Meditation for Trauma, Anxiety, PTSD, Mindfulness, and Overall Health

If you read my last blog post, I talked about how busy our lives have become and how often we forget to just breathe. The technique I suggested there is a quick way to center yourself but if you have more time (and more patience); meditation is a highly effective way to also center and stay centered throughout the day. However, it takes a little bit more practice and a lot more discipline.
In fact, when I tried starting to meditate a few years ago I quickly put it on my “things-not-to-do” list because I couldn’t quiet my mind on my own. When I began taking a guided meditation class at a treatment center for PTSD (something I’ll talk more about one day, just not today) I actually cried the first two times out of frustration with myself because instead of feeling relaxed and calm, I was even more anxious. Instead of clearing my mind it actually made my mind race more and visualize more of the trauma I had experienced in the past. 
A lot of people have a similar reaction and quickly write it off as I did. But I want to tell you that the more I’ve practiced it, both with a coach and now on my own. I finally understand the benefits and can say it has truly changed my outlook on my life.
In fact, I can starkly tell the difference between a day I’ve started in meditation versus a day I have not. It’s like looking at a regular old pot of water with the heat turned off and then boiling that water. Boiling that water is my mood on a day without meditation: hot, ready to burst and burn everything to the ground. Just kidding, but you get the idea.
They call meditation a habitual practice for a reason. Because it is a process and you will not see immediate results. Meditation is “the process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.” The keywords here are “practice” “process” and “training” and we all know how long it takes to pick up a habit. 

The practice eventually will lead to positive changes. Below are a few of the benefits I’ve experienced from meditation:

*PS: I like to smudge sage before meditation. It is an ancient Native American ritual used to ward off any negative energy i.e, “cleansing” your self or your space, the smell to me is also calming. You do not need to smudge sage to meditate too. 

Reduced Stress and Anxiety

As I’ve said I do struggle with anxiety. Stress and anxiety come hand-in-hand. Anxiety is something that has been a part of me since childhood. Since I started to meditate I no longer spend the entire day in a tug-of-war with my anxiety thinking about it 24/7. It’s a dang miracle! In fact, when I meet with my therapist weekly, we always do a quick mood check; on a scale of 1-10 what was the most anxious, sad, angry, or happy I was during the week. I’ve seen that over the weeks it’s pretty hard to even remember the last time I’ve felt that intense anxiety above a 4. I believe meditation has a lot to do with this.

“Being in the Now”

I am a dissociator (I know, not an actual word). But dissociation, however, is a common symptom of people who have suffered from trauma and/or PTSD. It’s a kind of “I’m physically here but I’m not mentally here” feeling. In other words, “checked out” or “spaced out,” you get the idea. Psychologically you are disconnected. Being a dissociative person has affected my memory and my ability be-here-now for the people and events of my life at certain times. I want to point out though that this is not to be confused with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) because that is a whole other disorder to which dissociation is a very severe symptom regarding one’s identity. Being in the now is still something I grapple with from time to time; especially as a mother. Meditation, however, has helped me because I am taking the time to balance my mind, my body, and my soul to the present moment. I am mindfully grounding myself in awareness; an awareness that I carry throughout the day.


Being more aware of “me” through both meditation and regular therapy has allowed me to understand a lot more of myself and grow in so many areas of my life. In confidence, empathy, in maturity, in relationships, in emotional intelligence, and in compassion for both others and myself. Looking internally has allowed me to fall more in love with ME for exactly what I am, who I am, and who I was in my past, i.e. radical acceptance and not need that from anyone else. Being able to look internally allows you to connect with the good, the bad, and the ugly and accept it all and/or make changes where they are needed. To me, self-awareness is the key to personal growth and reaching a higher level of “self.”

Positive Thoughts & Feelings

Lastly, meditation has helped me keep a higher level of positivity in general. This is one that I felt like I was missing from “the old me” over the past decade. My journey was really difficult for me at times because I was so bitter about who I had become and who I had lost before I returned to America: the girl who was so bubbly, so positive all of the time and always smiling. I had a hard time forgiving myself for losing that.
But through meditation and again therapy I learned to see my life through a different lens. One that accepted the past, lives in the present, and cheers on the future. It may sound small but I finally get that “you’re always smiling” comment again that I used to get back in HS before my life changed as it did. A positive outlook can change everything. When you’re grateful for life and you choose happiness versus negativity and suffering the quality of your life and those around you will improve as well. 

Be Kind To Yourself

Speaking of positive thoughts and feelings. As I said in the beginning I know a lot of the time when you first start to meditate that you can certainly become flooded by thoughts, feelings, and memories you actually don’t want to encounter while in your calm. So, the next time you try meditating and find yourself in frustration. The tricks I learned were: be kind to yourself. If you experience a thought that you don’t want, imagine you’re sitting in front of a flowing stream… put that thought on a leaf and visualize it flowing down the stream and then come back to the practice. The second trick I learned is: come back to the practice gently. Imagine you’re talking to a tiny baby whose attention you want to grab… most of us won’t yell at them and say “Gosh! Why are you so stupid, why can’t you do this! etc etc” right? Instead, tell yourself something you would say to a baby or your younger self:

“Wow, that was a heavy thought wasn’t it? Now let’s get back to the practice, you’re doing an amazing job”
“Ok, now it’s time to come back again, sweet girl.”
“Ok— now let’s get back to work, love.”
EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO DO IT 100 TIMES!!!! Just being gentle with yourself makes a WORLD of a difference in this practice. Letting the negative thoughts come and flow through, acknowledging them instead of struggling with them makes a WORLD of a difference in this practice too!

Important Message

I just want to add that no one thing can cultivate growth in your mind-body or overall health. Meditation alone is not the key to everything. As I’ve mentioned, I go to therapy as well. I take medication, yep!!!! I do! (One day I’ll talk about the stigma with that but again, not today.) I work daily on my self in many different ways! Meditation is just one of these ways that help me reach my best self. The self that is ever-changing and creating better versions every single day.
“Meditation.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers,