mental health

Why Trauma Survivors Need to be More Mindful.

Last night I went out to dinner with some long time friends. We met at Romer’s which is a trendy burger bar right by the river and it couldn’t have been a more perfect summer evening to be there.

The weather was crazy hot, but I loved it because Vancouver’s notorious for having some wet and miserable months throughout the rest of the year, so I’m not going to complain about having a couple of weeks of pure sunshine.

The food was great, alongside of a cold drink and great friends. We laughed, traded stories, and even learned some new things about each other. The evening was filled with happy smiles and a ton of laughter…it was an absolute hoot.

Shortly after 9 pm, it was time for me to head home since I needed to work the next morning and I also didn’t want to miss my 6 am boot camp class.

bc-2297205_1920As I was driving home, I felt a rush of something throughout my body. I can’t quite define it, even today as I’m writing this blog. It was ?energy? or a feeling of something that was warm and comforting to my body.

This feeling wasn’t anything painful or unwelcoming by any stretch. All I knew was that I was smiling just by feeling it. It then dawned on me, that this feeling was happiness.

I then began thinking some more (which I often do once I discover some new realizations about myself). I thought about how much more mindful I’ve become over the years when it comes to my feelings. I feel a rush of discomfort in my body when I’m stressed, or fatigued. I feel a scowl on my brow and my body heats up, when I’m frustrated or beginning to get angry. These are all warning signs for me to slow down and decompress. And for the most part, I’ve been quite successful in managing my emotions over the years (I’m no where near perfect, but my awareness keeps me learning).

And then I started to wonder about my friends who I had dinner with.

Do they do the same thing as I do?

Do they pay attention to their body signals and thoughts the same way I do?

Are there alarm bells going off for them?

Finally, I started wondering about everyone else in the the rest of the world.

How many of them need to do what I do where I’m almost constantly scanning my body and thoughts for signs, triggers or uncomfortable feelings?

I never questioned why I have to do all this (read my book and you’ll know why!), but I did wonder how many others out there practice mindfulness?

It struck me that people who have experienced trauma likely need to practice mindfulness at some capacity. The history of our trauma amplifies and heightens the feelings inside of us. For example, feelings of disappointment can quickly escalate to feelings of failure. Feelings of anxiety can magnify to panic and anger. Feelings of solitude can become feelings of loneliness and depression at an instant. We can over-react because the feelings remind us of something from the past that was traumatizing.

We get triggered.

And though not all my friends need to be as mindful with their body and thoughts, they also may not have experienced the same level of trauma (if any).

I reached the conclusion that practicing mindfulness is a necessity for trauma survivors. It helps us to re-evaluate our feelings and question the intensity of them. We get triggered much easier and react inappropriately at times. But our responsibility is to learn to be more self-aware and ground ourselves. Some may need to be extremely mindful and exercise it daily, others may not – it’s different because all our experiences with trauma affected us uniquely.

cropped-person-690157_192012.jpgI must admit, that it kinda sucks that I have to pay attention to my body and thoughts so often. It’s almost like I’m Bruce Banner, needing to control the Hulk from becoming. It can feel exhausting at times which could explain why I need a lot of downtime to myself to recharge.

But I also must admit, that it’s fantastic that I pay attention to all the sensations going on. At least I know I won’t miss on feeling happiness as well!

living with the dragon abuse
Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Dragon. Photo by Kristi MacFarlane Photography.

4 thoughts on “Why Trauma Survivors Need to be More Mindful.”

  1. Great article. I think everyone, however, can benefit from being more mindful. Yes, great for those inflicted with trauma, but great for everyone to immerse themselves back into the present moment. What a beautiful moment you describe that if you were less mindful you must have missed. Really cool!

    Like

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