4.1 – The Monkey Mind

Welcome to day four. Over the last few days we've been practicing with mindful breathing.

And yesterday we learned how to come back to the breath when the mind wanders away.

In today's lesson we're going to be talking about how to improve our concentration in staying with the breath. 

And this is a technique known as labeling. So, what we're going to do today is learn about the practice of labeling the breath.

Now, as I mentioned yesterday, when the mind starts to wander it doesn't mean anything is going wrong.

This is just what the mind does it thinks about the past. It wanders into the future. It goes all over the place.

In Buddhism this is something that they call the monkey mind in the sense that the mind is always jumping around from branch to branch and from tree to tree and it never seems to slow down.

So, this is the monkey mind.

In meditation what we want to do is learn how to work with the monkey mind.

So, instead of trying to force the monkey to stay put and not jump around we can actually give that monkey something to do.

And this is the technique of labeling or using a short montra or a short phrase that we repeat in our mind.

So, what this is going to look like is as you breathe in you can just say quietly in your mind “rising” and feel the belly rising.

And then as you breathe out, you can quietly in your mind say “falling” and then feel the falling of the belly and the falling of the chest.

So, when we do this labeling of the breath to improve our concentration we want to make sure that most of our attention is still on the actual physical sensations of the breath.

About 90 percent of your attention should still be feeling the breath in the body and just about 10 percent of your attention being with the words “rising” and “falling”.

We want to do this because if all of your attention is just on the word “rising” and “falling” it's still a very conceptual exercise.

And in mindfulness we really want to tap into the raw sensations that we're experiencing.

So, in the meditation today we'll be continuing with mindful breathing just noticing the physical sensations and also bringing our attention back and then we'll be adding in this other layer of labeling the breath.

So, when you're ready to get started go ahead and click on the next video.

Listen to the guided meditation and follow along.

Focused Attention

Focused Attention, Concentration

  • I enjoyed this segment the most so far. Your voice enhanced with that of water in the background really helps. Thank you! 🙂

    • Hi Lara, I find that simple yoga is a great way to meditate if I’m feeling a bit ‘twitchy’! It works with the breath and the attention to the body in the same way, and I don’t need to get myself in any crazy poses for it to help!

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