By Marian Connor

I was thinking…

Panic rooms or safe rooms can be a very useful addition to the home. Fortified rooms have been used for millennia, by ancient Egyptians, within castles, for priests avoiding persecution. Vaults for the protection of people and property, from weather conditions and those that would do them harm. Today they are created within homes to allow you to keep safe for hours or weeks and cost anything from £20,000 – £2 million.

Useful, if you live someplace where you are vulnerable to the vagaries of weather phenomena, cyclones, hurricanes, twisters. By twister I am not referring to a red centred ice cream spiral or a game played on a large plastic mat, but a tornado of the type that whisked Dorothy and Toto off in the Wizard of Oz.

Did you know twisters are also called dust or dancing devils? I sometimes feel a dust devil has swept through my home, not lifting the dust up but laying it down and I wonder how long I should wait to see if it returns to rectify its error before I need to resort to cleaning and hovering myself. Trust me I give it ample opportunity to see the error of its way. But I digress.

Also useful if your wealth and lifestyle involves the possibility of theft, kidnap and acts of violence. For those of us whom the likelihood of being involved in any of the aforementioned is minimal, they may feel the closest they will get to a panic room will be watching Maggie Gyllenhaal, sleep in her sparse clinical space in the BBC’s drama ‘The Honourable Woman’.

I believe we all benefit from developing our safe room, albeit metaphysical, within ourselves. Although we may not be sheltering from humans or nature that would do us harm or whisk our house away, we all require sanctuary within ourselves. Not necessarily a place to hide in and lock out the world although that has its uses sometimes but somewhere to feel safe, at home, able to observe and deal with what we encounter.

In the 2002 film ‘Panic Room’, Jodie Foster had monitors showing the activity in every corner of her home. We need to develop ways to create a better more sensitive viewpoint to the world around us and within us. Monitoring how we are affected physically and psychologically in every corner of our home.

I believe we are born with inbuilt safe rooms alongside our primal stress responses, both necessary to our survival, complementary to each other.

Many new expensive properties are created with these rooms integral to the construction of the building, rather than tacked on at a later date. The main difference for us is that we aren’t shown the architects drawings, indicating the location of the hidden entrance, or if we are by the time we need to use it, we have forgotten instructions, misplaced the plans.

We need to cultivate ways to explore the plans in ourselves.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time”

 (T.S.Eliot – extract from the poem ‘Little Gidding’)

For most of my life I have been rifling through my own technical drawings, investigating ways to develop my safe room into a haven, a home within. I have uncovered many blueprints that have proved not to be mine, they belonged to someone else, therefore didn’t work for me.

“There was once a queer old man who lived in a cave, where he had sought refuge from the noise of the villages. He was reputed to be a sorcerer, and therefore he had disciples who hoped to learn the art of sorcery from him. But he himself was not thinking of any such thing. He was only seeking to know what it was that he did not know, but which, he felt certain, was always happening. After meditating for a very long time on that which is beyond meditation, he saw no other way of escape from his predicament than to take a piece of red chalk and draw all kinds of diagrams on the walls of his cave, in order to find out what that which he did not know might look like. After many attempts he hit on the circle. “That’s right,” he felt, “and now for a quadrangle inside it!” —which made it better still. His disciples were curious; but all they could make out was that the old man was up to something, and they would have given anything to know what he was doing. But when they asked him: “What are you doing there?” he made no reply. Then they discovered the diagrams on the wall and said: “That’s it!” —and they all imitated the diagrams. But in so doing they turned the whole process upside down, without noticing it: they anticipated the result in the hope of making the process repeat itself which had led to that result. This is how it happened then and how it still happens today”. (A folk tale by Carl Jung)

But I am helped to develop a strong light space within, to nurture my reserves for when necessary, by the use of mindfulness, physical and mental activity, by paying attention to the nourishment of mind, body and spirit and acknowledging the importance of the people and places I care for.

So whether you need the equivalent of a small tent to avoid the insects of minor irritations, munchkins on a yellow highway or steel reinforced doors and Kevlar to manage major illness, divorce or bereavement. It is all possible.

Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey.

Small consistent work on your safe room will store up reserves ready for situations of stress or discomfort.

Take pleasure in your efforts because this is a lifelong work in progress. It’s a gift to self ensuring that when circumstances require you can click those twinkly red shoes together and off you go.

There is no place like home.


I found this fascinating; you on the other hand may not, Dust devils.

The folk tale quote by Carl Jung can be discovered in the Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 9.

I thought this was a good companion to calm cultivation – Good Housekeeping.

Finally, I came across this group, the Penn Charter Quakers Dozen, singing a version of “Exploration”, I found it rather fetching, so I share.


Tile/Header Image – from the Wizard of Oz film.    


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Photo of Marian Connor and black text saying "Always looking over the horizon to discover treasures to share. Often times whilst partaking of a fine red."