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Taming the Monkey Mind

Taming the Monkey Mind

Michelle Colvin, International Spinning® Master Instructor, UK

Endurance training is the heart and soul of your fitness program and coaching this zone is an art. People, however, find it boring, but is boredom an emotion or is it a state of mind? From a psychological perspective, boredom is not a lack of things to do but rather a lack of engaging things to do. It is also the lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity.

In Zen, the monkey mind is a metaphor for our tendency to flit from thought to thought, or to follow unhealthy thoughts to a poor end. Taming the monkey mind is the act of noticing a thought without attaching to it. It is the practice of observing a new thought without letting it take hold of you. It is the habit of choosing to release a thought, to let it go, instead of running with it.

Buddha imagined the human mind was filled with drunken monkeys, which jumped around and were always chattering. Buddha thought that these monkeys want our attention, which steals our energy. They are loud and make you worry about everything that could happen. Buddha showed his students that kind, loving and positive thoughts could transform the monkey mind. The monkeys did not go away, but they at least could be tamed and calm in the mind.

We live in a society where worry, anxiety and stress are commonplace. Stress, when used verbally, is always mental. Therefore, what you think is who you are. Crazy thoughts make crazy monkeys in the mind! The monkeys feed off the anxiety we feel when we’re not sure that we can get everything done. It’s the kind of anxiety that starts in your stomach and feels like butterflies.

Do know what I’m talking about? Have you ever had those worrisome thoughts that wake you up in the middle of the night?

More often than not, stress is caused by your perception of the problem. Therefore, you should ask yourself this question the next time you have a problem:

Can you solve it?  If yes, then do so!

If you can’t, let go of your attachment to it.

While we can’t control everything, we can control our reaction. You can be stressed out and thinking of nothing but what needs to be done or you can use these tricks.

The things to do are still there, but you will feel calmer.

“You can’t control the fact people will annoy you, but what you can control is your reaction”.

Try to live more in the moment. Let go of the past and don’t think too much about the future. Breathe in the smells of spring! Really taste your food as you eat today, look for beauty around you and feel gratitude for everything and everyone around you!

We all do too much and most of it is self-imposed. If you’re too busy because you’ve volunteered for too many things, then you need to take a break and let your soul rest!

Try saying positive affirmations. You say the affirmation even if it’s the opposite of what you’re thinking. Strangely enough your brain believes whatever you tell it! Try one of these or make up one of your own, say them when you are teaching, when you hear it said out loud, there’s more of a tendency to believe it, and your students will too!

Always remember to speak in the first person, as this will help your students to see themselves in positive scenarios, gearing up for what’s to come, and being told what to do.

I am calm
I am successful
I am not bored
I am stress free
I am debt free
I am organized
I am pain free

Make sure it’s not negative or that it isn’t hurtful to others!

Take the 100 Breath Challenge: Take a deep breath through your belly and breathe in at the nostrils and count in your mind, “One”.

Let your breath flow naturally; go with its natural rhythm. Continue from number 1 to 100. If your mind wanders (which it will), simply come back to your count and continue.

Get your students to engage in this challenge. Without realizing, they will be shifting their thoughts away from the fact they are doing an endurance class and focusing on themselves.

Boredom is an animal instinct, designed to focus the activities of an animal away from trivialities to immediate survival tasks. That instinct has lost its relevance in a modern world, where every task requires patience.

Boredom usually happens in three typical situations.

  1. You’re prevented from doing something you want to do (like Climbing or Sprinting).
  2. You’re compelled to do a particular job or task (like riding an entire class on a Seated Flat).
  3. You just can’t find anything interesting to do. Your mind recognizes the situation and triggers the boredom emotion.

The permanent cure for boredom begins from an awareness that you can be comfortable with longer periods of stillness. Know that boredom is a manipulative action by the primitive part of your mind and self-awareness can be used to just switch it off!

During the course of a day, stressful events as well as poor postures will tighten many of the 60,000 muscles in your body. Tense muscles often remain tightened and do not automatically relax. Tense muscles trigger irritability, which will create tension in more muscles in a vicious cycle. A relaxed body reduces the prospect of anger, or despair, bringing you closer to effective mind control. By riding an endurance class, a relaxed body can be achieved. Ask your students to focus on one thing and one thing only; themselves. Tell them it won’t be easy as their thoughts will shift from other things in their life, family or work. Tell them to let go of all thoughts of the day and concentrate on how they feel right now.
The nose brain was the original investigator of the environment for primitive animals. Breathing in consciously was a part of that routine. In its vast coded wisdom, nature stills emotions when you investigate. As a by-product of that logic, your emotions will also be stilled when you consciously breathe.

Get your students to become more aware of their breathing, tell them it should be steady and rhythmical, not labored or panting. When the mind focuses on attention, the system stills other activity.

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve!”

 

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