As a trauma survivor you have a variety of tools at your disposal to help you recover. One of those tools is engaging in a “mindfulness” practice that keeps you in the moment and helps you accept without judgment whatever you’re feeling and experiencing. In essence, mindfulness is when an individual focuses on the current moment to the exclusion of everything else. When you’re “mindful” you don’t think about the past or the future, only what is right now. Many trauma experts believe that being mindful can help trauma survivors heal.
How Mindfulness Helps
Better therapy engagement. Focusing on the moment and accepting it without judgment can help trauma survivors better engage their counselor and support system.
- Mental conditioning. Mindfulness can help trauma survivors hear and listen to their own thoughts and feelings. This is especially helpful in the early stages of healing when there is a tendency to go numb.
- Fewer intrusive thoughts. Since mindfulness requires focus on the present, trauma survivors are less likely to think about what happened to them during a more traumatic time.
- Less stress. When trauma survivors focus on the current moment, they are less likely to worry and stress about things outside of their control. This lack of worry helps reduce overall stress and prevents the trauma survivor from feeling overwhelmed.
Even if “mindfulness” isn’t officially part of your trauma therapy, there are a few exercises you can do to stay in the present moment.
- Notice a living thing. Take a moment to look at a living organism—water, a plant, an insect, the clouds. Really look at the details of it and hold it in your mind. Don’t think about anything else but that living thing—its wings, the color of its tail, the curve of its petals. By connecting to and really noticing nature, you remind yourself that you are part of something much bigger.
- Listen very closely. The world is filled with diverse sounds. Most of them are filtered out as “background noise.” But focusing in on the sounds around you can help you pull your mind away from thinking about your traumatic event. Take the time to listen closely to the sounds around you—the music in the other room, the hum of the fridge, the engine of a passing motorcycle. Really focus on it and think about how and why the sounds exist. Just maybe you’ll begin to hear the world differently.
- Experience your routine. Everyone has a routine, and it’s often a routine that helps trauma survivors slowly heal and get back into the groove of life. This routine is usually done without much thought, but as a mindfulness exercise slow down your routine and really appreciate each thing you do. As you cook dinner, feel the weight of the pot in your hands and smell the aromas around you. Really experience and begin to appreciate how the routine things are in fact small miracles.
While past traumatic experiences certainly impact you, staying mindful of the present can help you heal