I have noticed that many of my client’s experience “monkey mind.” This mental dynamic seems to happen suddenly, or when life is boring and mundane. Some of these client’s report having dreams of a monkey, a monkey on their back, a monkey in the basement, a monkey in a tree or the word monkey seems to pop out unexpectedly.
The idea of having a “monkey mind” existed in ancient China, Japan, and is also a Buddhist phrase. The “monkey mind” contains or indicates an unsettled restlessness, a whimsical capriciousness, fanciful ruminations, inconstant thoughts that are confusing while running amok in the mind, and an indecisiveness with uncontrollable thinking that captures the mind.
When things seem to be the same old, same-old thing, a certain feeling of stagnation and stuckness fills one’s mind then a panic attack or an anxiety attack seems to happen to some people. A panic attack can certainly shake you up or awaken you. This experience can break up the doldrums and that stagnant feeling.
Panic and anxiety are aspects of fear, anxiety about the future, and can induce the monkey state of mind. Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. At various times, everyone can experience this type of mind. He understood that with these various active monkey like thoughts all banging around and clamoring for attention in the mind as an irrational warning alarm inside your head, actively telling you to be careful. There is a danger in the world and things or life can go awry.
One of the ways to quiet the mind and find an inner peace is through a meditation and/or relaxation practice. It is best to do a practice that resonates with you, whether it is a walking meditation in nature or simple sitting and being with your breath as you follow its movement in and out.
Here is a practice that might be useful to you to reduce anxiety and fear of all that mental activity.
When one breathes in and out, one’s concentration causes the generative force to rise and fall (in the microcosmic orbit) thus slowly turning the wheel of the law. Count from one to ten and then from ten to one hundred breaths with the heart (mind) following the counting to prevent it from wandering outside. When the heart and breathing are in unison, this is called locking up the monkey heart and tying up the running horse of intellect. (Luk 1990:48) -BJ Gallagher