Zen Buddhists refer to the constant chatter of the mind as monkey mind.

The Buddha held that the human mind is filled with drunken monkeys flinging themselves from tree branches, jumping around, and chattering nonstop. He meant that our minds are in constant motion.
Typical mind chatter sounds like the following:

  • Your mind reading off a list of to-do items.
  • Your mind listing its fears, both real and imaginary.
  • Your mind recalling hurtful things that have happened in the past.
  • Your mind judging the present.
  • Your mind creating “what-if” scenarios of the future.

As a result of this monkey mind, it’s nearly impossible to slow down and enjoy the present. In addition, all that negativity affects our mood—making us unhappy, angry, restless, and anxious; it hampers our ability to concentrate; it has a negative impact on our behaviour; and it interferes with our ability to have positive interactions with others. The good news is that there are ways to get the monkey mind to calm down.

Taming your monkey mind will do all of the following for you:

  • It will give you clarity of mind.
  • It will allow you to focus on the present and on the task at hand.
  • It will improve the quality of your sleep.
  • It will increase your sense of calm and of well-being.
  • It will make you happier.

So, let’s get to it! Below you’ll discover a few ways to tame your monkey mind and stop mental chatter.

Know that Your Monkey Mind Can Be Tamed. The first step in your quest to calm your monkey mind is to know that it’s possible to do so.

Talk to Your Monkey Mind. When your monkey mind is in full swing, calm it down by having a conversation with it. Stop for a moment and listen to what your monkey mind is saying. Why is it upset? What’s all the raucous about? Then, do the following:

  • Is your monkey mind trying to remind you of something that needs to be done? Make a note of it and schedule the item so that your monkey mind doesn’t need to worry about it any longer.
  • Is your monkey mind anxious about something in the future? Reassure your monkey mind that everything is going to be fine. Conduct a worst-case scenario with your monkey mind, and come up with a contingency plan.
  • Is your monkey mind voicing resentment over something that happened in the past?  Realise that you need to create an action plan for dealing with your past so that your monkey mind stops bringing it up.

Sometimes your monkey mind just needs to be heard. Once it feels that it’s been allowed to voice its grievances and concerns, it will settle down.

Engage Your Mind. I’m sure that you’ve experienced moments when your mind was completely still. Perhaps you were so involved in a book, or in a movie, or in your writing, that the monkey mind went silent. You just experienced directly what was going on, without your mind chatter giving you a running commentary of events, as they occurred.

This is because one way to silence your monkey mind is by engaging your mind. The next time your monkey mind is driving you nuts, look for an activity that draws you in completely, so that all of your attention is placed on what you’re doing, and there’s no attention left over to listen to the monkey mind.

Meditate. Meditating is the most effective technique you can use to calm your monkey mind. By meditating you’ll be training your mind to become still, and you’ll be regaining power and control over your thoughts. If you create a daily practice of meditation you’ll become skilled at quieting your mind and at silencing the monkey mind at will.

Like anything to do with Personal Development – you need to practice – practice creates