Much like earworms are snippets of a song that refuses to vacate your auditory processing center, mindworms are remnants of thoughts that stubbornly replay through your brain. It’s not only annoying; it’s maladaptive. The stuttering brain becomes stuck on a particular thought and is unable to move on to the next or be receptive to new ideas.
Mindworms are tenacious little buggers. They like to hide when you focus on them too intently only to start their slithering once you allow yourself to relax. They may go quiet for hours or even days at a time, prompting a false sense of security, before making themselves heard once again.
Although not fatal, mindworms are parasites that remove some of our lifeforce. If allowed to wander for too long, they hold their host back from optimal health and wellness.
There are no quick fixes for the removal of mindworms. The development of a vaccine has stalled and post-infection medications often come with pretty severe side-effects. If you find yourself the unwitting host to a mindworm that has overstayed its welcome, try the following:
Exercise: Mindworms feed on cortisol, so anything you do to lower the amount of stress hormone coursing through your body will make the environment less pleasing to them. This isn’t the time for a lackadaisical workout, either. Lift heavy, run fast or take a class that pushes you. After the session, you should feel drained and your mind should feel blessedly empty.
Art: Sometimes mindworms stay around because they have something they want to say. Now, unfortunately, they’re not very direct when it comes to expressing their needs. The best way to listen to a mindworm is to act as a medium, allowing yourself to channel the mindworm’s ideas into a creative application. Once the pastel or brush is in your hand, sit back and let the mindworm go.
Music: Although genetically related, earworms and mindworms do not make happy bedfellows (perhaps because they both demand to be the center of attention). So invite an earworm in. It’s best if you surround yourself with the music of your choosing. Car stereos on the highway seem to be particularly effective, especially if you sing along.
Gum: No, really. Perhaps it’s the rhythmic movement of the jaw or the addition of another foreign object in the head, but gum seems to act as a mindworm deterrent. This is a great strategy to use when you’re busy. After all, you can’t exactly start bench-pressing the conference table in a meeting or blast Metallica at your child’s soccer game, but you can slip in a piece of gum.
Write: Mindworms are a bit narcissistic. They think their message is the most important thing ever. So indulge them. Publish their words in your journal. And then put your own spin on it. You see, mindworms are good at starting a story, but they’re famous for leaving off the conclusion, which makes their tales endlessly cycle. So create your own ending when you write.
Mindfulness Walk: Mindworms are resistant to traditional meditation techniques. In fact, they can easily turn your om moment into a wrestling match. It works better to sneak up on them with your mindfulness. Thus the walk. A mindfulness walk starts with an intention. For example, you can decide to focus on all of the doors in the neighborhood, or on everything that is the color red or on all of the sounds. Then, one foot in front of the other while gently refocusing the mind on the intended target.
These techniques are not only effective for removing a mindworm infestation, they also seem to have a preventative effect. So, make sure to visit them often in order to keep your mind free of these pesky parasites.