3 Eastern Practices to Tame 'Monkey Mind'
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Keeping your thoughts together can help you be a more peaceful and organized entrepreneur. When you’re thinking clearly, you’ll act more confidently and decisively.
The Buddhist term “Monkey Mind” stems from the observation that left untamed, our minds' natural state can tend toward being unsettled, restless, indecisive and uncontrollable. However, the Buddhist and many others know that you have the power to tame your monkey mind and keep it in order.
Don’t let your thoughts rule you -- learn to rule your thoughts. A restless mind has many effects that can include trouble sleeping, poor decision-making, anxiety and even depression when left to run amuck. Learning to foster a calm mind will help you become a better entrepreneur.
Related: Mindfulness and the Startup CEO
Here are three mental training options you can try to help you tame your monkey mind.
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. -- Jon Kabat-Zinn
1. Mindfulness training. What is mindfulness? It’s the practice of consciously observing yourself and your thoughts in relation to every present moment with your surroundings. It’s being aware. It sounds simple, but it’s profoundly effective for many people in reducing stress and fostering more control over the mind monkeys.
While mindfulness training may have its origins in Buddhism, mainstream mindfulness has permeated the popular consciousness, in large part thanks to the efforts of Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn pioneered the movement in 1979 that learning the practice of mindful living could greatly heal our mind/body connection and reduce stress.
The mindfulness movement says that most of our stress comes from your thoughts being in contrast to your surroundings and that incongruity causes stress.
“I’m fat and I should be thin like everyone else.” “I’m not succeeding quickly and all my peers are.”
All these thoughts of what you should be, but aren’t in this present moment, cause disharmony and the monkey in your mind starts swinging from bad thoughts to worse and worse thoughts about yourself and your situation, causing more and more stress.
Mindfulness training facilitates the awareness of these thoughts, so you realize when you’re having them. From there it’s a mental training of trying not to judge these thoughts as “good” or “bad” (which could ultimately compound your stress more!) but just to notice you’re having them and start to ask more about why you feel this way.
What’s causing the thoughts? Are they really helping? Awareness is the essence of mindfulness training and it’s meant to help you start to pinpoint and question your stressful thoughts. Since we know now with medicine and scientific studies that stress has a profoundly negative and damaging effect on your health, it’s easy to see that practicing mindfulness could help you not only have a calmer mind as an entrepreneur, it could also greatly contribute to your health.
Licensed mindfulness trainers are available to help facilitate your journey to stress reduction.
Transcendental Meditation gives me an island of calm in the midst of so much turbulence. -- Paul McCartney
2. Transcendental Meditation touts its differences from other forms of meditation in three ways: it’s effortless, evidence-based and standardized.
Practicing transcendental meditation twice a day for 20 minutes has been touted by followers (although some question the science behind it) to calm anxiety, dissolve stress and even lower blood pressure. The idea is that you sit comfortably and quietly, and with the proper training (TM has certified instructors), you gently focus your attention inward until you break through your mind’s many thoughts and achieve a kind of peace that leaves you more at ease with yourself and your surroundings.
TM has a huge list of raving fans that includes celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Paul McCartney, who openly praise it on the TM website. If practicing Transcendental Meditation could help a Beatle and a talk show host, how might it help you tame monkey mind and achieve a powerful mindset for entrepreneurism?
If you want to be healthy and live to 100, do qigong. -- Dr. Mehmet Oz
3. Qigong is a Chinese holistic wellness practice that has many devoted followers across its traditional roots and in the western world. The word itself comes from the Chinese words for life force (Qi) and accomplishment (Gong). It’s the blending of breathing and intentional thinking.
In many ways it shares similar qualities to yoga in that it is trying to integrate body, mind and breathing into a total experience for health. The movement is also about cleansing your whole body, circulating out things that aren’t good for you.
A healthy mind combined with the challenge of breathing and physicality are believed to align the mind, body and spirit for it’s greatest accomplishment, the healthy and happy self. It’s not so much about perfection in Qigong, as it is about a continued practice toward mastering skills.
Like so many things, it’s not the destination that matters but the skills acquired and learned through the experience of the journey. Sounds a lot like entrepreneurism, no?