Tag Archives: painting

Just Breathe (and Paint a Horse)

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So a couple of weeks ago I quit my new job. It was scary. I’m not one to diagnose others but I would bet big money that my boss was in the midst of a major manic episode and I just could not be around her. She was spinning me into such a place of unbridled anxiety that I up and quit without another job in place. I know this was a huge financial risk but in this case I prioritized my mental health over all other factors. I’m still convinced it was the right thing to do. While I was in the process of taking financial risks I decided to spend the last 11 days at Miraval Resort in Tuscon. This wasn’t for the purposes of taking a “vacation”, although it’s a lovely resort, it was more about learning skills, (meditation, etc.) that will help me better manage my anxiety in ways that enhance my drug therapies. Don’t panic, I’m not giving up any of my meds, they just aren’t always enough.

Miraval has lots of super interesting classes. Everything from sound healing to meditation while swinging in a silk hammock to painting on horses (yes, ON the horse. I did it twice.) That may sound off the wall, and it was to an extent, but as a form of art therapy it’s pretty genius. You are supposed to “paint your story” on the horse, accept the imperfections created by having a moving canvas, and cooperate with another living being. Then when you are done you tell your “story” to the other participants (this is the part where everyone cries, except for me, I’m weird that way) and then you literally wash your story away as a symbol of letting go. The picture attached to this post is a visual representation of the poem “Desert Birth”

I also learned ironic tricks like “having your anxiety but not being anxious about it” That one may take some practice. And the most important and simplest of all…..JUST BREATHE. Granted, there were cheaper ways to learn that one but practicing it daily, in different styles and with the discipline required for it to really work, was worth all the money spent. Assuming I maintain it.

I was also advised to write and create, which I’ve already been doing here, so expect my tone and subject matter to be more on the zen side than before. At least I hope. The poem “Meditation” was written after I did a meditation walk of their famous labyrinth. I had to take a full breath with every step. It was excruciatingly hard to keep focus and it took forever and that’s when I realized all of this was not as easy as it looked.

None of this will be easy. Change is hard, ambiguity is hard, acknowledging  when something is wrong to the extent that every cell in your being is screaming is hard. But the decision to make the change seemed clear and obvious. I don’t know what lies ahead but rest assured I will continue breathing in the meantime.