Learn what to say and do (and what NOT to say and do)
so your clients and students get more from what you give them.
Safety is everything.
If you’ve been reading my emails, you’ll know almost everyone has trauma and it IS right there in our classes and sessions whether or not it seems obvious. When a student is in pigeon pose it might just look like a physical asana - but they may be opening some deep emotional connection to a past sexual assault and need to know they're in a place where there's space to feel this.
Think about it. When we don’t feel safe, it’s hard to connect with people. It’s hard to feel curious. It’s hard to learn, to take things in, to experience the world with an open heart and mind.
If you walk into a yoga class or a workshop feeling insecure, anxious or unconsciously hesitant, it’s harder to smile at the other participants. It’s harder to drop in, to relax, to connect with the facilitator, to listen, to participate, to receive.
It’s uncomfortable feeling anxious, feeling tense, feeling nervous - so as we walk in to these experiences, we often do our best to hide it, to project an exterior that says everything’s fine, we’re doing great. Or we show up a little numb, a little checked out. Physically we’re there, but the rest of us? Not so much.
We get really, really good at presenting a facade of being confident or being okay.
And yet, as facilitators, how often do we ASSUME that the people coming to us ARE fine, just because they look that way on the outside?
We can’t know what’s going on inside the people we hold space for.
We can’t know their past history and experiences, their trauma and wounds and hurts and triggers. How they woke up feeling tender and in need of a little extra care this morning, or the rough year they’ve had.
We can’t know the childhood they had, or the experiences in adolescence that taught them they don’t belong, and they’re walking into our space so scared they won’t be welcome, yet longing for connection. We can't know the pressure they put on themselves to sound smart or seem on top of it so they feel appreciated or connected to you and to others.
We can’t know that meeting new people makes them anxious, or how this is the first time they’ve decided to try coaching and they’re nervous and scared, or how the last time they tried breathwork they had a terrible time but they’re giving it another go.
We can’t know.
And so it makes SO MUCH SENSE to make understanding how to create safer spaces one of our top priorities.
What would be possible for us as facilitators, and for our students and clients, if the people that come to us feel safe enough to be even more open, to be vulnerable, to get curious with us, to explore and to play, creating experiences that are truly healing?
Imagine the difference we could make.
Imagine the experiences people could have if they felt truly comfortable in our care.
Wait, but don’t we need to experience SOME discomfort in order to heal and grow?
If we were super comfortable all the time we’d be bubble wrapped on our metaphorical comfort zone couch, watching the world through the window instead of going outside to experience it.
And yes - you’re absolutely right.
But there’s two kinds of discomfort.
There’s the kind of discomfort that feels unsafe. The kind that puts us on edge. That feels like too much. That we can’t be present for. We can’t soften into discomfort that feels unsafe. We can’t push through it. We want to run away from it, we go numb or get worked up. We shut down, we check out, the experience we’re in becomes something to be endured until it’s over.
And as facilitators, by asking our clients and students to lean into this kind of discomfort we’re exacerbating their discomfort through our lack of awareness around trauma.
We’re inadvertently causing harm where we’re intending to help.
Then there’s the kind of discomfort that feels safe enough. It might be a little scary or a little new, but it feels okay to work with that edge of discomfort, because we feel comfortable in the space we’re in and we know how to stay present when we’re in that kind of discomfort..
You’ve probably experienced this in your own life - it’s usually when we feel truly comfortable that we find we have the courage to step into discomfort. To explore the edges of our comfort zones and find the healing and growth that wait there for us - because we do need a little discomfort to heal and grow.
Imagine being the kind of facilitator who can skillfully take people to the edges of their discomfort in a way that feels safe enough for them to go just a little further than they thought they were capable of.
Imagine knowing how to facilitate this dance with discomfort in safe enough space.
Imagine how much MORE our students and clients could receive if we tipped the scales in their favor and knew how to create safer spaces for them.
We’ve had people who say they feel they’re embraced by the universe, or been reborn. And I feel like you can only do that when you feel safe, you know?
For myself, I feel that safety is the thing that dissolves those walls, that peels back those layers, that holds space for those miraculous experiences.
Pablo - Breathwork Facilitator & Creating Safer Space student
Join Creating Safer Space
to learn simple, effective tools you can use immediately
to level up your space holding skills for the people you support.
We can’t MAKE people feel safe.
So many of us who are taught to guide meditations, teach yoga, as therapists and as coaches - we’ve been conditioned to say ‘this is a safe space’, because in our heart of hearts we want people to feel safe with us. It’s so obvious why we say it!
Telling people they’re safe doesn’t make them feel safe.
For many people, telling them ‘you are safe’ or ‘this is a safe space’ has them looking for all the ways it isn’t safe, and can result in a loss of trust in you as a facilitator, and a sense of betrayal if something happens that has people feel unsafe.
We can’t completely control the environment, and we can’t know what feels safe for every person we hold space for.
So we can’t promise a completely safe space - and neither should we.
It’s impossible, and it’s also stressful for you. And, we don’t actually NEED to create a perfect space in order for it to be safe enough.
We CAN work towards providing a SAFER space.
And we have a responsibility to do so. We need to be respectful of the power dynamic that’s at play - people are unconsciously leaning in to our care. Offering us money to be guided or cared for in a particular way. Looking up to us. There is an an impact, and good intentions are not enough, even though they are beautiful.
So what do we do?
We create safer space through actions, not through telling someone they are safe. You know this - you’ve probably felt it before in your life. You know those times when you walk into a space or meet someone new and you’re not sure why, but you felt at ease? I’m willing to bet no one told you ‘you’re safe here’.
What if you could create that feeling of ease for the people who walk into your spaces?
I’m not as sensitive as some people. ...I didn't really understand why it was necessary. So a big part of this, and why it was really good, was to understand … how making small changes on my behalf as a facilitator can really make a huge impact on the way people receive.
Instead of being ‘well i don’t really care, so toughen up, get over it - [I’m] getting more empathy for people who’ve been through more than I've been through, and the effect that’s had on their nervous systems.
Luna - Sensual Artistry
…When you join Creating Safer Space.
You’ll learn so many tools and practices to create that sense of ease for people, and it all begins with how we set up the experience we’re offering, and how we orient someone to the experience they’re going to have with us.
Because it’s in feeling at ease that we’re able to explore our edges. It’s in feeling safe enough that we’re able to experience the discomfort of our healing and our growth.
So, what do I mean by orienting someone to the experience they’re going to have with us?
Orienting means ‘to find one's position in relation to unfamiliar surroundings’ - and so we’re doing exactly that for people - making the unfamiliar familiar, so the nervousness and anxiety of not knowing what to expect can soften, and people can be present with us, ready to receive what we’re offering them.
To give you an example - I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve been to breathwork sessions, yoga classes or massages and been given no idea of what to expect. With no orientation, I felt on edge having no idea if I would be touched (assisted) or how and when touch would be offered.
All of the times I have been told supportive touch was available in the experience, it has felt so good to receive because I was ready for it and open to it.
This is just one example of how orienting can communicate to the nervous system messages of safety so that it can not be so “on guard”.
This goes DEEP for people and often it’s unconscious. Many folks with trauma have NO idea they are even feeling anxious or on guard. It can be very subtle or very obvious.
People’s brains are wired to look for what’s wrong and to have an exit plan if something does go wrong. This is survival.
It’s the same when arriving to a meditation class or a therapy session.
When we’re not sure what to expect, there might be a sense of inner restlessness or fear. We might even go so far as to leave our bodies or numb out because we have no idea this is happening and this is how we learned how to survive at other points in our lives.
In this survival mode we’re not able to receive information and take in connection.
We’re not able to feel safe enough to experience the edges of our discomfort in a way that supports our healing and growth.
Orienting is about first impressions. You know that first impressions count - we hear it all the time.
Orienting is how you create a first impression for someone - whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time they’re walking into your space. And believe me… they ARE sizing you up whether or not they are even conscious of it. It makes a HUGE difference, as you’ll learn when you listen to the audio examples included in the course - you get to hear it in action, so you can experience what it feels like to know what’s coming next in your own body.
Licenced Master Social Worker & Massage Therapist
When you sign up for Creating Safer Space,
this is what you get:
15 videos with simple, incredibly effective tools and practices for creating safer space so you KNOW you’re setting people up for the best possible experience with you. ($500 value)
Guided audio practices - hear a whole lot of examples of how to use what you’re learning in your own teaching and space holding. These are great, because you get to FEEL how it works in your own body and nervous system before you try it out. ($400 value)
Step by step practices you can use with your clients and students to help them ground, center and resource (and you can use these for yourself too). ($400 value)
Bonus interviews - several videos with a wide variety of guest teachers share how they “Create Safer Spaces” well in how they guide. ($500)
Access to a private Facebook group to connect with other course participants, and have all your questions answered. (Priceless)
3 months of interactive group calls - two 60 minute live calls each month (Monday at 5 PM PST and Thursday at 11 AM PST), for you to ask Shelby any questions you have around the course content, and applying in your work to create safer spaces for your students and clients. ($850)
“...this is very easy to implement, but it has a huge impact. It’s very powerful. It’s not something that’s so complicated you can’t wrap your head around it, it’s not something that’s going to change your whole approach - it’s very simple yet profound tools that can make such a difference. That’s what I really liked - it was very easy to implement, but I saw a big shift.”
- Colleen, Breathwork Facilitator, Love & Relationship coach
Join Creating Safer Space
to learn simple, effective tools you can use immediately
to help people get the most from what you’re offering them.
Creating Safer Space includes a huge bonus - in depth conversations with a variety of teachers, healers and space holders on the ways they create safer spaces in their work.
You’ll receive some incredible wisdom and many different perspectives on topics like consent, choice, empowerment, change, navigating the edges of overwhelm with people and more.
Dr Betty Martin
Betty begins our interview with the powerful statement: “there’s no such thing as safety.”, and in our conversation, goes into depth around the unmistakable importance of consent. Betty describes consent in ways that bring light to facets of consent that so many people miss.
She is the creator of The Wheel of Consent, and her body of work has touched the lives and practices of facilitators and wellness providers from many walks of life. She is a trainer and practitioner (former chiropractor) within the wellness industry (physicians, therapists, physical therapists, massage therapists, sex workers, massage artists).
Bev shares with us the POWER of being "clean", and we talk about creating client-centered and agenda-less sessions so clients are empowered in their experience.
Bev is a powerful trainer of coaches and sees individual clients in Portland, Oregon in her coaching practice. Originally from South Africa she’s an incredible story teller and inspiration to many.
Enrique shares about the importance of giving folks choice and options and the empowerment and sense of agency that comes out of it.
He teaches mindfulness to teens and adults all over the world. He also facilitates Challenge Day - a vulnerable and transformative experience for teens in schools.
Giselle Jones (LCSW, CMF, CSAT-C)
We share a captivating conversation around how to support folks from a variety of backgrounds genuinely feel more safe in our spaces. In this interview we explore various topics around the HOW of creating "Safe Enough Space". Some topics we explore include Consent, Social Conditioning, Inclusivity, Sex and Sexuality, Privilege, Cultural Humility and Compassion.
Giselle is a therapist in private practice and mindfulness facilitator in Los Angeles, California. She is passionate about topics of consent, diversity, inclusion and representation in the work she offers in the world.
Rick creates deep and loving experiences both in groups and individually for folks to explore their most authentic selves and tap into their wholeness. “Love is unconditional and life gives us conditions so that we can love them.” He shares how we can create conditions for change without causing overwhelm. He talks about what happens when we try to make someone change and offers his thoughts and tools on how to create transformation without pushing someone over the edge into being triggered by trauma. Rick works in Bali and worldwide.
Robyn creates impeccably caring space as a group facilitator and Somatic Intimacy Coach in Bali and worldwide. She describes what a container is and how important it is to have one - both internally and externally. She also shares how to create a non-judgmental space of allowing so that shifts can happen instead of pushing people into change.
Join Creating Safer Space
…and learn from other incredible space holders.
What I’m most aware of is the shift in my awareness when I’m with clients to pay more attention to creating a safe space. I see myself slowing down and being more thoughtful of my words and actions. Loving everything about this training!”
– Heather DeVore, Therapist & Coach, Portland, Oregon & Worldwide.
An unexpected bonus...
So many of the Creating Safer Space participants have been surprised at how they feel after taking the course. In learning how to create safer spaces for their clients and students, they’ve created safer space for THEMSELVES.
They’ve learned how to care for themselves in deeper ways. They feel more grounded, present and confident in all areas of their lives, not just in their work. They’re naturally using the skills they’ve learned in their lives outside of their work - their relationships have improved, they say they just feel better. And feeling better feels GOOD.
They’ve learned to identify and tend to their own trigger points and wounds with more kindness - both in their work and in their personal lives.
I’ll share a story with you:
One of my core wounds has been feeling I’m not helping. This has happened more than once in sessions with clients where the story I’m telling myself is it seems they don’t want to receive anything I have to offer.
I fear they’re judging me, or they don’t want to do anything I offer. They’re constantly questioning me, it seems like they’re generally unhappy, and I can't figure out why they’re coming back.
And they’ve coming back - over and over again.
So a chain reaction happens for me - I don't feel helpful, I wonder what I have to offer. This hits some deep core wounding for me - I'm not special, I don’t matter, I’m not important, I’m not smart enough, If I could just do it differently, then....
The story I told myself was they just want to come in and talk AT me, not collaborate with me, which is painful for a part of me who feels rejected sometimes, and not enough.
And so instead of enduring sessions with clients feeling triggered and taking things personally, I use the tools I share with you in Creating Safer Space. I know what my resources are and how to use them to calm and center myself so I can be present for my clients.
I know how I’m feeling is both a reflection of what they might be going through and also a perfect mirror for some of the trauma I carry. So I embrace it whole-heartedly and do my own work around it and in turn, the whole experience becomes an incredible gift to myself and to those I’m working with.
I know where to go for support so I’m not bringing my ‘stuff’ and can be present with theirs.
In creating safer space for my clients, I’m creating safer space for myself, too. This is GOLD.
So not only will you help people who come into your workshops, classes and sessions feeling anxious soften their anxiety and feel calm and ready to receive your gifts, open to having truly transformational experiences…
YOU will feel safer through doing this course - calmer, more able to meet what comes in your sessions and in your own lives.
Creating safer space for your clients and students causes a beautiful ripple effect out into the world - the people you support feel safer, so they are able to transform at a deeper level, so their impact on the world is greater too.
What else will I learn?
Welcome to the course! An overview, and what to expect (orienting in action!).
Dropping into awareness of how to support others with trauma, and how to support yourselves in the midst of supporting others who have trauma. Get clear on the importance of arrivals, and play with some experiential exercises so you feel in your own body and nervous system what you’re learning - how it feels, creating a safer space for yourself.
Getting a little nerdy, in a really accessible way! This module helps you to understand what trauma is, how it impacts pretty much everyone, and the number 1 way to support people with trauma.
Orienting, Container and Agreements
How to create a solid and healthy container for the experience you’re giving your people. AND, heaps of examples so you can hear what this sounds like and how you might use what you’re learning to do this for your people.
Safe enough space
As you’ve read about at the top of this page - we go into more detail on the difference between ‘a SAFE space’, which we can’t promise anyone, and ‘SAFER space’ which we can absolutely work towards providing. Learn how to invite people into supportive experiences without using the word ‘safe’.
Work with your triggers
You know this! It’s so important to care for yourself so you can better care for your students and clients. Learn where your hot spots are and how to tend them. Creating safer space for you, as well as the people you support.
Commands vs. Invitations
Learn how to invite people into the experiences you’re offering in a way they’re likely to be SO much more receptive to your guidance. We’ll also talk about the balance between being direct, and offering empowered choice, and why telling people to ‘close their eyes’, or ‘relax’ is often not so helpful, and what you can say instead.
Empowered Touch & Consent
Learning to track an empowered yes and no, and how healing it can be to honour a ‘no’.
Power Dynamics & Relationship to Care
It can feel AWESOME to have people doing what you tell them to, but that’s not giving them the responsibility to learn how to make wise choices for themselves.
To the edge but not over
Faster & more intense does not equal deeper - as much as many people crave intense, cathartic experiences, these are not always the most skillful way for people to receive the gifts you offer them. Folks need to be able to tolerate the bigness of these experiences so they can integrate them so it’s really important for you and them to understand what’s needed to do this.
To tell you a quick story - I’d go into breathwork experiences breathing as hard and as fast as I could but I'd leave my body. So I was half there- but I wasn’t actually healing anything, I was doing what trauma had done to me my whole life, which is to be addicted to intensity. Intensity is familiar for me - so what do we do? Go heal our trauma with more intensity? I don’t know about that.
Learn some tools for working with people’s edges - how to bring people to their edge, but not over. Edges are where the healing & growth happens.
Character Types to Look Out For
4 surprising character types to look out for in your classes and sessions, and what each of them needs.
Tending to Sexual Trauma
Why it’s important to have an awareness of the cultural conditioning the majority of us have around our sexuality and how it impacts disconnection from our desires. Adding to the conversation around power dynamics, responsibility and a wake up call for embracing our motivations when supporting folks around healing sexual trauma, growing capacity for sexual intimacy and creating permission for ALL parts of our students and clients to be present.
Things you can do to support people who are experiencing a trigger moment while in your care, and how to support yourself in this too.
Simple Resourcing Practices
Learn the language you can use to support people in feeling safer, practices you can use with clients/ students (and yourself!), ways to help people come into the present moment and tap into their resilience and how to share and teach resourcing so your people are more and more empowered.
Where to go next? Additional reading, trauma awareness tips for facilitators, and a beautiful grounding practice for you to explore.
Interactive Call Recordings
Each month there are two opportunities to join live calls with Shelby to have all your questions answered - Monday at 5 PM PST and Thursday at 11 AM PST. These calls are recorded and uploaded to the course in case you can’t make them live, and are a very rich resource to learn more about the different ways people are creating safer spaces in their work.
You know when you haven’t really gotten a certain piece of the puzzle, that makes things flow a little bit better… this program is filling in those gaps, filling in those little pieces. The puzzle is all coming together where I have the tools and the voice, and what to say, in a much clearer way.
Dawn - Therapeutic Bodyworker, Sex, Love & Relationship Coach
Join Creating Safer Space
to learn simple, effective tools you can use straight away
to be someone people naturally feel at ease with.
Who am I?
Hi, I’m Shelby Leigh, and I’m so glad you’re here.
My journey has its own ups and downs which you’ll one day read about in my best selling book but for now, I’ll tell you this. I became who I am today through quite a few dead end roads, misguided coping mechanisms (drugs, alcohol, unhealthy relationships), a painful amount of complex trauma, and a strong dose of PTSD. And everything changed the day I walked into a Buddhist Meditation Class about 15 years ago.
I ended up getting a coaching certification, then a somatic psychotherapy degree, got another coaching certification in Sex, Love & Relationships, went deep into breath, yoga, Thai massage, embodiment, tantra, and sensuality (which I use in my work and life everyday), started working with clients and realized omg I’m really passionate about this. Through the trauma I experienced, I found my gifts and am honored to support people through the full spectrum of the human experience.
I’ve been traveling the world the past couple of years and living in Bali much of that time. I’ve been both teaching and also immersing myself in trainings and workshops and taking notes on specifically what people are doing (and not doing) to create space for their students and clients that gives the best opportunity for healing and growth - adding to the many years before that of being fully engaged in various healing arts and practices.
I work with people in a variety of ways helping people heal and grow so they can offer their gifts to others and using my somatic psychotherapy background to make sure that we’re navigating trauma in a way that doesn’t cause more.
I’m here to help people claim more of themselves so they can heal their wounds and the world.
I want you to be able to TRUST that you can create a safer space so that your clients can heal, learn and grow with you and YOU can tap more fully into your AUTHENTIC VOICE, WISDOM and SPACE-HOLDING with incredible wisdom, care and compassion.
What I really really admire about Shelby is her transmission and her embodiment of what she’s speaking, is more powerful than most teachers I’ve worked with. That’s such an unusual and important thing to find in a teacher. That’s something I really want to highlight about Shelby - her level of integrity between embodiment and speaking is very high.
Daniella - Women’s Empowerment & Female Sexuality Coach
Money back guarantee
I believe strongly in the quality of Creating Safer Space. I’ve poured my heart and soul into creating this series to bring you simple, easy to apply tools and practices that will have a profound impact on the quality of the space you hold.
I confidently back it with a 30-Day, Money-Back Guarantee. I want you to dive in deep and experience the full wealth of this course without needing to worry if this is for you.
If you’re not satisfied, just contact me within 30 days of purchase, and I’ll refund your money. No questions asked.
I believe that change is possible across the world. Part of supporting that change, for me, is giving to organizations who have the infrastructure to give back on a huge scale.
While trauma does happen to everyone, folks in marginalized populations tend to experience it more and also not have the necessary support to heal in ways that others have access to, and so I choose to give to organizations who are providing resources and venues to folks in marginalized populations.
I believe this is key to creating global change, and why part of each enrollment in creating safer space goes to Women’s Voices Now.
By giving back to Women’s Voices Now, my hope is that these women have added support in their lives to be heard, seen and honored as they move through and past incredibly challenging times in their lives.
Women’s Voices Now offers a platform for empowerment, support and thriving. Your enrollment in Creating Safer Space contributes to making this even more of a possibility!
Join me in Creating Safer Space
For your clients and students, for yourself, and for the world.
For the world? Yep, I’m on a mission to change the world and I’d love to have you join me.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
And if you can create a safer space that has people feel safe enough to have a life changing experience in your care - that’s the kind of thing they’ll remember forever.
Counselor & Therapist
"I have finished your course on creating safer space and I must say, it is VERY GOOD. I appreciate the explanation of trauma because I think it is misunderstood by many folks and you have made it easily understandable. I found it a refreshing reminder of the fact that most of us have trauma induced lack of resiliency in some aspect or another of our being. I love that your path to healing is about encouraging resilience and resourcing; it reminds me of the idea that flooding a room with light just naturally makes the darkness go away - no struggle involved. No further trauma, either. I can use this in the casual and more formal conversations with our clients in behavioral health settings. Our clients have a very high incidence of repeated trauma and, "Safe Enough Space" is definitely applicable and worth listening to more than once."
– Kestrel Jean, RN, Bend, Oregon
Sex, Love & Relationship Coach
Woman’s Empowerment and Female Sexuality Coach
Join hundreds of other amazing coaches, yoga teachers, therapists, breathwork facilitators and other healers who are Creating Safer Spaces for their clients and students.
HAVE QUESTIONS? WE’VE GOT ANSWERS!
Q: How long will the course take me?
Creating Safer Space is designed in bite-size chunks - most of the videos are short. You could take one in each day for a couple of weeks, binge watch them all in a day, or really take your time to integrate each new module before moving on (that last one is my recommendation!).
There are 9 hours of content, including bite-size videos, audio practices and examples, and guest teacher interviews.
There’s also the bonus extra of the interactive call recordings, which are a great extra resource - see how other Creating Safer Space participants are applying these tools in their practices and learn from the questions they ask (not included in the 9 hours).
Q: I’m a fact finder! Can you tell me more about what to expect in this course?
This is an INFORMATIONAL series - you won’t be a trauma expert at the end of it, but you WILL be trauma aware, and have a lot of tools to support your clients and students so you feel super confident in the spaces you hold.
This course is about creating spaces so your clients and students with trauma feel more resilient, resourced and held so the trauma they carry doesn’t overwhelm them while being guided by you. They’re more able to receive the value of what you’re offering.
This course doesn’t help you directly heal and/or resolve trauma - that’s for more specialized trauma therapists and is a much longer training process. However, clients and students may inadvertently heal naturally through these practices.
There are some guided practices AND there is a Facebook group where you can ask lots of Q’s and get clarifications.
You also have access to two live 60 minute calls each month, where you can ask Shelby your questions directly, and hear from other course participants how they’re applying these tools in their work and lives.
Q: Who is this course not for?
This is a beginner level trauma awareness training, so it’s not for folks who have specialized body-based trauma training already like Sensorimotor or Somatic Experiencing or Organic Intelligence.
It IS for folks who care about their impact, and are willing to look at their blind spots, and to slow down enough to care about those they might be missing.
Q: Do you cuss in your videos? (okay this isn’t asked frequently, but I thought it was important to let you know!)
Not a lot but I do drop a few “F-Bombs” for emphasis throughout the modules so proceed at your own risk ;-)
Q: Do I get instant access to the course when I buy it?
Yes! When you click “I’M IN!”…
You’ll be directed to a payment page
Once payment is received, you’ll receive an email with access to the course and an invite to join our private Facebook group where you can ask all of your questions.
Q: Do you offer a money back guarantee?
We sure do! If you’re not satisfied, just contact me within 30 days of purchase, and I’ll refund your money. No questions asked.