Get rid of the monkey

Boomer Talk, Carole Fawcett

Monkey mind ~ comes from a Buddhist term that means unsettled.   Like a little monkey in our heads, our thoughts swing from one neuron to another and we are fussing and worrying and over-thinking and feeling anxious – just when we should be going to sleep or trying to wind down and it really does make us feel unsettled.  Sound familiar?

Keep reading, as I’m going to give you a technique that may help to stop your personal monkey and allow you to relax and/or head to the land of nod.

There have been all sorts of suggestions and solutions offered up over the years, from counting sheep for help with going to sleep, to progressive relaxation (relaxing your body consciously from the toes up to the head) for help with stress.

Then, of course, there’s self hypnosis, meditation and yoga.  All of these techniques are beneficial.

But, the fact is, we are all unique and different techniques work differently on each of us. (Plus, we need to be consistent with some of these things, and this can be challenging, as life can get in the way.) Perhaps we’ve even become habituated in how we deal with stressors. I like a quick little technique called “square breathing” (and I don’t know who came up with this idea – but it’s quite effective).  You could do this sitting at your desk at work.

Here’s what you do.  Close your eyes and visualize or imagine a square.  If you have a hard time visualizing, then assign a favourite colour to the square.  Then, in your mind’s eye, go along the top of the square (left to right) and inhale to the count of four.

When you get to the top right hand corner, go down the side, holding your breath to the count of four, then left along the bottom, exhaling to the count of four, and up the left side, inhaling for a count of four and so on.

It’s great for calming your nerves when you feel anxious,  stopping worrying thoughts in their tracks, or when you just can’t seem to let go and relax.

So here is the short version of square breathing:   (easy to clip out)

Imagine a square and colour it – then following the lines of the square

1)       Inhale to the count of four (top line – left to right)

2)       Hold for the count of four (right down line)

3)       Exhale to the count of four (bottom line)

4)       Inhale to the count of four (left up line)

5)       Repeat…………

This little exercise keeps several crucial parts of your mind busy at the same time, and therefore helps stops the “Monkey Mind” in its tracks and helps you to relax.

The person who knows how to relax will likely live a longer and happier life.  Being able to relax is the best way to deal with stress, because as we all know, stress is one of the primary culprits for illness. Our body is more vulnerable if it belongs to an individual who is stressed all the time.

As a clinical hypnotherapist I regularly help people to achieve deep levels of relaxation.

Simplistically stated, this is what hypnosis is – a deepened state of relaxation, a slowing down of your brain waves.   It can be likened to day dreaming.  A lot of you have likely experienced driving somewhere and not being aware of the drive when you arrive at your destination.  This is called ‘waking hypnosis’.

Deep relaxation allows access to the subconscious mind and can help with many issues……….fears, phobias, anxiety, pain management, calm birthing, smoking cessation, weight loss and stress management.

A hypnotherapy colleague in the U.S. (Michael Ellner) says that our lives would be enhanced if we had a happy heart, a peaceful mind and a playful spirit.

I agree, but we need to work on getting rid of that monkey first.


Carole Fawcett is a clinical hypnotherapist, a professional counsellor and a freelance writer.