Forward Living: A tranquil break from ‘monkey mind’

06/14/2011 2:14 PM |

While sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, I picked up a magazine and started thumbing through the pages. An article titled “Taming your monkey mind” sparked my interest. However, before I could read the first sentence, I was summoned into the exam room and that was that.

I was curious and clueless about the monkey mind thing — but not for long. Upon returning home, a quick Google search turned up the following: A monkey mind is best described as the endless chattering of one’s mind. The mind jumps from thought to thought, like a monkey jumps from tree to tree.
Yikes! The description fit me to a tee.

We live pressure-filled lives; therefore, our brains are constantly hijacked with anxiety and distraction. The experts say that stress is public enemy No. 1 (all right, outside of Osama bin Laden, who is no longer with us). Stress can cause a myriad of physical and emotional symptoms that may lessen our resistance to disease; stress can kill.

Luckily for us, there are numerous stress reduction techniques that are effective in lowering tension, and I’ve tried a good many of them. Exercise is a great stress-buster. OK, so I’m somewhat fanatical about getting in my daily walks, but with good reason. Walking usually fends off my “crazies.” Sometimes, though, the crazies get the upper hand and, well, you can guess the rest.

I practice yoga regularly at home. Occasionally, while relaxing into a pose, my monkey mind will taunt me with thoughts like, Am I doing this posture correctly? or Watch that knee! Twenty minutes of deep breathing is calming, except when I’m waiting for the timer to go off, signaling the end of my session.

Attending church has a soothing effect on my psyche, unless, during the homily, the vicar brings up a line of reasoning that I hadn’t previously considered. Then, it’s the same-old, same-old me.

There is one thing that tames my monkey mind every time. I rendezvous at a spot that is conducive to relaxation: soft music, low lights and scented candles — and it’s not what you may be thinking. I rendezvous at a spa where I indulge myself in a full body massage. If you’ve never tried it, do so; or if you have, don’t you agree that receiving a massage is better than chocolate? Well, some may argue that chocolate rules, but, hey, it has calories.

Upon entering said spa, my body readies itself for relaxation; my monkey mind, however, is still at it. Unlike in the game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” it doesn’t matter which door I enter, the treatment room is a haven unto itself. I disrobe to the extent that I’m comfortable and crawl under the light cover. Then the massage starts: I do not speak (quite a feat for me), and slowly, my body begins to yield; my mind becomes extraordinarily quiet. Truthfully, I have no idea what happens during my massage; moreover, I don’t care. All I know is that afterward, I am tranquil and could use a spatula to help pry me off the table.

Because we spend so much time in our heads, doesn’t our body deserve a maintenance plan? Shouldn’t we care for our body as well as we love and take care of our car or home? Learning to love and nurture our body is a prerequisite to a more peaceful life.

Frank knows how much I enjoy my massage experience. Consequently, when there is a special occasion, he presents me with a spa gift certificate. And, sometimes, he has surprised me with a “just because” spa certificate. Hmm. Kinda makes me wonder.

I’m certain that Frank presents me with said spa certificates because he loves me; he knows how much I value my serenity. I’m also certain that Frank wants to deflect the unfortunate spillover of my monkey mind into our daily lives.

Ah, yes. My Frank is nobody’s fool.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

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