How do you Quiet the “Monkey Mind”?

One student asks, how do you quiet the “monkey mind”?

The answer: Give it a banana! When you give a monkey a banana it will sit still, calm down and eat it. The banana is representative of the focal point we use to during meditation. Give the mind something to focus on and it will calm down and become more centered. Diligent practice results in a more disciplined, still and controlled mind.

An excellent precursor to meditation that helps to develop focus is to first learn the Concentration Exercise. For more details on learning to meditate be sure to check out this article on How to Meditate.

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14 comments
Vince says August 4, 2010

The problem with Vince’s monkey mind is that it would be munching on 4 or more different bananas at the same time so focusing would still be an issue per se. No kidding, I focusing had been a major problem since I usually think of different things at the same time! I need help.

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Vicky says August 4, 2010

Thank you for the links, I checked them out and found a gold mine full of golden information.

Just a thought, sometimes I do tend to overcomplicate things hence end up stressed out and focusing would be very difficult after. Your banana analogy made me contemplate on how simplicity works efficiently, thanks!

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James says August 4, 2010

The concentration exercises you shared reminded me of my football coach when I was in high school. He would often tell us that the key to success is focus. Great guy. He had the same approach and I recall we did some of the exercises you mention in there.

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Psyche says August 4, 2010

Great example, the banana analogy is a very effective explaination of this topic. Major props!

You are right on so many levels, but lemme just focus on “focus”. For most people, myself included gaining focus is very difficult. As to what reasons, that I have yet to figure out so I will be sticky around hoping to find it here.

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Apple says August 4, 2010

Smart. This makes a lot of sense to me.

I have a question though, would it be the same result if you give the monkey mind two different fruit? or object to focus on?

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Tony says August 10, 2010

At times when my mind seems to be running out of control, all I need to do is remind myself that my brain is not my true “life center”, rather my heart is. This miraculously frees/drains my mind of thought, and allows me to instantly enter a state of awareness. Try it!

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BMA says August 14, 2010

No, the mind can only effectively concentrate on one thing at a time so it is not recommended to have more than one focal point during meditation. Thank you for your question.

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mbeharry says September 9, 2010

Thats a good one Tony, I will give it a shot or three. But i think my monkey mind needs a slap upside his head to stop leading me down the slippery slope of thoughts and emotions. 🙂

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Becca says September 30, 2010

This is an interesting way for a student to explain the racing thoughts in his or her mind. My daughter has Bipolar disorder and is currently working on meditation as part of her singing classes. The first 20 minutes are guided meditation. I will admit that I sit there and close my eyes too! When I do not participate I watch my daughter squirm and struggle just to lie there. The more she works at it the better she is getting. She is just so impatient with it all!
Becca

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Carrie says September 30, 2010

This is such an important thing to be able to do. I know that so many people are unable to quiet the voices. I think that this is why more people are not meditating. They try it once and quit! It is so important that they come back again and again. It certainly takes a lot of practice.

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Sarah says September 30, 2010

Monkey mind… Interesting. I am forever thinking about 600 things all at once. I know that I do not juggle it all well but what is a mother to do? I will keep practicing but it sometimes seems like an impossible feat.

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BMA says October 3, 2010

Thank you for your comments Becca. Typically everyone has difficulty meditating at first but with consistent practice it will get easier. Encouraging words and support from a parent can go a long way in helping any child face challenges in his or her life. It sounds like both you and your daughter are on the right track! Kudos to you for helping your child learn a skill (meditation) that can serve her well the rest of her life with ongoing practice.

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Peachy says August 2, 2012

Monkey mind put me off meditation for the longest time – particularly because I was focusing… on the monkey! I found success when I visualized each stray thought as a monkey, handed it a banana, patted it on its head, and sent it on its way, then returned my attention to my breathing (or water moving, if available – ripples on a lake, rain on a window, the small fountain on my desk, whatever). At one point I actually imagined myself sitting in a jungle, meditating by a pool of water in an old stone fountain, with monkeys coming around, dropping down from the trees above to see what I was up to. Here’s your banana, thanks for stopping by! And back to the fountain I go. Works for as many monkeys as needed 😉

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Shifu Ahles says August 3, 2012

Funny stuff Peachy!

Now, just for fun, let’s review:

The “monkey” represents the busy mind.

The “banana” represents something to focus on.

The breath (or any focal point you choose) would be a “banana for the monkey”!

Only one please. 🙂

In other words, regardless of the number of thoughts (the monkey gone wild) once you realize it, simply go back to your focal point.

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