How to Achieve
Monkey Mind

An Alphabetical List

A definition of sorts from the Guide to Buddhism A to Z: “In Buddhism, the monkey mind (kapicitta) is a term sometimes used by the Buddha to describe the agitated, easily distracted and incessantly moving behavior of ordinary human consciousness.” In some ways, one could argue the monkey mind acts as a counterbalance to mindfulness. Mull that until you are distracted by the next thought.

Note: I am not a Buddhist, but I am an expert in monkey mindedness.


Take in liberal doses, with especial focus on middle of the night applications.


Start, but do not finish. Leave piled up to taunt you.


Obtain, bookmark, and always lust after the most complicated recipes with the most steps required before actually making the dish. Look up what terms mean. Ideally, get spices and odd kitchen utensils for one obscure culinary purpose you’d otherwise never need to employ. Fill the kitchen. Never make the thing. Wonder why you have these things and then look up what they are. Repeat.


Every trigger warning

Contemplate for a brief moment before you click or don’t, while you meditate upon all the recent debate about whether trigger warnings should or should not exist.

Fill your head with random facts from the Internet


Let it do its magic; it seems like a natural conduit to reaching Monkey Mind.

Help others, volunteer, and generally add to your list of random tasks

This really, really helps you achieve Monkey.


It is the Virtual Temple of Monkey Mind. Google is arguably the Monkey Mind’s greatest teacher.


Hear, like, try to retell, and fail. Try to remember. Try to remember. Hear again. Repeat this cycle.


Have them. They seem to be master teachers on the path to your goal of achieving Monkey Mind. Let them lead you, interrupt or dispute your every word, and scramble your every pristine and coherent thought (and every surface in the house). Let them run you ragged, wear your focused mind down, and add groaning columns to your to-do list. See also, “A” and “G.”


Especially “To Do” lists, they really scatter energies with their self-righteous tentacles.


Worry about it. Avoid worrying about it. Yearn for it in all sorts of ways. See also, “S.”


Especially thank you notes from your children’s birthday gifts, write and don’t finish addressing. Let pile up. Find periodically. Wonder how long the statute of limitations is on these. Do not switch to email thank you messages ON PRINCIPLE and not the principle of handwritten counts more, the principle of taking Monkey Mind to the next level.


As in, specials, sales, trips. Choices are so very distracting. Make sure there are too many at all times.

Post-it notes

Like “To Do” lists, these are energy dispersers. Use liberally. Place all over your notebook, fridge, dashboard, etc.


Every personality related one or pop culture related one on the Internet, take.


To listen to, to be annoyed by, to try to stop, to rail against, to incite your rage at inopportune moments. Bonus points when they come to your cell phone if you still have a landline, which is supposed to be a robocall collection center.

Shiny things


Scatter throughout your house, car, pocket, and corner of your mind.

Underbellies of distraction

Including SPAM email, robocalls, Jehovah’s Witnesses at your door, the ACLU or Planned Parenthood asking for money and signatures on the street, neighbors, friends, the grocery store, the café, newspapers, television: pick yours. Do not avoid.


View many, especially of cats. If you view enough of them, you will repeat some without even remembering. These are essential tools for achieving authentic Monkey Mind in the Internet age.

Wake up in the middle of the night

This is prime time for thinking or, more aptly, worrying.


It marks the spot, not sure which one.

Your most personally inspirational quotes, or any inspirational quotes

In books, in poetry, on the Internet, as heard on the radio, by your yoga teacher, long ago on Oprah, those are collectibles and wonderful tools in the quest to shake your brain into disarray. Think about them often.


Use that word liberally. If you do not truly appreciate the word’s truest meaning, that’s all the better.

If you don’t like alphabetical lists — and not everyone does — you can make a Top Ten List instead

  1. Adrenaline, the kind you take as a drug, the kind you manufacture through stress and the kind that comes from moving really quickly.
  2. Yoga and meditation, if you are not chill and suited to them.
  3. Long lines, traffic jams, medical office waiting rooms.
  4. Sleep deprivation in whatever form you choose or whatever form chooses you.
  5. Babies, toddlers, small children, and teenagers, the ones you have to feed, clothe, care for, i.e. the act of being the parent.
  6. Follow links on Wikipedia and see what happens to you.
  7. Schedule too many pickups and drop-offs in a compressed period of time on a regular basis.
  8. Have deadlines.
  9. Listen to NPR when you drive. Be engaged in a story. Reach your destination. Continue on from your car and the radio story, because of the compressed time frame for all those drop-offs and pickups. Try to remember all the radio driveway moments you meant to have later. Repeat.
  10. Sit through young children’s music recitals of hard-to-listen-to instruments like violins and trumpets.

Here’s a Very Brief Formula, almost like a recipe,
also known as a shortcut:

Take stress, exhaustion, jealousy, desire and fear. Compress. Try to think clearly. Try not to think. Note that instead you have created a perfect storm for monkey mind.