Spirituality and Self-Care for Showgirls: Burly Affirmations and "M.A.C."
I've long said "burlesque is my therapy." And while I don't recommend it as a replacement or substitute for necessary mental health treatment or pharmaceuticals, burlesque and other forms of art and creation have helped me survive and often thrive on a daily basis.
My recent experience with longstanding mental health issues has been a level of external stressors and resulting depression which makes it incredibly difficult, albeit impossible, to quiet my mind to meditate. This is a catch-22. Meditation is what I require, and yet, I am physically, mentally, and emotionally unable to practice. In this familiar space of hopelessness coupled with an anxious, active mind, I often turn to distraction.
Distraction can be a double-edged sword. While it may successfully pull a negatively-focused mind out of a deepening pit, the activity one chooses to be the vehicle of distraction must be a positive one, and not something that will result in unhealthy consequences or potential addiction.
This is when I reach for burlesque as my “lifeline.”
Tapping into creative energy is therapeutic for me. And certain burlesque-related activities have been an ideal way to refocus a negative mind. When I’m in a particularly dark space, I often cannot attempt movement or choreography, but a smaller, less intimidating task is a great way to distract and hopefully raise my frequency. Choosing a small task is also beneficial because it’s possible to follow through to completion and thus helps elevate my mood quickly with a feeling of accomplishment.
Pastie making and embellishing are activities that require intense focus and detailed motor skills. This necessary concentration makes it nearly impossible to continue entertaining anxious and worried thoughts at the same time. These activities also yield near-immediate results and feelings of accomplishment.
This is a board of my "Pandemic Pasties": all the pasties I made toward the beginning of the pandemic. A little backstory: at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, when all live events were cancelled and burlesque activities completed stopped, I fell into a very deep, very intense depression. It became painful for me to think about anything to do with burlesque because of the feelings of loss that resulted. I slowly immerged from this dark place by creating pasties. I call this my "bridge back to burlesque"; small steps I was able to take to bring burlesque and burlesque-related activities back into my experience, even when performing and being with the community was not yet possible.
These pastie-making and crafting sessions have become a reliable way for me to combat my depression and other mental health issues and have had a very positive impact on my life. Not to mention, I've created some beautiful things, too!
What is "M.A.C."?
"M.A.C." stands for "Mediate, Affirm, Create" and it is a LIVE, interactive session I will be hosting on Instagram via @burly_box . I found in my own practice, that I have developed a certain method or routine to these sessions, which involves a clear, peaceful space, background music, hydration, and I often concentrate on repetitive, positive thoughts and phrases throughout my chosen activity. The result is a more peaceful mind and elevated mood, and so I thought: "Why not share these sessions with anyone and everyone who may need a lift, too?"
M.A.C. Sessions begin with a description of the project and suggested supplies, a space-clearing ritual, breathing exercises, followed by the crafting activity accompanied by affirmations and positive phrases with a common theme. Sessions will last approximately 30-45 minutes, and you can join in or leave any time throughout.
I'm looking forward to creating and affirming with you, beginning in early December. I hope you can join me! Follow @burly_box on Instagram for scheduling announcements and updates.
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