The Monkey is the Messenger: Meditation & What Your Busy Mind Is Trying To Tell You


Author: Ralph De La Rosa

Review: Sabrina Moscola


If you’ve never heard of the phrase Monkey Mind, it refers to the mind’s tendency to “swing from thought to thought” during meditation or any activity when we are trying to focus, the same way a monkey swings from branch to branch along the treetops. This swinging can sometimes lead new meditation practitioners to feel as if they can’t meditation or are doing something wrong. The Monkey is the Messenger exists to offer a counter statement to that: you can meditate and you’re doing everything right.

Being trained as both a meditation teacher and psychotherapist, Ralph De La Rosa explains the “monkey mind” simultaneously from science-based and esoteric perspectives. If you’ve never meditated before, this book breaks down the experiences you may have and reasons for them, making meditation feel palatable even for the biggest skeptic in the room.

De La Rosa weaves between topics like evolution – discussing how our brains are wired for more primal experiences, like hunting and gathering, while having to keep up with the speed and change of technology – to body awareness, objectifying to push ourselves past limits, identify with habits and compare ourselves to others– to the delicate topic of “model scenes” – situations, often traumatic, that have occurred in each of our lives, psychologically keeping a part of us in that moment. After reading about the ways the mind protects itself, he allows the reader to begin to realize not only the reason for the monkey mind, but the need for it. As the chapters go on, the reader is given a sense of “I can do this” to replace any predetermined “I can’t” thoughts that may have kept someone from starting.

When De La Rosa suggests that the monkey is not the problem, just a symptom of the problem and that the inner work of healing past traumas is what will quiet the monkey, he then goes on to offer ways of doing so, supporting the reader every step of the way. Navigating obstacles and dealing with the inner critic are just a couple of ways De La Rosa suggests addressing these traumas in a way to work with the monkey mind rather than against it, ultimately setting out on a path of healing.  

Offering beginner-friendly visualizations, like Mindfulness of the Body and Sun Meditation, as well as breath work, such as 4-8-12 Breathing and The Ninefold Purification, The Monkey is the Messenger provides guided ways to begin to meditate practice or add something new to your existing practice. Learning about evolution, psychology and being given these practices, the monkey mind is sure to be happy with variety while the reader is allowed space for processing.

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