Trauma: A Mindful Dialogue
Everyday our lives are touched by trauma either directly or through people we know. Trauma can be experienced individually as a rejection from a loved one, getting bit by a dog, to experiencing a panic attack or a depressive episode. Trauma can also be experienced on a social scale with examples like 9/11, Katrina, to our most recent tragedy in Haiti.
Here's the most amazing thing about trauma for most of us, we never forget it.
Not only do we not forget it, but it's as if it burns a memory in our brains that is easily triggered and brings up the trauma memory as if it is happening again causing intense recurring emotional distress.
There's a conditioning that occurs that brings on and intensifies anxiety. Our minds become a bit warped seeing anything potentially associated with the trauma in a hypersensitive or negative light. As a result of this our emotions can seem out of control and in order to regulate them we reach for anything to distract us. Maybe we hide out in our houses or certain people, or turn to sex, drugs, or overeating.
While it's important to cope, the problem with these strategies is that they do so but shutting down awareness, because, of course, we don't want to be aware of this distress.
A path to moving through the trauma is the ability to slowly come in contact with the feelings associated with them and learn ways to tolerate and even love them again. This happens best in relationship with a skilled therapist. Mindfulness can be a great skill to add to this as it is all about cultivating a kind and compassionate awareness toward ourselves and others, especially in the midst of pain.
In the spirit of raising awareness, right now on this planet the Haitian people have recently been through a major trauma, socially and individually. This trauma is physical and psychological and will continue to live with them for weeks, months and years to come.
I was watching CNN and Anderson Cooper was with a little boy who had just his home and something like 10 family members including parents and siblings. The boy looked a bit shell shocked and Anderson kept referring to him as "shy." Wow, what an understatement. This boy had just been though physical and emotional trauma and it was clearly living with him in the moment. He wasn't just shy, he was completely traumatized and that is very different.
These people need a global effort and in that effort I have created the eBook A Mindful Dialogue: A Path to Work with Stress, Pain, and Difficult Emotions ($9.99). This 170 page eBook is full of interviews from leaders in mindfulness such as Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Daniel Siegel, and others talking about ways to work through stress, pain and difficult emotions. It also includes explorations of important quotes from leaders such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama and others.
100% of the proceeds will go to HOPE FOR HAITI NOW which has not backend costs and distributes it to The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme, and Yele Haiti Foundation.
This is how we begin to turn Trauma into transformation. To help get much needed resources to the Haitians now, you can either get this great eBook and/or spread the word about it through email, Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter or any other avenue of communication. This could truly help these people move through this trauma and hopefully save a few lives.
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.