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Marvel at the Monkey Mind

mindA Sufi, Pir Vilayat, says: “Do not be afraid of the randomness of your thoughts…”  He advises: focus on “what transpires behind what appears.”

The average human brain has about 100 billion neurons.

What’s a neuron?  A neuron is a cell, ie a life-form.

What do I mean by this?  A cell is a life-form: put it in a Petri dish, give it food and it’ll live (exist) on its own.

So, you – the singular you – are not so singular after all: there are billions and billions of you inside.  You call it a brain.  But:

a) a brain is not an “it”

b) you don’t have a brain – you are a brain

c) your brain is not an organ but an organization (of billions of life-forms that we call “neurons”)

d) therefore, you are not one, you are many – you are a community, a neural community

Indeed: these billions of neurons (that you collectively call “I”) are stand-alone – no two touch; they are separated by synaptic gaps.

To reiterate, your brain is really a community, a community of cells… And what do communities do?  They communicate.  They talk, gossip, chatter.  They associate.

The neural colony (that lives inside this skull-cave that you see in the mirror) is an associative network – a dynamic information-processing community that is ever abuzz with “this” or “that.”

When we go inside to see ourselves – through the intro-scope of meditation – we, modern-day monkeys that we are, see the monkey-mind of our information-processing.

We are shocked and dismayed by the seeming randomness of our internal process, at this mind-zoo.  We feel like we are failing at meditation, at staying focused.

But, again, as Pir Vilayat, says: “do not be afraid of the randomness of your thoughts.”  You are watching the zoo of what you – collectively – are.  You are seeing “that which transpires behind that which appears.”  You are seeing you – all of you, the billions of neural you.  No need to fear yourself.

Marvel at this “monkey-mind” that you – collectively – are.  This “thought-randomness” is as good a focal point for meditation as anything else.

Marvel at the Monkey Mind

Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of 7 mindfulness-based self-help books. Several of his books have been translated into Chinese, Dutch & Portuguese. Somov is on the Advisory Board for the Mindfulness Project (London, UK). Somov has conducted numerous workshops on mindfulness-related topics and appeared on a number of radio programs. Somov's book website is and his practice website is

Marla Somova, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the co-author of "Smoke Free Smoke Break" (2011).

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APA Reference
Somov, P. (2016). Marvel at the Monkey Mind. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 May 2016
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