Do you find yourself worrying a lot?
Have you experienced trauma that you can’t seem to let go of?
Do you often feel unsafe or stressed or have difficulty processing emotions?
Never underestimate the power of your imagination.
You use it all the time to think about what can go wrong.
Why not flip the script and use it to create a haven for yourself to calm your mind and help you feel safe?
That’s the point of safe space meditation.
What is Safe Space Imagery?
Everyone wants to feel safe. It’s an innate human need.
But accurately recognizing your level of safety is affected by your emotions and past experiences.
If you often felt unsafe growing up, you may have difficulty feeling safe now.
So what is safe space imagery, and how can it help you?
- Develop a sense of safety. Often, feeling unsafe doesn’t mean you are unsafe. It’s not a quick fix, especially if you have a lot of trauma to work through, but you can use safe space imagery to learn to question feeling unsafe vs. truly being unsafe.
- Positive association. Safe space imagery combines your thoughts with mental images to manage overwhelming feelings and overcome painful experiences. When you focus on images that feel safe, your mind and body tend to react as though it is real. You can then use your safe space to calm yourself in times of stress.
- Personalized. Your space is your own, and others shouldn’t dictate your safe spaces. It can look and sound and be anything you want, as long as it makes you comfortable.
Is Guided Imagery Safe?
Few things are right for everyone, and guided imagery is no different. It can bring up painful memories and induce difficult emotions.
If you’re concerned about this, consider creating and visiting your safe space with the guidance of a mental health professional.
Maybe you’re uncomfortable with or triggered by the word “safe” and are reluctant to try a safe place exercise. If you prefer, you can use “calming,” “relaxing,” “peaceful,” or “soothing” space instead.
Whatever you choose to call it, guided imagery is a generally safe way to:
- Build self-confidence and emotional resiliency
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Promote relaxation
- Improve sleep
- Improve overall well-being
If you feel unsafe or like things are getting out of hand at any time throughout the exercise, simply stop.
Recognize that it’s just your imagination and it can’t actually harm you.
You can then rewind your practice to when you felt safe (assuming it’s recorded) or find ways to get grounded in the present.
How Do You Visualize a Safe Space?
Your safe space can be anything you want it to be. Well, almost anything. There are a few things to remember when visualizing a safe space.
You might have trouble visualizing your safe space right away. It may take some time to develop what it looks, feels, and sounds like. Be patient with yourself.
1. Prepare your safe space in advance.
It’s a good idea to think about the kind of space you want to visualize before starting your guided imagery to take some of the pressure off. You can plan as much or as little as you’d like in advance.
Begin by choosing a physical place. It can be indoors or outdoors. Some ideas include near a lake or beach, mountains or forest, or playground.
You might choose a cottage, tree house, tent, castle, or boat. You decide. It’s best, however, to imagine a space of your own rather than use a place you’re familiar with.
Next, create some details. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste? Is it warm or cold? Brightly or dimly lit?
While it’s not wise to include actual people from your life, think about who else is there. Are there animals present? Servants? Angels?
Whatever you choose, your soothing space should be special and unique to you. It should feel inviting and like you’re wanted and cared for when you’re there.
Another way to make it feel extra safe is to create a space only you can enter. Consider inventing a secret password that only you know or a complicated lock to which only you have the key.
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2. Decide how you’ll use it.
You have a few options on how to use your calm place.
Create a safe space script, or use the one below, and record yourself reading it.
Then you can play it back and hear your voice as you engage in the practice. You can also choose to have a friend or family member record themselves reading it, or they can read it to you while you experience it.
Consider including soothing music or sounds of nature in the background. Use a soft, almost monotone voice and allow pauses throughout the recording so you can take your time in fully experiencing your safe space.
Another option is to have a therapist record it or read it to you during your next session. This might be ideal if you have a lot of unresolved trauma.
3. Decide where you’ll use it.
Guided imagery works best in a quiet, comfortable place where you can be alone for the duration of your experience.
The location itself is up to you.
Perhaps you want to lie down on your bed, sit at your desk with your eyes closed, or stretch out on your recliner with your eyes open but relaxed and focused on a spot that’s not distracting.
The point is to make it work for you.
Safe Space Guided Imagery: A Script to Use for Safe Space Visualization
Read through the imagery script example below and use it to create a safe space in your mind. Feel free to change it up to make it more personal for you.
To begin, allow yourself to get into a comfortable position, whatever that looks like for you. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable, or keep them open if that feels best.
Take a few moments to tune into your breath and body. How do you feel? Allow your body to begin to relax using slow, deep breaths.
Notice any points of tension and feel them relax on your next out-breath. Feel yourself supported by the surface on which you are resting. Allow your breathing to become even and comfortable.
As you breathe and feel settled in your body, imagine a place that feels safe for you without judgment. Allow yourself to feel safe.
Engage your senses to notice what is going on in your safe space.
- What do you see?
- Is it day or night?
- What time of year is it?
- Is there water there?
- What colors do you see?
- Are you alone, or are others there too?
- What are they doing?
Continue to breathe in and out, and allow yourself to feel safe.
- What do you hear?
- Is there a fire crackling in the fireplace?
- The sound of waves crashing to shore?
- Music playing in the background?
- Rain pummeling the forest floor?
Breathe fully and deeply as you continue to feel safe and relaxed.
- Now notice any smells.
- Is there a pleasant scent of baking cookies?
- A candle burning?
- Maybe you smell freshly cut grass or salty sea air.
Breathe in and out. Feel relaxed and comfortable, and safe.
- Bring your awareness to something you can taste.
- Is it sweet, salty, or bitter?
- How does it feel on your tongue?
Continue to breathe relaxing breaths and allow yourself to feel safe.
- Move your attention to what you can feel.
- Notice the texture of things you can touch.
- Is the floor carpeted or hardwood?
- Or maybe you’re outside in the grass?
- How does it feel on your feet?
- How does the air feel on your face and skin?
Inhale deeply, stomach and rib cage fully expanding. When you reach the top, hold for a moment and then exhale with a sigh.
Fully immerse yourself in this safe space, noticing as many details as you can. This space is yours and only yours, and you are safe here.
- What can you add to make the space even more comfortable?
- Add in whatever comforting elements you desire.
- Maybe a beautiful, fresh flower arrangement on the end table.
- Or white fluffy clouds scattered across the sky.
Is there something here you don’t want? If so, gently remove its image from your mind. It is your space to do whatever you want with it.
Allow your calming place to feel real. You are welcome here. It is yours. You are safe.
Take another deep breath in. Hold for a moment and then release with a sigh.
You are safe. Enjoy this feeling and know that all is well in this safe space. Allow yourself to enjoy the feelings of relaxation and comfort.
Take this feeling with you as you slowly roll your shoulders and wiggle your fingers and toes.
Allow the image to fade away, knowing it is always there for you when you need it. You can return to your safe space whenever you need to feel safe.
Now, slowly open your eyes back to the world around you.
Your mind and imagination greatly influence your life. Whether you allow them to affect you negatively or harness them to feel good and improve your life is up to you!