomes ­ this requires trusting the universe and its flawless evolution. The sun rises and sets, the clouds turn into rain, and plants are born ­ some to become trees and others to die early as they need to. Trusting the universe and accepting that whatever happens, happens for our highest good, slows down our thought-patterns and helps us experience greater peace.

Fifth, practise mindfulness. Mindfulness entails trusting the present moment to be as precious as any other and valuing where we are, and whatever we are engaged with in the moment, over anywhere else that our mind makes us feel we could or rather be. Practising mindfulness stills the mind, deepens our clarity and calms our anxieties ­ thereby enhancing confidence and reducing the number of our thoughts.

By Rajiv Vij first published in

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