Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness New
Trauma-Informed Care, or Trauma-Sensitive Care, is an emerging paradigm in the healing professions today.
Many professionals, from school counselors to psychotherapists to yoga & meditation teachers, are realizing that people who have experienced trauma in their lives can sometimes be “re-traumatized” by experiencing similar dynamics to those that caused their trauma.
For example, a yoga teacher touching the student’s body (with the best of intentions) may unintentionally activate memories of sexual assault, and thus create a fraught relationship between the student and yoga. A psychiatrist who directs or controls the mental processes of a patient may activate memories of a controlling partner or emotional abuse, thus tainting the patient’s relationship with the therapist, and with therapy itself. A meditation teacher directing students to close their eyes, be still, “just relax,” or directing/controlling the mind in other ways may activate similar traumatic memories as well.
This doesn’t mean that meditation teachers should not work with traumatized patients. Indeed, meditation & mindfulness have been shown to be extremely helpful for healing and alleviating trauma in many individuals.
Being a trauma-sensitive mindfulness teacher simply means that you are:
1. Aware that many individuals in the population have experienced trauma in some form or another, and that their trauma may be “re-activated” by certain traditional meditation instructions.
2. Learning & practicing techniques to minimize the potential for re-activating trauma. For example, shifting from directive language (for example, directing students to close their eyes), to invitational language (for example, inviting students to close their eyes, if and when they feel ready to do so). And being aware that there are some words that are commonly used in meditations that can re-activate trauma for individuals who have lived through specific experiences (like the words “just relax” can be a trauma-reminder for those who have experienced sexual assaults).
Paradigm shifts take time.
Traditional meditation paradigms and teachers, even those that have made massive impacts in the mental health of our world over the millennia, are not always “trauma sensitive” or “trauma informed.” Trauma-Sensitive Care is a very new paradigm in the history of meditation, and it will take time for these new ideas, realizations and techniques to integrate into the culture.
You may notice that some of the meditation in this course may include directive language, or words like “just relax.” Many of the teachers in this program have learned their practices from traditional schools of meditation, from monasteries, ashrams, and old-school gurus that have not yet fully integrated trauma-sensitive principles. This is not a bad thing; the old school contains millennia of wisdom, development, and tradition as well. And as teachers, we must be gentle with ourselves in our own evolution in trauma-sensitivity.
But as you go through this course, just take note of those times when you notice words or language that might be softened or adjusted, in order to be more sensitive to the needs and experiences of traumatized individuals.