Pet the Monkey

Noooooooooooooo, don’t go there you nasty pants. I’m not talking about that. If you don’t know what we’re talking about…well, don’t ask.

Today I had an apostrophe. I made friends with my monkey. If you still have your mind in the gutter, pull it out…omg this just keeps getting worse. That was like three “That’s what she said” set-ups in less than sixty words.

Now PLEASE, I’m trying to tell a cool story here.

Okay. So, I recently began referring to my incessant left-brain prattle as The Chattering Monkey. I know, I know. Here I thought I was all clever, coining a fun new phrase, until today when I found out that this is a Buddhist term referring to the untrained mind. So I was right on the money, if not altogether original. Well hell, I must have heard or read it somewhere, filed it away, and then reclaimed it as my own. So sue me—there’s nothing new under the sun.

If you experience the Chattering Monkey as I do on a daily basis, you know how exhausting it can be. Having that little critter babbling his commentary, suggestions, options, angles, fabrications, threats and other general folderol in an unending stream all day long is what keeps companies like Eli Lilly in the green. My hubby calls it having too many ‘ors’ in the water.monkey-illustration300x300

The Chattering Monkey is one of the reasons I took up yoga. If the meditation piece didn’t do the trick, at least I’d be fit and limber enough to get up in the tree and drag his pesky little ass down and tie him up with his own tail.

Well I must admit that as wonderful and beneficial as my yoga practice has proved to be, I found that that my wee companion was going to require a bigger gun.

So I signed up for a free (imagine that) 21-Day Meditation Challenge with Deepak Chopra. I enjoy his writing and like his simple approach to spirituality. Just hanging out listening to his lovely Indian accent is enough to send a person into Nirvana.

They say that it takes three weeks to change a habit, or establish a new one. This does not hold true for chocolate or crack cocaine. These take one hit to hook you and a lifetime to kick.

As for mastering my overactive left hemisphere, I knew I was going to need some support. I have tried to meditate on my own numerous times, and when I have succeeded in somehow outsmarting my amazingly strong-for-his-size little simian tormentor, it is usually short lived.

Me meditating typically looks like this:

Get comfortable in a quiet spot. Take a deep breath and release it slowly through my nose. Have no thoughts. Just observe the breath flowing in… and—did I put the trash on the curb—out…in…and—my left boob itches—out…in…and out…in…and out (hey, on a roll here! Oh wait…) And so it goes.

Sometimes though, when I somehow, miraculously enter into the space between the thoughts, it is glorious. It is utter silence and it is golden. It is like crack. Or chocolate. I want more.

So here is the fun part. I settled in for my third meditation session with Deepak. Monkey boy was in his typical bouncy mood, but I did my best to just relax and listen to the wise and inspiring opening words.

Deepak gently intoned the mantra for the day and I observed my breath. In…and out…in…and out…my pintsized companion started his regular circuit around my brain, out my ear, across my forehead, down my neck and then perched on my shoulder. I watched him for a moment, zipping around and around, and I unexpectedly found that I felt a strange affection for him. He stopped in his tracks, scampered down, curled up in my lap and started to snooze.

Denver Zoo Tamarin Monkey Twin OrphansI continued to observe my breath. In…and out. His breathing fell in sync with mine. From time to time he would suddenly peer up at me with the most adorable little look of concern. I would just gently stroke his velvety fur and he would doze right back off again. And so it went.

I finished my meditation with a very strong feeling of peace. And a new friend.


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  1. I think I’m going to name my monkey Fred. Sometimes his chatter is helpful, sometimes its just…white noise. I’m finding that having so many people around me all the time and so much going on, I’m almost uncomfortable with total silence – either internally or externally – because I like silence represents something I’m not doing…that I should be doing. I know this is something I need to change!! Silence can be PEACE, too, and we all need THAT!

    • Yes Sandy–I agree, left brain chatter can be helpful – like “Hey, you left the iron on in the dog bed.” or “First I’m going to brush my teeth, then kiss my hubby.” But it can be dangerous: “Should I go to Wal-Mart, Costco, or Trader Joe’s firsss–WOAH! RED LIGHT MEANS STOP!!!!!” Also, there is no ‘should’ there is only this moment, and taking a moment for silence is what fills you up so you can get back to ‘should’. Love your comments!!! xoxo thanks

      • I would LOVE to be mentally chattering about which of those stores to go to, but alas – the nearest Trader Joe’s is 7 hours away, Walmart 90 minutes, Costco 3 hours… 🙂

        • 🙁 I love my Trader Joe’s. Finally got one after 15 years of waiting. I only have to drive an hour! Worth it! 🙂 BTW, last month I was there shopping and the gal helping me asked if I was doing anything fun for the weekend. I told her we were having a little memorial for my mom, which of course could not come out without tears. As I was leaving, one of the other employees handed me a bouquet of flowers. Of course I bawled more and they gave me a hug. Beautiful act of kindness. 🙂

      • Comforting to know I’m not the only one with that particular pet! Mine is loudest when I’m going to sleep.
        …”someone”…can’t seem to remember who…suggested a ‘yoga before bed’ routine…hmmmm who was that anyway??? Oh well, I have to go sharpen my knives…I’m sure I’ll rememeber!

        • Suzie, you think you’re being so sneaky, like I wouldn’t know who you’re talking about. Well, since your friend can’t seem to follow through, I would like to suggest an awesome yoga teaching duo – Ana Brett and Ravi Singh. They have a great ‘yoga before bed’ video… AM/PM Yoga. It will probably help with your memory problems. It won’t help with your dull knives, but I think I have a great Christmas present idea… 😛

  2. I spent several minutes writing a response to this monkey business and I’ll be darned if the right one didn’t hit the left key and make it all disappear. So . . . I’ll tell you about my monkey–again. Well actually, there are two monkeys that I have, and they are joined at the right buttocks. Yes, I know, that makes them both one cheek off. I considered having them surgically unjoined, but the thought of two separate monkeys running about and chattering all over my place gave me no peace what-so-ever. I usually give them a deck of tarot cards or a ouija board and they keep the chatter down to a level at which I can process. They especially love the ouija board, and I dare you to envision them navigating the planchette while joined at their right buttocks.

    All-in-all, I consider myself quite fortunate in having congenitally united twin simian babblers, who when favorably enticed, will entertain themselves for hours on end leaving me to great stretches of quiet, cosmic imaginings.

    Thanks Kathy, for addressing a topic that needs some light shed upon it. If we all think about it, there are always solutions for the subduing of the monkeys. Some, I am sure, are quite innovative and will inspire others to seek their own taming or harnessing project.

    It would be interesting in hearing about others who have brought peace to their own monkey business.

    Your Starwalker friend

  3. You keep petting that monkey, Mom! My monkey and I have sing offs. I always win because he can’t hit a high C.

    P.S. I don’t even KNOW what half those sites are you have invited me to share this on!

  4. 🙂 Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I want to hear your monkey sing!
    Just hit the ‘F’ button (that’s not a note — it’s a social networking site) and disregard the rest my love. xo