Monkey mind is a term in Zen Buddhism. But exclusive to meditation, we all suffer from Monkey Mind.   “Monkey Mind” is the experience of jumping from thought to thought, like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. Monkey Mind is essentially the patron primate of distraction;  distraction from your work, from what you need, what you want to write. Monkey mind is lured by yet another piece of fruit hanging off the next big tree even while the piece in his or her hand is only partially eaten.

Monkey mind often effectively prevents the writer from writing and if you don’t have handy branches from which to swing, what better substitute than the Internet? Talk about jumping from tree to tree clutching half eaten fruit!

For writers, the monkeys are often not about cheerful fruit eating or jungle itinerates, in our world, the monkeys are often an organized force. Think of the flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz, they only do the Wicked Witch’s bidding, (do you see any self actualized flying monkeys? You do not) but they are effective and scary nonetheless. These flying monkeys will travel up and around in your head repeating the same ego based messages; you aren’t good enough, you can’t really write, you once got an D in the third grade for your essay on the jungle, you’re too old, you’re too young, you never did get the company newsletter off the ground.

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  • T. W. Dittmer
    Posted on August 24, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Don’t mention the flying monkeys! I had traumatic nightmares about those monkeys.

  • catharinebramkamp
    Posted on August 28, 2012 at 12:11 am

    That’s why they are so scary!

  • stephanieberget
    Posted on September 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Great post. I love the analogy of Monkeys and unconscious thoughts.

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