My journey towards mindfulness has taught me many things, but by far the most important lesson that I’ve learnt has been…

Let go of the banana

OK, so a bit of context. In a faraway place, villagers capture monkeys using a banana and coconut trap. A small hole is made in a coconut, just big enough to fit a monkey hand, and a banana is placed within. A hungry monkey then comes along, puts his hand inside the coconut, and tries to get the banana out.

Now, the banana is far too big to fit through the hole, but the monkey refuses to surrender his tasty yellow treat. His captor then approaches and grabs the unsuspecting chimp. I know what you’re thinking… why didn’t the monkey just let go of the banana?

Well, the monkey is just a victim of habit. By refusing to change and sticking to an act that has served him well in the past (eating a banana), he allows himself to get captured.

There is nothing physically trapping the chimp. He’s only trapped by his refusal to admit that something that has previously been good for him has now become dangerous. The moral of the story?

We are all monkeys, and we all have our own bananas

To help explain the message, I’m going to chuck in a quote that I absolutely love: "Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it."

Stop doing things that are not positive just because ‘you’ve always done it that way’, or ‘you’re just used to it.' We can often chain ourselves to bad habits by refusing to change the way we think, clinging on to the past, or worrying about the future.

So here’s a challenge for you... Every time you have a thought that’s not helpful, whether it’s craving that cigarette, worrying about the mistake you made last week, or being afraid of the speech you need to give tomorrow, say to yourself:

“This is my banana”

Physically label it in your mind. Recognize that it’s not helpful, and remind yourself of that poor monkey with his hand stuck in the coconut.

And… just let it go

Drop the banana and leg it! Don’t allow yourself to get trapped by unhelpful thoughts or actions. Instead, move your mind over to productive ideas, better habits, and a more positive attitude. Tell yourself…

I’m not going to be the monkey!

Alex Safford