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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Watson

Zen Mind...Monkey Mind: An ADHD Tale

Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night.

-- The Buddha

The Buddha coined the term ‘kapacitta’ to describe a mental state of agitation, restlessness, and incessant movement of the mind (racing thoughts).

Today we refer to it as "Monkey Mind."

The SoulCollage® card you see here is my "Zen Mind/Monkey Mind" card.

Usually when we make a SoulCollage® card, we create a card featuring a single energy. However, when I came across the image of the monkey I immediately felt compelled to create a card illustrating opposite energies: the calm Zen Mind to which I aspire, and the agitated, restless, racing thoughts Monkey Mind that instead plagues me daily.

This card seemed to represent many of the questions I've been asking myself for years:

"Why do I suffer from racing Monkey Mind?"

"Why can't I just calm down and BE in the moment? BE in my life??"

"Why am I always so anxious? Why can't I have a Zen mind?"

"Why can't I just be NORMAL?

"Why am I so broken?"

I made this card about two years ago, right around the time when we were getting my daughter her formal diagnosis of ADHD. I had to answer several lengthy questionnaires for my daughter's diagnosis. It became clear to me that my kiddo for sure had ADHD, but it also became alarmingly clear that I might have it too as I started recognizing myself in the answers:

"Oooo...wait, that's me! I do that..."

"Oh dear...that's me, too..."

"Oh no...I definitely do that..."

And so on.

At the time I didn't connect the card I had made with ADHD. I didn't realize that deep down my inner self already knew and the wisdom/knowledge bubbled up to the surface via the card.

But did I do anything with my card or discovery at the time?


Intellectually I realized that me having this "thing" explained SO MUCH of my life (faulty executive functioning skills, distractability, constant fear of failure, feeling like a fraud professionally, struggling with maintaining friendships, inability to keep my house clean, inability to stick to routines, etc), but emotionally I wasn't ready to unpack all that goes along with a diagnosis.

So I just bottled it all up and ignored it (because I didn't want to deal with it...which is typical ADHD procrastination/avoidance behavior as I have now learned...) and instead focused as much as I could on my daughter, which was helpful for my daughter and her needs, but led to my Monkey Mind racing more than ever.

And left me struggling with every aspect of my life (see previous blog post:

Fast forward to now...I finally unbottled my discovery from two years ago, listened to the inner voice telling me to get help, and allowed myself to get my own ADHD diagnosis.

Which is a really good thing.

Turns out I'm not broken at all...I'm just wired to have more of a Monkey Mind than a Zen Mind.

And now it's time to accept my diagnosis and take care of myself.

So I'm keeping my "Zen Mind/Monkey Mind" card posted prominently in my studio and will use its powerful energies and wisdom as I embark on the journey of learning, healing, growing, and accepting.


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