The stuff in this post is still very fresh in my head… my mind is hardly made up… work in progress, you might say. Please, you have my permission to disagree, or even agree.
I’m agreeable with most of the material on Mindfulness by Author’s such as Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra (many others) and a considerable amount of what Buddhism teaches us about being mindful. If I spend time dredging up past trauma for therapy, does that means I’m no longer living in ‘the moment’?
I think about the people who, being similar to me, have been subjected to trauma in their past. I cannot see how any amount of mindfulness practice – by systematically diverting our attention from past to back to the present – would eventually cure or dissipate the powerful emotions connected with this kind of past experience.
If we use mindfulness to ward off a painful past, surely it would only serve to suppress the emotions that probably need to be worked on in the present moment. I’m certain that Buddhist teachings suggest any attempts to avoid pain only increase the suffering.
In my experience, past memories can be triggered when we least expect them. They arise spontaneously as we interact with life. Without realising, something in our surroundings can trigger something bad from the past.
So there we are, happily skipping along all ‘Mindfully together’ and then one day, BANG… something triggers a traumatic memory from the past. In that moment, does our divergence from the ‘here and now’ catapult our sorry ass from our serenity chair?
The memories and pain come from within and, therefore, surely these could be considered as being here, right with us, in the present moment. Maybe they’re not a divergence after all.
There’s a big difference between berating ourselves for something we did in the past and allowing time to constructively process past painful experiences in the present moment.
Past memories are often the fundamental root to much of our mental health difficulties today. If we continue to suppress them, even with something as positive as mindfulness practice, they have the potential to go on interrupting inner peace, it will infect our happiness and, ultimately, even jeopardise our opportunity to fully understand and practice Mindfulness itself.
Like everything else
Processing past trauma – v – Mindfulness
Is all about balance.
As we learn to practice Mindfulness, there’s little point in trying to ward off intrusive thoughts and painful emotions. That’s likely to create an additional internal battle. Learning to sit with past pain in the ‘here and now’ is the beginning of healing.
Once “healing” is up and running, perhaps Mindfulness practices would help many people to move forward in that process. It’s not for everyone, but can be a powerful tool for finally letting go and moving forward.
In many ways therapy is a process of being mindful. We are encouraged to be aware of ourselves and the others in the room in that moment. If something in the present is affected by pain from the past, then we don’t take the group into the past, but we bring the past into the present to be analysed.
Finding balance between remembering past traumatic memories and Practicing Mindfulness might at first seem impossible, but as long as the past memories are always brought into the present moment context, it is achievable, in my opinion.