Almost every where you look in terms of self-care, emotional health, reducing stress, staying what I call emotionally fit, you are told to live in the moment.

When I point out that we cannot change the past or control all that happens in the future, I  am preaching the same. I do say off and on that doing so is hard and takes mega practice.  Buddhist monks spend years learning to become enlightened,  meaning being calmly with what is and also known as Being Here Now.

Marc Sommer, neuroscience faculty member at Duke University, in a Science Digest article claims  it is  impossible to live in the now.

Sommer says, ‘The brain has to keep track of decisions and the outcomes they produce…We are constantly keeping decisions in mind as we move through life, thinking about other things.”

He goes on to point out that our thoughts are inter-connected and designed to use the past to keep us safe and happy in the future.  This means our brains are always flipping around between the past, present, and future.

So if you have fallen into despair about finding meditation useful because of your Monkey Mind, defined by many meditators as a mind that cannot stay in the now, take comfort in knowing you are not alone.  I loved reading the article, because I have a very active Monkey Mind.


First tip: I have spent many years trying to figure out how to quiet my Monkey Mind.  Then it Thich Nah Hanh suggested not to ignore the ramblings of my mind, but to let the thoughts come and go as they are wont to do while letting  go of the need to react.  By that he meant if trying to meditate, keep it up, observe what is happening in you mind as you sit quietly, don’t let your mind push you to acting. sit and breathe.

He also suggested that following your breath sometimes quieted Monkey Mind.  Here’s what I learned to do.  I call it Observing the Now, my variation of many similar exercises.  Suspect others call it the same.

  1. I take a Calming Breath–slow breath in, hold it for some moments, breathe out slowly, smile, and say “Ahhhhh” or Thank You in my head.
  2. Then I just watch the in and out  of my breathing.
  3. When thoughts come along, I look at them.
  4. When pleasant, I enjoy.
  5. When unpleasant, I take another Calming Breath and   focus on something pleasant: a good memory, something of beauty in the room, a poem, a remembered song.
  6. Then I just go back to observing my breath and watching my thoughts.

Just two or three minutes of Observing the Now usually set me up for calmness for at least a half an hour.

Second tip: Notice, I used the word “usually” above.  If I can find some peace meditating, I do.  But sometimes listening to my Monkey Mind and taking care of business is the better path to calm. Part of emotional fitness is accepting you do what you can, when you can, and that is usually good enough.

Third tip: My Emotional Fitness Exercises are useful, but not magic. Promises of magic or easy fixes are almost always false promises.  Life is strife and struggle, happiness and sadness, good times and bad times, and sometimes just boring or blah times.

The trick is not to seek bliss or happiness, but emotional strength so you can get beyond the bad and take pleasure in the good. Not easy, but possible.


Be kind to  me,  like this post or share. If you didn’t like it tell me why. You might convince me I am wrong.

Click here for my free Ebook: The 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Training Exercises. Being kind helps many,  you included.



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