What Meeting the Monkey tells us.
Posted On June 9, 2021
Meet your Monkey
If you close your eyes and try to think of nothing, it’s almost impossible to do and thoughts intrude.
Most of us find sitting in silence thinking of nothing difficult.
Only a few seconds pass before we start to experience thoughts that disturb our concentration. These thoughts and ideas flood our awareness and won’t go away. Often, they seem perfectly designed to get us to abandon our intention of experiencing the quiet, empty mind we seek in meditation.
Even when the thoughts are positive, the timing and nature of these thoughts can distract us from our purpose in any moment. Traditional meditators blame this distraction, the torrent of thoughts on what they call the Monkey. They view the Monkey and all they do as our main obstacle to experiencing the peace and stillness of an empty mind.
This peace and stillness and the associated ability to concentrate or focus our attention as we wish impacts on the quality of our life. This is true both for the external material rewards, the internal ‘peace’ and the ultimate spiritual benefits of the meditation path.
The Chattering Monkey, or Monkey, creates that constant thought loop in our heads that ruins our concentration on our work or keeps us from being in the moment.. The Monkey can also reinforce our negative beliefs about ourselves and fixate on our failures, flaws and mistakes. The Monkey is that internal voice that reminds or nags us with a collection of things we ‘should’ do or ‘could’ do; they are the “told you so character” who takes our past performance and rubs it in our faces. Our Monkeys can distract us at any given moment, usually with thoughts about unfinished business and loose ends that we can do nothing about at that moment.
Most of us struggle to exert any control over these thoughts and they can remain a source of distraction even for the most seasoned meditators.
If you don’t yet know what we mean, then meet your Monkey now.
It’s pretty easy to do just take ten minutes and try to sit with a quiet empty head.
Most of us struggle to do 5 minutes before we are interrupted with variety of enticing thoughts – this is what people mean by the Monkey.
We all seem to have one. If yours is like mine was, then the dialogue in your head can be overwhelming. This is often at its worse when we need to concentrate our perform. We ran many presentation courses in which we saw capable people who failed to perform simply because of the crescendo of noise that occurred in their heads as they stood up, or just before they stood up to speak.
This thinking or flow of thoughts we all seem to experience doesn’t naturally show any consistent positive result. It’s easy to believe the the noise is really driven by a chattering Monkey who is just there to disturb. Once we see this as inevitable or as the natural way of things then we lose our chances to change it,
We accept things as they are and do the best we can.
At one level this thought flow is just a stimulus like any other. The first thing to realise is that your thoughts / your Monkey is not you.
Your intention was to sit with an empty head so its not you who broke the spell and started thinking ……..
Watch now as you read on, what is the dialogue about ? Is it helping you to really check out what we are suggesting to your satisfaction?
Are you being hurried away to do something else? or alternatively rushed into trying this out without any real thought and commitment from you?
We believe this torrent of thoughts provided for you by your Monkey is there for you to consider as a possibility only. The final decision on what is real or what is worth trying out is yours. If you haven’t yet sorted our the relationship all their efforts are likely to be misguided or misaligned to your needs and purpose.
You may recall that even if you decide to follow the advice or suggestions they make you can then expect that the torrent will aparently change sides and give you the other side of the argument. This can lead you to procrastination; When you can see it’s just your Monkey giving you both sides of the story so that you can take a decision or make a choice, then those choices become easier and more sustainable.
Naturally most of us grow up not knowing that this torrent of thoughts is not us. As we grow we sense an increasing separation from everything outside us but internally it seems more natural to assume we are one.
Your Monkey’s role is to help you. They do this by showing you ideas and suggestions based on what they think you are trying to do or, in the absence of your own plan, what they think you should be doing.
It’s what they do.
What’s missing naturally is our role of leadership.
What we don’t do naturally is organise their help to really help. Naturally most of us are vague at best and largely unclear on who we are or what we want. Your Monkey is programmed to try to fill the gap and help. This can feel like nagging or even negativity. Without leadership the partnership founders reinforcing the common view of the Monkey as a chattering nuisance.
Now this moment
Watch what thoughts are in your head in this moment.
See if the thoughts you experience are providing you with real options to change the things you want to change.
Will they let you take action and move forward or will you end up where you were when you started to read this?
Will this idea attract a ‘coulda woulda shoulda’ label in 12 months’ time?
From our first conscious meeting with our Monkey it can be hard to realise they are a source of help, that their impetus can be affected by what we do and that their input can be tailored to our real needs. We believe they have rightly learnt the reputation of chattering nuisance and we work on this basis. No one told us or showed us that it could be different. We were left to it, on our own building a relationship as we grew through child hood and onwards collecting a history that set the tone for the relationship. A relationship based on confrontation rather than partnership.
At this moment if you haven’t read the book or taken the challenge. It may be a shock to consider the possibility your Monkey is not you. Just thinking like this and gaining a little separation makes a big difference.
If you do label your thought streams as your Monkey its likely you see them as tradition describes them at best useless and at worse a negative drain on your performance and your life. The possibility we bring for your consideration is that this is all caused by a poor set up and you can reengineer the relationship between you and your Monkey.
A little effort and you will find your Monkey can help you BE HAVE or DO whatever it is you really want.
There are many ways to calm your Monkey down and reduce the distraction of their thought flows. However most of theses methods do not offer permanent fixes. It’s like a sailor bailing out her leaky boat, without taking the time out to fix the leak, she is destined to bail for ever.
There is a way to work with your Monkey so that the thoughts they create give you good ideas, hunches and reminders of undone tasks that come at opportune times where you can act on them. There is a way to work with your Money that allows them to be a real helper.
Without a partnership, it’s likely you and your Monkey are trying to do different things. This means you are Misaligned and your resources are split. It’s like a tug of war team that doesn’t work together and your ability to achieve all that you could is forever sabotaged. Do nothing different and this state of affairs will continue and in our view you will miss a golden opportunity you can test one way or another in only 12 weeks.
Getting you and your Monkey focussed and agreed on the same path to success provides an opportunity for improving your concentration, power, confidence, and productivity that you can only dream of if the both of you are currently misaligned.
Right now, you may feel that the relationship is so good but you can change this and change it in a short space of time.
To get an objective view of the current state of your relationship with your Monkey take our Misaligned Monkey Relationship Survey. The survey gives you a numerical score reflecting your current relationship with your Monkey.
If you want more background, you can get the book at Amazon.The Misaligned Monkey
Learn more about the 12 week Challenge here