When we lose a loved one it can feel as if we have lost our safe place, our place of belonging. The familiar now feels unfamiliar. What was once a given has become unsure. Our feet may be touching the earth but somehow not really on it.

Reestablishing a place of belonging is part of the grief journey. When our outer places of belonging feel tenuous, doing a regular practice of healing place meditation can aid in reestablishing a place of inner refuge and belonging that can eventually reconnect us to a world beyond our grief.

Healing place meditation can be done as either a guided (someone else leading the meditation) or self-guided relaxation and visualization practice. Doing healing place meditation during the grieving process can help focus the mind on calming and healing images to bring about beneficial changes in the body and mind. Through the purposeful creation of inner images and mental pictures, a more positive pattern of inner resilience can be created, enhancing an overall sense of well-being.

Observation of the Breath/Mindful Breathing

To prepare for doing a healing place meditation, it can helpful to begin by observing your breathing; this is called mindful breathing or mindful observation of the breath. To begin:

Gently close your eyes. Breathe normally and become aware of the air flowing into your lungs and body. Now, breathe in noticing where the air goes inside the body; breathe out noticing the air leaving the body. Breathe in and out like this several times, observing without judgment the way in which you normally breathe. Allow your breathing to relax you.

To calm and body and mind even more, you can begin your healing place meditation by placing your attention on each part of your body, mindfully breathing in and out, and then asking each body part to relax and let go of all tension.

Healing Place Meditation

This guided visualization is a modified version of a safe and healing space meditation found in “Trauma Healing and Transformation” by Patricia Mathes Cane.

Imagine that you are starting on a journey to a very special place at the center of your being. This is your inner refuge, your safe and healing place where only you can enter. Take time to journey to this place and to discover your special refuge.

What is your refuge like? Perhaps it is a garden full of flowers and beautiful trees. Or maybe your refuge is in the mountains, or by a lake, or in a meadow with clear blue sky and passing clouds. Or perhaps your safe space is in a chapel or house. Decide now where you will go to be in your safe and healing place.

Take some time to explore and create this space, filling it with all that will support you and nourish you. Are there colors, sounds, smells, textures that you are aware of? How do you feel in this place? What is it like for you? Take some time now to enjoy your special place. Feel very safe, secure and peaceful. Fill yourself with great peace and a deep sense of safety and security. Take time to open yourself to receive whatever you may need at this moment.

Take a few more moments enjoying your refuge of peace; look around for some image that you can bring back with you to remind you of special refuge.

Return to the Present Moment

Begin now to become aware of your body once again. Breathe deeply and feel the energy of your feet and toes; stretch and flex your feet and toes reawakening them. Silently count from 5 to 1; with each number, feel more and more present in your body.

Five. Breathe deeply. Stretch and flex your legs feeling the energy flowing fully throughout your body.

Four. Stretch and flex the trunk of your body, feel fully alive in your pelvis, your abdomen, your chest and shoulders.

Three. Stretch and flex your arms and hands feeling the energy flowing fully through your arms.

Two. Very gently stretch and flex your neck and facial muscles feeling very alive and relaxed in your head.

One. Breathe deeply and when you are ready open your eyes; feel relaxed, present in the moment where you are. Feel very peaceful and tranquil in all of your being. Take a few moments in silence to reflect on your visit to the refuge of your safe and healing place.

The healing place meditation can be done for five or more minutes as a purposeful time-out practice. And it can also be done as an inner balance refresher for just a few minutes here and there, throughout the day. You can return to your healing place whenever you feel grief arise, are tired, stressed or in need of a place of inner sanctuary.

Doing a healing place meditation on a regular basis during your period of bereavement can help to encourages body awareness and inner comfort, strengthen the ability to focus and concentrate, and activate your inner healer – the guidance system within you committed to healing the pain of your loss. Consider recording yourself and then listening to your version of your unique healing place meditation; this can foster a sense of empowerment regarding your own ability to get through the challenging terrain of grief.