Going to your happy place. We’ve all heard the phrase, and several associate it with druggie, hippie, mumbo-jumbo that’s just too airy-fairy for the realm of normal. However, the idea of calming yourself by visualizing situations in which you have felt the most calm, actually has a positive effect on brain chemistry, and how the human body reacts to stressful situations.
By visualizing a situation in which you have felt calm, you begin to feel calm in your present situation-whatever that situation may be.
Here’s how it works:
Think of the times/places in your life when you have felt the most safe. The most relaxed. When you can feel your shoulders relaxing down away from your neck and each breath grows deeper. It doesn’t have to be a specific moment, it could be a general feeling. For me, I imagine walking through the grass with the sun shining. You could visualize sitting on your parents’ floor when you were little, or the home of a friend, a relative. Perhaps even a coffee shop, a yoga class, whatever the scenario may be, picture it in your mind, step by step.
First, think of how this place affected your senses, how it made you feel. You already know it made you feel safe, now dig deeper. What did it smell like? Take my example, the grass smells fresh, the air smells fresh, crisp, light.
Now, how does it physically feel when you are in that place? For me, I feel the soft cushioning of the grass beneath my feet, the warmth of the sunlight on my face. Perhaps a cool breeze playing across my hair. Are you petting an animal? Does your body feel cool? Warm? etc?
How does the place sound? For me, the place is quiet, perhaps with soft laughter somewhere far off. Do you remember music playing in this place? Talking with a close friend?
The point is to remember as many details as possible about why that place makes you feel safe. What is it, specifically, about those situations that make you comfortable? For me, imagining this place, thinking about it, talking about it, I can feel my limbs relaxing, feel my mind sinking comfortably into that warm, lazy sunshine, and it feels wonderful.
I try to think about this place whenever I feel particularly hurt, angry, stressed out, etc. I believe that by recognizing the signs of being safe, of being comfortable, we learn to seek places, people, relationships, that make us feel the same way: healthy, happy, and safe. We also help repair the chemical rewiring that takes place when the body has experienced trauma.
Being happy in a current situation can be difficult. Sometimes, it’s necessary to borrow the memory of a happy place in order to bring those feelings into your present life.