Safe, comfortable, peaceful place guided imagery

Peaceful place guided imagery

This guided imagery exercise is taken from Linda Curran’s “101 Trauma-Informed Interventions: Activities, Exercises and Assignments to Move the client and Therapy Forward” – PESI Publishing & Media – 2013 – p. 25.

(The following is my slightly paraphrased version of the one appearing in Linda’s book. It is mostly the same but reflects the slight changes that happened organically through my use of it in multiple guided imagery sessions with clients).

Use this exercise to bring yourself into a grounded, present, relaxed but attentive state when feeling overly aroused or stimulated or “triggered”.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this, just the way that works best for you.

You might find it helpful to print it out to use as a script to read back to yourself or your partner or your family and/or friends?

Or you might not!

You might want to keep it as a solitary thing just for you & your peace of mind; maybe treat it as a spring clean of the mind & soul?

Again, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to use this, just your way.

Ideally find a regular time to do this as a way of cultivating your ability to transport yourself to a place of safety, comfort, peace and/or neutrality where everything is conducive to peace, serenity & reflective receptivity to all that ails you & all that brings you peace & a sense of presence in the here & now that allows you to be with those things that you would ordinarily run or turn away from. Avoidance can be a very helpful tactic but it can also create the very fear we seek to remove ourselves from. A safe, comfortable, peaceful, neutral place can give us the fortitude and confidence to face the fears we have pushed away for so long and in so doing add to the held belief that they are terrifying and overwhelming and cannot be faced.

This will help you learn how to better regulate your emotions & better tolerate your distress.

Imagery is designed to facilitate the development and introduction of a comfortable (safe or neutral) place. The objective here, as with many of the guided imagery meditations, is to decrease sympathetic activation (ie: quiet the fight/flight response) by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Subsequent listening provides reinforcement and the relishing of this positive experience.

Guided Imagery Script – Follow Along…

“Allow yourself to be comfortable……..either lying down or sitting up with your back, neck and spine fully supported. Knowing that you will not be interrupted for the next little while, begin by gently closing eyes.

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

Now begin to bring your attention to the direct experience of your breath, however it is……..and how it changes. Allow yourself to softly focus your awareness on the breath that is arising right now……..the in-breath and the out-breath……..the rising and the falling. If you can, try to follow one full cycle of the breath from the beginning of in-breath through its entirety to the beginning of the out-breath through is entirety. Allow yourself the time and the space to be in direct contact with the breath throughout one entire cycle.

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

As you continue to pay attention to the breath, you may notice distractions that arise. Just allow yourself to notice those distractions, any bodily sensations and any thoughts that may arise. If possible, allow yourself to become aware of the separateness of those bodily sensations. Notice how those sensations are separate and distinct from your thoughts, your ideas, and your words.

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

Now, as you continue with this focused awareness, you will notice how often you lose contact with the breath……..maybe you become caught in a thought or an idea or a plan or maybe some other bodily sensation has pulled your attention. When a distraction happens, simply notice that you have lost connection with the breath, and gently bring your awareness back to the breath.

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

We’ll begin now with a deep breath in through the nose, inhaling slowly and deeply. Exhale through pursed lips until all the air has been released.

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

We are going to be creating a silent, healing space all around you. In order to do that, focus only on your breath and the sound of my voice. As you begin to let go, I’m going to count from eight to one. And with each descending number, find yourself becoming more and more relaxed, more and more able to stay connected to your breath, and more and more able to stay with the sound of my voice as you continue to let go.
Eight……..allow your breath to relax your body, gently inhaling.
Seven……..bring the breath deep down, lowering all the way.
Six……..allow the relaxation to gently drift throughout your body as you go deeper still.
Five……..let go, as the breath deepens and you feel those muscles softening.
Four…… the relaxation gently encloses your heart and your lungs, you’re aware of deep comfort, deep relaxation. Notice how gentle and quiet your breathing is becoming.
Three……..notice as each breath allows you to become more and more relaxed and going deeper, you relax.
Two……..more and more relaxed and letting go.
And one…….you now find yourself outdoors in a very comfortable place. Perhaps it is a place that is new to you. Or maybe you have been here many times in real life or in the beauty of your own mind. You see this beautifully serene place. Allow the images to come. For in this place of beauty and comfort – your place of comfort – you may invite anyone you like, or you may prefer to keep this place private. Either is fine, as long as you remain perfectly comfortable.

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

In this place of serenity, you know only peace. Allow the images to come. Notice the colour of the sky at your favourite time of day. And in this place, at this most perfect time of day, at the season and temperature that you like on your skin, allow your senses to become more and more awake. Drink in the surroundings you allow yourself to see; if not with your eyes then sense with your heart……..Each time you come here, you will develop it and allow it to become more and more beautiful. Allow yourself to see what is here now……..Notice the colours around you. Let the colours and textures come alive as you look from side to side, up and down. See what make this place so perfect for you.
Now listen……..what do you hear in this place, what do you hear that lets you know that this is your ideal place?

And breathing in the beauty and the comfort of this place, you may notice certain scents……..the smell of the, air or the sweet smell out a nature all around you. Breathe in the smells of your ideal place……..Let yourself bask in the comfort and beauty and the peace. Allow yourself to walk around, to be in this place, to notice more and more of what is here for you in this place……..Here is place where you may create anything you like.

(Pause 15 seconds or so)

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

If you feel like it, you may build special places for special kinds of feelings that need to be healed, special places to wash away fear and pain……..perhaps a waterfall or a healing pool of water. You may wish to stand under the waterfall: wash away whatever should be washed away……..anything that you’d like to be finished with. Each time you come to the waterfall or the healing pool of water, you can wash away more and more of the past……..more and more of what no longer fits……..more and more of what no longer serves you……..You may plan to use these waters again next time you visit.

(Pause 15 seconds or so)

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

For now, allow yourself to begin walking around this….your….place. As you do, you come upon your very favourite spot……..the best of all places.

(Long pause)

As you arrive, feel free to sit down and get comfortable. Breathe in the serenity……..the peace.

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

As you prepare to take a final look around, you breathe in……..knowing absolutely that this is your place……..that you have been here before…….. you are welcome here. You belong……..and you may return anytime you like……..for as long as you like…… often as you like……..this is your place, you are welcome here, you belong here and you may return anytime you like & as often as you like for as long as you like……this is YOUR place… belong….

(Breathe audibly with the exhalation longer than the inhalation)

And when you are ready, gently bring yourself back to the room by counting up from one to five. When you reach five, your eyes will gently open. You will be awake and alert, and feeling only peace.
One….two….three….Take a deep breath….four….and five.”

END OF EXERCISE: repeat as required or needed or wanted. We learn through repetition, so repeat, repeat, repeat.

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