Ever heard of the monkey mind?

You've likely got one yourself.

"Monkey mind" is a Buddhist term describing the way our minds rush and run like little monkeys, swinging from thought to thought the same way the playful little imps at the zoo swing from branch to branch.

Never standing still, always bouncing and turning and twisting from this thought to that, rarely staying in the present long enough to be still with what is.

This is the nature of being alive.

So if you're human, you can probably relate.

How often do you sit on the train worrying about the future, lie awake at night ruminating on the past, or walk down the street reliving cameo moments from your life?

When our minds spin out, we can so easily lose ourselves in thoughts of "what if?"and "oh no" and "what was that?"

If you've ever experienced anxiety, you know what that feels like.

Chaos. Heart-racing. Mind-rushing. No stillness.

Suddenly we're no longer living in the present, caught up in analyzing what happened yesterday with that dude at the hardware store or who will get the big promotion or what did she mean by that text that we lose any and all awareness of where we are, what we're doing, or what's going on right in front of us.

Meditation and yoga are conscious efforts to quiet the monkey mind, to slow it down for a breath or two, and to bring our bodies back into the present moment. In particularly uncertain moments of our lives, we can waste so much energy worrying and planning and trying to make sense of the unknown. Meditation helps keep our minds from running off the rails, by lassoing our racing, chattering thoughts, and letting them blow by like tumbleweeds, while we stay rooted in our bodies and our churning minds rest.

These practices aren't always easy, of course, but that's the point — because, after five or ten minutes of sanctuary from wondering whether we'll win the hearing or whether I'll need that umbrella tonight, we're able to walk out the door and apply just a moment or two of that presentness to our jobs, our relationships and our lives.

So be gentle with yourselves. Your monkey mind is totally, adorably normal and human. Greet it with lovingkindness, with curiosity, knowing your thoughts are not you, and they, too, will inevitably pass.

And beneath them all?

Clear blue sky.

Photo by Marvin Meyer via WordSwap