The Monkey Mind
I am happy to report that my IBS has been rather kind to me lately. That’s maybe not the best way to put it though, as I have EARNED my little reprieve. After almost three years of experimenting with diet, medication, wellness ideas and IBS education, I feel as though I have come to understand the beast a bit. That said, I have realized that when I am in a state of relative physical peace, my mind, for some reason, goes looking for something else to be worried about. Struggling with a rather invasive thing like IBS all the time takes its toll and like it or not, it becomes part of our lives. So, it stands to reason that when IBS is NOT so obvious or cools down for a bit, that we start looking for other things to tend to and manage. We feel as though now would be good time to ‘catch up’. This is where Monkey Mind becomes a problem.
You may have heard the term ‘Monkey Mind’ if you are interested at all in meditation. In a basic sense, it relates our tendency to vault from one thought to the other, one idea to the other, one concern to the other, like a monkey swings from tree to tree in the jungle. This tendency of our thoughts to jump around inevitably causes stress and anxiety. I don’t know about all of you but I have learned that the calmer I can keep my mind and my life, the calmer my IBS stays. This is of course relative and you cannot discount the importance of diet, exercise and proper medical care when considering your IBS treatment. It’s just that if you’ve been a bit successful managing the IBS, it seems only right that you take steps to avoid a ‘relapse’. Controlling the Monkey Mind, therefore, becomes quite important.
Going with the flow
Trying to combat what is essentially a natural process like jumping from one idea to the next, is not easy and will certainly not come overnight. I meditate daily and have for a while now. It truly helps me manage my mental and physical health and has become an integral part in managing illness. Without going into the philosophy and practice of meditation, let’s talk about a very basic idea you can use to help tame the Monkey Mind. You’ve heard of ‘going with the flow’? Well, ‘flow’ is the term psychologists use to describe the total immersion of one’s self in a task or activity. We very often find that when we are engrossed in a task, hours pass like minutes. When we are in this state of flow, the Monkey Mind is quiet and we find that our stress levels are lower. Good for you, good for me, good for IBS.
Flow is just one of many, many ideas related to mindfulness and peace of mind. I believe that should you get a break from physical illness for a time, use the time wisely. I think that is in all our interest to cultivate peace, as we never know when the next storm will come.