What is ‘the monkey mind’? It’s the part of your brain that’s always going, always on, always shooting off in 10 different directions at once, obsessed with the next thing, and the next– but also the last, and the one before that, not to mention that one thing WAY back there, and oh– what a neat little thing that is! I wonder how it works? Oh damn, I’ve gotta be somewhere right now… and on and on it goes.
Unfortunately the monkey mind, which is almost entirely subconscious, generally runs the show. Most of us are in this state– as in, being our thoughts as they flit fervently from one thing to the next, as opposed to being the awareness of those thoughts — most of the time. Here, Geoffery James from Inc.com, breaks it down in six simple steps:
1. Sit cross-legged in a quiet place, preferably on a low pillow to reduce strain on your back. Take deep breaths.
2. Close your eyes and listen to your inner monologue, the thoughts that spin through your mind all the time: work, home, TV, whatever. Those thoughts are the chattering of your “monkey mind.” Don’t try to stop it from chattering, at least not yet. Instead just observe how it jumps from thought to thought to thought. Do this for five minutes every day for a week.
3. After a week, without trying to silence your monkey mind, during the meditation, shift your attention to your “ox mind.” Your ox mind is the part of your brain that thinks slowly and quietly. It senses things around you. It doesn’t try to assign meaning to anything. It just sees, hears, and feels. Most people only really hear their ox mind when they experience a “breathtaking moment” that temporarily stops the monkey mind from chattering. However, even when your monkey mind is driving you crazy with rush-rush-rush and push-push-push, your ox mind is still there, thinking its slow, deep thoughts.
4. Once you’re feeling more aware of your ox mind, ask it to start quieting your monkey mind down. What worked for me was imagining the monkey mind going to sleep due to the slow walking of the ox as it moves patiently along a road. Don’t get upset if your monkey mind keeps waking up. It’s a monkey, so it can’t help acting like one. However, you’ll find that, despite its protests, your monkey mind would rather give it rest and stop making all that tiring and tiresome noise.
5. As your monkey mind calms down, continue to shift your attention to your ox mind. Each breath will seem to take a long time. You’ll feel the air on your skin. You may feel your blood flowing through your body. If you open your eyes, the world will look brand new and even rather strange. A window, for example, becomes just a square thing that full of light. It doesn’t need to be opened or closed or cleaned or repaired or anything else. It’s just there. You’re just there.
6. While it can take a while to get there, you’ll know you’re doing the exercise correctly when it seems as if no time has passed at all between when you started the timer and when it goes off. When you succeed at that, gradually increase the amount of time you spend each day. Weirdly, no matter how long you practice, it will seem as if no time has passed.
Source: This is a short excerpt from a longer article entitled “How Steve Jobs Trained His Own Brain“, from Inc.com, by Geoffery James. It is shared here with his permission. You can also check out his new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, available wherever fine books are sold! www.geoffreyjames.com
To read more about Steve Jobs, intuition and innovation, check out our article “15 Quotes on Enlightened Business Practice From Steve Jobs’ Number One Guru“.