Monkey Mind: Christian Mindfulness and the Eternal Now

Today is the first Sunday of the month when we share guest posts from people living and teaching the Contemplative and/or Celtic Christian way around the world. One of the beautiful things about the internet is that people doing amazing things in isolated parts of the world can learn from one another and grow together. We hope this article inspires you to dive a little deeper into what it means to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors while looking forward to what kind of world we will leave for our grandchildren.

Today I would like to share with you a guest post from Paul Bane of Mindful Christianity Today. Paul is a Christian mindfulness teacher based out of Tennessee. In his own words his ministry seeks to “help bring rest and peace to your mind and soul. There is a war raging on the outside as well as on the inside of us. The Christian message of love and peace lost in a war of swirling thoughts in our heads. The need of humanity is the ability to quiet the mind in the trauma of our existence and being.” I hope you enjoy this reflection on a very familiar phenomenon to many of us!

In eastern tradition, the term “monkey mind” is well known and understood by those who meditate within those cultures. Our western world, which influences Christian thought, is unfamiliar with the Buddhist concept. However, if you ask a western Christian to define “monkey mind,” they would have a reasonable probability of guessing it’s meaning. Just as excited monkeys jump from one tree to another chasing each other scurrying about all over the place, our thoughts act in very much the same way. There is no rhyme or any reason for the chaotic activity in our conscious thoughts and brains, leaving us confused and attempting to make rational sense out of our lives.

The monkey mind describes the ever-present chattering in our heads. It is an internal monologue of self-talk, perceived as an ongoing dialogue with us. Within a few seconds, our fears, doubts, criticisms, anger, anxieties, and whatever else, depending on what is going on with our lives at any one moment, will pop up and race around in our heads.

The monkey mind affects our quality of life and every aspect of our lives. The self-talk and dialogue bouncing through our heads have the power to destroy us and our relationships with others. Our mental perspective either torments us or produces a positive and productive outlook on our daily living. Unfortunately, we mistakenly believe that the ongoing chatter and conversations in our heads are something we must live with or make the tough choice sometimes to drug the voices from hearing them any longer in our life. (Calming My Restless Mind)

The mindless chatter seems humanly impossible to stop as our thoughts and emotions toss about in our heads. However, there is a remedy. Spiritual teachers and modern-day psychology understand that our conscious state is a matter of awareness. Once we become aware that we can live in the fullness of the present moment, we can let go of the illusions that control our lives. We can understand the monkey mind is living our existence on autopilot in the darkness of a world controlled by our ego. Our ego and the need for self-preservation is an underlying factor in the restless thoughts and fears that create haunting questions of our survival in the world.

Learning to live in the moment is one way of overcoming the debilitating guilt from our pasts and the anxiety created with the fear of what will happen in the future. Once we can grasp the enormity of all the fleeting thoughts and feelings and sit quietly in the silence sorting through and letting go of our thoughts and feelings, we can bring peace of mind by being mindful of our awareness and conscious state.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. Once I am aware of that connection to the resurrected Christ of the universe, it changes my whole life. When I realize that my life is secure in the love of God, I have the freedom to let go of my past and know that I need not fear anything beyond this present moment. I have an eternal hope in the Eternal Now. (The Practice of Christian Meditation and Prayer)

When I can call my conscious mind to attention or a mindful state of awareness at any moment, I can turn loose and release the troubling thoughts in my head. Learning how to meditate and live in the eternal now of the moment, I can lay aside all my cares and worries and center my mind on Christ, letting my monkey mind find peace and rest.

Application: Choose a time like the half hour to pause for a moment and take a deep breath and become fully aware of what is happening around you. As you exhale, let go of any anxiety or worry and allow peace to enter your soul. Repeat the breath a few times and calm your soul.

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