I have always loved the water. I remember swimming every chance I got as a kid, but in high school I remember sitting on the beach of Lake Michigan watching the water and the sunset when I could. Sitting there, I could think about anything, process anything, and plan the future I thought I would have. Somehow, by the water I can think and feel at peace. I know that for some, the beach is not the place they feel at peace, but everyone should fine a place where they just feel calm. Where is you place that you feel at peace?
One of the things I have done with patients is to work on relaxation techniques. As a part of teaching relaxation, we often work on places that they feel calm and at peace, or guided imagery. For my patients, those places range from fishing on a pier, climbing a mountain, or just sitting in a quiet place. For one patient, sitting on his back patio, in the garden that he created is his happy place. For another, he talks about a house in the mountains, far away from everything. Everyone has their own place, but I know that mine will always be near the water.
I can sit and look out at the water for hours. I can’t explain why, but it makes me feel small. It also helps me understand that there is so much more world out there, and my little corner is as insignificant as I am. Don’t get me wrong, we are all special and have different things to offer this world. We all have ideas and ways to manage our own world that work for us, but we also have opportunities to learn so much from others around the country, and around the world. Sitting and looking out at the water helps me remember that no matter where I am there are other people across the water with different lives, opportunities, hopes and dreams. It helps me feel less trapped, and like the future could be anything I want it to be.
Usually, the people that I meet at the beach are warm and welcoming, except when there is a lot of alcohol, then it’s not always calm and friendly. I have lived in a lot of states, over my lifetime. I have been to even more by traveling and somehow, I tend to end up by water. I grew up by Lake Michigan, and remember a wonderful summer spending time with friends on the water, and close to the water (a summer I will never forget). I moved to Washington State, and lived around Puget Sound for almost 20 years, and really enjoyed the water and the mountains, but I know it’s not for everyone.
So where is your beach, and is it a beach? Would you rather be on a mountain, or on the plains of the Midwest? There can be a place for you, where you can feel at peace. You just have to find it. Let it help you understand where you have been and where you are going, and let it help you feel peace. It’s all part of the plan to be happy, for life.