On Meditation, Monkey Mind, Original Thoughts

Howler monkey at Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica

I’ve started a new practice of meditating — just five minutes in the morning.  Then at various points during the day, when I’m walking home from work, for example, or during a short lull between serving patrons at the library, I might pause and for a few moments return my mind to my in-breath and out-breath.

I look at it as consciously giving my mind a rest.  We all know how important it is to give our bodies proper rest.  I think it is perhaps at least as important to give our minds a rest, too.  I trust that allowing some fallow time will be healthy and maybe even fruitful.  Who knows?

All books about meditation talk about how impossible it is to actually empty the mind for even five minutes without thoughts intruding. Zen masters call this “monkey mind.”  Of course, I experience this too.  When I notice a thought has once again caught my attention, I just acknowledge it and let it go, returning my focus to my breath.

I trust that detaching myself from my thoughts will help me to see how much I am in the thrall of autopilot mind.  And over time, perhaps I will become more thoughtful/less habitual in my resulting speech and actions.

One of the insights I’ve already noted is how very few of my thoughts, if any, are original.  Mostly, the thoughts that cross my mind are things I’ve already thought before, maybe even hundreds of times.  I’m ready to move on to something fresh and new!  How can we train or invite our minds to think more original thoughts?




4 thoughts on “On Meditation, Monkey Mind, Original Thoughts

  1. “How can we train or invite our minds to think more original thoughts?”

    I don’t mean this to be snarky or snide at all, but my immediate response was: by not emptying it. All of that detritus, all of those odd thoughts, all of those bits of experience collecting in the mind’s corners are the raw material of creativity. Allowing them to flow as they will through our conscious and subconscious mind is what allows new connections, new insights, and a rise in creativity.

    If anything, the emptying that I’ve found useful is the emptying represented by a rejection of social media, television, and so on. Of course tv isn’t the devil, and of course social media has its useful aspects. But the zombie-like state I see around me has nothing to do with creativity, and everything to do with allowing others to fill our minds with their thoughts: making it difficult for us to have our own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting conversation . . . Isn’t awareness the pivotal factor that allows for mindfulness and creativity? Maybe this is what “detaching oneself” from mindless thinking refers to? Awareness of what I’m thinking or feeling offers choice . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am giggling and my thought was…ohhhhh so the monkey mind is bored and wants to think it is having NEW thoughts 😛 (breath just coughed there)


  3. ps my monkey mind to use your choice of words compares and contrasts what comes into awareness about meditation in the first place, i try to please, i try to conform, i try to control, to command and to demand that I even agree that I neeeed meditation in the first place. I decide ahead of time a thing i want or do not want based on all that came before 😀 smiling here ty for sharing


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