CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My husband calls it "monkey mind." I call it annoying.
I assumed the term was his own creation, invented to describe the feeling of having too much going on in your head -- the noisy clutter that makes it hard to focus -- until I heard the same phrase used during a review of the movie "Eat, Pray, Love."
According to the novel the movie was based on, the main character is "burdened with what the Buddhists call the 'monkey mind' -- the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit, and howl. ... [The] mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined."
That's an apt description of my own mental state. And, surprisingly, according to a quick polling of friends, it appears to be fairly common.
Said Susan Crumley of Poca, "My monkey comes out at night when I'm desperate for sleep, kinda like the monkey in the closet on 'Family Guy.' The only way to shut out my thoughts is to count. If I let myself think in words, one leads to another and my thoughts are all over the globe."
Said Brad Barkley of Frostburg, Md., "Wait ... what?"
So how exactly does one do battle against monkey mind?
Amazingly, it has nothing to do with investing in Chiquita or getting a bigger monkey, and everything to do with allowing the monkey to play.
"The best way to tame your monkey is through meditation," wrote one e-mailer. "You need to become aware of a thought rather than thinking a thought."
That suggestion was clear as mud to me, too.