Calm the Monkey-Mind

A Stone Mountain Retreat

A Stone Mountain Retreat

Do you worry? Do you wonder if your chemo is working? Do you worry about your future? I call this gymnastic, worry mind the monkey-mind. What do other cancer survivors do to calm their monkey-minds? Well, someone I know goes to the top of Stone Mountain outside Atlanta, Georgia.


For this cancer survivor carrying her chair, a towel, some water and something to write with has become an extremely wonderful, therapeutic routine. Sometimes she will stay on top the mountain for an hour. While at other times, she may stay for several hours. She tells me the timing depends upon where her mind goes. When she senses the time is right, she will wrap up her visit and head home.


In our fast paced society, it is becoming more difficult to make time for ourselves – to take time to reflect. When we don’t give ourselves time to reflect, we become part of a reaction race (RR). The more we do, the faster life seems to go. The faster we go, the more likely we are to react versus taking time to look at the big picture before we act. Often our reactions to life cause consequences that we won’t become aware of until long after our initial reaction.


Take for example the time Larry and I were driving to a friend’s house for an afternoon visit. Our friends gave us directions that took us over some train tracks. They warned us to drive slowly over the train tracks because the tracks were very bumpy – enough to jar loose a filling if you weren’t careful. Just as we began to slow down in preparation for driving over the railroad tracks, the crossing lights began to flash and the bell began to alarm that a train was coming. The crossing arms had not yet lowered. We stopped the car and waited. We were not familiar with the train, and so we had no idea how fast the train would be upon us. It didn’t take long before other cars were stopped behind us, as well as, cars stopped in front of us in the on-coming traffic lane.


The crossing arms were just beginning to lower when some idiot, about three cars behind us, raced down the on-coming traffic lane. As he barreled towards the tracks, Larry and I looked at each other, and in unison said, “He’s going to get himself killed!”


By this time the idiot driver had to slow down in order to navigate around the RR crossing arms. Just as he got to the railroad track, swoosh! Clink, clink … clink, clink … clink, clink … the train raced in front of him. Larry and I looked at each other again, only this time our eyes were wide open. The idiot would have been smooched to smithereens had he gone forward with his reactive decision. That was a very close call!


But wait! Thanks to the idiot driver’s reactive decision, he was still in a pickle. He was now driving down the wrong lane, facing on-coming traffic. He was facing a gaggle of cars coming straight towards him!


By this time the line of cars behind our car had grown to about 20 cars. The idiot was trapped and yet he was still in a reactive state. What do you think he did? He put his car in reverse and backed up until he found a driveway where he turned his car around and headed in the other direction – away from the railroad crossing. Right as he got himself turned around, the train passed, the alarm bells stopped, and the crossing arms lifted. Had he simply stayed in line, he would have made it over the tracks in less than 2 minutes. Instead he chose to react to the inconvenience of “waiting” for the train to pass. Ultimately his reactive decision cost him more time. He had to either find a different route over the railroad track or turn around once more to get to the back of line. By reacting versus pausing, the idiot lost what he seemed to value most, time.


You may be asking, what does crossing a train track have to do with calming the monkey-mind? Here’s my point – Slow down. Stop reacting to life. Take time to pause and plan your actions to life’s events. When you do pause, you clear your mind of life’s distractions. When you do pause, you make room for thought that will help you. When you pause, you quiet your monkey-mind. When you pause, you gain control your actions.


Find a special place. It can be in your home, in your backyard, at a park, or on top a mountain. Take time to pause. Sit alone. Reflect on your life, your surroundings. Breathe-in that which you want in life. Exhale that which you no longer need.


TV Crew Filming Cancer Survivor's Retreat

TV Crew Filming Cancer Survivor’s Retreat

Begin to do what our cancer survivor does who climbs a mountain, she makes time for herself. She makes time to calm her monkey mind. Recently while she was enjoying one of her special times on Stone Mountain, she was interviewed by a TV crew from Mozambique. It just goes to show that while you may be doing something for yourself, you may also be doing more than that. You may begin helping others learn how to take time to pause, reflect, and calm the monkey mind.


Read more about what other cancer survivors do as they outlive cancer. Start reading I am Alive … Period! A Cancer Recovery Handbook. Don’t had a Kindle? No problem, you can read my e-book on the free Kindle Reading App