In this article I’ll share a wonderful guided meditation that I teach in my online lessons to help PTSD sufferers. I’ll share both the audio and a script. And then, we will look at what science says about meditation and PTSD (some of which is truly startling).
Guided Meditation For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The following meditation is based on the three meditation techniques that have yielded the most benefit in research settings, those being: mindfulness, mantras, and Loving Kindness.
- This meditation is not intended to replace your existing treatments. Also note that it is best to practise meditation with a therapist. If you feel stressed or uncomfortable at any time during this meditation, stop.
- Take a moment to get comfortable, either sitting or lying down.
- Take a deep breathing in through the nose to a count of four. Hold for four. Breathe out through the mouth to a count of four. Hold for four.
- While practising this breathing pattern, observe your breath moving through your body. Normally we meditate with our eyes open. However, try with both your eyes open and closed to see which method feels most comfortable for you.
- We are going to use a mantra, which is the single word “Here”. Each time you exhale, gently vocalise the word “Here”. This will help you to remember to keep your attention on the present moment.
- Notice the feeling of your weight on the chair or bed, or whatever you are sitting or lying on. Take a moment to explore that feeling.
- Now bring your awareness to your feet and just notice the sensations around your feet. If you are sitting, notice the feeling of your feet resting on the ground.
- Remember that each time you repeat the mantra “Here”, you bring your awareness back to the present moment.
- Now bring your awareness to your head and neck. Observe the sensations there and invite that part of your body to relax.
- Take a mindful breath.
- Bring to mind one person whom you are close to, someone you love, someone who would only ever wish you the best. See this person smiling gently at you. Now hear this person saying to you, “May you have love, kindness, happiness, health, and inner peace. And many you have the strength to overcome any obstacle in your life. Then repeat the same words back to them.
- Take another mindful breath. Now gently open your eyes.
More Meditations For PTSD
The most fundamental of all meditations, mindful breathing will help you to relax.
Mantra meditation will help to train your mind to focus on the present moment.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving Kindness helps you to feel supported by those close to you.
For more see:
How To Meditate With PTSD
1: Meditate in a completely safe environment: Make sure you are not around any reminders of the PTSD event. This includes any person, object, or area that might remind you of the event that caused your PTSD.
2: Work with a professional: It is very highly recommended that you work with a professional when first getting into PTSD. Sometimes meditation can bring up unwanted memories and painful feelings and it is good to have the help of a professional when this happens.
3: Practice other forms of mindfulness: There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. Meditation is just one way. Also explore exercises such as mindful walking and mindful movement exercises (e.g. Tai Chi) to find the best method for you. Studies show that dispositional mindfulness is associated with fewer concurrent PTSD symptoms (dispositional mindfulness is the quality of being mindfully aware of the present moment), so mindfulness exercises theoretically should help reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
Science on Meditation And PTSD
According to the V.A. National Center for PTSD, an estimated 7 to 8 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. People with PTSD exhibit four primary symptoms:
- Reliving the event
- Avoiding any reminders of the event
- Feeling more negative and struggling to experience positive emotions
- Feeling on edge (hyperarousal)
Meditation can help to reduce the intensity of these symptoms. For starters, meditation leads to increased dispositional mindfulness, which in turn can help reduce the frequency at which people relive a PTSD event. Meditation also increases the occurrence of positive emotions and raises our awareness of them. And finally, by inducing the relaxation response, meditation helps to reduce hyperarousal (although this is sometimes not the case and some meditation techniques might inadvertently increase hyperarousal).
A 2013 study of 599 people with PTSD showed that 39 percent found complimentary and alternative medicines (including meditation) helpful for relieving the symptoms of PTSD. However, it is important to note that the top two treatments for PTSD are therapy and medication and that meditation should not replace your existing treatment.
That said, it is good to explore various treatments. Paula P. Schnurr, PhD, executive director of the National Center for PTSD and a professor of psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth says, “…many people will successfully recover from PTSD, especially with the right treatment. And it’s common to try more than one [treatment option].” Certainly, it is worth trying meditation as one of those alternative therapies. Other options include prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
Science shows that there are many benefits of meditation for PTSD sufferers. However, it should not be the first treatment explored. Therapy and medication are the top two treatment options. That being said, complimentary and alternative medicines, including meditation, can help. Some PTSD sufferers seem to benefit more from meditation than others, and in some cases, meditation can make PTSD worse. It is best to explore meditation with a therapist.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison