I clasped my tiny, frigid hands in my lap– sitting criss-cross applesauce as instructed while the grown-ups held themselves in a yogic pose of some sort. Incense smoke carried a soothing voice through the circle.
“Go to your happy place…”
Clouds of worry parted to reveal a pink glittery sky, and a lilac ground upon which anything was possible. Unicorns grazed the iridescent landscape, collecting sugary snacks that sprouted from the carcinogenic free soil. Vivid, supernatural dreams projected themselves upon my closed eyelids. A deep chime sounded, fluttering the eyelids of many as they were called back to the present.
“Does anyone care to share where they retreated to?”
Various earthly landscapes were listed, along with specific geographic locations, and mentions of home. My answer was rather different than that of the adults.
“I went to Abbey-land.”
The room was amused and asked me to share what it was like t in this fantastically ego-centric place.
“Well, there’s a rollercoaster that spells my name and a stand with zero-calorie ice cream. There are leprechauns riding ponies… trees made of chocolate… rainbows…”
I stopped my explanation there– immersing myself back in this world of my creation. Although the real-world concerns of a chubby child wormed their way into my fantastical dream– and it provided an escape from the tangible stressors of the real world.
Mindfulness leaders often speak of nourishing one’s own “inner child” assuming that a child’s world is a perfect world. In reality, most children don’t exist in an idyllic sphere. Nourishing one’s “inner child” insinuates that one should detach themselves from pragmatic thought in favor of embracing their former naivety. What they forget is that children often experience stress as a result of their lack of knowledge and inability to control their surroundings. Contrary to what we may like to believe: lack of knowledge doesn’t provide a clear cognitive space, nor does lack of control over one’s life result in a blissful existence– not most of the time at least. Childhood takes place on this imperfect, painful earthly plane just like the rest of real life. Children aren’t oblivious to the real world– they are simply more attuned to their creativity and more easily distracted. Toxic productivity culture hasn’t taught free thought out of them just yet; their inner artist hasn’t been strangled by capitalistic concerns. In many cases, children have more idyll time to construct a rich inner world. By maintaining a child-like indulgence in our imagination we tap into a reservoir of regenerative creative energy.
When we talk about ‘self-care’ we often forget to talk about the importance of nourishing our creativity. Worldbuilding is a great mindfulness practice that creates a close connection with our creative side. Imagination shouldn’t be viewed as a passing trait of childhood– it should be encouraged and strengthened in a way that provides a lifelong retreat from everyday stressors. As a meditative practice, visualizing our personal utopia allows us to “note” then let go of these objects of distress. Worldbuilding is a fantastic coping strategy that shouldn’t be abandoned once we are immersed in the “real world” — — which is subjective in its own right. I refuse to be exiled from Abbey-land, even as I progress into adulthood!