Oftentimes, our minds tend to wander away from the present and towards the wounds of the past or the unknowns of the future. This is especially the case for survivors of child sexual abuse, who may sometimes find themselves feeling stuck in the trauma of what has already happened or experiencing anxiety about what has yet to occur. One of the most effective ways to help bring your focus away from these anxieties and back to the present is meditation, a technique of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is purposefully paying attention with kindness and curiosity to the present moment. When you actively practice Mindfulness regularly, you’ll soon find that you feel calmer, more in control, and can live your life in a more intentional way. Being mindful can take many forms, which all have a benefit. Exploring different ways to practice Mindfulness and finding the ones best suited for your needs, interests, and experience is certainly worth the effort.
How Can Mindfulness Help Me Heal?
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is an especially powerful way to practice Mindfulness; it includes anytime we direct our focus with intention and purpose. Each time we practice directing our attention in this manner, we are increasing our ability to create new neural pathways in the brain and to shift our focus from thought patterns that are unwanted or unhelpful and towards thought patterns that are uplifting and empowering.
Sometimes this type of focus can feel difficult, especially when we have a lot on our minds. Don’t get discouraged if you struggle to maintain your focus for lengthy periods of time, especially if you are just starting to explore mindful practices. Remember, it’s natural for the mind to wander, which is why a key part of Mindfulness is learning to redirect your attention back to the present, gently and without judgment. A meditation activity can be just the way to get some experience and lay a foundation for more mindful action!
You could also try following along with this guided meditation to claim a moment of Mindfulness.
How Do I Know if My Meditation Is Working?
Mix It Up
There are many different meditations available that you can explore. Here are some great search terms you can use to help find the next one you want to try:
- Grounding meditations
- Guided imagery meditation
- Mindfulness meditation
- Visualization meditation
And if you are having trouble finding fresh ways to meditate, here are some ideas and examples of how you can take a new approach to these important moments of Mindfulness:
- Your location: If you tend to meditate outside, try meditating in a library.
- Your anchor: If you usually focus on a physical anchor like breathing, pick out a word or phrase to focus on next.
- Time duration: If you meditate for five minutes one day, try meditating for ten minutes the next day.
- Your physical position: If you usually meditate lying down, try meditating sitting up.
- Who you’re with: If you’ve already meditated by yourself, try meditating with another person or a group of people.
- The ambiance of your meditation space: If you’ve meditated in silence, try meditating with calming music.
- The pace of your breathing: If you usually breathe 4-2-6, try 3-2-4
As you seek out what meditations work best for you and apply those meditations to your daily routine, you are practicing:
- Acknowledgement by accepting how the trauma of child sexual abuse may be impacting your thought patterns and increasing your need to reconnect with the present.
- Mindfulness by guiding your attention where you’d like it to go, and gently redirecting it with compassion and curiosity whenever it begins to wander.
- Aspiration by learning to calm your limbic system, guide your frontal lobe, and build new neural pathways that will strengthen the connection between the two.