I’m sure you’re familiar with the little voice inside your head. This annoying and repetitive stream of information about yourself, ruminations about the past, and worries about the future. This voice has been called “inner narrator” or “Monkey Mind”, and scientists refer to it as the brain’s “default mode network.”
Your Monkey Mind is active whenever you’re not focused on anything in particular. It’s also one reason for mind-wandering. While daydreaming can be fun, mind-wandering leads to unhappiness. Fortunately, meditation can help us to deal with this problem.
Meditation has been shown to reduce the activity of the Monkey Mind. If you meditate regularly, your Monkey Mind becomes quieter. Further, by meditating you increase your ability to pay attention to something without triggering inner commentary about it. You can pay attention to your urge to eat cookies, without starting an inner dialogue about eating them. With meditation, the two networks associated with paying attention to and commentating about something can be functionally decoupled.
Meditation allows you to sit in, what neurologist Viktor Frankl called, the space between stimulus and response. It’s the place where you can choose how you want to respond to a stimulus. Where you can choose to eat the cookies or decide against it. Meditation helps you to become more comfortable sitting in this space and thus benefits your decision-making.
This is how meditation can help you tame your Monkey Mind, become calmer, make better decisions, and ultimately live better.