One of the most powerful mindfulness exercises I have experienced involves creating your own personal place of peace. This place of peace is sometimes referred to as a safe place or a healing place. It provides somewhere for your mind to retreat to when the world becomes too stressful and you need to reconnect with your inner peace. It can also help you to step away from unpleasant situations – for example, you can mentally retreat to your place of peace when you are at the dentist, while waiting to be called into a job interview, or in any situation where you are nervous or stressed but cannot physically remove yourself from the source of your anxiety.
Your place of peace is something very personal and unique to you. It can be a real place, or a place that exists only in your imagination. It is somewhere where you can feel completely relaxed and safe in your own company. It might be a deserted tropical beach at sunset, a campsite at night with a camp fire burning and the Milky Way blazing overhead, a formal garden crowded with flowers or – my own place of peace – an English woodland carpeted with bluebells.
Close your eyes. Imagine yourself in this peaceful place. Fill your mind with the most detailed image you can possibly imagine. Look at the ground, the sky, your surroundings. What is the weather like? Is it sunny? Is it windy? Notice how the shadows move softly in the gentle breeze. Gradually start to bring in your other senses. What can you hear? The wind in the trees? Birds singing? Insects buzzing? Waves lapping on the shore? Now think about what you can feel. Is it warm or cold? Can you feel the touch of sunshine warming your skin? Where are you standing or sitting? If you are walking along a beach, can you feel the sand between your toes? If you are sitting on a bench, can you run your fingers along it and feel the texture of the wood? Once you have explored every detail of this place, start to notice how being here makes you feel. There are no responsibilities or commitments here. While you are here, no one needs you, no one is asking you for anything, you do not need to do anything you don’t want to do. Time slows. The frantic pace of normal life doesn’t exist here. You have stepped away from the outside world, into this place of calm. Rest here for as long as you need. Feel the energy of this place calming you, nurturing you, recharging your spirit.
When you feel ready, you can slowly open your eyes and come back to the real world. But you will carry with you a little of the calm that you felt in your place of peace. By calming the storm you felt on the inside, you will now be better equipped to cope with whatever stresses the world outside is throwing at you.
If you practice this visualization often enough, you will learn to retreat to your place of peace in a second, any time you need to. It will help you to stay calm whenever you are in a situation that causes you stress. You can even bring a reminder of your place of peace into your everyday life. I have a photograph of my place of peace on the wall in my office. If your place of peace has a particular sound or scent, you could try to find a recording or scented candle that reminds you of your special place. These reminders can subconsciously evoke the sense of calm that you associate with your place of peace, enabling you to bring some of that inner stillness into your everyday life.
So, close your eyes, right now, and ask yourself, where is your place of peace?