Beyond Monkey Mind

That the more one fights against, the body, the more powerfully the body fights back.

If this is true, then how can one effectively move away from sleepless nights?

Have you ever thought or said to yourself, “I’m bone tired, so why can’t I get to sleep?” Those who have difficulty getting to sleep know that the reason they can’t sleep is not because their body is up and running around.

Sometimes it is because of what some call their monkey mind. Many of the practices that are described in our Sounder Sleep sessions address the issue of monkey mindedness. Numerous people have found those practices to be very useful in getting to sleep or returning to sleep. The practices are, use the body to calm and to quiet the mind which allows sleep to come naturally and easily.  

However, there may be some occasions in which the mind is not necessarily focused on a specific issue or even flitting here and there as a bee or butterfly flying from one blossom to another. I once had a client who was almost perpetually tired and exhausted.

Her experience was that she would go to bed and drift off to sleep. However, she would awaken after an hour to hour-and-a-half and would be wide awake and would be awake for an extended period of time. When asked what she did during that time, she replied, “I say to myself, ‘I have to get back to sleep. I know I can’t, but I have to get back to sleep.” It doesn’t take much imagination to recognize that those words increased anxiety and the more she said them and the more intensely she expressed those thoughts, the more anxious she would become. The levels of stress hormones would increase dramatically. The “fight, flight, or freeze” response took over. As the degree of danger increases the ability to relax and allow sleep to come decreases. What helped her was to change that internal dialogue. She learned to say to herself, “Wow! I’ve been asleep for an hour and it seems like only ten minutes. I wonder how much sleep I can get in the next hour-and-a-half.”

Einstein has been credited with having said, in part, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, we can help clients develop their imaginary control center. In that control center there are switches, levers and buttons that manage many physical and mental systems. And the use of imagination can impact no only sleep but other significant challenges. I know of people who “go inside” and turn up the metabolism rate while they sleep. A result is fewer blankets in the winter and for some it’s an effective assist to weight loss programs. One client who had undergone a heart transplant but sometimes felt as if the heart was not his was able to lower the degree of rejection and immunosuppression drugs by “going inside and having all his organs thank the heart for the great work it was doing and by imagining a large plaque on his heart that read “Jerry’s Heart.”

There is incredible power in internal dialogue. What you say to yourself matters. Even if changing internal dialogue does not help you get back to sleep, having positive and hope filled thoughts is much more enjoyable than having negative anxiety producing thoughts.

About the Author

Larry Wells

Larry Wells has Master Degrees in Divinity and Social work and is a Certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner and Consultant. He is part of the part time faculty at the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work, and the Northern Kentucky Social Work department. People have life difficulties because of histories, circumstances, and the fact of having to live with people. NLP has proved to be very effective in helping to positively change the way people experience those histories, circumstances and people, as well as finding more peace and joy in life.

Comments 5

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this article. I had signed up for a free introduction to a class being offered online a few weeks ago but became ill and am not sure if I missed an e-mail showing me then how to access the lesson. I am about to head to my last Feldenkrais training session next week and am very interested in your Sounder Sleep sessions so I was looking at your website to see if this is available online (I live in Alaska). Could you please advise me as I am so hoping I can sign up online (and look forward to attending something in-person in the future!).


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    Thank you so much. I’m not sure we see ourselves as role models. Mostly, we’re willing to share a part of our journey and hope that encourages others be attend to their own.

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