Dr Joanne Stuart
A Portable Paradise
You may have heard of the idea of a 'safe place'. A safe place is a technique that psychologists use that can help to reduce down our anxiety system. If we are feeling overwhelmed by emotions, if we feel unsafe or if we are facing something that we fear - bringing out 'safe place' to mind can help.
However, as with most things, this comes with some practice. We need to bring our 'safe place' to mind often and then really think about how we would feel when we are in our safe place. This reminds me of the poem by Roger Robinson called A Portable Paradise, which I think is a much more beautiful way of describing it.
And if I speak of Paradise,
Then I am speaking of my grandmother
Who told me to always carry it
on my person, concealed, so
no one else would know but me.
That way they can't steal it, she'd say.
And if life puts you under pressure,
trace its ridges in your pocket,
smell its piney scent on your handkerchief,
hum its anthem under your breath.
And if your stresses are sustained and daily,
get yourself to an empty room - be it a hotel
hostel or hovel - find a lamp
and empty your paradise on to a desk:
your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.
Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope
of morning, and keep staring at it until you sleep.
By Roger Robinson
We all need a Portable Paradise - what is yours? You need to think it through. Is it the memory of a favourite holiday with the sun glistening off the sea and the soft sand flowing between your toes with the sound of the gentle waves lapping on the shore in front of you?
Is it a memory of your favourite place as a child...your bedroom or the space behind the tree in your back garden or local park? Is is winter with the fresh snow on the ground and you and a friend hurling snowballs to each other?
It may be the woods in Autumn - the beautiful cacophony of colours raining down on you. If you have a memory you can use - remembering how wonderful you felt then. Try to remember the smell - what you saw - what you could hear.
If you don't have a memory then you can make up your Portable Paradise. We have an abundant imagination. Where does yours take you?
When you have your Portable Paradise clear in your mind, keep it there and hold it close by. Feel the calm it brings. And then, when you are going through a difficult time, you can bring to mind your Portable Paradise.