MBSR teacher John Taylor offers a five-step meditation for finding a greater sense of peace and freedom after trauma.
Find a comfortable, supported position and take a deep breath in. Let your breath move entirely through your body. As you inhale, pause for a moment at the top of your breath and then exhale, letting your out-breath extend just a bit longer than your inhale. Noticing and knowing that when you’re under stress, it may be difficult to take deep breaths, but simply do what you can in this moment. Know that we have potential for healing, for positive change, for a greater sense of inner peace and even freedom. All of this and more lies within each of us.
A Trauma-Informed Meditation to Uncover the Potential for Healing
- Stop. Here, simply notice any reactions you’re having in this moment. You might notice a particular sensation or stressor. Simply notice. This gentle act of noticing allows us to create some space for our automatic reactions. When we notice, we allow ourselves to choose to respond with intention.
- Take a breath. Allow yourself to breathe as deeply as is comfortable for you. Breathing deeply can bring us to a state of equilibrium—to a place of support, and maybe even a little peace.
- Observe. With this greater sense of ease that you’re cultivating, you can continue to observe what is arising for you in this moment. Between stimulus and response, there is space.
- Imagine. Now, let’s imagine together. First, imagine a door and an invitation to open the door. Imagine walking through and inside the space feels quiet and peaceful. Pause there. Now, bring to mind a memory that brings feelings of joy, and peace, and even a little excitement. Feel the energy of this moment. Pause there. Next, bring to mind a moment when you felt awe. Maybe a beautiful scenic view at the end of a long hike. Imagine the work it took to get you there. And now feel the satisfaction of arriving at this spot. Feel the joy. Pause there. Finally, imagine a kind, loving figure, maybe a grandmother figure. Feel them sharing their warmth and love with you. Reminding you that you are loved. Rest in that peace and love for a moment. Know that this kind, loving space is available to you at any time.
- Proceed. When you’re ready, bring your attention back to your breath, wiggle your fingers and toes. Know that you can carry this feeling of spaciousness, joy, trust, and ease into your day with you.
The winding path of grief can be complicated by trauma. For survivors of gun violence, mindfulness can help people navigate their pain and support post-traumatic growth, one breath at a time.