In India there is a common image. It is of three monkeys. One with his hands over his eyes. One with his hands over his ears. And, one with his hands over his mouth. Mahatma Gandhi had a carving of this whimsical, yet instructive icon in his office, which I saw during my visit to Birla House in 1989. Because his office was very sparsely decorated, the three little monkeys really stood out! They, of course, are what we all know as the ancient adage ” See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil”. So often in India, simple images convey such deep spiritual messages. The mind, here, is portrayed as a monkey, which often goes about doing whatever it does without thinking of any consequences. In Yoga, this is referred to as the undisciplined mind which behaves like a monkey. In Yoga the principle of understanding the dynamic of the breath teaches us the intrinsic connection between breath and speech and therefore, breath, speech and hearing. Today with computers and TV, we see so much that is detrimental to our health, that we can add sight to the same dynamic. Yoga teaches us to think before we speak, to protect ourselves from unwarranted sights and sounds that are harmful to our well being. It stands, then, that we should guard against being the cause of such actions.
The office is a wonderful place to hone these skills, as we come into contact with other who are not so careful in their behaviors. It is easy to get pulled in by others conversations about co-workers, their complaints during our precious break and lunch times, and to involving us indirectly in their problems.
It is important to have a few friendly statements at the ready to fend off these events, so that you can stay in harmony with the Three Monkeys, thereby not causing yourself more stress. Keep those little monkeys in mind the next time you are tempted to say or do something that could start a problem in your own little peaceful productive corner of the world. Be the person who can never be accused of backbiting. Avoid allowing anything being told to you that later could pull you into a stressful situation. Truly, there are things to which you should NOT be privy. In this way, you can be a playful little monkey, scurrying happily through your work days.
Three Little Monkeys Stress Relief
1. Eyes: Rub your palms together until warm, then press over your eyes while taking a deep breath. Perform once per hour to relieve eye stress.
2. Ears: Cover your ears with your palms and try to listen inwardly. If you can step outside away from noise for just 2 minutes, your inner ear muscle will reset to protect your hearing.
3. Mouth: Relax that jaw. Gently press your thumbs into the middle of the joint where your jaw comes together and massage. Great for reducing problems with teeth grinding from stress.
4. Hands/Wrists: Monkey Paws: To relieve hand and wrist stress from typing or long commute drives, use your hands like a crane, trying to pick up a few objects by bringing all of your fingers together to grab. Or open and close your ‘Monkey Paw’ a few times. You’ll feel it stretching out the tension.