Taming your Monkey
Learning to be focused in the present moment can be challenging. I don’t believe this is just the case for those who have experienced trauma, or for those with anxiety. I believe it is a symptom of fast-paced society, where we are driven to do more and where flashy technology and advertising vies for our attention. Often when we try to concentrate, our minds have a tendency to wander. It just takes some focused attention (and patience with yourself) to learn to be present and in the moment.
A distracted mind has even been referred to as ‘monkey mind’. I imagine this as having a monkey contained in a room – he’d be jumping from one piece of furniture to another, climbing the ways and hanging on the curtain rod or blinds - and all the while chattering incessantly. It is in this way that our minds tend to do the same: engaging in an endless flow of dialogue, jumping from topic to topic. If you are trying to focus your attention in the present moment, please do not be discouraged if your mind wanders! It is natural. Everyone has ‘monkey mind’ from time to time!
Reassure yourself that it takes practice to become mindful, to be in the moment and aware of your thoughts without judgment. If, while using a grounding or containment strategy, you notice your mind wanders, please be patient with yourself. It’s hard to learn a new skill; do not put yourself down or call yourself names. Most likely there have been enough people across your lifespan who have done that. Simply notice that it happened, be kind to yourself, and return to where you left off.
Article originally posted 2014/02/20 posted by Susan Guttridge (susanguttridge.wordpress.com)
Tolle, E. (2003). Stillness Speaks.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005). Guided Mindfulness Meditation, Series 1.
Susan Guttridge is a trauma-informed Master level Counsellor with the clinical designation of Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCPA). She has 20+ years experience providing individual and group therapy.