• Michelle Cormack Southern Star Studios

Clear your "Monkey Mind"

He is a cutie, right? He doesn't look ready for a yoga class.

What is "monkey mind" Have you ever been in Shavasana (also called Savasana or Corpse Pose) and you just cannot clear your mind? Cannot stay still, everything is moving and you are doing everything but check the clock to see when you can get back to your many tasks? That is Monkey Mind.

Buddha held that the our mind is filled with drunken monkeys flinging themselves from tree branches, jumping around, and chattering nonstop. That our minds are in constant motion. A few things that take up space in our thoughts might be

  • Write your laundry list of to-do items before class

  • Freeing your mind by listing all fears, both real and imaginary.

  • Take a minute to get rid of the negative from the day(s) and come to the present.

  • Sometimes the past comes back to the front of your mind. Thinking of hurtful feelings, try feeling your body instead. The comfort of the moment. This can help if you have a bolster and blanket.

  • If you wonder into a “what-if” scenarios of the future creating catastrophic, find a place where you can be free.

  • Pick a class that is most likely to bring your attention inward to the pose during class so your mind is free and relaxed during Shavasana.

These seem all well and good but what if they still don't work...

​Here are some great ideas from an article Some I have already listed.

1. "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."

Again I have listed a few things your mind might be bring forward above... to do list, past and future events. Let them come forward and keep moving right out of your thoughts. They can be dealt with once class is over.

2. "Talk to Your Monkey Mind." Why are these thoughts coming forward? Stop and listen to your thoughts, give into them for the moment give yourself permission to deal with them later.

A few other ideas from the article above are listed at the bottom.

3. Establish a Journaling Practice. Either at the beginning of your day, before class, really anytime you can find a minute write down your thoughts. They can be delt with one at a time on your time. Meaning give yourself time to understand and clear off what it keeping space in your mind.

4. Meditate. Yes I know that was the problem and why you are reading this blog.Meditation does not come easy for those of us who have Monkey mind some or even all the time. The idea of meditation is that it must be done in a quite room on a mat. Well that is not possible for everyone every day. If you are out running all over town trying to finish the list for today finding time may not make the list. Trying sitting in your car before checking the next item off and just try clearing your mind. If even that seems like a task try Taming or talking to over what is keeping you from this moment you have given to yourself.

How long should you meditate? Well that is a question only you can answer. Again the picture we all have is sitting on your mat for 30 minutes to an hour. In a perfect day that would be the most helpful. However giving yourself 15 or even 5 mins. is better than none. You might even try a few times a day, 5 in here 15 there. Do what works for you in each day and don't judge yourself for not having an hour on a mat.

5. Practice the A-B-C Technique. Meaning "A is for “activating event”." That is, something happens. "B is for “beliefs”". Your monkey mind starts interpreting what’s happening based on your beliefs.C is for “consequences”. As a consequence of the thoughts that you’re having about what just happened, you feel certain emotions. I will admit this is not one that as worked for me but I list it because what doesn't works for one might be just the thing for someone else. How does it work? Well once you have the why the ABC ask these question...Does everyone have to or will they do everything the way you see or believe it should be done? No again we all work at different paces and have different ways of doing tasks. Understanding and allowing the process to work, as long as it gets done does it matter how it was completed even if it takes longer than you wish.

"C is for “consequences”. As a consequence of the thoughts that you’re having about what just happened, you feel certain emotions" such as Do you have to be ON all the time. ON... preforming for those around you or how you think they want you to act/be. No one can be ON all the time. It is just healthy. Being yourself is the key to happiness. As long as your behavior is not destructive to you or those around you.

"Is it realistic to believe that things must always go my way?" In your perfect world yes, just remember we each have our own perfect world and they might not work the same way. That is OK. Hard to do but the only way to let your monkey mind free.

6.Stop Assigning Meaning.artist Pablo Picasso once said the following: “If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes.” What he was saying is that if you allow your senses to take in what’s going around you, and then stop judging, critiquing, and assigning meaning. This can not only help in the moment but each moment after, making not only your monkey mind to find peace but you as well.

7.Recite a Mantra. I am sure you have been to classes were Mantras where spoken during the Shavasana. Peaseful saying to help calm the brain. The Mantra can be anything that you can considerate on....Be the change you wish to see in the world to I will be in the moment. You could pick the age old OM. Work with it and you will find what works for you.

8.Play a Game of Fives. "'Pause your train of thought and notice five things in your environment. It can be five things you see, hear, or smell."

As you feel your mind slipping away to play bring it back concentrate on the feel of the pose, The sound of the music even the smell of a candle if one is burning. I like to put lavender cloth over my classes eyes to keep a peaceful mind. Some students have smell issues, please let your instructor know if this is a problem for you. I give anyone with this issue a clean none lavender cloth..

9. Engage Your Mind. I like to color at the end of the day, you might like to read or watch a tv. When we are so deep into an activity that our monkey is at rest peace of body is sure to follow.Notice what calms your mind and the next time your monkey is driving you crazy try and find , an activity that draws you in completely, That should bring your mind back to the moment.

10. Try a breathing exercise. When I see that my class is having trouble breathing or getting into the moment we do a counted breathe. Inhale for a slow count of 4, hold for a slow count of 4, then exhale completely to a slow count of 8. Your breathe will deepen and your concentration will some back to center. In a previous blog there is a link to a breathing diagram. Normally this is a link I would give to clients with panic attach but it also works for Monkey Mind.

These are the ways that are most common relating to calming a monkey mind. I would like to add to this list. These are more for your day to day stress relievers.

11. What you are "seeing" might not be what is really happening. Have you ever noticed an event and judge it (good or bad) only to find out something totally different was going on? Or made a quick judgement on a person or situation with out thinking there might be a back story for their actions? Example I was in the store the other day and the lady in front me was writing a check. Frustrated and running late I asked the cashier if she gets many checks these days. Turns out the lady had had her identity stolen and did not trust using a card to pay. Apparently she only uses cash or checks now. My frustration and judgment that she could not get with the times was totally wrong. Before getting stressed think about the grays of life. Very little in our day to day is black and white.

12. Does it need to be done right now? Probably not, we are a NOW generation. Getting everything at the moment we want it doesn't always make us happy the next day, or even the next hour. Stop and just bring yourself to that moment (like playing the 5's) If your to do list has to many items look at it and see if you can take one or two off. Can someone help you even if it is not done like you would do it. Basically give yourself a break, everyone needs a day off (really off) every now and then

  • "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? Realize that you need to create an action plan for dealing with your past so that your monkey mind stops bringing it up."

I hope this helps



  • I hope this helps. If you need more information please email me at subject Monkey Mind blog.

If I do not know the answer I will research the subject.

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