young child sitting in a garden looking skywards Kleinkind in einem Garten umgeben von Blumen mit dem Blick zum Himmel

Childhood trauma: Safe Space

Instructions for the Safe Space Exercise

Safe Place: the basic idea is simple. When you are stressed or anxious, go to an inner Safe Space in your mind. This exercise allows you to withdraw from a problematic situation long enough to calm down. However, this is easier said than done.

You can develop this imagination exercise either through inner images or thinking. Then think up a story about your personal Safe Space and tell yourself. Both are equally effective.

The exercise takes about 20 minutes, during which you should be undisturbed. Depending on what feels better, you can do the exercise lying down or sitting up with your eyes closed or with your gaze fixed on a spot in front of you. In your mind, develop a picture or story of a place where you feel absolutely safe, comfortable and secure. This place can be on earth, but it does not have to be.

Let thoughts or ideas, or images rise about that place. Here are some ideas for such a place:

Outside: lake, island, beach, mountain, meadow, forest, river, oasis, jungle, playground, …

Buildings: cottage, hut, tree house, igloo, tent, castle, tower, …

Rooms: adapted to your personal needs

Means of transport: caravan, spaceship, submarine, hot air balloon, ship, boat, zeppelin, …

Fantasy places: Hogwarts, another planet, a parallel universe, a world from a favourite book/movie/computer game, …

Memory places: you have been there and felt safe (not your current home)

Once you have chosen a place, create the details.

  • What can you see?
  • What can you hear?
  • What can you smell?
  • What can you taste?
  • When you touch things, how does that feel?
  • What kind of light is there?
  • How warm or cool is it?
  • Can you find a position or movement for your body that is comfortable and relaxing?

Now you give this space a border of your choice so that only you can determine which living beings should, maybe in this place, your Safe Space. If possible, do not invite humans, but loving companions or helpers, animals or beings who will give you support and love. (Real people make mistakes, and this could limit the safety of your Safe Space).

  • Servant
  • Angel
  • Pet
  • Helpful fantasy characters

But it is entirely up to you whether you want to invite living beings.

Let the scene affect you now, and check carefully whether it is enjoyable in all its details. Check whether you feel comfortable there with all your senses. First, check if your Safe Space is comfortable for your eyes. Is what you hear pleasant for your ears? Is the temperature comfortable? Are the smells and tastes pleasant in your mouth? Can you move freely and assume any comfortable posture that makes you feel at ease? … If you find something you don’t like, change the Safe Place. You are its creator; in your imagination, you can do anything. If something is still missing, add anything until your Safe Space is complete for you.

Then invent a way for you, and you alone, to get to your Safe Space:

  • High-tech scanner
  • Secret Password
  • Complicated lock
  • Magic portal
  • Specific gesture
  • Strong guard

Then practise going there regularly in your mind, daily if possible in the beginning.

If you can now feel that you are entirely at ease in your Safe Space and can get there safely, agree with yourself on a small body gesture. This small gesture will help you in the future to bring this place to your mind again quickly.

To finish this exercise, return your attention to the awareness of your body boundaries and the contact of the body with the floor. Then come back into the room with your attention.


Louise Reddemann: Imagination als heilsame Kraft.

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