Because you don't have to put yourself on hold while raising your family

Quietening the monkey mind

monkey mindThe buddhists call it the monkey mind: like monkeys in a cage, your thoughts bounce around inside your head, never slowing or quietening.

I love that analogy.

My mind often feels like a zoo, or a toddler after too much sugar – flicking from one thought to another, never settling on one thing, always racing. And when things aren’t running so smoothly in my house, that monkey can get cranky!

Do you ever get that? Do you notice that you can become stuck in one train of thought (I’m never going to get there in time, I always miss my gym class, I’m so tired!), and it just bounces around in that cage over and over again?

Yup. That’s the monkey mind.

The biggest problem with this is that once you’re IN it, it’s damn hard to get out. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy – the more you think, the more you get stuck, and the more it comes true.

But something that the beautiful Sarah Napthali mentioned in her Inspiring Mama post last week really resonated with me – and helped me with my own monkey mind this weekend.

“Whatever you are feeling right now, as solid as convincing as it seems, will definitely, definitely pass. Every emotion that visits you is temporary and it is possible to observe it with curiosity instead of becoming completely subsumed by it. Shining a little awareness on a mood may or may not remove it but almost always takes the edge off it as you enter into a different kind of relationship with it.”

Observe it. Shine some awareness on it. Acknowledge it for what it is.

So, how does this work in practice?

Take my day today:

It was a beautiful morning. The family actually had a little sleep in, and after some breakfast together, I took the girls to see Frozen (the sing along version – hell yeah!) as a treat for getting 20 stickers on their chart, while Daddy hung out with the little man. Pretty perfect. I even had a little tear as I sang along to ‘Let it Go.’ I’m a Disney musical tragic.

Then, after lunch, I really wanted to do some exercise. I ached to do something physical – and without a baby attached to me. I try to get to a class or two during the week, but it’s never without a child or two somewhere in the background, and today, I just longed to do something physical… for me.

Did I? No. It simply didn’t work out with the timing of feeds and getting ready for the week ahead. We’ve got five people to coordinate, and it just sometimes doesn’t work out. But instead of accepting that for what it was, and rejoicing the great morning we’d all had, I got stuck in the monkey mind.

Negative thoughts bounced off each other. My mood changed instantly. And as much as my gorgeous husband tried to find ways for me to have some time on my own, I couldn’t snap out of it.

Even when I told myself to snap out of it.


That is, until I remembered Sarah’s words. Observe it. Acknowledge what it is. 

And just like she said, it took the edge off. “I know what this is. This is just my mind focusing on the one negative today. This is because I’m tired and a little overwhelmed at the thought of another week without some time alone.”

Once I started shining a light on it, I could slowly start taking some big deep breaths and just be a little kinder to myself. I could see what I was doing (just repeating the same thing over and over in mind and getting stuck in a negative space), and could start to change it.

In the end, I didn’t get to exercise by myself. That wasn’t the point. In the end, I was at peace with the thought that this is my reality right now, and that’s OK.

That doesn’t have to change my now.

So beautiful Mamas, as the weekend comes to a close and the new week dawns, I’m promising myself to just acknowledge my thoughts more – be witness to what’s going on in that ‘zoo’ sometimes, and shine a little light and love on it.

You don’t have to change your thoughts, you just have to see them for what they are. 

Have a beautiful week Mamas. I really missed putting my thoughts together on a Sunday night last week! It’s so good to be back sharing them with you again. 


About Amy

I’ve learnt that parenting is actually the BEST time of your life to learn about yourself. Read more about me here.

Lovely comments

  1. So true. This one really resonated with me. Once the monkey mind kicks in, it is so hard to stop…and can lead to all sorts of issues, like depression. My “old” yoga teacher (as in I don’t have the opp to attend her classes anymore rather than her age!) used to say you need to silence the incessant chatter in the mind. I agree, accept the moment for what it is…but the really important thing is to then let it go!
    Amy x

  2. Love this hun. I have a CHRONIC monkey mind.. Something I am constantly working on managing as effectively as possible. It was Sarah’s writing that first alerted me to the term AND all of what you mentioned above; accepting the way we feel in the moment and (trying) not to attach judgement to it. SO HARD to do and definitely a work in progress but absolutely worth it!

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