Let's face it, life is pretty chaotic. The day to day can be overwhelming and exhausting. There are moments where we feel like if we stop swimming and paddling that our sea of responsibilities will swell up and drown us. What if I told you that it was possible to escape the hectic environment that is your life whenever you want, if only for a few minutes? This is a simple enough mini-meditation to slow your mind and your body and limit your stress response to repeated stimuli.
If you've ever had a Reiki session with Amber, you might remember that at the beginning of the session, she asks you to picture a favorite place of yours. This meditation is designed to create that safe space in your head to which you can choose to retreat at anytime. There are a plethora of health benefits to meditation! Individuals who meditate on a daily basis generally have lower blood pressure, more control over their anxieties, increased surface folds in the brain (this actually increases your brains ability to process information), lower cortisol and other stress hormone levels, and higher concentrations of endorphins.
Creating your own mental retreat is an easy way to build a brief and temporary escape from your stressors until you can find a healthy way to confront these. Once you've created your meditation retreat, you can visit it anytime and much more quickly than the initial visit. As with any meditation, find a comfortable and quiet place to relax. Control your breathing by taking slow deep breaths. With every exhale imagine the tension leaving your body. Your head might start to feel heavy, and that's ok. Let that relaxation fall down to your neck, your shoulders, your chest; all the while, take some nice deep breaths. With each exhale you feel the tension leaving your arms, your stomach, your hips. Your hands and fingers may start to feel a bit more relaxed. You notice the tension leaving your legs, your ankles, your toes. If you have a thought sneak into your consciousness, acknowledge it and let it go.
Now, picture a place in your mind that has brought you joy or made you feel safe. This can be a room in your house, a space in someone else's house, a vacation spot...anything that makes you feel happy and safe, calm and serene. Pause for a moment and just enjoy being back in this place. Pay careful attention to what you see. What can you hear and smell? Pay attention to what you can feel, both with your emotions and with skin. Find a place to rest. You notice that here in this place, there is no feeling of stress or anxiety, no pain or worry, no responsibility whatsoever. It is simply you existing in your favorite place. Enjoy the feeling of freedom you have in this place. Now, remember this place, this feeling, these sensory details. After you've taken in all of the information you can from this place, start to bring awareness back into your body. You slowly start to feel your consciousness creep back in to your mind. You start to become more aware of your body. When you're ready, open your eyes, but do not forget the place you've created in your mind.
Once you've visited this retreat, revisiting is a simple task. One way I find helpful is to close my eyes, count backwards from five and imagine myself already in the space. I recreate the exact space and feelings that came to me during the first meditation. If you are having a particularly stressful day, take a few moments of respite in your inner sanctuary. Another way to access this retreat is to imagine yourself walking on a winding path until you come across your safe space. Having this mental retreat reminds us that we sometimes need a break to gain the mental clarity needed to tackle life's toughest problem. While a vacation is not always possible, this simple meditation can ensure that you always have a calming safe space with you wherever you go. In the immortal words of painter Bob Ross, "There's just a happy little tree right over there."