Meditation and Trauma / PTSD (risks and benefits)

Very interesting video that brings up some very important issues when one meditates:

David Treleaven presents his dissertation defense “Meditation and Trauma: A Hermeneutic Study of Somatic Experiencing and the Western Vipassana Movement.”

What if, in following basic meditation instructions one was causing more harm than good? This question arises from the dialog between Buddhism and contemporary trauma theory. In a deceptive twist of evolutionary fate, sustained attention on the body can lead to a dissociative, or freeze response. To explore the impact of this dynamic on contemplative practice, this theoretical dissertation uses Somatic Experiencing (SE), a psychotherapeutic approach to healing trauma, as a hermeneutic lens to explore the merits and the shortcomings of meditation practice for individuals with a history of trauma.

There are two more videos with the questions and answer section of David Treleaven’s above dissertation defense. Here and here. I’ve not listened to them yet but plan to. This is good stuff.

I’ve written about the “dark” side of meditation a few times. Below are two more posts on the subject from different perspectives and not necessarily focused on trauma per se. It’s important to be aware of these issues since most of the time meditation is hailed as a panacea. I, of course, greatly value meditation but I’m not at all ignorant of some of the risks as well and it’s important for people with troubled histories to be aware of them too.

●  Risks of meditation

“Appropriately at the beginning of the video she says it may sometimes be more appropriate to call them  ”difficult stages” of contemplative life rather than negative or adverse effects. Such breakdown/breakthrough is sometimes part of the contemplative experience.  The need for meditation teachers who are educated and understand the phenomena is very important.  When there is no one to help  it can be terribly frightening and confusing. Right now such understanding is very limited and fear of those who have such issues is common just like in psychiatry.”

●  Meditation can be an emotional rollercoaster

“The purpose of meditation embraces life…good and bad and so it’s certainly not always a picnic. It’s important that people understand this because once someone is sitting on that cushion or chair and meditating the mind will do what it does and at times sitting with what it’s doing can get quite challenging.”

 

More here: Meditation: not all bliss and roses

Peter Levine’s work is talked about in the above video. It’s very good and I’ve read some of it:

●  In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

●  Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences

●  Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body

Some of these titles are always in the Bookstore.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters