Monkeys are intelligent and agile but impatient and fidgety. Unmonitored or uncontrolled, they can create mischief or even havoc.
In our modern day-to-day life, we are overwhelmed by 3 monkeys. Posing serious risks to focus, time-resource, relationships, and most importantly, health, they snatch our sleep, peace of mind, sense of balance and wellbeing.
The monkeys are mobile phones, money, and our mind.
Mobile phone is a smart tech device, a useful tool, and can be our good servant. But our deep attachment with the gadget has almost elevated it to a status of one of our body parts. Lording over us, the device is playing truant with sleep, mental health, interpersonal relationships, academic attainments, and productivity.
Money is a practical and necessary tool to survive. Money per se is not a nuisance but our addiction to it makes it so. Dazzled and enamored by its exterior facets -- status symbol, power, and flamboyant lifestyles -- we dance to money’s tune and often fail to realise when our material needs degenerate into greed, inviting misery.
Our mind is a rare gift to us by God. Incredibly intelligent with unlimited potential, it is our great asset and should be our friend. Yet unchannelled and unguided, our mind could be our worst enemy. The torrents of thoughts the mind produces, unless filtered or directed, can torment us. Anxiety, anger, jealousy, fear, depression, and other irrational and negative thoughts are some samples of the mischief an uncontrolled mind can create. In fact, the monkey mind is the most dominant mischief-maker, and if this one is mastered, the other two monkeys can be tamed. One profound insight that we receive from spiritual masters and health experts is the need to cultivate an attitude of ‘non-attachment’ to master such monkeys. The attitude allows us to live in this world fully without being attached to things or thoughts that cause disturbance and suffering. A mobile phone’s attachment with us runs deep, and to break free from its bondage we could practise keeping the mobile out of sight for hours or days, a kind of digital fasting. This way we can set ourselves free from its spell and enjoy more real-life connections and experiences. Our idea of money needs to be detached from some deep-seated illusions. One, that accumulation of money, exclusively for self, can bring us happiness and, two, that money is all wealth. As our scriptures say, money must be shubh, auspicious, to derive laabh, profit/value. By aligning the pursuit of money with ‘common good’, and reimagining ‘wealth’ in terms of health, relationships, goodwill, character, and contentment, we can tackle the nuisance side of money. To master our mind, we need to detach ourselves from the acts of the mind. Swami Vivekananda says, “Hold fast to the idea that we are watcher of the mind act. The mind is not I”. This idea of ‘we’ being the witness watching the drifting mind, as separate from ‘ourself’, is key and, can be learnt, as Swamiji says, “through strengthening our will by slow, continuous, persevering drill. “The three monkeys can serve us well only when we master them.
Ways to control the Monkey Mind
Learn to Meditate: A study reported that a brief instruction in either of two forms of meditation helped quiet negative thoughts in people who were told to think about a fear they had.
Cognitive behavior therapy teaches a person to recognize the negative thought processes they fall back on, and then consciously create a new thought—one that’s more based in reality—to replace it.
Practice Mindfulness is to pay attention to the present moment on purpose, and non-judgmentally.
Color, count, recite, run is all subtle ways of focusing on a thing or activity other than our rambling thoughts.
Talk to a person; write it out helps with both physical and psychological issues.
Practice acceptance current reality as it is
Get outside yourself by helping others to devote some time to an outside endeavor, particularly ones that benefit other people or the greater good
“Defuse” the rhetoric to help your negative thoughts lose power is to reframe or repeat what’s bothering you until it loses meaning.