In the spring and summer of 2019 I was burned out. During the summer I scheduled some appointments with a therapist, and she helped! I recommend it.
One of the issues that fed my emotional distress was constant rumination. Something would upset me at work and my mind would review and argue and cogitate ceaselessly.
She recommended several mindfulness techniques, but none really connected with me, so I made up my own. The mindfulness animal.
I scraped a lot of animal names from Wikipedia and now I have a daily animal. When I find myself ruminating about something upsetting, and I catch myself (which I’ve gotten pretty good at), I say “Stop. Think about…,” and then I think about the animal.
For example, today’s animal is the porcupine. If at some point today I find myself fruitlessly ruminating about something that’s bothering me, I’ll say “Stop. Think about the porcupine.” And then I’ll ask myself a bunch of questions about porcupines. Where are they from? Where are they indigenous? How big do porcupines get? Does anybody every harvest quills? Could I harvest quills? What could you make out of porcupine quills? Do the babies have quills? etc. until I break the rumination.
Some days this is easy enough, and I’m able to quiet my mind. Other days It’s nearly impossible and I spend a lot of time working to break the rumination.
A few weeks ago there was something my mind just wouldn’t let go of. The animal for that day was chicken. I ended up singing a repetitive chant-song to myself of “Mindfulness chicken mindfulness chicken, mindfulness chicken, mindfulness chickennnnn, and then repeat.
Perhaps not perfect, because I was still obsessively thinking about something, but thinking about mindfulness chicken was much, much less upsetting that whatever else it was that was agitating me.
Anyway, this year I’ve been learning how to draw/cartoon, and last night I drew the Mindfulness Chicken. Below is yesterday’s effort. I think I’ll probably do another this weekend and work on the text (letters shouldn’t be in a box!) and font (needs to be sharper). But, I sure do love that chicken!
I got my chicken drawing from this series Lynda Barry has been doing for the last week or so. You can check out some of her short cartooning videos at her YouTube page.