|Balance in Nature|
We've all had days when we feel anxious, frustrated, angry, sad or at our wit's end. When you're overwhelmed occasionally by these kinds of emotions, it helps to have a reliable way to bring yourself back into emotional balance. One way, which was originally developed in hypnosis, is to have a Safe Place or Relaxing Place to focus on so you can bring yourself back to a calm state.
Learning Coping Strategies in Therapy:
When clients come to see me in my psychotherapy private practice in NYC, I usually teach them coping strategies, especially if they're coming in to overcome trauma. One of those coping strategies is the Safe or Relaxing Place meditation. Whether you're trying to overcome trauma or you're just having a bad day, learning to do the Safe Place meditation is a good way to help bring yourself back into a state of calm and emotional balance.
Safe Place Meditation:
To begin, think of a place which is linked to a positive memory. It can be somewhere in nature, like a beach or in the woods. When you choose a place, it should be completely positive without any negative memories associated with it. So, for instance, choosing a beach that you like is fine, but not if it causes you to think of times when your parents used to argue at this beach. A relaxing scene by a waterfall is great, but not if it was the place where your boyfriend broke up with you.
Once you have a place that you associate with feeling calm and relaxed, close your eyes and engage as many of your senses as possible. First, feel yourself standing in this place. If you're at the beach, what does it feel like to have your toes in the sand?
Then, look around and notice what you see. Notice the colors, shapes and textures of things. Are there any sounds associated with this place? If so, what are they? If you're at the beach, do you hear the sound of the waves on the shore or the seagulls flying overhead? Are there any sensations associated with this place? Do you feel the warmth of the sun or the breeze off the ocean against your skin. What about smells? Smells can be so evocative? Can you smell the salt in the ocean? Maybe you can even taste the salt in the air.
With some practice, you can learn to make these sensory experiences vivid. And, you'll begin to feel yourself calming down. Notice that your breathing has slowed down and muscles in your body that might have been tight might be relaxing.
You can also give this place a name--whatever works for you that would allow you to associate the name with the calm feeling. It can be the word "beach," if that's your relaxing place or just "relaxing place." When you practice pairing the word with the calm feeling, you can just use the word at times when you can't close your eyes to do the meditation.
The place you choose can be either real or imagined, a scene from a movie or a book. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that it helps to get you back into emotional balance.
For some people, trying to come up with a relaxing place can be challenging. If that's the case for you, you can try to think of the face of a person associated with positive experiences. This can be a friend, a family member, a teacher, a coach or a mentor. The point is to use the visualization to get yourself back into an emotionally balanced state.
Practicing the Safe (or Relaxing) Place meditation can help you get through a difficult moment, and it only takes a few minutes a day for you to gain the benefits of this meditation.
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist. I am certified in mind-body oriented psychotherapy.
I work with individual adults and couples.
To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist
To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.
Also, visit my Psychotherapy Daily News for updates on mental health issues, health education, and science news.
Photo Credit: Photo Pin