During a conversation with my therapist earlier this year, we discussed strategies for coping when my brain identifies threat environments that do not, in fact, exist.
One of the side effects of growing up school bullied (both for religious reasons and those unrelated to religion) and in a toxic home environment is that the number of stressors that can pile up and lead to a bad mental situation is about as numerous as stars in the sky.
CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) techniques do not often work well for me. What does tend to work is reading philosophy like the Yoga Sutras or Plato’s dialogues, and one of my challenges is intercepting myself before things get very bad so I can do the things that I need to do. CBT, in my experience, has always just felt like a suspension. Meditation is not good crisis intervention, either, even though it is helpful and valuable to do on a regular basis, akin to physical grooming habits. They are like hitting pause on an old VHS player. It will play itself after a predetermined amount of time.
We talked about how few of the online lists for interventionary self-care actually contain things that are helpful, so le suggested that I write down my thoughts on a list. I was behind that in principle, but post-it notes are not very aesthetic.
I wound up in a rabbit hole of Etsy printables. Many of them are simple and based on late-stage capitalism’s commercialized pseudo-spirituality. Breathe is written on probably about 80% of them. There is a smattering of advice from a variety of religions, most of them monotheistic, along with Westernized pop culture yoga OM stuff. Because I know myself and the type of intervention I need, I switched my search strategy to look for yoga philosophy printables — specifically of the yamas and niyamas. I found two that I liked.
I was a bit frustrated. There are very few printables or inspirational posters that come from Classical philosophy. Why does everyone else have printables but not us? This lingered after I made my purchase of two beautifully typeset images of the yamas and niyamas. It continued after I printed them out and put them in places in my apartment appropriate for at-the-moment intervention.
So I made a printable of the Oration of Aristides. I’m not selling it, as the context and text come from Galina Krasskova, and I personally just found clipart on the Internet and gave it a pretty font with minimum creative effort. I shared the printable on Twitter a while ago, but it’s probably about time to make people on the blogosphere aware of it. I put it on my wall near where I pray.
There’s a specific set of prayer beads I use to chant the oration while making offerings to Dionysos, and I’ve found it grounding and helpful. The prayer beads are also great because they impose a limit on repetitions, and otherwise wondering if I’d said it enough times would make me anxious because anxiety is awful that way.
I’ve also made a printable of the lunar calendar I use, which synthesizes a lot of the lunar calendars going around the Internet and adds some prayer days for other deities who are not represented there. It’s also based on clipart.
Happy Civic New Year!
A quick note: Galina and I are at variance about many things, and while I appreciate and have read some of her work, she and I have argued about things like refugees, pedagogy in academia, white supremacy, and Tumblr in various virtual spaces. Commenting on this is necessary given that on the Internet, there are often assumptions that linking to or reading someone’s work is endorsement of the totality of ler opinions.