Taming the Monkey Mind (Grades 3-5)

Calm the chatter in your head and around you with this simple activity.

“Monkey mind” is a Buddhist term that refers to being unsettled, restless, confused or distracted.

It’s as if all the thoughts and distractions that tug at us for our attention are like a troop of monkeys chattering in a tree above us, swinging quickly from branch to branch — much like our mind sometimes races from one thought to another. 

While our brains are powerful and our thoughts can be helpful, when we have too much chatter in our heads we can become overwhelmed, worried, or focus too much on the negative. This can create fear and anxiety — all of which is exhausting!

Too much chatter is distracting and keeps us from focusing on important things we are doing or the people you’re with. Try this to calm the chattering thoughts that can distract you at times.

What To Do

Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably for a minute or two. Start to notice how your breath moves into your body through your nose or mouth and back out. 

At some point while you are sitting and breathing, the “monkeys,” or thoughts in your brain, will start to tug at you for your attention. When this happens, simply send your attention back to your breathing, in and out.

While this won’t erase your thoughts, focusing on just one thing — your breath — helps quiet them down. Breathing calmly and evenly also lets your brain and body know that all the thoughts in your mind are nothing to worry about or react to in an excited or agitated way.

Keep this up as long as it feels good — and anytime you need it. One to three minutes usually does the trick!