How to Optimize Your Brain: Science Backs the Buddha

Quiet your monkey mind

Luella Schmidt
6 min readMar 10


Do you suffer from a “monkey mind”? Are you often cycling through the same thoughts and emotions? The Buddha described “monkey mind” as a restless, unsettled, and easily distracted mind.

Oh look, it’s me.

It’s me, wandering around, forgetting why I went into that room. Art by Jorm Sangsorn at Shutterstock

One of the most famous references to the monkey mind is in the Sutta Nipata, where the Buddha compares the mind to a monkey that is always jumping around from one thing to another. He advises that we must learn to tame our monkey mind if we want to attain peace and happiness.

I’ve been an enthusiastic, albeit lazy, student of Buddhism for over 20 years. I like that it’s more of a philosophy, rather than a religion. You aren’t asked to “believe” in anything, just to experiment with the teachings in your own life.

Buddhism says, “Life is hard, human, here is why it’s hard and here are some ideas to make it less hard. Give them a try, or don’t. Whatevs.”

I enjoy problem-solving. When I was building my business, one of the earliest rules I made was that, if you want to come to me with a problem, you must also bring the list of things you’ve already tried to solve that problem, and/or your ideas for how to solve it.

This is an excellent way to bring out the best in others and to get them brainstorming with you to solve problems. It’s also a great way to help you distinguish between real problems that need to be addressed and random venting, healthy (let’s bond over the bullshit together) or unhealthy (let me just gripe about everything).

To overcome the monkey mind, the Buddha taught meditation and mindfulness as solutions to help us develop concentration and insight.

Tangible solutions that have stood the test of centuries? Sign me up!

The Buddha says “We are shaped by our thoughts, and we become what we think,” so make sure you don’t spend your days thinking you’re an dumbass. Art by Benjavisa Ruangvaree Art at Shutterstock

Neuroscience tells us WHERE in the brain we can see our monkey mind



Luella Schmidt

Writer ✱ Creator ✱ Entrepreneur. I write about history, politics, & justice ♥ and the Top 100 albums, movies, & novels. ♥ ♥ Peace ♥