Meditation as a Tool to Ease Symptoms of Trauma

Rhonda Armbrust

RhondaArmbrust.com

Several studies of veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder revealed that meditation could reduce their symptoms and, sometimes, enable them to stop using medications. Many soldiers in the studies also had traumatic brain injuries and were stuck in a consistent flight mode that left them anxious and hypervigilant. Meditation can calm the nervous system and slow down the release of stress hormones.

Meditation and PTSD

Soldiers with PTSD may be the most affected group. However, the majority of people go through at least one trauma during their lifetime. About eight out of 100 women and four out of 100 men develop PTSD.

Being a victim of or witness to violence, having a severe illness or accident, or experiencing a loss can be traumatic. The event may leave you feeling powerless and affect your self-esteem and ability to trust and form healthy relationships. PTSD symptoms may include flashbacks of the incident, nightmares, extreme anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts about the incident, distress over reminders of the trauma, avoiding talking about the experience, negativity, hopelessness, memory issues around the event, feeling detached from people, numb or ashamed, being easily startled and on guard, engaging in self-destructive, angry or aggressive behavior, and concentration and sleep issues.

During a traumatic event, stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline flood your system to help you protect yourself. Once the threat is gone, a healing process begins. Support is essential at this stage to avoid or minimize post-traumatic stress disorder and expedite your recovery.

It’s important to practice meditation with guides who know how to deal with uncomfortable memories that might surface. Another strategy to improve your experience is to meditate in an environment where you feel safe. Over time, when reminders of the trauma flood your mind, you can learn to take the emotion out of the memory and observe it. You can gain more control over your feelings around the incident through meditation and come to understand that it is only a memory. Taking part in a loving and supporting guided meditation may help you get there.

Meditation can be a tool in your trauma healing box. Be gentle with yourself through the process, perhaps meditate in shorter time-frames while getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and not demanding too much of yourself. You may get to a place where traumatic memories drift through your awareness like clouds across the sky. Then you know that the trauma has lost its power over you.

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