Definition of "Happy Place" from online Dictionary: "A psychologically-induced trance-like state, where a person may regress from a stressful situation."
As a student of yoga for the past 12 years, my master teachers have often encouraged us to find our 'happy place'. Nearly every book I've read, and every instructor I've had, has described this internal location as more of a void than an actual dwelling. Because I'm far too visual a person to just go into nothingness (though that's the ultimate goal), I initially imagined an all white room with nothing but two simple chairs. It was more "the Matrix" than the void, but it worked for me. I was able to use this conceptualized, somewhat blank, visual mantra for a while. I could even feel a nurturing, conjured up sage talking me through the meditative technique.
I'd listen to my fellow yogis and yoginis with envy (another bit I'm supposed to detach from), as they described slipping out of themselves during meditation or Shavasana. They talked blissfully about shedding their selves and just leaving all ideas of Place for a while. It sounded liberating. It sounded delicious. It sounded impossible for me.
Much as I tried to even let go of my quite white room, I found that I went the other direction. Instead of leaving it completely behind and just allowing my mind the freedom of nullity, I'd somehow, unconsciously, made that releasing impossible: I began to decorate.
My white room was too, well, white for me. So, I warmed it up with a deep red on the walls, some natural sunlight and a fireplace. I realized that no happy place could be could be complete with floor to ceiling bookshelves. I'm nothing else if not a reader so, of course, I needed some comfortable furniture on which to curl up and read. As much as I love wood floors, rugs really do help make a space feel cozy. Honestly, they should be Persian rugs...after all, I'm going for fantasy, and frankly, the many-colored-designs really do create a focal point in a room. What about art? I need art! Art is beautiful! How can I live without art? Up on the walls art goes. And so on. While other yoginis are contemplating the sound of their own breathing, I'm debating window treatments and the merits of French doors over pocket doors. I've gone so far as to think about making a pergola with a fountain just outside on the patio. Though, in fairness, I'm somewhat stuck between mossy brick or sleek flagstone.
Obviously, I'm very far from mastering the concept of a happy place, at least how it pertains to yoga. I understand the letting go of attachments, enticements and temptations of this world. I just really love to decorate. And I love comfort and beauty. I've come to my own realization, or perhaps it's a justification, that my happy place can be my dream room. I feel safe there. I feel the ability to let go of "House & Garden" moments to just explore how I'm feeling "deep down true". I may not be one with the universe, but I am away from my cares, my worries, my fears and my indignities. Perhaps I do focus too long on the merits and shapes of topiary plants. But, perhaps that's just what I need right now. Maybe I need to think about throw pillows and cozy blankets to get me out of my pain filled head and my despair over our lives' complications at this moment. I beat myself up over my lack of ability to conjure up the empty void. Yet, I'm coming to the realization that what I may need now isn't a void, but a space that's filled with light, peace and comfort.
Professor Dumbledore once said to Harry Potter, "Numbing the pain for a while will only make it worse when you finally feel it." I had a yoga instructor tell me something very similar recently. However, when we're on complete overload, I do think we need a little numbness now and then.
Mine just happen to come with choices in upholstery.