Over the last few months, I have been exploring a variety of different mindfulness and meditation techniques that are supposed to help with stress and anxiety relief. I say supposed to because although I will admit that deep breathing and yoga do help ease my tension, a lot of the other things I have explored have not been super helpful. Visualization only works when I have the right headspace. Sitting quietly with my thoughts makes me uncomfortable (although that may be something I eventually become more comfortable with). Exploring mindfulness is new to me and takes an energy that right now I don’t feel like I have. It feels like more work than help. Except in one way..
The concept of finding your happy place.
Now, I will fully admit that on the ocean with waves crashing around me is the place that I would say is my happy place. It is the place that helps to refill my soul and remind me of the beauty in the world when I am having a hard time finding it. It is simple and yet complex. And it is what I know. Growing up in PEI, being surrounding by water, was my norm. So, when people would tell me to find my happy place when feeling stressed, I did so. Except… I don’t live in PEI anymore. I don’t have access to the ocean. And it’s winter. So when you can’t get to your happy place, and visualizing it doesn’t give you the same effect, what do you do?
Find a new one is what I was told.
I looked for places. I went for walks to explore new spots and spaces. I took people’s advice for some spots. I tried small cafes, large buildings and unknown spots along the way. I explored what it was that I needed and tried to line up a place that would help foster some relief. I was somewhat successful. Some spots were relaxing. Some were refreshing. Some were enjoyed alone and with other people. And in some cases, they eased my tension and stress. But they weren’t consistent. They weren’t what I needed to be able to access on a regular basis as I moved through my life transitions and the hurts that may occur because of that. Until one night I was bored.
I was bored and didn’t feel like talking. I had a couple hours to kill before an appointment and needed a way to kill some time. The library I thought to myself thinking about a book that I was recommended that I was too cheap to purchase. Maybe the library will have it I thought as I made my way to check it out.
I got there and found the closest computer to look up the catalogue. Hmm, I thought after finding the book I was searching for, lets see if they have any of the other ones I want. A half an hour later, I found myself, list in hand, browsing shelves for the books that I wanted to check out. They were in a variety of different sections and as I moved amongst the stacks of books, I found myself actually paying attention to my surroundings.
It was quiet. Not so quiet that I was uncomfortable, but quiet enough to be able to think. I could hear an individual an aisle away cough every once in awhile. I could hear the rustling of papers and whispered conversations. I noticed the smells. It smelled like a combination of brewed coffee, musty books and perfume. Recognizing the smell of the books, I felt content and reminded of how much I used to love sifting through used book stores or cuddled up in the corner of my university library. As I grabbed the books I was searching for, i noticed how heavy each book felt in my hand. A reminder that hard cover books, in all their glory, were a much different texture than the ereader I had become used to at home. ahh, a real book I thought as I started to built up a stack to take home with me.
Finding all the names on my list, I took a look at my watch and noticed I still had some time. Securing a comfy chair in the dim corner of one section, I looked around. There was a young girl with a tutor going over her french lessons. There was a teenager sitting with her laptop typing away quietly. There was a older man with glasses reading the newspaper as what I suspect was his wife kept stopping by and saying “almost done”. There was a man experiencing homelessness bundled up and napping in a car. Looking down, I cracked open the cover of the new book I had borrowed and smiled to myself.
This was it. I thought to myself. This was the spot. The spot that I had been searching for. A new, an extra, happy place. A place that when I found myself sitting in that corner, I could feel what I would describe as peace. Corny I know, but it is what it is. I didn’t feel stressed. I didn’t feel anxious. I didn’t even really feel that tired. Instead I felt motivated. Motivated to enjoy the quiet and the comfort of a good book. And motivated to consider maybe this spot as one that I needed in my life.
“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”– Bishop T.D. Jakes
So, that is what I did. I found a new happy place and have begun to use it. Sometimes I come to write and work on these blogs or the book I am editing. Sometimes I listen to music and just watch the people using the library. Sometimes I read a book or do some journaling. And sometimes I do all of it. But regardless of what I do when I arrive at my spot, I feel better for going. I grab myself a hot chocolate on the way down and snuggle in for a few hours doing whatever feels right in the moment. Completing my search for a spot.
I discovered that unintentional mindfulness might be the most impactful and the library as my happy place was just that. Unintentional, mindful and helpful. Now, I must ask you, what is your happy place? And if you don’t know, or lost it like me, are you searching for a new one? Sometimes, it is worth the wait.
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