Taming the Monkey Mind - Among Other Things (The Blog)

Taming the Monkey Mind

File under: Multi-tasking on an African Safari

Over a long weekend last month (while living in Cape Town, a group of us flew to Johannesburg and trekked out to Kruger National Park for a four-day African safari.

It was amazing (and I learned so much about wildlife and conversation efforts, which you can read in this post) — but I won’t lie, I was worried that four days in a row of doing the same thing would get monotonous.

Don’t get me wrong — every damn day I wake up in disbelieve that I’m living in freakin’ Africa, but; you know… Just being honest. 

We had two safari “game drives” planned for the same time each day — seven of ‘em total — hence the potential monotony.

Quick spoiler alert… It wasn’t.

I thought back to one of my favorite Buddha analogies, wherein he references the “Monkey Mind” to describe the restless, agitated state we tend to find our minds in.

In other words, the places we let our thoughts wander (race?) through instead of simply being present. 

“Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets go to seize another; so, too, goes the mind. Further and further — higher and higher.”

The analogy refers to how we “swing” through various thoughts, rarely resting on one or in the present moment.

… Yeeeeeep. Who else?

what to wear on a kruger national park safari outfit packing list_7

Scientists have estimated that the average person processes around 70,000 thoughts per day — per fucking day!

For me — or for many of us, I imagine — lots of the thoughts we swing through are repetitious, hypothetical and based on hopes or fears and all of life’s daily stressors. Like, things that either haven’t happened or might not even happen. Such a waste of energy, right?

The art of taming the monkey mind is no easy feat — but I can tell you from experience, there’s a lot of peace, wisdom and compassion to be had in learning to do so.

So next time you find yourself racing through the metaphorical jungle, remember to stop, find a perch and enjoy the view — if only for a moment. You never know when it could change your trajectory entirely.

*In this post:

Sweater & necklace: Purchased locally
Leather backpack: Rebecca Minkoff ‘Julian’ (blush pink on sale here)
Jean shorts: One Teaspoon ‘Bad Seed Bandits’ shorts
Black and white shoes: Vionic ‘Code’ slip-on sneakers


Kristen Loken Photography

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