When meditation and stillness doesn’t work
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Meditation has been shown to have a great benefit in reducing stress, anxiety, and focusing in the present. This increases our awareness and helps us look at our problems from another perspective. Sometimes this means we can separate the problem from ourselves and see it for what it is: just a problem. Doing so, it allows us to maintain our core identity and avoid labeling ourselves as damaged people who need to be fixed.
What happens when we think we are damaged, and we need to be fixed?
Well, this thinking makes us believe we cannot help ourselves. Because we are damaged, only someone else can fix us, and that means it is their responsibility. We end up giving the power to someone else. And why is this dangerous?
Because we might end up giving this power to the wrong people and that will only deepen our trauma, anxiety or whatever it is we are going through. However, even if we find the right people; even if we seek therapy; holding the belief that the therapist is responsible to fix you will not help. The good news is that the therapist can identify this unhealthy belief and will help you work it out.
Meditation and relaxing techniques are one method therapists will use to help you cope with anxiety; and of course, as I mentioned, meditation is very beneficial. But this method is not always effective. Context is the most important thing we as therapists have to always be mindful of. Dr. Stephen Porges talks about what he calls polyvagal theory, which means that our body not only remembers a traumatic experience, but it can also get stuck in the trauma response mode. So, if we are treating someone who has complex trauma, meditation and stillness can be a trigger, rather than a tool. If you are in a state of relaxation in your body this is translated as vulnerability, which means it is dangerous, and will activate your trauma response. Your body wants to escape.
The solution? One solution can be body movements techniques.
Knowing techniques, tools and different therapeutic approaches is not enough. Context, individual needs, and knowing how to integrate this knowledge and tools, is what makes the difference.