Meditation Hacks to Tame the Monkey

Let’s talk meditation, honestly.

So you already know that sitting in a one-hour guided meditation is the equivalent to sitting through a moment to moment experiment with your utter incapability to focus and clear the mind. Have you ever experienced the monkey brain syndrome while trying to follow a guided meditation with one of those lovely people with breathy, soothing voices? One of my favorite YouTube videos is of a Tibetan Monk describing meditation as a conversation with the monkey: “Hello monkey! Watch breath.” My monkey brain is super smart and clever, always busy, jumping from one tree to another, happily creating havoc and whipping up the energy in my brain.  

mmbi
Heather Gorham, Monkey Mind, 2009

I used to lie on the floor of my guided meditation class writing mental lists of all the things I needed to get done before I could relax and meditate. It was a very, very productive time in my life during my  fancy yoga and meditation classes paid handsomely out of my New York paralegal salary.

So here I am, 20 years later, and my attention span for meditation is much shorter than what it used to be. Yet I still enjoy the health benefits of meditation on a daily basis! How you ask? I call them my Meditation Hacks!  It is 5 minutes of meditation while cooking; really focusing on the sensation of the food I am preparing. How the vegetables look, how it feels to chop them, how the rough textures of the vegetables feel as I skin them. I focus on my breath and the sensation of the water, and the way the bubbles swirl down the drain while I wash dishes rhythmically. I sometimes take 5 minutes to focus on my breath when I lie down with my toddler as she falls asleep.

In the car it’s actively meditating while I drive. Yes, it is safe. In fact, we are so distracted when we drive, that actively focusing on our breathing and the visuals of the car in front of us, and the road, is far safer than what most distracted drivers do! I meditate while I drive, cook, put my toddler to bed and clean. It makes sense when you think of meditation as just a practice of mindfulness. Slowing down and noticing. Allowing without judging. Tuning in and grounding in the moment, whatever that moment may contain. As a mom, instructor, entrepreneur, speaker, wife and caregiver, I have few spaces in my day where I can do just “nothing.”

So I find ways to integrate mindfulness into my daily grind.

I also use BINAURAL BEATS. They are what many might consider a “cheat.” It is music that tricks your two cerebral hemispheres into coming into alignment. I am a sucker for  the neuroscience behind this method, and this is my new fix. I put on my headphones, and the carefully syncopated, electronically coded beats resonate in each ear differently. The effect is very meditative. I have reached a state of what I assume meditation gurus are describe: very relaxed, yet awake and present. It is magical. We all need different things in life. Why do we think one-size-fits-all meditation will work for us? One size fits all may work for clothes, but not for mindfulness work. Part of succeeding at a practice is to play with different tools, notice our experience, and try something different if its not working for us.

The key is to start anywhere and to do it now , and the benefits will leave you wanting more. So you do it more. And maybe it’s not consistent at first, but bit by bit, it becomes a habit. A good one. You can do this. This is how it became habit forming for me:

  • Start with a just noticing your breath.
  • How are you breathing? Where are you breathing?
  • For 2 minutes just pay close attention to your breath and body.
  • Just noticing and allowing your breathing to be your focus.  
  • How long are you breathing in, how long are your breathing out?
  • Count, and then, add a count in and a count out.

Be kind to yourself, and congratulate yourself for each success, no matter how small your strides. Your commitment to care for yourself gently, will pay off in all areas of your life areas where you now find more room to breathe. You will have created more space where energy can flow to your creativity, your health and toward a deep sense of happiness and calm.  So start now, and take that first deep breathe. Let it all out, very slowly. You are doing it, you are making progress, and you are succeeding. Congratulate yourself.

Brigette Irrarusso

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2 thoughts on “Meditation Hacks to Tame the Monkey

    1. Hi Jessie! I personally have not tried TM, but I’ll give you an example of how I incorporate meditation in various ways – today it is raining and I am working from home, so I stood outside in the rain, and thought of things I was grateful for. It made me feel calmer, and happier! Hope this helps. If you have any more thoughts to share I welcome them, on here or through my home page email! =)

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