Oct 10, 2009

My medicine bag

When I started this blog over a year ago, I wrote quite a bit about depression. I haven't written on the subject for a while and it's not because i don't have patches of darkness, I do, but I feel more confident that the depression is temporary and that it will lift. So what has happened to me in the last 14 months to change my equilibrium? Well, I've put together a medicine bag to combat the horribles.

The current contents of my depression medicine bag:

A change in perspective. I focussed on making a shift from self identifying as a depressed person to identifying as a person who has tendencies towards negative thinking, which left unchecked will lead to depression. Seems like a minor shift but it's not. Identifying yourself as a depressed person makes you a passive victim. Identifying as a person who has a tendency towards depression gives you back control and forces you to take responsibility for your mental health. Be as vigilant about monitoring your moods as a diabetic is about their blood sugar levels.

Meditate. I've been meditating daily for 2 1/2 years and I think it's helped me to find balance in my mind and in my life. I've done a series of different guided meditations, experimenting, looking for the right fit. My latest combination is an hour long brain entraining meditation by Holosync, augmented by breathing and affirmation practice and mindfulness practice. The brain entraining is supposed to help create neural connections between the right and left brain. I don't know if this is actually the case, but I find that I am more clear minded and calm since I began this particular program a month ago. Mindful meditation has also been really good for me and I recommend Jack Kornfield's The Inner Art Of Meditation audiobook.

Do Yoga. I recently bought a mat and try to follow a 40 minute video at least 2 - 3 times a week. I can feel the effects in my body and it feels good. It's helping me get back in touch with my body and altering my negative body image.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Cut down on sugar and bread. No explanation necessary.

Build a creative space. For me this space is here, my blog. It's my public notebook and it motivates me to keep producing work for an audience and for myself. As a creative person, having a forum where I can express myself and explore my passions is important to my sense of well-being.

Do NOT engage with angry freaks. They aren't interested in debate or intellectual sparring, they are trying to shadow box you in the head. They will often accuse you of doing the very things they themselves are doing to you and then try to force your emotional reaction by hitting below the belt. I repeat, DO NOT engage, don't feed them with your energy. Withdraw and focus instead on your friends, interests, movies, art, whatever brings you positive energy. Let the shadow boxers fight by themselves.

Get fascinated by things. Be curious. I've been watching TED a lot, following up on lectures that catch my fancy with more research. Science and the natural world is rich with amazing wonders. Lately I've been researching everything from string theory or the potential unified theory of everything to biomimicry to V.S. Ramachandran's investigations into phantom limb pain, synesthesia and other brain disorders, which have allowed him map the functions of the mind to the physical structures of the brain to how and where the brain thinks about other people's thoughts to Dan Dennett's ideas on consciousness to Richard Dawkin's call for militant atheism to positive psychology to neuroplasticity to understanding comics to the relationship between text and images to photography and photoshop techniques. The world is indeed stranger and more fascinating than we can possibly know. If you can't experience the splendor, the elegance and the jaw dropping wonder of the natural world then you are not awake.

In a TED lecture, Richard Dawkin's says this:
Steve Grand points out that you and I are, ourselves, more like a wave than a permanent thing. He invites us, the reader, to "think of an experience from your childhood -- something you remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there. After all, you really were there at the time, weren't you? How else would you remember it? But here is the bombshell: You weren't there. Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place. Matter flows from place to place and momentarily comes together to be you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made. If that doesn't make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, read it again until it does, because it is important."

So these are some of the contents of my medicine bag. What do you have in yours?


ALMA said...

Shehani, how interesting and useful. Thanks for sharing this with us, I'm going to keep it for a long time so that I can check on it from time to time and learn from you.

Shehani said...

Thanks, I'm honored you find it helpful. :)

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