How To Meditate


How To Meditate When You Have a Trauma History
When you have a trauma history, life gets a little trickier. This is absolutely true if you want to figure out how to meditate. Doesn’t mean it’s not possible. In fact, learning to meditate will be incredibly helpful — it just might mean learning new skills or ways to be with your history.

You will learn more about yourself in the process. Learn to be gentler with yourself, and learn how to skillfully deal with your internal world.

If you’ve had a well functioning strategy of taking charge and barreling through, you might find that you need to learn how to be more relaxed and take a softer approach.

If you are timid and afraid of being overwhelmed, you might need to learn how to meditate by learning about boundaries and how not to go someplace.

What’s most likely true is that the literature on how to meditate will be helpful in some ways and difficult in other ways.

Meditation for Trauma Survivors is More Than a Technique

In meditation we are trained to watch the flow of thoughts and sensations so we can identify our mind’s habits and distortions. This becomes complicated with PTSD. Even experienced, long-term meditators have to learn ways to accommodate their meditation practices as they deal with the onslaught of their trauma history.

As spiritual boundaries are relaxed it can be easy to be flooded with memories, feelings, or intrusive images.

For many, just the idea of relaxing and letting go can instigate an anxiety attack.

Traditional teachings suggest to stay relaxed, watch the thoughts, “note” them and let them pass. Some teachers even advise their students not to be “attached to the pain.”

Sounds like good advice! The problem is that many meditating trauma survivors might try to stick it out, inadvertently sinking deeper and deeper into a quagmire of pain.

The moral of the story is – trust yourself. If it’s feeling too hard, painful, too hot, too charged. Do need to “do it right.” In this case, going slowly will often bring you faster to the goal.

For practical tips on meditating for trauma survivors click here

Trust Yourself as You Learn How to Meditate

Most people just don’t understand why life is different – more difficult for trauma survivors. They’re usually well meaning, mostly wanting you to feel better, inevitably falling into the “you’ll feel better if you move on – get over it” approach.

You know how hard that is to do. You probably have felt embarrassed, perhaps even ashamed that you couldn’t get over it. That you’re still “in it.” Some people even feel there’s something wrong with them that they are still stuck, unable to go on.

Sometimes people will go to a yoga class or a meditation class wanting to be “normal” and find some relief from their internal pain. Unfortunately, even teachers trained to help guide you out of suffering will mis-understand the complications that a trauma history brings.

PTSD Takes Us into What Is Incomplete

Meditation is an uncovering technique. It’s goal is to have us see, witness and dissolve what has previously restricted us. Everyone has some kind of barrier keeping us from what’s uncomfortable, able to live with what’s stored in the unconscious.

A trauma history provides a different fodder. What’s uncomfortable and protected is often undigested, cordoned off sensation that was too horrible in magnitude to deal with at the time it happened. It’s really miraculous that the mind can do that.

This creative way of protecting us was at some time immensely important. If you are trying to meditate, though, it can feel a bit messy at times.

When we meditate we are trying to keep open space inside, to use bare attention to notice and witness what arises. Unfortunately, that can open the door to material rising up faster than we are ready to deal with.

If you find yourself being overwhelmed, you might want to try a different approach. Instead of focusing on something, you might want to listen to sounds outside, or notice the people around you.

What’s important here is that you know your own threshold for internal dysregulation. If you think you “should” be able to tolerate it, but you’re having a tough time at it, acknowledge your limits – and shift gears.

With time, practice, and motivation, you will be able to meditate. Learning how to meditate doesn’t have to be a difficult or overwhelming experience that you muscle through.

When you teach yourself how to meditate you take kind, compassionate steps into your inner world. You learn about boundaries. You learn to pause instead of pushing. You learn to soften into what comes up. You learn how to not go into an experience that’s coming up. And most especially, you learn how to meditate in your way, in what works for you.

Move on to Practical Meditation Tips

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