More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Mindfulness Meditation Therapy for PTSD
by Peter Strong, Ph.D.
Dec 22nd 2010

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be defined as recurrent episodes of anxiety and panic in reaction to a past experience that was overwhelming at both sensory and emotional levels. The individual was unable to process and assimilate the experience, and the emotional trauma becomes repressed, only to reoccur in the future. The basic direction of psychotherapy for PTSD is to help the client re-process these emotions into a form that can be re-assimilate; essentially completing the process that was left undone. However, the methods for doing this are problematic for two main reasons. Firstly, the intensity of the associated emotions and resistance to re-experiencing the trauma; and secondly, the complex superstructure of secondary reactivity that accumulates around the primary experience, which makes it difficult for the client to access and work on the core emotions.

One approach, which I have found particularly helpful, is a form of psychotherapy that combines mindfulness and experiential imagery, called Mindfulness Meditation Therapy (MMT). In this approach, the client is taught how to form a non-reactive relationship with his traumatic memory. The individual literally learns how to "sit" with the felt-sense of the trauma, without becoming caught up in the contents. The purpose here is not to simply re-experience the traumatic memory and emotions, but to learn how to experience them differently. This Mindfulness Based Relationship creates a therapeutic space around the memory imagery and associated emotional energy that allows the client to gradually stop the secondary reactivity of resistance and avoidance. Now a new creative space is created which allows the emotions, which have been confined and frozen in place, to become malleable and change. This process of inner change leads to the eventual resolution and transformation of the trauma. In short, reactivity inhibits change, whereas mindfulness facilitates change and healing.

Mindfulness has of course attracted a great deal of attention in recent years, although there has been little systematic attempt to describe, let alone define, mindfulness. In my view mindfulness describes the quality of conscious relationship with experience in which there is complete presence for the experience and the absence of any form of habitual subjective reactivity. This is invaluable in psychotherapy, because it allows the client to investigate the deep structure of his trauma, rather than staying stuck at the superficial surface structure.
Indeed, when one begins to investigate the internal structure of a traumatic memory, it is always surprising to discover the wealth of subtle feelings that lie just under the surface. Differentiation of the feeling structure of an emotion like anxiety or panic is an essential part of any successful therapy and the conscious experience of this inner structure is transformational.

In addition to feelings, traumatic memories also have a specific internal structure in the form of intense experiential imagery. This imagery may be photographic in quality, revealing the actual memory of the traumatic event, but more often the imagery has an abstract structure with specific colors and shapes, in something resembling a surrealistic collage. Emotional energy is encoded in each of these specific sub-modalities of size, color, intensity, movement and texture. An intense emotion is likely to be encoded in intense colors, such as red and orange, and the imagery is likely to be large and close in the person's inner visual field, whereas neutral emotions are likely encoded in neutral colors, such as pale blue or white, and appear small and distant. The investigative dimension of mindfulness provides the best approach to uncover the detailed inner structure of the emotion and provide meaningful content. This is called the Structural Theory of Emotions, which goes on to propose that by changing the structure of the imagery it is possible to change the intensity of the emotional reaction. Thus, if the color changes from intense red to soft yellow, and the imagery becomes smaller, it is very likely that the emotion will become much less intense. However, for this to work effectively the imagery must arise experientially from the emotional felt-sense, rather than be created through deliberate visualization. Similarly, the direction of change must arise experientially, rather than be imposed externally. This is why mindfulness is such an important part of the transformational process, because it allows the client to be exquisitely sensitive to what is meaningful and what is not.

A central focus in MMT is to uncover this internal structure of the traumatic memory and then to investigate this experiential content. There is no attempt to interpret what arises, only to experience fully and know completely whatever arises. This process essentially de-constructs the emotional complex into smaller parts that the psyche can digest and integrate into more stable configurations that do not continue to generate emotional suffering. Of course, this requires considerable preliminary preparation so that the client can experience the internal imagery without becoming overwhelmed. Therefore, the preliminary phase of MMT is focussed on establishing the Mindfulness Based Relationship (MBR) in which there is sufficient stability and non-reactivity to allow the imagery to unfold into present awareness. There are many approaches to achieve the right MBR, such as watching the imagery as if projected on a screen or placing the imagery at some distance in front. Through mindfulness and careful investigation, the client can discover for himself what works best for establishing the MBR. However, once a client begins to witness specific details about the imagery, he inevitably finds it much easier to observe the imagery without becoming reactive, because the specific structural details give him a specific focus and this tends to prevent hyper-reactivity. The MBR is an essential part of the transformation process for many reasons, the primary reason being that it allows the compacted emotional complex to unfold into more manageable parts. At another level, the MBR allows the client to fundamentally change the way that he relates to his inner emotional experience and he begins to break free from seeing himself as a victim of the emotional trauma. This in itself is an essential requirement for change.

In a relatively short time, the client begins to discover the detailed internal structure of the trauma and associated emotions in the form of experiential imagery. Now he or she can begin to investigate what changes need to happen in the imagery that allow the emotion to resolve. Mindfulness helps this transformational process by creating a therapeutic space in which there is no interference from the ego. The client begins to discover intuitive changes that can be very subtle and beyond rational deduction, but are clearly felt to make a difference. Experiential imagery frequently differentiates into parts, often with different colors and textures and the internal interaction of these parts can be very important for resolution. One client described her anxiety as a black pulsating blob, located on the upper left of her inner visual field that sent tentacles out to her throat, literally strangling her. As she focused mindfulness on this black blob, I asked her what needed to happen next. To her complete surprise, the answer that came up was that the black blob wanted to be allowed to die. It was strangling her to get her attention! Eventually, through continued presence and complete attention to the black blob, it felt sufficiently reassured that it could let go of her throat and proceeded to die. It became white and brittle like ash and crumbled into a small pile on the ground.

One could spend many hours trying to interpret and understand this process, but what was much more important, was her direct experience of the resolution process at the subtle and concrete level of experiential imagery and this is made possible by mindfulness, the sensitive attention to detail and the investigation of the deep structure of experience.

Throughout the whole process of MMT, the client is repeatedly exposed to the source of his or her fear, but in new ways that don't involve being emotionally overwhelmed. This exposure desensitization effect is regarded by most schools of psychotherapy as an essential part of overcoming PTSD and Mindfulness Meditation Therapy provides a very subtle and specific way of doing this through the client's internal experiential imagery. As always, it is what you don't see that runs your life, and therefore the more aware you become of the actual visual structure of you emotions, the more choice and freedom you have. It is not, and this is surprising to many people, the traumatic memory that is the problem, but the unawareness of the detailed inner structure of the trauma as it represents itself in your mind. Once you begin to see what is actually there, the process of healing can be surprisingly quick. Most of the suffering is actually a product of our not seeing the memory and of becoming dissociated from it. Then we generate fear of the unknown, the memory that must not be re-visited and must be avoided at all cost, This inner story and belief system keeps the trauma imprisoned within our mind and body. Mindfulness allows us to penetrate the illusory world of the shadow to see that actually the shadow of the unmentionable monster cast on the dimly lit wall is little more than a frightened mouse.

Healing occurs as we turn towards our inner trauma with mindfulness and compassion, a gentleness of mind that wants to be present and wants to heal. In this inner space of mind, trauma will heal itself.


EMDR with my therapist actually works similar to that. If I can target a trigger or an emotion even if I don't have a memory with it I calm down and I am no longer triggered. I have not heard of this type of therapy or of a therapist who does it. When I was in the acute stages of my chronic PTSD and in treatment I had somatic therapy and acupuncture. What an amazing healing exerience that was. The entire left side of my body was numb. The therapies enabled me, using my felt sense, to feel my body again. I also experienced breath therapy. I resignated with the part in the artical about avoiding what is in the subconscious. My challenge is in my dissasociated memory. The traumas I remember I have processed it is in the memories I don't remember I am afraid of.


I sat next to my sister as my step-father molested her. I remember that because she talked about it. I don't remember it happening to me. I feel it, it's a body memory. I don't know how to get it out.


My gosh you are so right it is fear...makes sense to me. I was terrifed of my step-father. It is true about the false memory stuff I hate to admit it but I did it. I was seventeen. I had been a runaway and a drug addict and then was placed in a group home. Every week my mother and step-father would come for family therapy. My mother cried hysterically and my step father talked smack. I would get so angry before and after. The therapist suspected abuse so I told them my brother raped me. I lied. I was traumatized and sort of believed it myself. The truth is it was covert abuse and a lack of boundaries with my step-father. That is enough but I didn't know. I had been raped but it was a date rape and part of my drinking and drugging so I thought everything was my fault and I kept it all a secret. As soon as I could get away and get on my own and support myself I did. I developed a self and made a life that did not include my childhood. I forgot about it. I went on a quest to live the America Dream and have been successful. Then in my late 30's the flashbacks started...diagnoisis late onset chronic PTSD.


I was fortunate enough to gain access to a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program that was being offered for free for low-income through a local community health centre. I have to say that it was excellent and it's made a huge difference for me. The thing with the meditation and yoga practice and reflection on the "attitudes", it needs to be practiced regularly to not lose it's benefits.

IME, it was definitely beneficial re: coping with PTSD. For one, I really didn't know how to connect to safety within, what does feeling safe feel like. . .? It's a connection that's needed to be re-taught for me. Breathing is pleasurable, and the more one practices, the better it is and the more beneficial for reducing stress. It helps to have a practice going, outside of traumatic re-experiencing, as a chance to learn the skills and to practice when not experiencing being in direct threat, whether that be internal or external stressors. The classes gave me a chance to experience total safety from external risks, so I could focus on being mindful of my breath and where my mind might wander to, to bring it back towards my breathing and awareness of my body (learnt via the yoga component of the program).

The effect it's had for me, has been the experience of things slowing down. Flashbacks would hit me out of no-where. I didn't have body awareness (perhaps even numb), so it was hard to attend to my body's physiology in the first place. Now, I can notice it more, and it tends to be an early warning signal of flashback or panic attack coming on. If I catch it early enough before it overtakes, lands on me, I can totally re-divert by re-grounding, re-focussing on the body (I usually start to feel tensions in the stomach, rising up to my heart, a sense of constriction around my throat)-- I learnt to understand what it is that happens for me individually. I also know, I carry energy in my arms-- it might be connected to residual 'fight energy', self-defense.

What I also love about MBSR is that it's totally self-empowering-- I develop the skill, to give back to myself. I could internalize a gentle voice, from my MBSR teacher and learning to use that calm, gentle voice with myself-- all about slowing down, and into the moment.

The attitudes from Jon Kabat-Zinn's work: 7 of them which I think benefit in building tolerance for life in general, and for whatever symptoms come my way (it's even beneficial for pain management), a big thing it helps teach is 'acceptance of what's occuring in the present moment, acceptance of discomfort, while not having to stick there, because learning to re-focus with mindfulness on the breath, or on the body or through the stretching.

The Seven Attitudes: Meditation and Life Practice (Kabat-Zinn: 31-46) from Full-Catastrophe Living


I learned more insight into the attitudes of how I react to myself with this trauma occuring within me. I made things worse by over-control, over-striving vs. acceptance-- I fought to hard against it to the point where I was spinnning my tires and going no-where. There's a wisdom to stopping and slowing down, and taking moments to observe what is happening from a distance, vs. becoming it.

I also realized, in the yoga practice, Savasana, Progressive Body Relaxation Exercise, just how hard it was for me to "let go" and let my attention shift elsewhere, rather than clinging so much.

I'll come back to this thread and make more contributions and share some things I learnt and how it benefited me in learning my other PTSD symptom coping skills. It's something I really need to return back to, is doing a regular practice. I'll have a 'flashback management sheet", but it doesn't do me much good if my habit is to continue to "take flight from myself", if I don't know how to stay with it, and remembering that it does pass, runs it's cycle.

@Carla Marie,
I relate to some of your trauma contents. I was raped in high school, and I was even able to say no, and I tried to fight. I've also been assaulted twice, just being a woman walking home (happened once in my mid-teens, and when I was 21). Met a pedophile when I was 7, and that guy had been making the rounds around my neighbourhood. I had some power over that experience, able to get away, I was not alone, but it was creepy-- the longer-term damage was to do with body shame, because he objectified me.; . . but I can't go into detail.

I grew up in an alcoholic family, that was violent, unpredictable. My father shot himself/suicided when I was 10. My family became even more volatile after he passed, a really angry mom (explosive rage, having nothing to do with us, other than us being there), re-enacting those dramas, making us younger ones the direct target and especially me. Not nice stuff. I learnt to dissociate. My younger brother and I lived in fear for our lives (we hid weapons under our beds, and looking back, I don't actually think it was irrational to fear for our lives, my mom definitely had some homocidal tendencies-- more stories to that, but not here for now).

Some things I have learnt though. Witnessing trauma can be just as intense as receiving it directly, only it's more confusing-- there are "emotional flashbacks", the body and emotions are readying themselves, wanting to protect others, but holding back, because there is fear-- the adults are bigger, stronger, and more powerful than us. I've had flashback contents, to the weird scenes, of seeing my mom cowering on the ground, her arms up to try to defend herself, my dad hitting her. It was so clumsy and so chaotic and no apologies, they were off in their own messed up world as were all of us.

It makes sense that you would have some confusion about boundaries, since your boundaries were violated, because the abuse happened in your presense. I can't tell you how angry I feel about those abusers, using children like that. And that it was a step-dad:mad:, it's a violation of relationship-- and we learn our boundaries from our primary caregivers. It would confuse what's private, what's public, and sure it would be a set up for date rape, easily can dissociate. . .

I've defended myself against attacks perpetrated by strangers, without question, my self-protection booted up, and I could fight (but it's still not good to have been attacked, and dragged and assaulted-- I sometimes fear I'll over react to a perceived threat, afraid of what I'm capable of , now that I've reached a point of no-return, threashold for violence, my right to protect myself). I have found though that it's really hard with re: an acquaintance or someone I know. I held back on the rape, I considered a more violent course of action to protect myself, but I've seen injuries, and I froze, not wanting to inflict that. . . confused inner dialogue (and I was fragemented into parts, I've recalled various fragments, different ages had response to what was happening-- I recalled that more recently, and I understand those parts better now). I'm aware of some splitting that has occured. I have more inner communication. I have inner 'voices' they're not schizophrenia in nature, e.g. commanding, or commenting, sometimes, e.g. a 'child voice' with things like "I'm hungry" (reminding me that I forgot to eat), or how things are going to a toy store ;) There's a 'gatekeeper" around 10ish years old, and I can go through that to access earlier memories (I asked for positive ones, and I got a 'happy flashback' of a pleasant memory-- and it was a lot younger, like 3years old).

Hard to talk about too much, and I know I need to stop right now, because I can feel tensions in my body and I don't want to flood, I don't want to bring on more flashbacks. Going to take some breaths, make sure I am breathing (vs. holding back my breath-- which is what happens re: anxiety and even recalling-- it's not good to over process things-- the pieces come around, slowly through time, they don't need to be forced out-- they'll come with a force all of their own-- there's an adage that helpful and that is "To Trust the Process"-- don't try to work too far ahead-- the PTSD saps so much of our energy just on it's own, no need to add more to it.)

I think the brain can split, as a function of 'cognitive dissonance'-- and I think all children will experience this re: their caregivers that happen to abuse. We're programmed genetically to be loving, and it's just a crap mix, when the misfortune of having caregivers who are abusers, who aren't respecting how precious childhood is, who seek to exploit cruely, children, for their own self-serving, sick purposes.

About concepts, e.g. "vicarious traumatization"-- there's a Vietnam Veteran, Charles Figley who's written out the theoretical components to this. We can still experience fight/flight/freeze drives in response to victimization happening to others. PTSD-- the traumatic event involved either self or other was harmed. I think we're also programmed to protect others-- monkeys/apes do that-- they're social, and survival depended on working together-- so one of the group would keep watch for predators, to protect the family, group. I didn't fight back when I was hit, I think because I hurt seeing others hit-- I think that was natural, natural empathy of a child. . .?


I apreciate you sharing with me. Your reminding me of skill sets I have learned but have forgotten. Here are my challenges. Three kids and a husband. I have been with my husbad for twenty years. It seems we both have recreated our childhoods with each other. The goodnews is he is in recovery and is willing to work a program for his co-depencency. The bad news is my environment is highly triggering. If it isn't my kids it is him. Two years ago I had the opportunity to go to The life healing Center in New Mexico for 9 weeks. I learned mindfulness, DBT, I did breathwork, it was an amazing experience. Over the last two years I have done EMDR on the big traumas like the rape, witnessing the sex abuse, and the abuse in my marriage, the hard stuff I find are the emotional flashbacks of abandment and neglect, covert sexual abuse, and the co-dependenceny with my perpetrator. I struggle to feel safe in chaos. Like you I am a fan of 12 step programs. I have been in and around al-anon for years and AA. We have a therapist who I also sees me individually who is working with me around boundries, safefty, soothing, and all that. Since Chrismas I got out of my routine and I got behind on my work.

I'm getting out and getting to all my meetings and all that but when it comes to functioning at home I freeze. I am having emotional flashbacks and having transferance with my husband. I sometimes think he is my step-father. I get angry and I hate him. I got the "word" from my EMDR therapist on Monday about it. Of course she was gentle but I have to put my grown-up panties on. My husband is not my stepfather. His co-dependancy triggers my PTSD flashback. All I have to say it this stuff is hard. So I am going to go put my big girl panties on (is that mindfulness) and go work on my list!


Hi CarlaMarie,

Your current situation sounds challenging. I understand the transference thing, I've come across that a few times in my life, and yes, it does seem to mess with one's sense of safety, both internally and externally. It's hard to maintain a sense of stability. Plus children, some challenges there. At least though, you are mindful about these things, so that is some power to work with.

I think boundaries work might be able to help? Do you and your hubby get some counselling together? Couples counselling? Or does the counsellor see each of you individual and just sort of 'mediates' indirectly (treating both you and your hubby separately).

I started to learn about the costs for me, when my boundaries are not respected and I was able to communicate that with my partner and e.g. around sex, to not be pushy, when I am triggered. Stop, means stop, because to continue, it's going to make my brain spun and I will lose a day or two. It's very healing when my boundaries are respected and it's reconceptualized as love and care of a person, to respect boundaries, re: no. And also to not have to explain it, but to trust me that I know that I'm saying no for very good reasons.

I'd have a hard time handling a co-dependent relationship, my attachment pattern is withdrawal (childhood avoidance, hiding from trouble, the normalness of neglect-- so my partner was patterned similarily re: attachment pattern as avoidant as well-- we've very indepent and no kids either), so I would drive a co-dependent partner totally batty. I'm more of a loner, for better or for worse, lol. I'm more comfortable in relationships where there is avoidance vs. super-cingly, I can't stand being crowded. I don't allow my PTSD into my relationships with others-- I hide behind the computer and write away. I obviously have intimacy issues and so does the hubby ;), so in a way, it works out okay. If I need hugs, I go visit the neighbours dog, he's super hug-able. Or I'll wrap a heavy blanket around myself to give me a sense of containment and comfort.

On the otherhand I can be a 'rescuer' and for my sanity, it's healthier for me to avoid relationships for which I can come into that role. I've been a rescuer to friends, acquaintences and other family members, and have totally fried myself out. I was also in intense field of work, where the role was rescuing related, handling crisis. I burnt out big time. I lasted though longer than most in that role, but man it took a tole on me. I was never really sure of my survival, nor my mental health, so I didn't marry or have children, I didn't get the basics, too afraid to take that risk.

Big girl panties-- that's good self-talk, empowerment. The grounding statements that can be helpful, is reminding onself of one's age, e.g. "I am 42", "that was then, this is now" and get into that habit. Sometimes a cool splash of water helps me as well. But also knowing with certainty what your rights are, and you do need to put yourself first, to have boundaries which protect your mental health.

That you also have responsibilities for children, I guess one advantage is that it is some sort of structure to start with, the next challenge is scheduling the time you need for your own time and self-care time and to work on this as well, where your hubby can also support this. If you have CDs left from the MBSR, 3 minute meditation practice-- finding a time to schedule that into your day, whether that's after the kids have been put to bed, or first thing in the morning, or if your kids are school age, just to figure out some time for this. Have it on a schedule, explain to your hubby you need these times and ask for his support, to not crowd you at those times. Whatever your self-care strategies, to keep them up regularly and on a schedule, this can help for when the times come up when you need to use those techniques, it's easier, when the practice is regular, to be able to recall, and to help integrate it.

My relationship is really just one of convenience, help with the rent (we're both honest about that), I'm not 'in love' with him, but I love him. I can't handle the 'in love' with someone, because usually that's been bad news, my attachment is totally messed up, because I'm prone to fall in love with a person like my dad, an addict, volatile, Jeckly and Hyde personality-- and that's just way too much drama for me to handle and try to keep healthy around. I've had some good relationships and some not so good relationships. I let the good ones go, e.g. people I met at school, who had more of a life journey to do, e.g. off to another country to teach English or whatever. I've had serial monogamy relationships, and as well time I deliberately chose to be alone. I lost one back in 2005 to an OD, he relapsed, didn't survive, kind of re-triggering. I grieved, was crazy for a year, super withdrawn. I loved him and I did fall in love with him, but the damn addict won over his soul :( Way too much pain.

Really hard for me was learning to ask for what I want and need. And that wasn't because I was desparate to keep someone, it was because I learnt to fear suicide and severe debilitating mental illness in others (the parental legacy left to me). Parts of me are hardened, pretty tough, independent, a strong protector-- I had to have that, I protected my younger brother growing up, compensated for the lack in the family, by becoming a mother/parent myself, and that continued also with his breakdown (which like a time-bomb, occured the same time as I broke down-- so it was alert to mental health crisis, suicidalness, both in him and in myself-- I contained mine by using the crisis lines, and so I could keep strong for my brother. I made sacrifices, because our bond is strong, forged in trauma and the war zone we lived in. He's a good person and deserved every bit of it. He had more Dissociative Identity Disorder presentation (I discovered that later on after-the-fact, but I also learned that intuitively, I seemed to be doing a lot of the right things to help him and help him detach from the inner stuff)-- but there's not help for that here, they get misdiagnosed as schiz-- if he was schiz, it would have progressed and got worse, and he wouldn't have been able to trust me, at some point that would have erroded, but now he's back up and functioning and can work with the plurality that is him. I just gave simple respect, helped assist him to externalize the inner landscape, I did art for him, based on his inner world, visions, and made it possible to talk about it and to detach from it. He's so strong. Super intelligent. He still struggles with dissociation though around aggressive others, and he's also quite shy in his presentation (cause he carried shame for so many years, secrets he held-- he was also sexually abused by a neighbour, when he was a child and a vulnerable child in grief and a family where no-one was looking out for the younger ones. He displayed some psychosis, OCD-- which aren't abnormal behaviours in response to grief in childhood (he did see a psychiatrist-- he was 'there but nobody home'-- I was the first to notice there was a problem and brought it to my mom's attention, "he's acting funny", and the suicide was so confusing and messed up, and the crisis had been building for years). We've had time together, safety, respect, and have through time, unpacked those peices and understand where the splitting began (he had a complex inner system, and it made sense, internal representations of the family, by the number, their positive and negative components-- it's fascinating how that worked-- all is now quite on that front-- we got that insight naturally, I guess, I'm able to understand metaphor, and I didn't impose it, I just brought it up as questions, that's interesting, 10 entities split in half-- it was a court system, 5 on the prosecution, 5 on the defence, each represented the behaviours of the family-- it was an internalization of the outer family system-- facsinating mental construct-- he's no longer trapped in it, it's dissolved. It's really impressive how he progressed. He got smart with meditation as well, a lot of study, reflection and practice-- he started that before MBSR. Quite brilliant, IMO.

We had to survive without the help because here, it's not affordable, but I refused to let him go, and I have no regrets about my decision, it was the right decision for me. I'm responding to injustice, how he was robbed in childhood, fueled also by my anger towards the abusers, and also my value system, which remained in tact (which my dad did leave me with, even though he was also sick, there were times when he was able to be present and 'truly present', and I cherish those moments, even though they truly were few and far between). I encouraged my brother to try to use whatever help was available, he learnt to use the crisis line, like I did. He tried to reach out as well, just he really struggled with trust, it was really difficult for him. And the lab-coat psychiatrists didn't make it any easier.

What was strength in me, is I did get some undergrad school, psychology, sociology, anthropology. And I had training in crisis counselling (suicide prevention, non-violent crisis intervention) and I was strong in being able to use those modules and they came in handy for my personal life as well (problem is, I had no life away from crisis), except the smart thing my brother and I did, was to reclaim a second childhood, and we got out camping, to the mountains, canoeing-- and that was totally awsome. . . till the money ran out [bummer], now we are totally poor, but glad we got those experiences in when we could. I worked in crisis for 10 years, volunteer and I was really good at it, but I can't do that work anymore. It was also with a sick organization, as sick as an alcoholic family, toxic, several burnout cycles, improper supervision (to handle crises, and no debrief for an entire year-- I encourage others to leave as I was leaving, letting them know this organization is not responsive at all to our needs, there in violation of basic social work ethics re: volunteers, debrief, clear policies, and a whole gamut of abusive workplace issues-- which brought out the sickenss in everyone-- sad-- see I protected myself from abusive relationships because I was on to that, I didn't realize though the need to protect myself from harmful work environments, till it was way too late. I stayed "for the kids", to be some consistency, to compensate for the lack of, re: the organization-- it was a total trauma-repetition, re-enactments, same role I was in the family of origin, but I had a few roles.

After my dad died, my mom got super paranoid, " there's a guy at the door, I think he has a knife", and she was totally okay about me, a 10 year old to answer the door, while believing that fear was real. I was the daughter, who had to 'man-up' and answer the door with a baseball bat in my hands. . .. crazy stuff like that. The dishes being smashed from her tantrums, no apologies, no acknowledgement of our existence nor how we could be affected by her behaviours. Everytime I hear the recycling truck go around, I cringe (less so now, because I understand the trigger, and it's lost it's power over me, I don't even feel the fear connected to those sounds anymore, because I started to become more mindful [even before access to mindfulness training, or access to a social worker who could teach me flashback management-- I can feel proud that I have been naturally equipped with some skills for survival and healing-- I think everyone is, just it helps to have help to have guidance, keep in a good direction, not wander off too distracted).

My mom was super volatile, mood shift in an instant. She used to scare us when in the car with her, she'd get all crazy (had nothing to do with our behaviour, her stinking thinking and her reacting to her own stinking thinking), she deliberated tried to crash the car with me in it, drove into a moving truck, my side smashed (try to take me out). She did this frequently when we were still children, speed up, terrorize us with this demented behaviour and mental, emotional abuse, physical threats.

She also hit us, but we learnt to know her body language when she was about to do it, and we learnt to run and duck (I don't care what others say about Buggs Bunny beinga violent cartoon-- that was key in teaching survival in a violent home! All the chases, how to run, jump on top of things to get out of the way, as well as some ability to detach from it, see it as a crazy coyote). She made me homeless a few times, once at 5, a lot after my dad died, chase us out of the house "I don't want anyone in my house", sometimes, not sure if she had a knife in her hands. . . absolutely completely surreal. I had to stay out of the house until she fell asleep. And my brother hid in the basement, he slept after school and woke up at midnight when mom was asleep-- just natural adaptation to her craziness, almost unconsciously done. But see, even basic routines were completely fried, because she was so out of control with her rage and her violent behaviours. She was nasty.

It was definitely enough to fry my fight/flight/freeze response. I didn't hit back. She did catch me, because it was so sudden and explosive, she storm from the other side of the room towards me, sometimes I couldn't catch it on time. But she usually stopped with one hit or a punch, and/or I stormed off myself, lock up in the bathroom or something. Sneak back at home, check in with my brother to see if she's over it, if it was safe. . .

Emotional flashbacks: e.g. conflict or the anger of others, my body anticipates violence-- I started having panic attacks, even in simulated situations such as a role play exercise in a conflict resolution class-- panic attacks, and feeling like I"m losing my mind, and hearing the introjects of my mom's, high ptiched or growling. It was like living with an unfed crocodile, the lashing out, the attack mode.

Date rape situations, I deny the severity, try to give others the benefit of the doubt-- which just doesn't work with aggressive abusers who have their own agenda going on. So, I teach myself my right to react, and my boundaries need to be proportionate to the situation, a physical breach of my boundaries and it's enough, send that person home, kick them out. I don't allow myself to be in stranger's apartments, I have to know a person really well, and still be on my guard 100%.

I'm determined to put my own self-protection up 100%, and I've learnt, can't let my guard down for a second, cause that's all it takes. I thought the abuse was only confined to home, and I believed or wanted to believe the myths others were telling me, 'why don't you trust', like it's irrational? It's not irration in this world, the way this world is. Culture has disintegrated. It's not the 1950s, when guys understand the boundaries, maybe or maybe not a kiss on the first date, it's way different now, there's too many out there who's heads are filled with stupid ideas, not really in consideration of others, just their own thing. I know there are good men out there, but there's enough bad ones unfortunately where it's necessary to keep a guard up and to not be afraid to be nasty or hurt feelings, if it means protecting onself from physical or sexual harm (which is also mental and emotional and spiritual abuse).

My "Protector" is "out" today;) It says stand up for yourself. You have a right to have boundaries which help support your PTSD recovery. It costs too much to not have boundaries. It costs more in time, and suffering and trying to recover. It costs more physically to me now, as my body is worn from chronic stress that I've developed other physical conditions as a result of it.

I've also learnt, I have to protect myself 100%, because absolutely no-one else there is, and I've also learnt that the hard way. Putting so much energy outwards, when the recievers have tended to be exploiters by nature, they seek people like me out. They see no boundaries, and they see a free way to take whatever they want with no regard for me or my health (physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, spiritually). It's a damn mean world out there, I don't take good people for granted, that's a lucky find, and I have found some that I hold very dear to my heart. It's like there's a lot of people who've been socialized to be selfish, abusing jerks-- the culture has shifted and gotten nastier, IME.

It was right to put energy into my brother, no abuse occured, we have good respect, it's two-way, my brother is a super great person. I'm glad that I have safe love, a strong relationship, and it's lucky it's a brother, so I can experience that without the cloud of a sexual relationship. It's a place of strength, pooling our strengths together. As rotten and as tough as it has been and the abandonment by other family because we became ill, and all those things that hurt and have hurted, my brother is the one true blessing in my life. We never had to compete, because there was nothing to compete over-- equally neglected. And in a way, that can be a blessing too, not hurting from painful jealousies that can come from other sibling relationships. It's neat to reflect and even out of so much chaos, to really be able to see some blessings, and it's all relative. I'm sure there are plenty of others who take much for granted, I don't and in that way I am blessed. I appreciate every good moment I have. I love nature, and how beautiful that world is, how much gratitude I feel out there, when things are in a wonderful balance, things are more fair, not so convoluted and crazy as so many of our humans live their lives, harming others, not caring for one another. Nature is a place of safe attachment for me. And so is the connecting with in, find my safe space, creating that, nurturing that through mindfulness, the breath, and yoga, me and how my body can also work for me and to appreciate that.

I've learnt that while the walls and illusions have started and fall all around me, that there is still I place, I begin, that's mine, that other's have not been able to damage, it's pure, it's my healthy space. I can take care fo that space, nurture that space, protect that space. It's power. It's Grace. Yoga, meditation is my space to myself. I don't concern myself with what others are doing around me, I focus on my practice and whatever in me presents to distract me, I simply accept that, and gently re-direct my attention back to the breath and/or the stretch and enjoy that fully. This is a gift of MBSR, it's my power, and strengthening my will, through acceptance, and having a better non-condemning attitude towards myself (and it's more power over abusers, cause they couldn't take it all away from me, and I can rebuild, I'm resilient, and I will find my path through and it doesn't depend on anyone else but me and me honour my process and each small step I take, each small accomplishment, my body, mind working for me, working together in my healing).

MBSR is a great gift IMO, for re-establishing a relationship between me and my self and to not be abusive in attitude towards myself, but take an attitude which promotes my growth-- to have the courage to be compassionate with myself, though so many messages from the abuse denying that, or from the general attitudes that can be prevalent in our culture/society, that's just too hate-based, blaming, unforgiving, judgemental, misunderstanding, disrespecting, non-valuing and honouring of human beings

There are many gifts of the MBSR, in transforming blocking energies, and just allowing and letting go, and very gentle, not a big battle, not a big fight (which is how I was with myself and that just made the anxiety more intense, the self-loathing more intense to the point of being completely constricting and terrible suffering, and in how I reacted to my ptsd presenting, angry at it, frustrated at it, forgetting that it is also my healing and sometimes it hurts, but being patient and gentle with it allows me to grow and heal.

There's a common pop psych thing "Life is 10% what happens to you; 90% how you respond to it". Now it's a bit different, when we've had to struggle with illnesses and finding a way to rebuild ourselves back up in recovering, replacing some positive input, while the walls have broken down, how important it is to take in self-nurtuiring ,self-care, healthy healing attitudes towards our selves and our suffering.

One thing I am crazy with is I write way to much-- that's a consequence of a life in soliditude, some major isolation, lack of external help, so it's just one of my eccentricities, and it's just the way I am. If I go into some some negative and some pain, I need to also re-affirm some positive things, affirm some of my personal strength and acknowledge my blessings. This way I don't get stuck in feeling like a victim or disempowered because of things that have happened to me-- that's just story-line, it can have less power over me in my present moment. They're thoughts, feelings, but I am also more than that. I am more than the negative experiences or the traumas that have happened to me. I have a space of liberated space, and the more I get to realize that and nurture that, the more power I have, the more empowerment, and joy and ability to celebrate the good things in my life-- and I'm poor, doesn't mean I can't enjoy feeding a chickadee birdseed out of my hand (and those prickly little feet) to enjoy these wonderful little nature beings and the moments shared out there. It's a world of beauty, and I am fortunate to not take those things for granted-- that makes me blessed, it's a good feeling.

It's hard work, but we do find our ways through. And sometimes it is two steps forward, one step back. . . sometimes its several steps back, and maybe opportunitiy to take one step forward, but I believe it all works out it, and we get to where we want to be, and we can be okay with how things are in our present, when we take a pause to enjoy mindfulness, etc. The mind-body needs these regular breaks for self-care, mindfulness, because staying in a stressed state does wear the body down, and opens us up to more loaded PTSD experiencing. It's learning to shift gears, give ourselves some gifts to pace things so our physiological system is not overstressed, nor our mental, emotional parts getting over-stressed. Learning to put some brakes on, to go into the slowing down of mindfulness.

Anyway, for me, I think the MBSR is an awesome tool. It supports my using of 'flashback management", because it helps me get better at attending to myself, my mind, body, through the breath and the calm I can bring. It's no good trying to process things when the mind body is stressed, it risks flooding and creating more stress looping and build in intensity. Taking a mindful break, re-grounding, speaking calmly and gently with ourselves, having acceptance and compassion for ourselves-- it's the best gift we can give to ourselves. And from there there is freedom to choose, whether we want to go into processing, or just make note of it and come to it later.

I had an awsome MBSR teacher-- awsome. She also has a private practice and treats trauma survivors-- I can't really afford her [bummer], but her calm is wonderfully contagious, maybe some of it is transfered to me, on an unconscious level, that she's just a great example-- it does kind of work, a parent component replacement-- and when my consciousness is hungry and in need of calm and wisdom, it's very receptive to it. Again, that's another gift. I think she also teaches the MBSR for free for the community level as service which again is really amazing and something I do respect, that she can give from her abundance, her own needs, financial or otherwise met, and she takes this time to give back to the community, for those who can't afford this-- it's really wonderful to encounter a person like that. I wish there were more people like that in this world, we'd have a better world.

I guess my Seroquels are working okay. Was a bit groggy this morning. They're way stronger than the Clonazepams I used to get, which I didn't notice so much of an affect on my body as the Seroquel in totally relaxing, almost overwhelmingly so (they even make me feel a bit "buzzed", it's bizarre, hit a peak, where I totally have to crash/go to sleep, hit's me suddenly)-- though they're not suppose to be addictive physiologically vs. the Clonazepams. They seem to affect my 'charkas' too, well-being in the navel, solar plexus, heart and upwards. . .:confused:

Enough rambling for today :) I have to get out, keep the momentum going on getting out of the house. I need to take care of my eyes, so I'm going to see to that (pun, tee-hee).

Wishing everyone some good moments in the day,
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