Mindful Daydreaming: Finding Your Happy Place

There’s a place between awake and sleep. It’s a bit dreamy, yet the laws of nature still apply. There’s a weighted presence that anchors you like the ballast on a ship as your body begins to surrender, yet you’re still lucid enough to shape a vision.

We daydream all the time. It’s often what we do when we don’t want to do what we are doing. It can happen when a friend is chatting our ear off, and we suddenly realize we have no idea what she’s been saying cause we’ve been nodding our head while snorkeling in Hawaii. Or the time when I completely drifted off for fifteen minutes in a college class totally misnamed “Physics for Lovers” (to attract liberal arts students) and had to ask the cute guy sitting behind me for the notes I spaced out hoping he’d offer to go over them in detail later which would naturally lead to him asking me to the concert Saturday night. (didn’t happen).

That’s daydreaming by default. What if you could intentionally enter this place and in a mindful daydream create a touchstone to call up to the front of your mind when desired or needed?

The benefits of guided daydreaming are many. You enter a place where you purposely connect with your heart and mind. You get to form a vision around what’s important to you as you become relaxed and open to the truth of who you are and what makes you happy.

You create a feeling of well being that signals your body’s response system to stand down.

Your imagination expands and ignites your creativity.

Let’s take a journey together to a place that gives you comfort, safety, and peace with this mindful daydream. Try it out and then share it with your students, clients, or children. This is a very requested mindfulness meditation with our kiddos. They LOVE imagining their happy place.

Here’s the script:

(You can record yourself saying this or have someone else say it, or read it slowly and do each step before continuing.)

Get in a comfortable seated position your back straight. Check in to see where the tension is in your body. Scan starting at your head and work your way down to your toes. Anywhere you feel tension, breathe into that area and let go; give yourself permission to release the weight, the tension, the discomfort. Let your body relax. Allow it to become heavy with the knowledge that you are safe and welcome.

We’ll start with the Slow Breath Practice to relax our bodies and calm our minds as we breathe in for four, hold it at the top for two, and then slowly breathe out for a count of five. Repeat this four or five times.

Keep an awareness of your breath as you continue to listen to my voice. Think of a happy place in your memory. It could be somewhere you went on vacation, or somewhere you go often. Maybe it’s at a beach, a lake, the mountains. Perhaps it’s in your room or at a nearby park. You can even imagine a place you’ve never been to. Take a few seconds to find it. It’s ok if you can’t find it right away. Scan your mind for a setting that pleases you.

Once you have the setting in mind, picture yourself there. It’s ok if you don’t remember the exact details. You get to visualize yourself any way you’d like to see yourself. Are you sitting, standing, lying down? Are you bundled up for cold or in shorts and a t-shirt? Look down and notice what footwear you’re wearing. Flip flops or boots or sneakers?

What do you see right in front of you? Are there other people with you or around you? What sounds do you hear? Listen for them. Perhaps you hear the wind and the waves, or music, kids playing or the hustle bustle of the city. 

Let’s breathe in, 2, 3, 4. Hold it 1, 2. Breathe out, 2, 3, 4, 5.

What can you smell? Are there cookies baking, dinner ready, or is the salty sea air wafting by? Look behind you and take in the view. See the details. Look up at the sky and note the sun, and any clouds or stars.

Sink into the wonderful feeling this place brings to your heart. Let that feeling expand and glow within. Experience how this place warms you and lets you know that all is well. When you’re here, you can relax. You can let go.

Now look around in your scene for something small like a stone or a key or a ticket or a button, Imagine picking it up and putting in your pocket. Visualize your hand in your pocket touching the object as you take another look around at your happy place. Take a slow breathe in 2, 3, 4. Hold it for two, and out 2, 3, 4. 5. One more time: breathe in 2, 3, 4. Hold it for two, and out 2, 3, 4. 5.

Slowly open your eyes and come back to the room. Take a few seconds to look around at the others who went on this journey too. Does anyone want to share what their happy place looked or felt like?

Visualization exercises like this one makes it easier to access your happy place any time you want to. I like to think about the imaginary stone I picked up at the beach and put in my pocket. I close my eyes and sense it in my hand and the feeling of the beach and all the calm beauty comes back to me.

You could give each participant a small flat stone for them to hold during this exercise to anchor their happy place. They can carry it with them to remind them that they can go there any time.

Sometimes this exercise seems strange to students, but new things often do. And the way we change our brain is to explore different perspectives, different ways of looking at life and trying new ways of processing and organizing. Being open to new healthy experiences helps us create pathways in our brain that add immeasurably to our social-emotional growth.

Discussion Questions

  1. Were you able to visualize a place that has a happy feel for you?
  2. Why is it important to imagine settings that evoke good feelings?
  3. How can you use these visualization memories of past places to help you in the future?
  4. How can day-dreaming or using our imaginations to picture how we’d like the future to unfold be a good thing?

Next time you’re having a good time somewhere, take careful note of your surroundings, the sights, smells, people, views, etc, so you can recall it in detail to enjoy the feeling again and again.

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