I don’t let loose often enough. I think I’ve known this, in the back of my head, for years now, but I wasn’t confronted by it until this week when my writing professor brought Play-Doh to class. She’d intended it to serve as both a metaphor for revision – we were working on our research papers, and she wanted us to understand that like our Play-Doh creations, our papers could witness change at anytime – and de-stressors for the rest of the semester. It definitely helped during the editing process of my paper, but once class was over I realized I was still holding a little ball of Play-Doh in my hand. And that’s when it dawned on me: I am in desperate need of a break.
It’s easy to get restless and overwhelmed as the end of the year approaches. Stress will build up and sometimes override any of my desires to enjoy the sun. Tension in my shoulders, post-it’s with deadlines covering my desk, and downing as much caffeine as possible to stay awake are slowly becoming my reality. Too much of my time is spent thinking about the past or the future, not enough of it is dedicated to me living in the present. In yoga, participants are encouraged to let go of the thoughts weighing them down in order to clear the mind. Let go of the past and stop worrying about the future. Peace truly happens when we find our happy place in the present.
This past week, I tried to focus on being present. In trying to do this, I often found myself outside enjoying nature. Whether it’s reading on the lawn (currently: “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” by Alice Walker) or having lunch with friends, I’m trying to give myself frequent and much deserved breaks. In addition to giving myself space from my schoolwork, I’m learning that I need an outlet for creative release. To me, being present isn’t limited to sitting on my bed in quiet medication. Learning to enjoy the moment is easiest for me when I am creating something. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it certainly should be something that eases my mind and allows me to work with my hands.
There is immense value in playtime, something that I think the majority of adults struggle with. I realized how little I remove myself from my work when my professor placed a brand new tub of Play-Doh on my desk and my face lit up. In that moment, it was more than a tacky yellow plastic container. My mind flooded with memories of my childhood mixed with an explosion of possibilities for what I could create with this small glob. When they say, “it’s the little things that count,” they’re not kidding – whomever “they” might be.
I hope everyone allows themselves to feel the way I did during my long overdue playtime this week. We all need to detach ourselves from our work and more importantly, our thoughts, every now and then. Let loose more often. The ability to let our minds wander freely without being tethered to our thoughts is something I am striving for. Peace and love, all.