We all need a happy place; that location or activity that allows us to switch off mentally and transports us to a different mindset.
Apparently this is one of the great benefits of meditation, but no matter how hard, I try meditation doesn’t float my boat. I just find myself using the time to make lists of jobs to do when I finish meditating.
Some lucky people (my husband included) say running is their happy place. The absolute last feeling I have when I’m running is happiness, which is a total shame as I would love to get the dual benefit of mental switch off and a smaller butt combined in the one activity.
I am a notoriously bad switcher-offer, so my family breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally discovered my happy place activity a few years ago and they were delivered some respite from my usual holiday mantra of ‘get out of bed, there’s things to see and do’, ‘don’t you all realise you can sleep when you’re dead?’
We were in Hawaii for Christmas with some of my extended family, and as soon as we arrived at Waikiki I was drawn to the stand-up paddle boards dotting the water (possibly after seeing far too many shots of celebs paddling in Hawaii with washboard abs on display; not necessarily a cause and effect relationship I sadly discovered).
The kids signed up for surf lessons, I signed up for an introductory paddle board lesson, and that was it, I was hooked. Not only was I delighted to find that I was better at it than Stuart and my brother (who refused to believe this was possible snf insisted there must be a trick I was refusing to disclose which allowed me to stand up when they fell off) but I found while I was out cruising around I had finally found something that took me to the place that meditating never could.
I was relaxed, enjoying the surroundings, and for once not making a single list of all the things that needed to be done for the day, the month, the year…
For the rest of that holiday I was out on the paddle board every chance I got, including sneaking out of the house we were all sharing in Maui to drive to the beach and take a board out at first light, when just me and a couple of sea turtles inhabited the beach. The rest of the family not only appreciated the sleep in, but the more chilled out individual they got for the rest of the day as well.
Since that first introduction my love affair with the paddle board has continued, and whenever we are in a location that also contains a paddle board I’m on it!
We’re currently relaxing enjoying what has become our family tradition, Christmas in Hawaii, where my own beautiful paddle board that Stuart gave me last Christmas lives and I spend as much time as possible out enjoying the tranquility, relaxing and recharging for the year ahead (while the rest of the family enjoys their break from me scheduling their days with military precision).
While I may not get as many opportunities as I’d like during the year to get on a board (the bull sharks and City Cats of the Brisbane River don’t make it a particularly appealing option at home), last year I did bring home a painting of the Hawaiian ocean, complete with sea turtle, that hangs in my office and serves as a reminder of what’s coming my way at the end of each busy year.
It took a while to find my happy place, but it’s proven well worth the wait. If you’re still waiting to find yours enjoy the exploration and trial process and don’t despair if the traditional switch-off mechanisms don’t work for you. You’ll find yours and I hope it brings you as much joy as paddle boarding brings me.