Finding a Safe Place
Just a week ago, I have been so fortunate to join the “Refugees and Mental Health Conference” organized by Humanity Crew, an international aid organization offering first response mental health interventions to refugees. The two-day conference embraced various lectures and workshops as part of a Holistic approach to trauma, stress, and resettlement. These two days have been inspirational beyond my expectations. I made meaningful connections with health care practitioners involved in the field and got the opportunity to learn about alternative techniques to support mental health and the healing from trauma.
A major take-away from the various workshops I participated in was the Safe Place. And how to get there. The practice of going to the Safe Place for relaxation is part of the EMDR methodology that was developed for trauma healing. Yet, it is applicable to anyone, free, very simple, and a powerful tool when facing stress and disturbances in one’s everyday life. Which is why I decided to share it with you on this week’s blog.
First of all, what is a Safe Place?
According to Camille Larsen, it can be defined as an inner “emotional sanctuary” one can turn to in order to find stability when feeling stressed.
How to get there?
Start the journey to your Safe Place by taking a few deep breaths. Make sure to exhale longer than you inhale. Take a piece of paper and some crayons. Then, remember something from your life that makes you feel good and relaxed. This is your Safe Place. The Safe Place can be a thing, a memory of an interaction, a person, a thing, a moment, or an event that made you happy, filled you with joy, was a source of comfort, or made you feel loved. This memory can be very recent - from today, yesterday, last week - or a very old one - last month, last year, from your childhood. Maybe even thinking of it will lift you up.
Choose the colors that resonate with you, and just draw. It doesn’t matter how “good” this piece of art is, it is about the process. Do not judge yourself. It can be a very simplified version of your Safe Place, maybe even just an item or anything that you associate with the memory.
Once you’re done drawing, put the paper in front of you and look at the paper. How does the Safe Place make you feel? Can you name the feeling? Ask yourself, if it has a color. A shape. Do you associate a smell or taste with it? Where in your body do you feel the feeling? Give yourself a bit of time to let the answers come to you.
Then, take a deep breath and start tapping with each hand on the side of the paper or depending on how you’re sitting, tap on your thighs. Let your eyes follow your hands doing this and allow your thoughts to wander. Do this for 30-45 seconds. Take a deep breath. And repeat.
Do this for 3 times and take a deep breath after the last repetition.
I’m hoping you find as much comfort in this practice as I did (and do). After doing this practice once or twice, you might be able to just think of your Safe Place or look at your drawings again in order to feel more balanced and relaxed.
I kept the drawings of my Safe Places. I haven’t decided yet, if I will put them up in a frame or keep them in my wallet. But one thing is for sure, whenever I look at them, my inner peace and a feeling of serenity and joy spreads in my body.
Disclaimer: I do not claim that this is a replacement for therapeutic support. The complete EMDR protocol for trauma healing is more complex and should only be carried out with a trained professional. This practice is merely a technique to find peace within in your everyday life.
Sources and further reading
Learn more about Mental Health and the incredible work of Humanity Crew
For further information on the Safe Place, read “Using EMDR to Find Your ‘Safe Place’ in Trauma Recovery” by Camille Larsen
You can find further information on the EMDR technique here