In Part 1 of this article, a number of authors, journalists and others describe how much our frenetic thinking can disrupt our lives and increase anxiety.
Part of the value of our teeming brains as creative people is the facility for generating so many associations and ideas.
But we can also generate anxious thoughts all too easily.
As a Buddhist idea, Monkey Mind means “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable.” [Wikipedia]
Our compulsive use of computers, smart phones and other digital devices, can help feed that monkey brain kind of thinking.
(The photo, by Dutch photographer Marsel van Oosten, is from the post: Incredible photo of a Snow Monkey using an iPhone.)
What is our monkey brain?
Heidi Hanna, PhD explains in an article that our brain “can be separated into three sections – our lizard brain, our monkey brain, and our human brain.”
She notes the most advanced part of the brain is the “human brain”, which “consists of the outer layer, surrounding the ‘monkey brain.’
“This area allows for logical, emotionless thought, as well as delayed gratification.
“It is by using our ‘human brain’ that we are able to think through our responses, rather than just reacting.”
The “lizard brain” and “monkey brain” help dealing with threats
Dr. Hanna notes “when we are faced with threats to our system, we don’t have time to stop and analyze what’s going on.
“During these times we are glad to have our ‘lizard’ and ‘monkey’ brains to get us to safety, through our fight or flight response.”
She also points out, “Most mammals lead with their ‘monkey brain,’ which is fueled by our most basic responses to fear and desire.”
Multitasking and the monkey brain
She cautions that “when we multitask we can easily find ourselves using our ‘monkey brain,’ making mindless decisions that may end up causing serious problems with important tasks, or even worse, with important relationships.”
Quick tips to tame your monkey mind
She offers these suggestions:
1. “Eliminate the noise. Turn away from your computer, turn off your phone (airplane mode works on the ground), and create an environment that is calming.
2. “Breathe. Bring awareness to your breath often throughout the day, and make sure that you’re getting what you need.
“A short, shallow breath rate triggers the stress response which results in ‘amygdala hijack’ – monkey madness.
“Studies show a breathing pace of 6 breaths per minute (in to a count of 5, and out to a count of 5) is ideal for brainpower.
3. “Get out of the cage. Aim for physical activity at least every 90 minutes in order to keep circulation flowing and cortisol levels in balance.”
From her article Please Meet Your Monkey Mind, March 22, 2016.
Heidi Hanna, PhD is CEO and founder of SYNERGY, an “integrative neuroscience partnership that provides brain-based training for individuals and organizations on how to release stress patterns from your brain and break free from your old money stories.”
She is the Executive Director of the American Institute of Stress, and “a frequent lecturer at Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona.”
One of her books: the NY Times bestseller The SHARP Solution: A Brain-Based Approach for Optimal Performance.
Heidi Hanna hosts an online FREE summit from April 24 – May 1, 2017, in which she interviews “the very pioneering researchers and thought leaders who helped her learn how to utilize stress as a stimulus for growth.”
Learn more and sign up: