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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Taking your monkey mind for a walk

"Monkey mind" is a Buddhist term meaning an unsettled or restless mind.   When we are busy doing things, our monkey mind usually isn't noticeable.  But when we try to relax that monkey comes bouncing out, and our thoughts follow it's crazy trajectory.  Instead of resting we're thinking about our jobs, our family responsibilities, financial commitments and any other thing the monkey finds interesting.   That darn monkey will even wake you up in the middle of the night if it thinks you haven't worried enough during the day.

So we look for ways to quiet the monkey.  Meditation, we're told, is the answer.  Still the monkey, find the quiet within.  Yes, meditation is the answer.  But don't think for one minute that monkey is going to cooperate!  You can light a candle, turn off your phone and sit on a meditation pillow but quieting the body and quieting the mind are two very different things.  And while meditation does require a stilling of the mind, it is not necessary to sit like a statue.

Moving meditation is a great option.  Tai chi and qi gong are two excellent examples of moving meditation.  The benefits are myriad, but learning these forms can be complicated and lengthy (it's worth it though!)   Here's an easy moving meditation you can do anywhere, anytime.  I learned this technique from Dr. Parmjit Singh  who is associated with McMaster University here in Hamilton, Ontario.

Go for a walk.  As you walk, you're going to touch each finger tip with your thumb (left thumb touches finger tips on left hand, right thumb touches finger tips on right hand).  Starting with the baby finger, touch each finger tip once until you get to the index finger, then reverse by touching the index finger again and work your way back to the baby finger.  Eight touches in all. 

As you do this you are going to control your breathing.  (Remember to breath with your diaphragm, the air going into your belly - don't raise your shoulders when you inhale.) You inhale for 4 touches and exhale for 4 touches.  Each inhale and exhale will be separated into 4 short breaths, timed to match your finger tip touching:

Touch thumbs to baby fingers - short inhale
Touch thumbs to ring fingers - short inhale
Touch thumbs to middle fingers - short inhale
Touch thumbs to index fingers - short inhale
Touch thumbs to index fingers - short exhale
Touch thumbs to middle fingers - short exhale
Touch thumbs to ring fingers - short exhale
Touch thumbs to baby fingers - short exhale

This technique gives you the benefits of mild exercise and meditation at the same time.   So quiet that monkey by taking it out for a walk!

If you do this walking meditation barefoot on the grass or at the beach you'll also be getting all the benefits of earthing!


  1. My feet feel incredibly relaxed after earthing, thankyou!

    1. I'm so glad you tried it! And thanks for coming back and letting me know. :)

  2. Nice! By the way...your last post on earthing inspired me and I've been doing it fairly regularly since. Have to tell you that it's amazing and I'm so glad that I read about it here. Thank you for sharing. :)

    1. Very happy to hear you're benefiting from earthing!! I've been doing it a couple of times a week and find it's helping quiet my own monkey mind. :)

  3. A delightful post.

    I find that focusing on my breathing helps to settle the monkey. And if it gets too active at some point, I settle it again by focusing on my breathing. The other thing is that, since my mantra ties right in with my breathing cycle, that also helps my focus.

    1. Great point - mantras are an excellent monkey-calmer-downer!

  4. I walk every day and I will do this meditation. I can't walk barefoot because I have type 1 diabetes and also around here, too many rattlesnakes. But I will work on my monkey mind, using the breath and finger touching you describe here.

  5. Yes, keep your shoes on around those snakes! Please come back and let me know how you found the meditation technique.

  6. I've been doing this every time I need to clear my mind lately. Sometime I just stand on the porch instead of walking around. Great method.

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback. I'm so glad others are finding this as helpful as I do. :)


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