The Complete Meditation for PTSD Guide
Do I Have PTSD?
If your Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms persist long after the event itself, you might be suffering from PTSD.
PTSD is a condition in which you cycle constantly between feeling overwhelmed, followed by a collapsed state.
Trauma activates your fight or flight responses. It causes your survival responses to be turned “ON”. The trouble with PTSD is that being on “ON” continues long after the event or period of overwhelming stress.
Your energy is mobilized for survival, but you are unable to switch that mechanism off afterwards, and so you continue to be in a state of hyperarousal.
Once that state of hyperarousal–with all the PTSD symptoms that can go with it–depletes your energy, you will cycle into a “freeze” state. The “freeze” state is often marked by depression, dissociation and numbness.
This cycle of hyperarousal followed by collapse can go on indefinitely without proper intervention.
Why Healing from PTSD Is So Terribly Hard
Furthermore, you disconnect from part of yourself to protect yourself. What happens when you disconnect is that your energy moves into your head as excessive thinking. Those thinking patterns will always have some form of guilt, blame, shame, or self-reproach to them and will tie up with the emotions you attempted to disconnect from.
These thinking patterns of guilt, blame, self-reproach or shame are your binding factors. They help you to cope, but simultaneously keep activating the underlying emotions of either anger, fear, or sadness that are overwhelming to you.
The Basics of Guided Meditation for PTSD
You can’t start from where you are not. If you are hypervigilant, anxious, dissociated, or depressed, you have to start from there. It is highly frustrating to try to aim for relaxation when you are feeling overwhelmed; frankly, it is impossible.
- Start by addressing what is in the present moment, which is either the overwhelming state you find yourself in or the disconnected state.
- Next, work through the different levels of dissociation. The various elements of dissociation are depression and numbness, addiction, shame, guilt, self-reproach, and blame, and your core and coping emotions of anger, fear, or sadness.
- Thirdly, you need to address both the cognitive part and the somatic part if you want to be successful in healing PTSD. It is the latter that actually helps you to release, integrate, or transform your emotional residue.
- Lastly, you need to reestablish healthy boundaries and vulnerability. In other words, you need to know with whom it is safe to open up and who you should keep at a distance. This can be done by exploring–through guided meditation for PTSD–where you either lacking or overdoing your boundaries or ability to be vulnerable.
There are very few meditations available that really address the complexity of PTSD. Given the complexity of PTSD, you don’t want a hit and miss approach. Too much is at stake when you are suffering from PTSD or Complex PTSD.
Meditation for Complex PTSD or PTSD Isn’t Always a Good Thing
Meditation for PTSD isn’t always a good thing. Relaxation can be triggering as it makes you vulnerable. It takes away your defenses that have been put in place for good reason.
Any form of child abuse will have had an element to it where your vulnerability was dishonored. In turn, this causes your experience of vulnerability to be negatively tainted.
As meditation touches on that part of vulnerability, it can trigger the emotional wound that relates to the time when your vulnerability was dishonered.
Meditation, then, can become a conflict. One part of you sees the need to slow down and heal, while another part of you does not want to come anywhere close to your internal pain.
In conclusion, meditation, and especially for PTSD and CPTSD, needs to be done with a lot of care. Not all meditations are by definition helpful for PTSD. If they are not specifically designed for working through PTSD they can make you feel worse.
Getting Started with Meditation for Trauma
How Meditation is The Single Most Powerful Tool to Heal Trauma
Meditation for PTSD isn’t easy!
There is the misconception that meditation brings peace, or that you need to force your mind to be quiet.
Ultimately, meditation can bring a sense of peace and quiet, but more often than not, meditation is painful at first.
When you struggle with the symptoms of PTSD– hypervigilance, depression, anxiety– then those are the first things that you will have to sit with.
Meditation in this context requires you to practice containment and resilience. This will enable you to sit with more of yourself, which is your suffering.
The more that you can contain of yourself, the more of your emotional residue will get processed. Just release in itself—without proper containment–won’t help you process. You will likely fall into a build-up and release of emotion over and over again. Similarly, only talking or thinking about what happened to you won’t do it either. You need that middle path of sufficient containment, a clear cognitive understanding of what is happening to you, and getting an entrance into the body so that you can feel what is happening to you.
If you have these three bases covered– sufficient containment, a cognitive understanding, and having a somatic awareness– only then can you successfully process, release, transform, or integrate the energy of your trauma.