02 Jun Mindfulness Therapy to Treat Post-traumatic Stress

-Janice Tang, Hong Kong

Life can become daunting and dark for many who have experienced post-traumatic stress (PTSD). Such suffering is painful, and recurring to remind us about the old wounds and memories that we seek to forget. Nightmares, anxiety, memory impairment, numbness, and depression are all common symptoms of PTSD for those who have suffered from traumatic accidents. Close to 7.7 American age 18 and older are suffering from PTSD. Those who have experienced mass violence are 67% more likely to develop PTSD. People live in fear, confusion, and embarrassment, unable to recover from the pain and loss and thus isolating themselves from loved ones and slowly detaching from the real world. The road to recovery is long and narrow but the strength to go through this journey requires a high level of resilience, determination and power of will. Such strength can only be found in you. The first step is accepting the present moment of vulnerability, sadness, and loss.

Mindfulness guides you to accept the present moment with an array of thoughts and emotions without any bias, judgement, or excuses. You expect everything as it is. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Regular mindfulness practice can lead to a greater present-centered awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance of potentially distressing cognitive and emotional states as well as trauma-related internal and external triggers.” PTSD are most commonly suffered by front-line soldiers who risk their life for their home country. Many of them are left in a hyperactive state prone to overreacting from the stimuli triggering physiological arousal. For many years, the practice of mindfulness was integrated into the military hospitals to help the wounded warriors cope with PTSD.

Mindfulness leads us through our most fragile state. There is no avoidance. There is no short-cut to recovery. Mindfulness takes you to a pathway of openness, acknowledging the loss and suffering, and focusing on the things you can do to recuperate. You gain awareness of your body and mind so you better understand your thoughts. This will allow you to open up and share your feelings more freely so others can guide you through your difficulties. You will slowly find growth through pain.

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