This is one article you will read more than once and I would be extremely surprised if you do not share this with your friends and near and dear ones. You are not reading this article by coincidence – it is just what you need! And when you share it, it would be just what the reader required at that moment. Every one of us needs this – more than ever before.
There was a monkey, restless by his own nature, as all monkeys are. As if that were not enough someone made him drink freely of wine, so that he became still more restless. Then a scorpion stung him. When a man is stung by a scorpion, he jumps about for a whole day; so the poor monkey found his condition worse than ever. To complete his misery a demon entered into him. What language can describe the uncontrollable restlessness of that monkey? The human mind is like that monkey.
- Swami Vivekananda, Raja-Yoga
The Monkey Mind is distracted from the present moment. It is either pre-occupied with the past or with the future. It is busy judging, analysing, worrying, negating and comparing everything with the present moment. It spoils the present moment forever, because a moment once lost cannot be recovered. You know that so well, don’t you?
No one intentionally wishes to fill their mind with negative thoughts and worries. So everyone I know says that these happen automatically. Thoughts just float in and out and you are helpless to control them. The thoughts control you and have you in their firm grip. It is as if your mind is always eager to speak with a negative voice. And you are helpless.
Here is a trick that will NEVER let you down. Try having a positive and a negative thought at the same time. Did you try that? Do you realize it is impossible? You cannot deliberately think of a positive and a negative thought at the same time! Just impossible!
Now try NOT to think of a pink elephant!
Were you able to manage that? I am sure your mind immediately conjured up either a vivid or a dull image of a pink elephant, depending on whether you are a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic person.
What does this mean? It means that you cannot push away a negative thought from your mind, but you can certainly replace it with another one. Once you think deliberate thoughts and take full control of what you want to think in your hands, the other thought cannot exist. Oh yes, it will return sooner or later – just replace it again… and again. Till it’s a lost thought, pun intended.
Here are the top TWELVE strategies you can use to deal with your negative thoughts and tame your monkey mind:
Immediately think of a positive thought and outcome that you wish over the day, over the week or in the near future. Concentrate on conjuring up an image in your mind that represents the outcome of the positive event. If your mind drifts, gently bring it back to this positive event and embellish it with sights, sounds and actions that you wish to see.
As soon as you notice yourself drifting onto a wave of negativity, immediately occupy your mind with a task at hand, get busy and active doing something that requires your concentration and attention. The busier you are doing something that you enjoy doing, the more difficult it is for your mind to play truant and wander in different directions.
Carefully observe the negative thought, acknowledge it, thank it for being there and continue addressing the thought for a while. The negative thought likes to be in charge, but actually you are! Once you have said your fill, carry on with your day. The more you try to fight or repress it, the stronger it becomes. So accept it, respond to it and move on.
Clamp your mouth shut and focus on breathing through your nose. Mouth breathing stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system and nose breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. So focus on your breathing in and out through your nose. To be more engaged, breathe in through your left nostril and breathe out through your right for a few seconds. Then switch nostrils. Even as you are doing this, plan your next move – what do you want to be doing next? As the negative thought fades away, get on with your day.
As the negative thought or worry grabs hold of you, you will observe yourself to become restless and ‘fidgety’. So compel yourself to be as still as you possibly can. Stand with your feet together, heels and toes touching each other or lie down in Savasana without a pillow and urge yourself to be completely still. By resisting the urge to fidget, itch, move your fingers or hands or toes and legs, you gain control over yourself and increase your mental strength.
Walk across to the mirror. Look at yourself carefully, especially your face and your eyes. Now do all that you need to do to change that image you see – compose yourself, relax yourself – till you see your eyes and your face reflecting the peace and calm that is the real you. Smile at yourself when you see the transformed image.
Speak aloud the negative thought and record it on your smartphone, alternatively you can write it down and then laugh out loud at how ridiculous, baseless and wasteful the activity has been. Tear up the sheet of paper where you have jotted down all your worries and negative thoughts into tiny pieces and flush them down the toilet. See your worries draining away.
Exercise will always assuage your mood, without exception. Walk, jog or run or do yoga or aerobics as you listen to uplifting music simultaneously. Concomitantly tell yourself, that all negative thoughts stop right now, focus on your body movements instead.
Keep a stock of funny jokes and stories on hand with you. Make a list of jokes that were directed at you. Now, each time a negative thought crops up unexpectedly, visit the list of jokes – laugh at others or laugh at yourself. Laughter will change you imperceptibly but irrevocably.
As soon as the negative thought appears, walk across to a mirror and then poke your tongue out at the negative thought, make faces at it, punch it or smile at it. Then walk away, leaving it behind the mirror.
Tell your mind that you will allow this negative thought a maximum of ____ seconds/minutes and no more. Tell yourself that these thoughts are no longer welcome thereafter and you have learnt all that you have from them. Use the stopwatch on your smartphone and set it to the ____ seconds/minutes that you allow. The moment it beeps, the negative thought is gone!
Postpone the thought to another day. Tell yourself that you thank the thought for coming up, but that it is not welcome at the present moment and should return some other day. When it returns, repeat this strategy. After a few days of this, it just wont return.