Monkey Mind and Merry Christmas

In Zen Buddhism, there is a concept known as ‘monkey mind’, which describes the constant background chatter in our minds as our consciousness swings from thought to thought just as a monkey would swing from tree to tree. I have been struck recently by the capricious nature of my own monkey mind, particularly when it comes to my writing.

In short, I’ve been thinking. And this is not always a good thing. I tend to think a lot, and sometimes it ends up getting me into a rut of sorts. I overanalyze, and this turns into worry, which in turn becomes fear about the future. I write one piece that doesn’t meet my exacting standards, and pretty soon, I have decided that I am no good at anything at all and might as well despair because I’ll never amount to anything anyway.

Fear is a funny emotion. When it grips you, it becomes all encompassing and shuts out all light. For me, it manifests itself as a tightening in my chest and stomach. In addition, my attention narrows until it includes only what I am afraid of. I become tunnel visioned and my heart contracts until I feel small and as though I have nothing to offer the world. It is, in summary, a party-pooper of an emotion.

But there are antidotes to fear. In my mind, the most powerful antidotes to fear are gratitude and humor. When I realize that I am afraid, and that I am blowing things out of proportion, I can take a moment to laugh at the antics of my monkey mind. Then, I bring my attention back to the present moment, and the many blessings in my life that I am grateful for. And most of the time, it helps. A lot.

So today, on this Christmas Eve, I am taking a moment to breathe deeply, laugh a little, and express gratitude for all the myriad blessings in my life. I hope that anyone reading this has a beautiful and merry holiday season surrounded by their loved ones, with plenty to eat and lots to feel grateful for. Merry Christmas.



    1. Indeed. So true! It can feel overwhelming sometimes. But then it becomes an interesting challenge to work with our brains to make them our allies instead of our enemies. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting and joining the conversation! I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. Happy holidays.


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