The term "monkey mind" has become synonymous with worrying, anxiety, and an addiction to business. It's essentially a mind at the opposite of stillness.
Ever since I first heard the phrase "monkey mind" I disliked it. For one, it didn't make any sense to me. Monkeys are by nature playful, curious, and spirited. When I'm spiraling down in negative thinking, the last thing I associate that with is monkeys. In fact, I would rather have a monkey mind, because I'd be far more likely to go play and stop worrying so much!
As I was talking to a friend the other day, this expression "monkey mind" came up as I was about to say I was wrestling with my thoughts. Since I'm not a fan of the phrase, I got all jumbled up, and ended up saying,
"I'm wrestling the monkey!"
After I said it I began laughing. This, for me, felt like a much more apt metaphor for what I was feeling. I could see how when I'm wrestling with worry, what I'm wrestling with is something that is by nature care-free and happy.
My mind, when not engaged with worry and doubt, is naturally playful and curious. All of ours are. We know this because we were all once playful and curious children.
So when I begin obsessing over worrisome things, fighting with my anxiety, or thinking about all the things that happened ten years ago, and might happen ten years from now, I am basically grabbing a part of myself and engaging it in battle. All these thoughts want is to be set free and to be able to return to their carefree and curious state.
Now, when I catch myself wrestling with my thoughts and feelings, I imagine I'm wrestling a monkey. This always makes me laugh, because it's such a funny visual. Once I get myself to smile, I'm already feeling better.
Then I acknowledge that the thoughts don't want to be wrestling with me anymore than a monkey does. All the thoughts really want are to be set free, so they can play and find solutions in the way the mind does best - through feelings of ease, joy, and freedom.
I don't know about you, but I've never solved any of my problems by wrestling with the monkey.
The next time you find yourself obsessing over things you can't control, spiraling into negative thinking, or just feeling like you're fighting with your own well-being, imagine you're wrestling a monkey. It will hopefully make you laugh, which will break the tension. It will also put into perspective how hard it is to get perspective when you're fully engaged in the inner-battle.
In the same way a monkey would get tired if you never let it rest and always wrestled with it, so too does your spirit. Your spirit is tired. It wants to rest. It wants to let go of all that stuff you're fighting with. So just let it go. Let the monkey go. Repeat after me.
Do not wrestle the monkey.
The monkey will thank you. And since the monkey is just a metaphor for your thoughts, you will thank you. You will return to wholeness. And you will find what you need, which is so hard to see when you're neck deep in monkey fur, trying to wrestle the poor thing to the ground.