30 Day Challenge / Addiction / God Sized Hole

This Is Your Brain On Monkey Mind: The 30 Day Challenge

monkey mind

We’re phoning it in (again) this week because just like the rest of the planet, you guessed it, we have Monkey Mind. Monkey Mind is a debilitating disease in which we get self-obsessed, unsettled, restless and well, down right crazy. Unfortunately, this is a common disorder effecting 10 out of 10 species with a prefrontal cortex. Originally discovered in Asia, the Buddhists, Taoists and Confucians studied human self-obsession and described this mind monkey syndrome as a metaphor for human nature and our inability to grasp a deeper sense of identity in the grand cosmos. Rather than embracing our interconnected point in the cosmos, we become confused, worried, disoriented, shallow, vain, uncontrollable, indecisive and worse. We grasp at things that we fiercely attribute meaning to while we plainly overlook the big picture.

The usual metaphor for this is of the monkey reaching into a small hole in a barrel searching for a banana. He finds the banana. He grasps it then pulls and pulls but he can’t get both his hand and the banana out through the hole. He becomes trapped and hopeless feeling because now he has both his hand and the banana stuck in the barrel. What he can’t figure out with his monkey mind is that if he dropped the banana, he could easily pull his hand out. The disappointing aspect is that to free his hand, he will not get to have the banana. He’s obsessed with the banana, so now both his hand and the banana are stuck.

What’s your banana? What are you grasping and can’t let go of?

The mind monkey plays mental ping pong. We label it stress, anxiety, overwhelm and we mostly try to blame others, but really it is the monkey’s fault. Beware of the mind monkey.

We love these old public service announcements from The Partnership for Drug Free America. The one in the link is where your brain is sizzled like an egg in a hot pan. The hook: “This is your brain on drugs.” No actually, this is your brain on monkey mind. What’s your drug of choice? Work, relationships, food, spending money, sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, religion, collecting…? The human list is infinite– one of you out there even has a collection of monkeys.


The next 30 Day Challenge is simple… Everyday ask yourself: what (metaphorical) banana am I grasping onto that’s keeping my hand stuck in the barrel? How am I engaging in monkey mind? Please feel free to use our PSA jpeg of the Beware Monkey warning you to stay alert. Monkey Mind is everywhere. As a jumping off point, type the phrase “Monkey Mind” into a search engine and do some browsing. You’ll get a wealth of information to give you a full understanding of a disease that effects 10 out of 10 species with a prefrontal cortex.

On a final note…We really like this monkey themed article from Evolvify and think it’s worth checking out: Why humans and monkeys go insane.

7 thoughts on “This Is Your Brain On Monkey Mind: The 30 Day Challenge

  1. So that is what is wrong with me! I always blamed my mother….for the clutte–r–n–g ..I mean collecting gene..so I have the monkey’s genes…figures

  2. Question? How do you know when you’ve crossed the line between solving a difficult/impossible problem (aka getting the banana) and monkey brain?

    • Some philosophers would say that it’s pretty much always monkey mind. Although, I’m not too sure about that. I’ll have to think about it and get back to you.

  3. Pingback: Monkeys, Do Your Thing | Some Dharma Thoughts

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