When you slow down and take time to be in your own space, inside your own mind and body, in a relaxed environment — you tend to discover some things your brain is trying to work out or complete or solve. This often can happen when we lay down at night. When the body stops and the space gets dark and quiet, your brain can finally have your full attention and start its laundry list of things it’s wanting you to work out from the day, about your coworkers or spouse, the schedule, planning for the future, and worrying about the past. This ends up being an unhealthy time for your mind to start chattering because sleep is of utmost importance. Many survivors struggle with sleep disruptions and insomnia because the brain is using the space to work through everything it has ever been through, and it takes so long to calm its overactive nervous system.
If this is you, you probably find the same thing happens when you hit the meditation pillow where, for some, taming the monkey mind seems unreasonably difficult. That’s very normal, actually. If being here every day for ten minutes is the one time of day you are able to sacrifice and carve out as alone, quiet, relaxed, dark, peaceful space, then your experiences with monkey mind are extra common.
So — today is an unconventional practice just for you. I want to honor you for taking the time to be here, and I want you to try to be mindful inside of your non-stop brain. We aren’t going to focus on the breath or body or an anchor. Now is the time to let your mind run freely. What this mindfulness practice today is to watch it happen. Give your brain an open field for full frolicking mode — just try to not let your mind get completely lost in thought. Try to watch your thoughts, from a non-judgmental seat like a tourist would watch monkeys swinging from tree to tree in the jungle. Try to notice your body sensations while thinking. Be extra aware of emotions that arise while the thoughts jump around you. Follow the thoughts to see how far into oblivion they can go, and then chuckle to yourself as you notice the absurdity of the movie playing out in your head. Maybe there is a serious issue that comes to your mind, and you can just follow the journey the brain goes on trying to make sense of it. Maybe a difficult emotion is going to arise; just watch the story is that is causing it. Wriggle along with the storyline to see if your brain can work itself out. If you lose contact with the space, sensations, or your point of view, notice that and come back to focusing on the thoughts drifting through. Let’s allow this time to be the creative playground for your mind to get lost in wonder today.
Close your eyes and see what you uncover in your mind for a few minutes.
Welcome back. Open your eyes and wiggle your fingers and toes. Reground into the room you are in.
When your brain had your full attention, what did it uncover? Is there some vision or goal you need to go write down like a dream journal? Is there a pressing matter you need to add to your to-do that you had been forgetting? Did you uncover a new perspective to a trauma trigger that you had earlier this week? Did you solve an argument you and your partner had?
Whatever you uncovered is precious. Treat it like a newly discovered gem. Your brain created an idea, calculated stuff, organized an issue, or talked you onto or off of a ledge — now you know what it wanted to tell you while you were busy all day long. Yet you allowed the thinking to uncover itself in a process of mindfulness — you stayed present to your body and emotions and the world around you without getting too swept away.
If you found this very helpful, maybe you could find a space to add in a 5–10-minute monkey mind session throughout the day. Meditation is to help improve mental focus and to stay present in the moment. Today we wanted to see what it would look like without a settled focus, just for fun. If your mind was going crazy with delight for you allowing it to flutter around its playground, perhaps a few minutes of that right before you begin a meditation practice would help settle the monkeys so you can work on staying present in the moment or focused on an anchor.
This is a new tool for you to play with as you become more aware of what your mind, body, and spirit all want to uncover for you. This was great and important work. Be well, survivors.