Find Your Haven
by Annia Baron
With the cooler weather, that soft, golden hue glazing over kunanyi in the afternoon, and the red and brown leaves falling from deciduous trees that line the streets of Hobart, there’s something special about the arrival of Autumn.
Birds begin their winter migration and mammals carry out mating instincts. Hibernating animals make their burrows, creating a space for sleep, warmth, and protection. Psychologically, embracing change is one of the defining characteristics of this season and it encourages us to reflect on our mindset.
In preparation for the colder months, we too can build ourselves a haven; an internal sanctuary where our thoughts quiet down, pressures dissolve, and we spend time regaining our strength. We can enter this inner space easily, anywhere, anytime, and return to daily life feeling renewed.
How? By activating our meta-awareness. In therapeutic terms, this is referred to as your “observing self.” It’s that part of you that’s always been there, witnessing everything you’re feeling as you’re feeling it. Like when you notice yourself being moved watching a majestic sunset or realizing that you’re getting worked up when something isn’t going your way. It’s the inner part of you that observes everything, internal and external. It’s always been there. It’s yours and it’s unshakable no matter the conditions.
So how do we use our observing self to create an inner oasis?
Start with the 3 Ps: Place, Props and Posture.
Place: Think of a place that’s most beloved, comfortable, and nurturing to you, perhaps somewhere you’re familiar with or someplace you’ve dreamed of visiting. Visualise as much detail as possible – colours, smells, and sounds. For me, there’s a particular spot on my favourite beach along the Channel where a rock wall meets the sea. It opens to a view of the Mountain and is surrounded by lush flora.
Props: Select a prop that can be associated with your special place. It can be a simple memento that you can keep with you wherever you go, such as a dried leaf, flower or a small stone. It can be something olfactory, like essential oils of your favourite scent. Tactile stimulation and smell can be powerful tools to evoke and maintain mental and emotional connections to this inner place of refuge you’re creating.
Posture: Associate a posture to ‘transport’ your physical body into your visualised space. Choose one that’s different from your day-to-day movements, for example child’s pose or sitting crossed legged with a straight spine. Let this posture become the physical representation of you being in your haven; use it to take your mind there.
When you arrive, breathe in deeply. Connect to the details. What shades of colour do you see? Which sounds come to the ears? Take notice of how your senses are stimulated. It’s normal to have a lot of thoughts interrupting your experience. Just let the thoughts come and go. Each time they pull you away, kindly direct your attention back to your observing self. Using a simple phrase to anchor your attention can help such as, “Amongst the change, I am the observer. I am still and calm. This is my space. I am here.”
Give yourself permission to rest in this space for as long as you can, even if it’s just a few minutes to begin with. Over time the more you direct your attention to this place, the easier it will be to return. Aim to visit daily, such as making it part of your morning routine or evening destination before bed. From a neuroscience perspective, we know from brain scans that simply imagining ourselves engaging in something activates many of the identical brain areas involved in the reality of doing them. So in essence, your mind and body undergo the same experience as actually spending time in a calming and soothing environment.
Harvest your mindset practices now to enjoy the bounty of your inner work. Embrace the change of seasons and know that no matter what challenges may lie ahead, you can always find your haven.
Annia Baron is a Hobart based Mindset Coach and Clinical Psychologist. Her mission is to help you live the life you desire and deserve. Get in touch on 0402 448 278, on Instagram @anniabaron or visit www.remindyourself.com.