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Who Has A Monkey Mind?

Some mornings I wake up and my mind is already racing. I think of my day ahead, the tasks I need to accomplish, and my adrenaline starts to pump hard in anticipation of the day. Those days always start off on the wrong footing. Things do not run smoothly, my words became a little harsher and my actions were robotic. Does this sound familiar?

Monkey Mind

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your daily life?

A number of my patients come to me with these stories of stress and anxiety in the morning. It has become commonplace or almost expected that we have these feelings. Do you check your emails when you wake up and begin thinking about work? Do you feel the knot in your stomach when you see a response from a colleague and you are dreading reading it? You are not alone. Our brain begins to race and we experience something Buddhists call “monkey minds”.

Our thoughts are like the monkeys, swing from branch to branch, tree to tree; so trying to contain ourselves in one moment can be difficult.

There are also so many experts that discuss living in the moment and being present in that space. But how do we stop our minds from swinging? I had to really sit with that thought for a while before I could understand what it meant to me and how I could achieve it in a practical manner. So this is what I have come to understand about being present for myself:

Being present means, I had to stop and become completely aware of here and now. You are not worrying about the future or thinking about the past. When you live in the present, you are living where life is happening. The past and future are illusions, they don’t exist. The word “present” can also be interchanged for “mindfulness”. For me that means engaging in multiple senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste), at any given time. This allows me to be aware of my current surroundings and stops me from thinking about the past and the future. It forces me to connect more deliberately and slowly with whatever I am doing at that moment. For example, think about eating a meal. There are so many textures, colours, scents, flavours that are present. Eating forces me to slow down and really savour that moment and is a great way to practice being present because of the frequency of our meals. How many times have you driven from point A to B without even realizing it? This is a perfect time to utilize your senses to bring you back to the here and now. I have also incorporated some breathing exercises that I use multiple times a day to bring the mindlessness back to mindfulness. Focusing on my lungs filling up, feeling the warm air in my nose, watching my belly rise and fall, listening to my breath!   I love Dr. Andrew Weil’s techniques and find myself resorting to them daily! http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html.

It will take time and practice to change your thoughts but it is helpful. It will allow you to manage your stress and be able to reduce the anxiety you feel allowing your to focus and present in your every day life.

– Dr. Shar Rai

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