Your custom-made happy-place

This is an exercise inspired by the challenges of our current confinement. It was influenced by my writings of people who had suffered much worse imprisonment, like Victor Frankl and James Stockdale. One of their observations is that hoping for or predicting an end-date to the situation can be devastating to those involved. Instead, they recommend a clear vision of the future, and sense purpose.

We’re going to adapt of a simple visualisation exercise often used in meditative practice or cognitive behavioral therapy. You may even try a guided meditation or visualization now to get you in the right frame of mind. There are plenty of resources for this online. One I like to use is https://insighttimer.com/ – just try out a few until you find something you like. Alternatively, just try taking a few slow deep breaths into your abdomen and picturing yourself in a place where you are content for a few minutes.

Now pick up a pen.

Pick of a place and situation in which you feel completely calm, happy and at ease. This might be at home, in nature or a fantasy location. Take a minute to think of somewhere and picture it in your mind. Describe your scene using these prompts if they are helpful. Try to address as many of the senses as possible.

  • What does the scene look like?
  • What colors are prominent?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What is the temperature?
  • What are you touching?
  • What does the air smell like?
  • Are you alone or with someone else?

Now go back over your text and edit and re-write it on a separate scrap of paper to keep with you and read (ideally out-loud) in moments when you’re feeling anxious. You may even want to make your visualization into your own recording. For this, feel free to use the below text :

Sit up straight relax your shoulders
Breath in deeply into your abdomen, hold and then breath out slowly, releasing all the tension from your muscles.
Again, breath in deeply, and release slowly, feeling your muscles relax more.
Repeat this a few more times, relaxing every muscle in your body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

[Insert your visualization here ]

Now, slowly return to the present moment. Feel your hands and your feet. And when you are ready, open your eyes

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