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Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing

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https://www.amazon.com/Trauma-Sensitive-Mindfulness-Practices-Transformative-Healing/dp/0393709787

Anyone know anything about this book? I saw it on Amazon recommended in connection w/ MCTB2. Saw on the cover "Foreword by Willoughby Britton". She speaks highly of it. I've only skimmed through it so far. Doesn't seem "awakening-oriented" but seems good otherwise.

If it could become the canonical heres-how-to-meditate-if-youre-running-into-trouble that would be valuable.

Anyone read it or know anything about the author etc?

RE: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Hea
Answer
6/23/18 6:27 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
I read it soon after reading the trauma book "the body keeps the score" by Bessel van der Kolk which is a pretty thorough description of the current state of knowledge about trauma and differerent (mostly non-meditation) modalities for treatment. The body keeps the score was very helpful because it basically describes how trama prevents people from basic cognative tasks like objectively experiencing a past experience, instead the past experiences tend to "hit" like a bunch of random, non-contextualized, fragments. So this makes vipassina-like practices  (observe and note) difficult. 

I would say "trauma sensitive meditation" is a good book that talks about ways to moderate meditation practices to make them more applicable to dealing with trauma. Basically, going slow, stopping and integrating more frequently (rather than continuing to sit and be overwhelmed), allowing people options for practice "if it seems appropriate you can..." rather than telling them "now focus on the breath...", and describes basic pendulation (which is taking the approach of "I'll let myself experience just a little of this traumatic feeling, now I'll drop it, now just a little, now I'll drop it, okay this isn't so bad, I'll experience 5% of the feeling, now I'll drop it, now 10%, hmm that feels like a little too much so I'll stop here for the day), etc.

I didn't get the impression that it was a "how to" book --- dealing with trauma is always going to be a personalized approach, not something were there are standard 1, 2, 3, etc. steps.

So, I don't think the perfect book exists yet, but "trauma sensitive mediation" is good.

Just downloaded the audiobook, will check it out soon if time permits. Sounds like an important resource. Thanks for the recommendation.

RE: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Hea
Answer
6/23/18 8:41 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I read it  a few months ago. Its an easy read, with many personal annecdotes, but with some good suggestions on how to modify the midnfulness guidance if teaching to those with trauma. I feel it is very valuable. It also fairly good at pointing out how to identify retraumatising or triggering traumatic meomories in a student. My opinion, with the proliferation of mindfulness, all those teaching mindfulness based programs and most of those teaching any type of meditaion should know these things. Its also part of the "First Do No Harm: Meditation Safety Training" trend, led by Willoughby Britton of Brown University. They are not only raising awareness on the real and potential harm that is unrecognized by many mindfulness teachers, but also an attempt to codify and study the negative and harmful "side effects" of meditation. 

RE: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Hea
Answer
6/25/18 8:50 AM as a reply to Gus Castellanos.
I read it after running into some trauma-related difficulties in my practice a few months ago. If you think that you've got trauma in your past or even just a lot of difficult emotional material, I think it'd be very useful to read for its emphasis on the freeze/flight/fight states, which are under-emphasised in discussions of meditation-related difficulties versus Progress of Insight states.  It's kind of easy to feel like you've got a handle on Progress of Insight stuff only to be blindsided by shutting down in dissociation or becoming angry/anxious in fight/flight states.  

I personally had gone through a wide variety of ways of experiencing all the nanas before hitting the trauma-linked states, and was very surprised at how different they felt from a standard experience of the nanas.  The freeze states felt like all of a sudden a bunch of mental options or affordances were suddenly missing -- like I couldn't remember how to do a wide class of social/emotional interactions or even some physical actions.  A little bit more of those mental options were available in the fight/flight states, but I was much easier to startle and had less context for how much I needed to react.

I don't want to give the impression that the freeze/flight/fight states are entirely disconnected from the Progress of Insight -- their intensity was very much modulated by the Progress of Insight stages in terms of emotional affect, stickiness of sensations, and attentional width.  Since most of the fight/flight sensations seem to be linked in to the "centerpoint"/"sensations of self", it was a lot easier to integrate them with the whole field once I got them into Equanimity.  And you can treat the dissociation a little bit similarly to how you'd allow actions to happen in Dissolution -- you're going to have a rough time if you force it from the centerpoint, but if you ask yourself whether a hand or arm would like to move on its own to do something, that kind of decentralized movement opens a lot of possibilities for unfreezing. 

I'm really glad on the whole that I ran into the trauma after stream entry instead of before precisely since it allows for more functioning and action to take place in the global context of the whole field of awareness.  But I do wish I'd been more aware that focusing intensely on trauma-linked sensations can lead to an increase in how much you're experiencing fight/flight/freeze states, and that it can also spread the "trauma-linkedness" to other sensations/associations that are present in consciousness when the trauma-linked sensations come up.

Thanks for the detailed reply.

I took a peek at your log. We seem to have similar interests. I'll be sure to stalk it in the future emoticon

It seems only a little unfair to say that this book seems like dharma lite mixed with an understanding of trauma. Still, that is useful. Yet, I can imagine a dharma industrial strength mixed with an understanding of trauma. With hit tracks such as "jhanas and trauma", "trauma and higher paths", "trauma work during the progress of insight", "trauma's relation to a sense of separate permanent self", etc.

Thanks for giving your data point for trauma mixed with PoI. What you said makes sense to me. Here's all I've got for a data point at the moment: in the past (premeditation) I would 'freeze' much more often, and I tended towards 'hypoarousal'. Post meditation I 'freeze' much less, and when I do I'm aware of what's happening and it goes away quickly. I still tend towards 'hypoarousal'. And, I get 'hyperaroused' much more often.

This latter bit could be confluence of a bunch of factors. Though, it does seem causally related to meditation to me at the moment. Here's an example from my sit today: I got distracted for a few moments, regained my attention, then it felt like something inside me reflected upon those few moments of regaining attention. Immediately I felt a wave of panic through my chest and heart. Situations like this happen often where my concentration will start to deepen or I will feel on the verge of insight, then a wave of panic shoots through my chest. Other times during meditation I feel unspecific anxiety/ungroundedness for extended periods. The frequency makes me think it's not just the Fear nana but is trauma related (not that the Fear nana isn't trauma related, necessarily :winkemoticon. I would say that for awhile now the biggest obstacle for my practice has been fear, anxiety, terror, panic, etc.

Despite my interest in Reich/Lowen I haven't ever read one of the newer trauma guys cover-to-cover. If you have, having read this Treleaven book, how does it compare to Levine/van der Kolk/Berceli in general education about trauma? In other words, would I be better off reading them and then skipping to the Treleaven chapters especially about meditation?

Thanks again

RE: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Hea
Answer
6/28/18 12:59 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Despite my interest in Reich/Lowen I haven't ever read one of the newer trauma guys cover-to-cover. If you have, having read this Treleaven book, how does it compare to Levine/van der Kolk/Berceli in general education about trauma? In other words, would I be better off reading them and then skipping to the Treleaven chapters especially about meditation?

You might be.   I've read most of In An Unspoken Voice by Levine, and it covered all the trauma theory from Treleaven and with more detail.  It's also worth noting that the Treleaven book is aimed primarily at yoga and meditation instructors, and has a lot of stuff on screening your students and stretching your worldview to accommodate types of trauma that you haven't personally encountered.  That's not that applicable for the individual practitioner.
It seems only a little unfair to say that this book seems like dharma lite mixed with an understanding of trauma. Still, that is useful. Yet, I can imagine a dharma industrial strength mixed with an understanding of trauma. With hit tracks such as "jhanas and trauma", "trauma and higher paths", "trauma work during the progress of insight", "trauma's relation to a sense of separate permanent self", etc.

I'd love to see that too.  Hopefully at some point they'll actually start to figure out some of the neurology involved here and start mapping how it relates to both insight and psychology.  I think there's a decent chance that some psychological treatments are already relying on similar methods to meditation -- e.g. the rapid bilateral eye/hand movements in EMDR making it easier to see the impermanence of the associated memories, or ketamine diffusion therapies possibly being similar to processing stuff in jhana.  

Another thing that somatic experiencing stresses that's not as emphasised in the meditation stuff I've seen is the idea of integration -- that not only is it important to discharge the fight/flight/freeze responses, but it's also important to link it in well with the different senses, with motor/movement, and with speech and being able to talk with others.  I've recently had a particular "sense of self" come up in a way that's trauma linked, and it's been really interesting to see what issues remain even now that it seems to not be in hyperarousal.  I've noticed that "listening from" that sense of self it's much harder than normal to understand English accents or to follow multiple people in conversation.  "Speaking from" it is difficult too -- I used to have a stutter as a kid, and it seems to still be present there.  And "acting as" it is also difficult and frustrating in terms of not being able to fluidly switch activities as needed.  

RE: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Hea
Answer
6/28/18 6:37 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
I am about three hours into the audiobook and really appreciating it given its scope and focus, which is on an area that clearly has been neglected.