Taming The Monkey Mind Through Dance
When I was
travelling in India (slight wistful sigh at the past tense..) it was
a common story amongst us backpackers about the local monkeys coming
to steal your food and things, and to be aware if you left your
window open in your room. They were very cheeky, swift and smart.
They would come right close to you, sometimes look you straight in
the eye, and grab their prize so quickly you would barely have time
to catch your breath.
Is it any wonder
then that our brains have been called the same, in Buddhist teachings
– the monkey mind. Considering that our brain may be thinking
50-80,000 thoughts a day, is it a surprise we suffer from stress and
And modern life
gives us so many things to think about, how much simpler was it in
Neanderthal days when we would be directed by the rumblings of our
stomach, or the thirst in our mouths. And that was before the advent
of The Internet (sound of trumpets..), where we can now get lost in
hours of information rabbit holes and trivia.
The Buddhists even
have a term for this jumping, mischievous creature of ours that sits
in our heads, kapicitta - which in their terms means ceaseless,
restless and confused (kapi- monkey, citta – mind). Considering how
active a monkey is, and how many thoughts we can generate, then it is
easy to see how our inner brains can become overloaded and unwieldly.
The monkey mind is
most connected to our ego, and if we don't keep tabs on it, it can be
our worst enemy, literally stopping us in our tracks with our
self-imposed blocks and self-sabotaging beliefs.
Enter the ‘new’
panacea of mindfulness, where we learn to tame our minds through
quiet meditation. Meditation is an amazing practice that over time
can really enable us to have a clear and luminous mind – aspiring
to the Zen Buddha state of satori – where we become enlightened,
with the ability to have true insight and understanding.
The majority of us
would probably be content with feeling calm and peaceful, able to
stay focussed and have clarity with decisions and life events.
However sitting meditation is not always suitable for everyone. If
you have had some seriously traumatic events, or have an awful lot to
process, sitting meditation could in fact generate negative results
at first. Not only might it take an incredible amount of time to
start to unravel your thoughts, you might find your thoughts getting
more entangled and twisted first. That is why for example, meditation
has to be delivered with caution in prisons.
I remember when I
was making a big life decision it took me months of daily
meditations. And an hour would feel like a few minutes, literally.
And this is partly I
love dance so much. When we start to move, so much can get shaken up
that has been sitting dormant within us. Memories of events we had
almost forgotten, new insights and perspectives into situations, and
new parts of ourselves can be uncovered that we did not know we had.
When I teach dance,
I like to give some guidance into the body at first, this immediately
helps to ground us and pacify our nervous system. As we continue to
move more, our brain waves will gradually drop from busy beta (which
are great when they work well) to alpha waves, where we start to
relax and allow in space for creativity to emerge.
Mindfulness also slows down and creates alpha brainwaves, but I find the insights I get from sitting meditation are different from when I move and dance. This is because when we move spontaneously, being creative and innovative with it, the new energetic pathways that are opened through our body, also sends signals to our brain which assimilates this information in receptive response.
Next month I am holding Roots and Wings, a 7 week course, which travels through a structural and energetic map of the body that is part of the Niio Dance practice that I have created. If you are interested the bodymind connection, and enjoy to move, then you can find out more here: https://www.niiodance.com/rootswingslp
If you are just getting curious about embodiment, which seems to be becoming an increasingly hip word, along with somatics, then you can join a FREE mini course to help you get more into your body here: