My Monkey Mind

A Real Monkey Mind
The founder & CTO of Sonian, Greg Arnette, recently suggested I read 10% Happier, the personal journey of an ABC correspondent who discovered meditation as a way to calm his “monkey mind.” I’d never heard of monkey mind before, which is a Buddhist term that means "unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable". But after reading the book and attempting my first almost laughable meditation session, I self-diagnosed myself with a serious case of chronic monkey mind.

It’s amazing I never noticed it before, but I sometimes have 3-4 independent thoughts running through my brain at any given time, only one of which relates to what I am actually doing. I can make the chronic monkey mind go away for tasks that require my full concentration - e.g. writing code, designing a feature, an engaging book - but otherwise it is a constant background noise in my head.

For example, the other day I was in my office going through the resumes of some candidates passed to me by our internal recruiter, and here is a sample of my mind:

Good CS school. Plus.
Good GPA. Plus.
Tried to start his own company. Double plus.
Why would anyone willingly program in PHP in 2014? Minus.
I bet Zuck hates PHP by now but just can’t tell anyone.
Working on what seems like a hard problem. Plus.
What’s the name of the actor who played Zuck in the Facebook movie?
I bet that AWS S3 PM could help us with the problem Andi is working?
J2EE in 2014? Double minus.
Those Geico neanderthal commercials were really funny.
Why did I just think neanderthals right after reading the words J2EE?
We should have reallocated database shards last weekend.
This guy has dealt with scale. Plus.
Did Sean finish his reporting changes last night?
No previous startup experience. Minus.
How is it people graduate with a CS degree without doing multithreaded programming?
Scrum master? Minus.
“I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. You sir are no Jack Kennedy.”
Why is Vikram taking so long with that DBR change?
Working for a big non-tech company. Minus.
PMP certification. Double minus.
What was the name of that PMP certified project manager at Dell that drove me crazy?
(...and it goes on…)

Okay, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but it’s close. So starting this week, I am on a journey to tame my monkey mind and quiet the parallel processing that goes on in my head.

But do I really have time to quiet my mind? Why is it called monkey mind anyway? What ever happened to the AWS HI instance type family? It's like the Jimmy Hoffa of instance types. If there were a Buddhist monkey, would he or she call it "human mind?" We should really test out T2 instance types for our search tier. I should have written that job hunting blog post…