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Mindfulness and the Monkey Mind

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Our minds are abuzz with thousands of thoughts each day, all of which compete for our attention and a corollary action. The Buddhists call this untrained mind of buzzing thoughts the Monkey Mind.

The Monkey Mind, the ego mind, constantly flickers between conscious thoughts of love and unconscious thoughts of fear. This non-focused flickering is an intentional tool of the ego used to perpetuate confusion, attachments to duality and a resulting state of suffering. The ego's life depends on a consciousness of confusion, for with stillness and peace comes enlightenment and a death to the fearful attachments of our ego mind. Here, in this peace, only love exists.

"All that we are is a result of what we have thought." -- Buddha

Curiously, the metaphor of the Monkey Mind and how it traps consciousness in illusion and suffering holds great similarity to how monkeys are actually trapped in the jungle. In this process a hole is drilled at the bottom of a tree where monkeys are known to gather above. The hole, drilled to be just large enough for a monkey to stick its hand in, is filled with nuts that they love to eat.

At the back of the hole is a cavernous pocket, just large enough for the monkey to wrap its hand around the nuts. Smelling the nuts from the branches above, the monkey scampers down the tree to discover the origin of the enticing aroma. The monkey, desperately excited, has to have these nuts and so quickly, plunges its hand into the hole.

Feeling the nuts at the back of the hole, it grabs them. Now even more excited, the Monkey attempts to pull its hand out of the hole. Desperately though, as hard as the monkey pulls, its hand will not come back through this hole. Its balled fist, which is now wrapped around the nuts, is too large to make it through.

Try as it may, the monkey cannot pull its hand out of the hole and at the same time, it will not let loose of the nuts. The monkey has trapped itself. All that is required to be free is to let go of the nuts.

With the monkey's hand now stuck in the hole, the trapper simply walks up to the monkey and slips a rope around its neck. Sensing the peril of the situation, the monkey releases the nuts and its hand pulls back through the hole. Free of the hole, the monkey is, however, now the slave of its captor.

"It is your attachments that causes your suffering." -- Buddha

Like the monkey who has trapped itself, the untrained mind is tempted by the allure of fearful and dramatic thoughts. The ego mind, sustained by the consumption of such thoughts, enslaves our consciousness and our actions soon there follow. The result of this entrapment is attachment, an unconscious sleepwalking from which our actions bring suffering and we experience separation from love. We could free ourselves and find peace however, the unconscious mind is greatly attracted to the entertainment of our buzzing thoughts and those offered to us.

"The ancestor of every action is thought." -- Emerson

The Native Americans remind us of how to release ourselves and be free from such suffering. They say, "You have picked up the hot rocks of pain and suffering (fearful and dramatic thoughts), all that is required is that you turn your hand over and let them go."

Let go of the hot rocks, brave spiritual warrior, and be free of all pain and suffering. Be still, find peace within and know that you are God, co-creating with each thought everything you imagine and see around you. Choose mindfully that your thoughts are always loving and see how you create a world of great and everlasting peace.

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