Allowing the Monkey Mind to Be
by Kelvin Chin
Where does this commonly used term in meditation come from? The “monkey mind.”
It comes from India. Where there are 50 million monkeys.
If you have ever traveled to India, one thing you will inevitably bump into, literally not figuratively, are monkeys. They are everywhere. In the cities, in the jungle, sitting outside your hotel, walking down the street sometimes right next to you. And if there are any trees around, you will of course see them not just sitting up in the trees, but going from tree to tree. And often looking for food.
So this expression comes from watching monkeys going from tree to tree, looking for the proverbial banana, all the time.
And so the idea is in order to keep the monkey from doing that, you need to chain it down. Prevent it from doing what it naturally wants to do. Control its behavior in that way.
In that culture, this principle which derives from the ancient Vedic tradition, has been used for millennia as the underlying principle of most meditation techniques. So in most ashrams — places where people learn meditation in India — that is the most prevalent teaching method.
But just because something has been around for thousands of years does not necessarily mean that it is a good thing. War has been around just as long, and using force to change other people’s behavior, I would argue, is not a good thing for humanity just because it’s been around a long time. In the same way, I do not think the subjugation of women for millennia has been a good thing for humanity just because it’s also been around for such a long time, continuing to this day today.
You get my point.
So why don’t we try a different approach? Back to our discussion about meditation approaches...
Instead of keeping the mind from doing what it naturally wants to do, how about allowing it to do the very thing that it wants to do...except in a slightly different way?
What is another principle of the mind that is also inherently active all the time, always going on in the background?
If you were sitting in a room studying some boring subject, or maybe even reading a nice enjoyable novel, and someone started playing your favorite song in the next apartment, what always happens? Your mind naturally wanders over to listening to that music. Doesn’t it?
We all have experienced something like this not only many times in our lives, but I would venture to say: every single day of our lives, many times every day.
It’s called “the natural tendency of the mind to go in the direction of more satisfaction.“
Instead of making the mind do something it does not want to do, why don’t we use that natural tendency of the mind and allow the mind to do what it wants to do anyway.
How do we do that? We give the mind something to think, but give it something that does not direct the mind in any particular direction.
Instead of being in fighting mode, we are in an allowing mode. And what does that do? That dissipates our resistance, melts away our tension, and allows the mind to relax and experience itself in this different way that we call meditation.
That is the underpinning of why an easy meditation technique can work so effortlessly. And moreover, I think more people would meditate if it was easier.
So teaching an easy, effortless process of meditation has been the way I’ve taught it for 46 years now. Just letting the monkey mind be — jumping from tree to tree — and overlaying my technique onto whatever the monkey wants to do.
Thus allowing him to settle down naturally, without force or control.
Kelvin H. Chin is a Meditation Teacher, Life After Life Expert, and Author of “Overcoming the Fear of Death.” He learned to meditate at age 19, and has been teaching Turning Within Meditation and coaching others in their self-growth for 40 years. He helps people understand their life challenges through their individual belief systems, and helps them find their own solutions. His past life memories reach back many centuries, and he accesses those memories in his teaching and his coaching in the same way all coaches draw on their own available experiences for perspective and effective analogies. He can be reached at www.TurningWithin.org.