If you are trying to deal with trauma and the chronic stress that comes with it, there are plenty of options available. However, one that is generally effective and can be done anywhere is meditation.
How Meditation Helps with Trauma
1. Impacts on the Nervous System
Your sympathetic nervous system is activated when you think you’re in danger. Since trauma affects the brain and how you process the world around you, it’s normal for your sympathetic nervous system to register threats often. This can leave you in fight-or-flight mode, and that is not good for your mind or your body.
Meditation actually calms your sympathetic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic branch of your nervous system instead. The parasympathetic system lets your brain know it’s okay to relax and allow yourself to rest.
The simple practice of meditation gives you a powerful tool to use when your mind feels out of your control. A daily practice can help your mind and body become less reactive in everyday life.
2. Brings You to the Now
Trauma can cause flashbacks that pull you out of the moment and plunge you into memories you don’t want to relive. Meditation requires you to try to be in the present, and that can help you avoid fixating on past events.
Meditation doesn’t require you to completely empty your mind. That’s not possible. However, it does teach you how to sit where you are right now. Though not always comfortable, focusing on the present can help you notice tension and learn to release it at the moment. It can also stop ruminations about the past or worries about the future.
Bringing yourself into the present each day for a matter of minutes teaches you how to return yourself to the moment when the need arises.
3. Offers a Focus
There are different kinds of meditation that can be used depending on your specific needs. What every meditation has in common is a focus. Whether you are being asked to focus on your breath or to focus on a particular sound, your mind has a place to be that takes it away from trauma responses.
You may want a meditation class that focuses on a mantra that will help you move forward and face your day. If getting your chakras in alignment so your energy is centred is your goal, there is meditation for that as well. Chakra meditation has been associated with healing and releasing energy in a way that can alleviate physical and mental pain.
Simply finding a focus in meditation practice can help you move your mind to the place you want it to go and then enjoy the release that comes as you move through your practice.
4. Teaches Self-Compassion
A mind that is overrun with stress responses due to trauma is one that is going to have a hard time with self-compassion. You may be reliving traumatic events and then blaming yourself for not being able to let them go. You may feel shame about what you’ve gone through. Whatever the case, meditation will teach you how to open up and offer compassion to the person who matters the most: you.
Self-compassion means you learn how to be kind to yourself instead of judging. It doesn’t mean ignoring hard feelings, but it does mean knowing that you are not something just because you feel it. Self-compassion allows you to see what you feel and accept it without judgment, and this is a better way to move through your experiences.
5. Creates a Safe Place
Dealing with trauma can leave you feeling like life is unpredictable and unsafe. It can make you feel out of control, and this adds to the panic and anxiety that already plague your mind. Meditating regularly is a way to set up a safe place for yourself.
Whether you take meditation classes online and light candles to create an ambience in your home or go to a place where you meditate with a group, you know that the space you are in is designed for peace and well-being.
You are carving out a place you need where your mind and body can focus, get calm, and rest. Meditation can help you cope with trauma as you move forward on your journey.
Author: Lizzie Howard
Lizzie Howard is a Colorado native who after graduating from the University of Colorado spends her time as a freelance writer. When Lizzie isn’t writing, she enjoys going on hikes, baking for her friends and family, and spending time with her beloved yellow lab, Sparky.