Param Srikantia (Deva Anugraha) offers some sage advice on how to deal with the mind, the ‘chattering monkey’. Published on cleveland.com, November 29, 2020
We rely on our minds to navigate life’s challenges. We analyze situations and generate solutions. But unless we are conscious of how the mind operates, it can wreak havoc.
Notice that even while you are reading this article, there is a voice in your head that is continuously talking. That voice continually creates stories and interpretations.
How often do those stories create stress, take you into the past or future instead of being “here now” – or even ruin valued relationships?
Mystics liken the mind to a “chattering monkey” that moves from branch to branch and sometimes tricks us. We doubt the robustness of everybody else’s minds, but we seldom question our own chattering monkey!
Inspired by the works of the Indian mystic Osho, who left behind a legacy of over 2,000 books, here are a few questions that can enable us to see and transcend the habit patterns of our mind:
How can you overcome the traffic jam of thoughts arising in your mind?
When we simply watch and witness the flow of thoughts and feelings inside us (our chattering monkey), we are not sucked into the tension and stress they create. Osho likens observing our thoughts and feelings to watching clouds floating in our inner sky.
What is your mind’s unique strategy for making you unhappy?
Many of us become uncomfortable when we are happy. We have practiced being miserable. In the absence of anything to worry about, our mind will find new worries.
What’s your mind’s dance with sadness, fear, anxiety or anger?
Based on our childhood, our minds become accustomed to a favorite emotion – usually sadness, anger, anxiety or fear. Your mind will constantly tempt you with thoughts that will produce your favorite emotion.
Is your mind a bottomless begging bowl?
Osho has pointed out that desires grow in the mind like leaves grow on a tree. We are victims of endless desires that produce discontent. Once a desire is achieved, our mind just asks for more. To experience gratitude, the mind needs practice.
Does your mind make molehills and then mountains?
The mind also loves to manufacture problems. As Osho noted in his book ‘Joy‘ [a compilation, ed.], the mind and ego feel worthless if you are just enjoying life. By creating problems to work on, our mind can feed the ego and make us feel we are doing something important.
Is your mind missing the beauty of the present moment?
Our mind swings like a pendulum between the past and the future, ignoring the present moment. Instead, redirect the mind to be in the here and now, taking in the present fully. If we are lost in the past and in the future, our lives will disappear quickly.
We must not fall into the trap of believing that the mind is “bad.” As Osho said, while the mind is a disastrous master, it can be a helpful assistant to a loving heart.
For example, highly strategic minds orchestrated the Holocaust. But the same intellect, if serving a compassionate heart, can contribute to well-being.
In these turbulent times, instead of getting carried away by our chattering monkeys’ stories and distortions, let’s encourage our whispering hearts to speak the language of love.
cleaveland.com – Image by Osho News, credit Bhagawati