Sometimes thoughts go round and round in your mind and you can’t find peace. When you examine them you find that there is nothing you can do to solve them right now. It would be helpful to be able to park them somewhere, until the time for them has come.
Sometimes it is people you worry about. Situations where you have done everything that was possible, but you keep ruminating on those worries. That is unproductive, it doesn’t create new ideas. You are just moving around the same old ones.
Our youngest doesn’t like the idea of putting people into a safe („but they can’t breathe in there!“)
For us the safe/vault exercise for containment is closely linked to flashbacks and traumatic pictures, scenes that do not change, they come up the same way over and over again and when locked away they don’t develop into something else.
We store things that are important to us, important enough to worry about them, in something that combines the Safe Place with Containment. This exercise is from „Der geborgene Ort“ by Michaela Huber. It offers a few variations on classic guided imagery for PTSD and DID. As it is not available in english we did our best to translate it for you.
If you have DID, please note that you cannot treat other parts like „burdens“ or „worries“. This exercise is not a shortcut to getting rid of unpleasant parts, it doesn’t work that way.
„Maybe there is more than enough that you have to keep in mind, that you still have to do, that you ruminate about, that bothers you from the past and so on. This exercise will enable you to bring everything, that you won’t need in the next hours or days, that you don’t want to have in your head or in your body, to a safe place, where – maybe accompanied by inner helpers – you can leave it in a special room, add a wish and then leave it behind and maybe feel much lighter afterwards.
When you imagine that for the next few hours or days you might not want to carry everything with you that is going through your head right now. And that maybe you want to store it somewhere else for a while. Then you can imagine packing a parcel or package or fill a bag or sack with everything that you want to put away for a while. In some cases unseen: into the package or bag it goes. Moods, atmospheres, emotional states, dull things, swirling things, the unknown and so on. In some cases you know exactly what you want to get rid of for a while and you place it in there consciously: very specific topics that you don’t want to think about all the time but lay them down. Whatever comes to your mind is absolutely ok. Look how much has come together…
When you want to bring your burden away, look if you can still carry it alone or if you need a wheelbarrow or a car or maybe even a truck or a ship. Because you will travel a long long way with it. Maybe you can secure your load so safely that you can start to walk or drive with it. And then you travel a long, long distance with it. Your path leads you far far away. Until you get to a special place that your subconscious might recognize at once: it is the place with a building where you will store your burden. Look at what kind of place that is. That could be a bank or a cave, a hut by a lake or a mine or maybe a spiritual place. Just see, if you like, how this place appears in front of your inner eye, the place your subconscious chose for you. And if there are several ideas coming up, maybe you like to pick one of them and pursue it further. And whatever comes to your mind is absolutely ok.
Here, at this special place, take your time to consciously cross the threshold and carry your burden inside or maybe get help with that. Sometimes someone wants to do things themselves and alone, sometimes it is also nice when there are friendly helpers that can lift the burden and help to transport it inside the building. There, on the inside, it might be necessary to change planes, for example take stairs up or down, to get to this special room that is big enough to contain all your burdens. You can place your burden in there, maybe at a certain place in the room like a special container. And no matter if you do that alone or if there are helpers with you: when you put down the burden you can leave a well-meaning wish with it. What is it that, in the meantime and when you soon leave this place, should happen with the burden? A lot of things almost develop easier without our conscious interaction, than when we keep thinking about them. So maybe you have a wish how your burden or parts of it could transform in your absence. And whatever comes to your mind is absolutely ok.
And then you can take a few steps back and see if the container or the room should be closely locked or stay open for the transformation of the burden, that you have placed there. Check again if you have laid down everything that you want to let go for a while. When it is all right you can leave this room behind, maybe change the plain again, that means going up or down some stairs to get to the exit of this special place. And there you might cross the threshold very consciously until you are outside the building again. If you had any helpers, maybe you want to say goodbye to them while stepping outside. And then you can travel the long long way again and with every yard and every mile that you move away you might feel lighter and lighter or sense some other difference. And you know: back there you have placed your burden. You can go there any time to look at it, to bring something else or pick up something transformed. For now you have left a few things there. And with every yard and every mile you are further and further away and perhaps you can feel a change in your body, your head, your emotions, the way you walk…
And then maybe you arrive again where you are right now, feel the floor underneath you, feel a little lighter, more free and you can get oriented in time and space“