Lately, I’ve been doing some research on mental health. Without a doubt, yoga and meditation are part of my physical and mental health but I am always open to other possibilities, methods and techniques.
Much like the rest of the country, I’m no stranger to therapy either, and have certainly seen my fair share of excellent, and not so excellent, therapists. So it was actually one of my therapists who first mentioned meditation to me and introduced me to all the different forms that it can take. It was on the proverbial doctor’s couch that I learned about finding my happy place.
Yes, it may sound corny and like something your mom told you to do when you were little. But there is a lot to be said for finding a place in your mind that you can instantly go to when you need to remove yourself from a stressful situation. In fact, this practice is used in many different kinds of therapy, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a form of psychotherapy, which aims to help people cope with and process traumatic experiences. You can read more about EMDR here. “Happy Places” are also used in many different kinds of mediation, allowing the person meditating to mentally bring themselves back to the present, and into a mental state that is immediately calming.
They say you can pick any place; somewhere you’ve actually been or somewhere you haven’t. It can even be a single moment or a memory from your past, or even excitement about the future. Just a moment that makes you happy and that you can focus on every single detail, creating a perfect picture in your mind.
So for meditation purposes, I’ve been trying to come up with my “happy place.” And it would be an understatement to say that my search has been a long one: I’ve been trying to find the elusive location for the last ten years. I mentioned in an earlier post that I have a hard time meditating but even harder for me is to describe a place that puts me perfectly at ease. And so, I thought I would do it here, amongst friends.
For the sake of realism, and since as a writer, they say to write what we know, I think I prefer my happy place to come from a real memory. And I have a lot of great memories to choose from and have been blessed to have a kind a loving family. But as a child, I was often wrought with worry, and inherently, residual effects of that anxiety remain with me today as an adult. This means that many of my memories from childhood are robbed with equally persistent thoughts of my own stresses. So my happy place won’t be originating from my childhood.
So when I think of when I’ve been happiest, the moment that comes to mind is when I’m writing a novel or a story, by hand. Now there have been countless numbers of these moments in my life, so many that I can’t even fathom the total. But when I have a pen in my hand and a pad of paper in front of me, that’s when I feel the most at peace. And perhaps you’re thinking, BY HAND? ARE YOU NUTS? It’s possible, that indeed I am. But I have to say that the most creative things I have written have been done with my hand, not at the computer, which often means I write them out and then type them out. Maybe this is why it’s taken me so long to finish!
When I close my eyes and think of my happy place, I am with a pen and I can smell the ink on the paper. The paper is rough against my hands and I can hear nothing but my own breath. My happy place is spent doing what I love.
So tell me about your happy place! What gives you peace? What memory snaps you out of stressful moments and brings you into the present? What scene do you create in your head when practicing yoga or meditation? Whatever the place, I do recommend that you find your happy place. Create it, hold on to it, and use it whenever you need to get away, relax, or simply smile.