YOUR PLAYGROUND IS CALLING—IT COULD TURN OUT TO BE ONE OF YOUR GREATEST MENTAL HACKS.

Remember when you were in elementary school? Maybe you went to a school where you sat in one classroom for all of your classes. Maybe you went to different rooms for different subjects. You might’ve been the girl who chose to wear a dress every day. Or maybe you were the kid who’d only eat one thing for lunch—day after day after day.

I remember that no matter what our differences were, my classmates and I had one thing in common…

RECESS!

Yep, that magical time of day when we got to go outside and just play. Sometimes it was tag, other days it was hopscotch or kick ball. Sometimes it was just swing from the branch of a tree. We ran and laughed and felt the sunshine on our faces. It was glorious.

We’d done our work. We’d paid attention (or at least tried; sort of, kind of) and focused on our assignments. So when the teacher told us it was time to play, WOWEE. We played.

For the last three weeks, we’ve talked about the importance of relaxation, getting centered and meditation. I’ve also given you assignments each week. We started this journey together for a specific reason: to help you realize your dreams.

I told you there were five steps in this dream achieving recipe. We’ve covered the first three. So here we are at step four. Can you guess what it is?

RECESS!

You heard that right! It’s time to give your brain and soul some playtime.

This is seriously one fantastic mental hack.

If you’ve incorporated relaxation, centering and meditation into your weekly routine, you’ve done a couple of things. First, you’ve begun to take care of your brain. That’s huge. Second, you’ve begun to change your brain. Third, and this is the kind of irony that this life provides, you’ve been working hard but you probably feel calmer.

Now it’s time for some mental playtime.

But just like there are rules in tag and kickball, there’s a rule for this specific type of brain play. The rule is that you must give yourself time to mentally and emotionally live your dream.

This is the very best kind of imagination because it can become real. So, let’s say you’ve been dreaming of getting a new car. You know the make and model, color, what kind of interior it has. You know, the basics.

I want you to close your eyes and imagine that car right in front of you. I mean really see it. Now, open the door. Can you hear the soft “ding, ding, ding” of the security system when you open the door? What does it feel like when you slide into the driver’s seat? Does it still have that new car smell? From there, go through all the steps of starting the car and hearing the engine come to life. Are you listening to music? A podcast? Adjust the temperature if you need to. Check the mirrors (and maybe even your lipstick in the rearview!).

You get the idea. In your mind, drive that car and feel every mile you cover.

Make it as real as you possibly can.

If you’re dreaming of a new career, make a playdate with your imagination and go through the same exercise. What will you wear? How will you greet your co-workers every day? Will your office have a window? Will you use a desk or a drawing board? Imagine your perfect day in that career from the time you get up to the time you clock out.

But here’s the thing. You can’t just see this in your imagination. You have to FEEL it. Smell the coffee. Run your hands over the steering wheel. BE in that place, whatever and wherever that place is.

Why is it so important to feel like you’re there? Research has proven over and over again that your brain responds to the feelings even if they’re imagined.

Let me say that again because it’s vitally important.

Your psyche doesn’t know the difference between your reality and a dream if you get your emotions involved in the action. When you start to feel what your realized dream would really feel like, keep going. Amplify that feeling.

I know what some of you are thinking because I have clients who tell me this in person. “Rhégina, I don’t know what I want. I don’t really have a dream.”

That’s even better.

Wait, what?

Yes, it is. Or at least it can be.

Go back to the elementary school playground. Imagine that you’re the last student out of the classroom and by the time you get outside, there’s a group of children playing dodge ball. Another group is taking turns jumping rope. Two teams are playing basketball. Everywhere you look, there’s an opportunity. You can’t decide.

You don’t have to. Try them all!

Same thing with finding a dream. Don’t limit yourself. If you want to see what it would be like to be a race car driver, close your eyes and play. Maybe you’ve toyed with the idea (see what I did there?) of becoming a real estate agent. Center yourself, close your eyes and feel yourself touring homes for sale or celebrating with your clients after you’ve found the home of their dreams.

The whole idea of this brain play is that there is no right or wrong. The only rule is to feel what you’re dreaming, don’t just watch it happen. People make movies to watch. This isn’t a movie. This is your DREAM.

Having the freedom to imagine anything might seem intimidating. If so, try this tactic. Ask yourself these questions to help identify your dream.

  • Are you ever jealous? If your BFF is going on a weekend retreat and you’re jealous because you aren’t going, that might be a clue.
  • What makes you think, “I could do that better”? Maybe you’re feeling critical because it’s something you really want to do.
  • What are the people you admire most doing? Do you find yourself thinking, “I wish I could (activity) like (hero’s name) does? That’s definitely a clue.
  • When do you lean in? Are you fascinated by presentations by Stephen Hawking or Wayne Dyer? What draws you in is probably what interests you most.

Once you begin this process, you’ll take every opportunity to fine tune your dream. You’ll begin to feel like you’re living what you want, how you want.

Your homework assignment this week is to dream, in vivid, living, feeling, exuberant color. Build on the first three steps—relax, get centered, meditate—and then play. Let your mind run free. Feel yourself living your real life.

You know, the one you dream about.

I want to hear how these exercises are going for you. Please let me know in the comments below.