“Mindfulness can be an invaluable resource for trauma survivors. Research has shown it can strengthen body awareness, boost attention, and increase our ability to regulate emotions- all vital skills in trauma recovery. Mindfulness can also support well-established trauma treatment methods, helping people find stability when faced with traumatic symptoms.
However, for people who’ve experienced trauma, mindfulness meditation can exacerbate symptoms of traumatic stress. This can include flashbacks, heightened emotional arousal, and disassociation- meaning a disconnect between one’s thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. While meditation might appear to be a safe and innocuous practice, it can thrust trauma survivors directly into the heart of wounds that require more than mindful awareness to heal.
The question then becomes, “How can we minimize the potential dangers of mindfulness to trauma survivors while leveraging its potential benefits at the same time?””
This is excerpted from the book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing by David A. Treleaven, for more information on this subject and to learn his answers to this question, we highly recommend you read his book.
If you have experienced trauma—whether a one-time experience, developmental trauma (attachment disorder), or chronic trauma (a trauma that went on for a long-time, recurring trauma, or multiple traumas in a row)—or if you have any symptoms listed above with or without explicit memories of trauma, we highly recommend you read this book and seek professional support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in trauma and in mindfulness before beginning or continuing your meditation practice.