Introductory Lesson Plan



Students will learn:

  • the concept of “Monkey Mind”
  • the puppet characters
  • to use a chime to practice sitting still and finding calm
  • the story of Monkey Mind Pirates




Monkey Mind

Definition: The opposite of calm, when your mind swings from thought to thought the way a monkey might swing from tree to tree.

Context: Pay attention to your monkey mind when you try to sit still. What distractions do you notice?


Definition: Fear or nervousness about what might happen.

Context: Her anxiety kept her from sleeping.


Definition: A mental disorder marked by sadness, inactivity, and loss of a sense of one's own worth.

Context: Whenever it rained for several days, he feel into a deep depression.


Definition: Something that makes it hard to pay attention.

Context: There were too many distractions for her to be able to concentrate.


Definition: A system of exercises for gaining bodily or mental control and well-being.

Context: He practiced yoga every day to help him find calm.



Monkey Mind Pirate Winston was named after Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British Conservative politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century, he served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 1951–55). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer, and an artist. He is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was the first person to be made an Honorary Citizen of the United States.

Winston Churchill's Depression:

Churchill's depressive periods tended to be intense and prolonged. Sometimes they were connected with traumatic external events such as his dismissal from the Admiralty after the Dardanelles disaster in WWI. Other times they could not be attributed to such outside causes, fitting the classic profile of serious unipolar or bipolar depression. His depressions came and went throughout his long and remarkable life, and commenced in his youth.

Churchill seemed to be aware that his depression was a medical condition. In 1911 a friend of Churchill's claimed to have been cured of depression by a doctor. Churchill wrote about this with some excitement in a letter to his wife, Clementine:

"I think this man might be useful to me - if my black dog returns. He seems quite away from me now - it is such a relief. All the colours come back into the picture."


Monkey Mind Pirate Ansel was named after Ansel Adams.

Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was an American photographer and environmentalist, best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West, especially in Yosemite National Park.

Ansel Adams had trouble in school.

And some, like Adams, Einstein and Edison, got kicked out and were asked to never come back. Too distracted, too dreamy and too inattentive, they proved a trial and tribulation for their teachers.

In Ansel Adams's case, he got lucky. After multiple schools had asked him to leave, his parents decided to home school him. When they discovered that nature calmed their high- energy, fidgety son they let nature become his greatest teacher.

So unconventional was Adams's education that during his middle school years, his father bought him a pass to San Francisco's 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and sent his son off to attend it every day.

In 1916, Adams and his family traveled to Yosemite. His father gave him a Kodak Brownie camera so he could record the scenery. But Adams, who had begun to play the piano at the age of 12, saw his future as a classical pianist. He was interested in photography but not yet obsessed with it.

Then fate intervened. When Adams failed to fully recover from the flu during the epidemic of 1918, his parents sent him to Yosemite, thinking the fresh air would do him good. It did far more than that. Yosemite was the making of Ansel Adams. Hiking its high country, camera in hand, he began to see wilderness as essential to man’s happiness.


Monkey Mind Pirate Lady Bronte was named

after Charlotte Brontë.

Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855) was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards.

Charlotte Brontë had anxiety.

Gifted poet and writer of the Victorian era. One of the infamous Bronte sisters. Author of, amongst others, Jane Eyre, Villette and Shirley.

In 1852 developed a state of anxiety with depression. Charlotte was given a mercury treatment which provoked a violent reaction.

She said she was not writing but instead was swallowing drugs "for the purpose of chasing away a low nervous fever which after long annoying threats - at last established a somewhat unfair tyranny over spirit - sleep and appetite".

She portrayed her condition in the character of Lucy in Villette. She suggests a connection between mental and physical illness:

"my mind has suffered somewhat too much; a malady is growing upon it - what shall I do? How shall I keep well?"

She also says "Sleepless, I lay awake night after night, weak and unable to occupy myself".

She would say the breakdown was a result of writing a book in isolation (Jane Eyre).

But, she also said "It would take a great deal to crush me!"

The monkey mind (kapicitta) is a term sometimes used by the Buddha to describe the agitated, easily distracted and incessantly moving behaviour of ordinary human consciousness (Ja.III,148; V,445).

Once he observed: ‘Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go only to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night.’ (S.II,95).

Anyone who has spent even a little time observing his own mind and then watched a troop of monkeys will have to admit that this comparison is an accurate and not very flattering one.

On another occasion the Buddha said that a person with uncontrolled craving ‘jumps from here to there like a monkey searching for fruit in the forest’ (Dhp.334).

In contrast to this, the Buddha asked his disciples to train themselves so as to develop ‘a mind like a forest deer’ (miga bhūtena cetasā, M.I,450). Deer are particularly gentle creatures and always remain alert and aware no matter what they are doing.

Taming the Monkey Mind, Thubden Chodron, 1995.