Sometimes the monkey mind goes bananas. The mind can be a fun and playful monkey, or it can be a worried and restless monkey. A monkey mind that is restless consumes a tremendous amount of energy. Chess masters may lose twenty pounds during a week-long tournament by thinking on their craft. Over a life time, imagine how much energy the average worrying person is using by carelessly replaying scenarios in their head.
When the mind is always racing, it doesn’t allow space for consciousness or spiritual awareness to arise. The Taoist have techniques for letting the mind rest while focusing on the ‘belly brain.’ The belly brain corresponds to a large group of nerve cells (larger than the actual brain) that carries out vital functions. By breathing to and from the belly and tuning into the body, we become aware of our our body’s intelligence.
When the belly mind takes over, the body can function and our vital energy stays with the organs. As the monkey mind relaxes, spiritual awareness can emerge. Peace, calm, and inner quietude can take the place of restless worrying. To start, ask yourself ‘where are my hands?’ And then put them on the belly and breathe deeply to them. Do this until you forget what you were worried about. Repeat as many times as necessary.
More techniques for quieting the mind in The Alchemist’s Tao Te Ching: Transforming Your Lead Into Gold