A Survivor’s Guide to Finding Calm: Meditation and Mindfulness

ReConnected Life

As we embark on our healing journeys, finding the right tools can be transformative. Meditation, with its promise of peace and mental clarity, often appears as a beacon of hope.

Yet, as a survivor, my path to embracing meditation was not straightforward. It’s a journey marked not just by learning to sit with my thoughts, but by understanding the unique ways our traumatised minds respond to traditional practices.

Meditation, often envisioned as a serene path to inner peace, can be both a sanctuary and a challenge for those of us healing from trauma. The practice takes many forms, each with distinct purposes and outcomes.

Transcendental Meditation uses mantra repetition to help us transcend the present moment, offering deep relaxation and stress relief. Guided visualisations transport us through calming scenarios, aiming to reduce anxiety and enhance emotional well-being. Body scans bring awareness to physical sensations across different body parts, anchoring us in the now and fostering acute mindfulness.


Navigating Meditation with Trauma

However, my experience has taught me that these practices aren't universally soothing. At a corporate off-site, a well-intended group meditation meant to envision a safe place conjured for me a vision of stormy seas and dark skies—triggering a panic attack that had me fleeing to the bathroom under the guise of sudden illness. It was a stark reminder that what offers peace to some may bring turmoil to others.

This incident was pivotal in shaping how I approach meditation in my coaching. I've learned to adapt sessions to ensure they're safe and supportive. For some clients, traditional visualisations are replaced with simple word games or body scans—techniques less likely to inadvertently lead to distress. It’s crucial to recognise that our healing tools must be as unique as our experiences.

For those of us with trauma, starting meditation can feel like navigating a minefield. Each step must be measured, each new technique approached with caution. It's not about rushing into a ‘fixed' state but gently exploring what brings genuine relief without forcing our minds into potentially harmful practices.


Different Kinds of Meditation:

Transcendental Meditation involves the use of a mantra—a specific sound, word, or phrase repeated silently—to help the practitioner transcend their current mental state. This type of meditation is known for inducing a state of relaxed awareness, providing deep relaxation and stress relief. For survivors, TM can offer a respite from the continual stress responses that are common, creating moments of peace that are crucial for healing.

Guided meditations involve a spoken instruction by a therapist or a meditation app that leads you through a meditative experience. These sessions often include visualisations of peaceful places or healing scenarios and can be tailored to address specific needs such as reducing anxiety or enhancing emotional well-being. For those who find it difficult to guide their own meditative practices due to trauma, having a supportive voice lead the way can provide a sense of safety and direction.

Visualisation techniques involve imagining a relaxing scene, place, or experience to help calm the mind. However, for survivors, care must be taken as this type of meditation might inadvertently trigger traumatic memories. When safely employed, visualisation can be a powerful tool for connecting with personal strengths and envisioning a healed future, thereby promoting a sense of peace and stability.

Body scan meditation directs attention to different parts of the body, often starting from the toes and moving upwards, to notice different sensations without judgement. This practice can help survivors develop a greater awareness of their bodily sensations and foster a sense of presence in the moment. It can be particularly beneficial for those who might experience disconnection from their bodies as a result of trauma. By promoting a mindful connection to physical sensations, body scans can reduce feelings of anxiety and ground a person's experiences in the present.


Mindfulness vs. Meditation

While mindfulness and meditation are often used interchangeably, they refer to distinct practices. Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment with an attitude of openness and curiosity. Meditation, on the other hand, is a more formal practice where the individual may use techniques like focusing on a mantra or participating in a body scan during specific times set aside for this practice. Mindfulness can be incorporated into daily activities and is particularly useful for survivors in managing moment-to-moment emotional fluctuations and recognising triggers in a non-judgmental way.


Personalising Your Path to Healing

Finding the right approach to meditation and mindfulness is a deeply personal journey, especially for those recovering from trauma. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, nor is there a perfect combination of techniques that works for everyone at every stage of their healing. What matters most is discovering what resonates with you and your unique needs at different times in your recovery process.

At ReConnected Life, Emily understands the intricacies of this journey. Under her guidance, survivors can explore various forms of meditation and mindfulness practices in a safe and supportive environment. Whether it's through transcendental meditation, guided visualisations, or mindful body scans, each practice is adapted to meet you where you are in your healing process. Emily's approach ensures that you are not navigating this path alone but are supported every step of the way with expertise and empathy.

Remember, healing is not a linear process, and integrating meditation into your recovery can be a transformative tool when used thoughtfully. With the right support and a willingness to explore what works best for you, embracing meditation and mindfulness can significantly enhance your journey towards recovery and well-being.


Holding Space

Hide this site