Chat as Map of Monkey Mind

Since the pandemic started so many meetings, services, etc. are being shown or held on Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, etc. I totally appreciate the opportunity to participate safely in gatherings I love. “Chat” columns are often open to the side or just below these videos and I began to notice they offer an interesting visual of monkey mind.

Monkey mind, aka wild mind, refers to the way our thoughts tend to run wild, to chatter like monkeys. All day. Every day, masses of thoughts jumbling through our minds. I first noticed the chat phenomenon during an Ahava Center for Spiritual Living service. We had a special guest speaker, Reverend Sunshine Daye and her talk was SO good. A talk to fall into, to exercise every power of right listening on, to drink in every word. And through the whole thing, out of the corner of my eye, I could see chat messages flying by.

Once I’d noticed it there, I began seeing it all the time. During any Ahava service. During Deva Premal’s and Miten’s weekly Gayatri meditations. While Jack Kornfield gives a talk, etc. My guess would be that at in person services at any given moment many people’s minds would be composing grocery lists, choosing paint colors, remembering childhood ills, fretting over an unhappy conversation, etc. While everyone might be sitting quietly through the event, monkey mind would be busily in action around the room. But we manage to seem present because no one can see the thoughts chasing around in everyone’s minds.

With chat visually present on the screen, we can see how busily people’s minds are racing the whole time they’re supposedly chanting or participating in a meditation or listening to a deep spiritual talk. Granted, in these situations the “chatter” is generally more on topic, love emojis, repetitions of lines of the chant, comments on specifics of a talk, etc. But it still involves not really sitting with an empty mind and meditating or chanting or listening, etc.

No judgement, we all struggle to control those inner chattering monkeys, but really fascinating to watch it in action while attending church or meditation, etc. Has anyone else been noticing?