A Word or Two about Madness

The month is March, and our thoughts turn to madness. This month we would like to talk about rumination. A lot of us try to solve our problems by thinking them through.

This works if you are dealing with something quite practical, like figuring out where your washing machine is blocked. This is not what we mean.


We are talking about the obsessive, chattering monkey mind that will not stop analysing, churning over conversations and situations in the past, or imagined ones in the future. You may think you can think things through, and come up with a solution to the discomfort underlying your ruminations. Few of us know that this monkey madness is actually an addictive pattern. With addiction we mean any devoted habit that attempts, in well-meaning fashion, to take you away from yourself, and what you feel.

Kahlil Gibran wrote that thought is something we acquire from the environment, and that its function is to organise and arrange – he held that words and logic cannot measure the soul or heart. As thought attempts to solve your problem, it takes you away from the experience of the spirit. Sometimes we find that thought has become so dominant that we do not know and cannot say what we feel.

Here our bodies can help us because they give us physical sensations that are clues. At Change Matters we teach that we can begin reconnecting with our physical, cellular and spiritual/emotional selves by tuning inwards (but not to inward thoughts). For this we use techniques like noticing, breathing, deep relaxation, visualisation and meditation. You may be surprised to experience yourself in this new, thoughtless and more authentic way.

It turns out that madness is not an inability to think rationally – madness can mean that you are living in a very busy, very noisy prison of the mind.