Thursday, 3 May 2012

Distress Tolerance IMPROVE Imagery - Safe Place

Jack's Hole Beach, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
The first letter in the anagram IMPROVE stands for IMAGERY. 

I personally like to build a safe place inside my mind, when I am doing well and NOT in distress. This way I have a ready made place to retreat to when I need to escape a crisis or distressing situation, and I do not have to think too much about it.

There is a beach in Co. Wicklow, Ireland where I was brought to as a child during the summertime. It is a private access cove where only residents can gain admittance to its gloriously sandy shore. Luckily a close family friend lived near the entrance and allowed us to park in on their property. I felt so safe there, it was nearly always empty, and the water was clear and clean. There were no scary caves or strange fish. My mother would allow me the day off school if the weather was unseasonably warm and we would drive the hour journey down south towards my coastal heaven. It is where some of my most treasured memories were made. This is my setting for my safe place visualization.

I find this a great way to gain a moments respite from intense emotion. I like that I can do this anywhere, anytime, on the bus, in a busy shop (I find the dressing rooms a good place to practice it). I also like to sit in a quite church  but in reality, this can be used in any situation. Even 3am in the morning!

Try the little script below to help you build a safe place in your own mind.

Allow yourself to create a place of safety and peace that is always yours, always safe…. And breathe in the safety. And breathe out the fear. And breathe in the safety. And breathe out the fear…. As you breathe in, you can even smell the smells of safety…. Perhaps salty air, or the sweet smell of a flower…. Breathe in the smells of your safe place. It’s so safe here that you can even taste it as you lick your lips. Let yourself bask in the safety and the peace…. Allow yourself to walk around, to be in this place, to notice more and more, to create more and more in this place…. Perhaps you would like to build a shelter of some kind, a cottage, a tent, a tree house. And if it’s already there, you may add to it…. Plant flowers, adding a splash of color. Add special places or rooms to your safe place…. Create anything that you would like. [Long pause.] Create special places for special kinds of feelings that need to be healed, special places to wash away fear and pain…. Create a waterfall or a pool of healing water. Stand under the waterfall to wash away the fear…. Let the healing waters wash away what 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…. Each time you come, you are cleansed and rejuvenated, the shame is washed away. Wash away the pain. Wash all of it away, as you are ready. [Long pause.] When you are finished, step out of the water and you will find a robe or a towel to dry and warm yourself.

Now allow yourself to continue walking around your safe place…. You find a place for a healing garden, a place that is just for your healing. You can plant anything you would like…. You can plant wishes and

dreams for the future. You can plant seeds of your healing. And you can weed out what you want to be finished with. Take some time to work with your garden now. [Long pause.]

And now, find your favorite place in all of safety. Walk around until you find just the right place. [Long pause.] Sit down, and get comfortable…. Breathe in the safety and the peace. Breathe out the fear…. Breathe in the safety and peace. Breathe out the fear…. Breathe in the safety and peace. Breathe out the fear…. And just be in this place as you breathe and heal…. Stay in this place as long as you would like…. And when you are ready, simply count yourself out by counting from one to five. When you reach the number five, your eyes will open. And you will be awake and alert, and feeling safe and at peace. One…. Two…. Three. Take a deep breath…. Four…. And five.

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