How I Tame My Monkey Mind to Stress Less and Get Productive

Do you ever find yourself in a state of constant mind chatter, mental breakdown or overwhelming brain fire? You're not alone.

Do you recognize yourself saying things like these to yourself:

”I need to do that phone call before I can do my workout.”
”I have to spend more time with the kids.” 
”Oh, what if THAT happens?!?” 
”I don't think I'm good enough.” 
”I can't do THAT.” 
”I will never make it in time.” 
”Everything is so hard for me.” 

”I have such a bad luck.”

Negative brain chatter like this is what Buddhists call The Monkey Mind.

The monkey mind
— Buddha

A busy mind leads to stress, agitation and unhappiness to name a few. Our daily environment, inputs and lifestyle demand our brain to work on full speed and high drive all the time. On top of that, we have our internal battles, goals, visions and ideals.When the little amazing fat-slushy brain of ours get overworked, our visions and important tasks are hidden in the brain fog. When this happens it is time to clear it out and get rid of all the brain clutter.

A quiet mind on the other hand is calm. It's from still place like this that creative thoughts and ideas have a chance to emerge, to pop up as out of the blue. A quiet mind is peaceful, happy, responsive and extremely efficient.  

So how do you tame your monkey mind? Below is a great technique that I have added to my daily routines. I use it to clear out my brain fog and to off-load my brain from stressful thoughts.

Taming the monkey mind

  1. Set aside 5-20 minutes (depending on your schedule).
  2. Take a book, paper or computer and write down and empty your mind from all the negative and heavy thoughts that are swinging and worrying you. 
  3. Ask yourself questions like; What is stressing me? What do I need to do today? What is the most important thing that I need to take care of and solve in the nearest future?

This is actually an efficient way to schedule when to worry, instead of keeping bad thoughts in your mind all day long. When stressful thoughts pop up, instruct yourself to take care of that problem in the monkey mind log. Let your stress factors book an appointment with you! When you have time to deal with them. This method gives you a clearer mind and it allows you to be more present and effective.

Be sure to write down even the smallest thought - you will soon realize the effect it has. I also use this method as a gratefulness log when I don't feel that I have a lot of stress factors. I then write down what I'm experiencing and what I'm grateful for. Soon that productive and positive brain of yours comes back to it's neutral state. 

That’s how you tame your monkeys!

My morning tea routine and the notebook I use for my Monkey Mind log.

My morning tea routine and the notebook I use for my Monkey Mind log.

More on the monkey mind

If you are interested and want to learn more about the monkey mind, I find these two sources great when I'm lost and my monkeys are going wild, to get back on track:

Daring to live fully

Tim Ferris
I really love Tim Ferris' work, he is a big influencer to me, I'm basically addicted to his podcasts. Here you can listen to Tim's explanation of the monkey mind: