Have you managed to build meditation into your life? As we know, from many studies, meditation can improve memory, concentration, reduce stress levels and even decrease the risk of age-related conditions. Also following a mindfulness routine can help to strengthen the control we have over our emotions and teach us to find a sense of calm through the stresses of everyday life. It seems strange that despite there being so many established benefits to meditation many of us find it so hard to actually stick to a routine, even when its very essence is to provide ourselves with a little self-care.
What About Meditation & Trauma?
The daily practice of meditation can go much further than simply helping individuals carve out a space for self-reflection in their day. Ay ORGANA Wellbeing we spoke to meditation expert Patrice Ennis to explore the incredibly sensitive issue of meditation practice for those living with trauma. Trauma can manifest itself in a variety of different ways be they physical, mental, or emotional symptoms (or a combination of all three) and trauma survivors can initially find meditation practice incredibly difficult. However, Patrice urges sufferers not to give up on this potentially life changing practice. With the right approach, care, and dedication meditation can provide the building blocks to moving past these traumatic experiences and aid in effective recovery. Together with Patrice, we’ve put together some key ways to practice meditation when living with trauma, in order to get to a point where you can comfortably reflect on those events, discuss them, manage the associated emotions linked to trauma and not be ruled by debilitating flashbacks.
Create A Safe Environment
Patrice acknowledges that trauma survivors often find the first few sessions of meditation practice triggering: ‘focusing inward and on the breath is not always a comfortable place.’ It’s something to be acutely aware of if you’re seeking solace from your trauma through meditation. You may well feel unsettled, uncomfortable, and intense flashbacks of your trauma can sometimes occur so it’s imperative to meditate only in spaces where you feel safe. Taking steps to build this safe space can really help to keep intrusive, negative thoughts at arm’s length. If this is at home, it can be as simple as dimming the lights and lightly scenting the room with a familiar comforting smell. Anything that helps you to feel safe and at ease is perfect.
Practice Mindfulness In Other Ways
It’s important to remember that physically sitting down to ‘practice’ meditation doesn’t work for everyone. ‘Static’ meditation isn’t the only way to be mindful and this mantra is something that Patrice actively passes onto her clients. Shifting the focus of your practice onto an activity such as household chores, brushing your teeth or going for a walk can be really effective simply because you’re concentrating on trying to actually meditate. Plus, if any negative flashbacks do occur it’s a little easier to shift your focus back on to the present and the activity at hand. The key is gentle, loving non-judgemental awareness according to Patrice.
Focus On 'Witnessing'
As we’ve mentioned, many trauma sufferers are burdened with debilitating flashbacks during mediation sessions and intensely feel them as though they were re-living the incident. One of the foundations of meditation is to observe and acknowledge our thoughts and emotions without being distracted or captured by them. With regular practice (and a heavy dose of time) you can start to ‘witness’ or ‘be with’ your past trauma rather than intensely re-living the episode(s) each time. Reaching this milestone can be a life changing moment for many.
Seek Out A Professional Who Understands
Regular mediation can help to bring you out of your mind so you can better focus, sleep and achieve a more positive outlook on life. If you’d like to go further than pursuing a practice on your own, meditation can become part of a healing process alongside professional trauma counselling. Patrice works extensively with many of the survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster and provides a variety of meditation techniques to support them and her other clients based on individual needs. These include breathing techniques, compassionate mantras, and visualisation techniques. If this topic has resonated with you, or you’d like to hear more about our ongoing work with Patrice, drop us a line via our website and as always, please remember you’re never alone.
You can also find Patrice @meditatewithpatsye