Gentle, nurturing support in the form of 6 mindfulness meditations for healing trauma. Each video highlights a core principle that has become a foundation for how I’ve come to think about and work with my own health, disease, and healing.
The videos are presented by Kekuni Minton, Ph.D., senior faculty member of a somatically based approach for healing trauma.
Table of Contents
They offer mindfulness practices and exercises that support healing, including how we relate to ourselves and our bodies, as well as how we relate to others. These videos, in other words, offer a way in which our own deep personal work contributes to positive change in our lives as well as in our societies.
This is especially relevant to what is being voiced about the need for change with regard to racism and inequality around the world (especially #4, #5, and #6). I am working on a post on Adverse Institutional Experiences (AIEs) describing how racism and other forms of discrimination are risk factors for chronic illness. I’m hoping to include a downloadable fact sheet to help educate health care professionals and others. You can learn more about AIEs in this section of my Essential Guide to Chronic Illness, Trauma and The Nervous System.
6 Principles for Healing Trauma
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, founded by Pat Ogden Ph.D, is the first specialty course I ever took specifically for healing trauma. The principles are based on mindfulness practices and have become a bedrock of my philosophy.
Kekuni Minton, Ph.D., one of their senior faculty whose style I’ve always loved, created this series of short videos at the onset of the covid pandemic. As soon as I watched the first one, I realized I wanted to share this series with you. Even though the focus here is not specifically on “trauma” nor on chronic illness, the practices apply.
The videos offer insights.
They can guide you to finding a place a comfort. Safety. Self compassion. Of coming into the Present Moment.
They can offer the sense of not having to do it alone. Of having someone who is “regulated and calm,” as Kekuni is in these talks, as an ally and a guide.
Some of these videos will take you into explorations.
All of them will give you glimpses of how a somatically based trauma therapy can work for healing trauma.
I wanted to pull these together all in one place and make it easier to find them.
My hope is that you will find them relevant to living with chronic illness. To wondering how to relate to yourself, your life, your history of support and adversity, your symptoms and your journey of healing.
May these be a resource to you now, in these turbulent times, and in the future.
Be Gentle With This Practice and With Yourself
While the videos are designed primarily for psychotherapists, I believe you can learn from them too.
You are likely to find them applicable even if you are not trained in healing trauma or in psychotherapy. They are also relevant to working with parts of ourselves that have been wounded, shamed, judged, or harmed in some way. They help us work with discrimination we may have towards ourselves, our bodies, or towards others.
Kekuni educates, explains and offers some of the science, which I suspect many of you will find intriguing and helpful. They may help you learn something new about yourself, your body, your symptoms, your illness and more.
This is one of the ways healing trauma for ourselves can help heal our bodies, our society, and the planet.
Since those of us with chronic illness can have a high degree of sensitivity, it is possible that any of these videos could be triggering. These tips can help:
- Watch them in order as they build on one another. Start with the first few minutes of video 1. Only continue if it feels okay or if you can maintain a sense of curiosity or a sense that you can take care of yourself and pause as you need to.
- Take the information that is helpful, and let go of the rest.
- Titrate. In other words, go slow, take your time. Pause whenever you feel a need to. Maybe listen to one video a day. Or one a week.
- Open your eyes during the meditations if it feels like you are getting too much information from sensation or with the process.
- If the focus on sensation or the body is too much, which is common for those of us with chronic illness, another tip is to allow your attention to focus on something other than your breath or the core of your body (such as instead focusing on the tips of your fingers or toes instead of deep in your organs, or attending to the sensation of your feet on the ground or your butt in the chair or on your bed, or paying attention to something outside of your body that you see, smell, hear etc).
- When Kekuni proposes an exercise, choose examples or people that feel good or kind or easy for you rather than something difficult. At least the first time until you get a sense of how these work and how your body and nervous system respond.
- If an exercise is triggering, get or stay as curious as you can about what it is that is triggering. You can take a break. Maybe go back to the video after allowing some time and space. Or perhaps listen to the video with a friend, or colleague or talk about it with your trauma therapist (or find a somatically based trauma therapist to help you work this way as part of your healing journey)
- If you can’t come up with an example of something during an exercise, use your imagination. Make something up that feels good if you can. This offers a place to start.
- When Kekuni asks you to use an example of imagining being with a client, you can instead imagine being with someone you know.
All but the third video are about 17 minutes long or less (#3 Unity is 27 minutes).
You can find this Global Meditation Series from the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute (SPI) and other videos and information on SPI’s facebook page along with translations into multiple languages for some of them.
Principle 1: Mindfulness
What mindfulness means. What it looks like. This is one of the most important tools in my kit and I use it every day, just about all the time. It’s a practice you can carry with you wherever you go. It also changes your brain and supports healing.
Principle 2: Mind Body Spirit Holism
This is one of the 5 principles originally developed by Ron Kurtz, who developed a therapy called Hakomi. Kekuni introduces exercises to explore each of these aspects in ourselves – thoughts and beliefs, emotions, the body, and one version of spirit (pure awareness and mindfulness in this case). Includes a standing exercise to gently explore sensation as you move your neck and head to explore voluntary and involuntary micro movement. Sitting is another way to try this exercise. You can also try moving a different part of your body if you are laying down or if you have a lot of symptoms in your head and neck area (such as pain, vertigo etc).
Principle 3: Unity
Attunement, attachment, empathy and compassion, mirror neurons. Taking mindfulness into the realm of relationship. Receiving and being received by another person.
For the example of imagining someone – imagine someone kind, or easy to be with, or who feels good to you. Or imagine an animal such as a pet. Keep it easy and simple.
Principle 4: Organicity
Principle from Gregory Bateson. Every living being has its own guiding internal intelligence. It’s a principle of accepting that each person has their own next step, intelligence, way of being. And that each of us and the parts of ourselves that we may not like – anger, sadness, fear, a symptom – also has its own intelligence. With the exercise of exploring some difficult aspect of yourself, be gentle, dip in lightly or briefly as a first try such as into irritability rather than deep anger or rage, since going “whole hog” can be triggering. You can always explore this or another aspect of your experience in more depth on another round of listening to this mindfulness practice.
Principle 5: Relational Alchemy
Transference and Countertransference refer t0 how we affect one another as client and therapist and how one person’s experiences can trigger or mirror the other’s issues, challenges, struggles and more. It’s about how what was approved or “confirmed” or disapproved or “disconfirmed” in our family can then affect how we relate to others as adults, in intimate relationships, and with our therapists. This is one way our past experiences can become triggers. It’s also how we have opportunities to heal these old patterns and wounds in relationship, such as with a therapist who is aware and willing to work with their patterns and with those of their clients (this is a foundation of therapy). Kekuni mentions being able to sign up to receive these videos at the end of the talk. I could not find such a link (perhaps it does not exist any longer since the videos were completed in April and May 2020). This is the website for Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.Org.
Principle 6: Non-violence
An exploration of how we feel when we are in reaction and being triggered, and when we are in a more regulated state that is relational. Learn through Kekuni’s experiment. If you have concerns about getting triggered, try a very light dose of what it feels like when you are triggered by a particular person rather than “going wild” with it or deeply into it. Think of someone who you successfully feel good about and work things through with as one example. Or use a past experience where it was difficult and you overcame it together, even a little bit. Sometimes those of us with chronic illness can feel as though we get a bit stuck in these triggered states and that it’s hard to find our way out. So be gentle and explore with a “petite” experiment to start with. You can still learn a LOT and it can be easier. And then explore relational mode – where some part of you knows that it’s workable. Non violent attitude towards our flaws, longings, painful parts – and towards others and their flaws too.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy’s facebook page for translations into other languages
Other somatically based trauma therapies I recommend (with links to directories to find a therapist)
Adverse Institutional Experiences (AIEs) introduced in this post