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Publisher's Summary

From elementary schools to psychotherapy offices, mindfulness meditation is an increasingly mainstream practice. At the same time, trauma remains a fact of life: The majority of us will experience a traumatic event in our lifetime, and up to 20 percent of us will develop post-traumatic stress. This means that anywhere mindfulness is being practiced, someone in the room is likely to be struggling with trauma. At first glance, this appears to be a good thing: Trauma creates stress, and mindfulness is a proven tool for reducing it. But the reality is not so simple.

Drawing on a decade of research and clinical experience, psychotherapist and educator David Treleaven shows that mindfulness meditation - practiced without an awareness of trauma - can exacerbate symptoms of traumatic stress. Instructed to pay close, sustained attention to their inner world, survivors can experience flashbacks, dissociation, and even retraumatization. This raises a crucial question for mindfulness teachers, trauma professionals, and survivors everywhere: How can we minimize the potential dangers of mindfulness for survivors while leveraging its powerful benefits?

Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness offers answers to this question. Part I provides an insightful and concise review of the histories of mindfulness and trauma, including the way modern neuroscience is shaping our understanding of both. Through grounded scholarship and wide-ranging case examples, Treleaven illustrates the ways mindfulness can help - or hinder - trauma recovery.

Part II distills these insights into five key principles for trauma-sensitive mindfulness. Covering the role of attention, arousal, relationship, dissociation, and social context within trauma-informed practice, Treleaven offers 36 specific modifications designed to support survivors' safety and stability. The result is a groundbreaking and practical approach that empowers those looking to practice mindfulness in a safe, transformative way.

©2018 David A. Treleaven (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness

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Trauma, Mindfulness, and Culture

I have listened to many books on trauma and many more on mindfulness and read many to increase my cultural lens - this is the best summary of all those and a very helpful specific exploration to ensure mindfulness practices are tuned in to humans that have experienced trauma. Avoid inadvertently shaming survivors, and help them embrace mindfulness to rewire their brains with this wonderful, well read guide.

8 people found this helpful

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For Mindful Practitioners Only

This isn’t a book for trauma survivors; but to show how to make a mindfulness business more trauma-sensitive.

27 people found this helpful

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Clear, timely, accessible, practical.

This book is a necessary read for all teachers and practioners of mondfulness prsctices. its a real gift.

3 people found this helpful

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Unnecessarily Political and Off-putting

I am a trauma survivor diagnosed with complex PTSD. I have been in trauma resolution therapy for nearly 5 years and am well versed in this topic. But I couldn't get past the framing of trauma through the author's political lens. I wanted factual, practical help in how to incorporate mindfulness in my overall treatment regimen. What I got was identity politics and the contextualization of heinous violations of the human person's dignity as symptoms of systemic racism, sexism, and classism. If I want preaching, I'll go to church.

16 people found this helpful

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Relevant! Relevant! Relevant!

For those who recognize that the perpetuation of humanities systemic trauma and abuse is probably not going to go away by itself. For those who want to become actively involved in seeing humanity live together in a peaceful, expansive joyous way. Not just cartoon fantasy but actually doing the honest work of allowing that potential to bloom in our lifetime. For those who are not afraid to wake up to what’s really happening inside themselves and around themselves. For those who are more interested in truth then disassociated fantasy. for those who just want the tools to create a safe space for their clients to engage in a mindfulness meditation practice. This book is for you! (This book was most definitely for me. Five stars all around!)

7 people found this helpful

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✊🏼

This is what we need in colonized mental health. Advocates. Thank you to the authors for this body of work.

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interesting subject and knowledgeable author

topic was interesting and the author was knowledgeable in how trauma effects those impacted by conditions such as Post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Valuable skills shared with adolescent bias

The skills and perspective were very instrumental, enlightening, and helped me to move through a very traumatic experience. Additionally, deep trauma events were uncovered in this process.

The authors biases were distracting and at times discrediting his own work. ex. the author DEFINES racism as light skinned people suppressing those of darker skin. His definition is an EXAMPLE but certainly not a DEFINITION.

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Very informative book

This is a very informative book which will help alot in Meditation Teacher training.

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Required reading for Meditation teachers

Trauma is the one area that doesn’t get covered enough in meditation teacher classes. This book wonderfully covers so many aspects of trauma and gives teachers guidance on signs and how to handle various situations. As a teacher who focuses on teenagers, this will become my yearly textbook. Thank you.

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  • John
  • 04-23-20

So important I’m going to re-read parts

Not only does this book touch a nerve the ideas around social norms and experiencing discrimination are hard to deal with because they are true- like a stone in our shoe. When we experience this stone can we welcome it, allowing the unexpected guest to teach us something? How do we experience this thought in our own body - where do we feel it? Can we turn towards the place of discomfort with mindful compassion breathing in and out that part of our body and noticing what happens? Maybe we’re experiencing less than 1/1000th the pain someone dealing every day with this discrimination is experiencing. What does this show us about our own therapeutic window? Can we use this insight to help us relate better to someone who is going through trauma reliving it day in day out?We begin to see just being mindfully with the pain - the first arrow - can be too much because the pain is so great. It’s the skilful teaching about how to bring compassionate wisdom to that: so important. Long meditations for trauma victims can be too much. This book raised an important question and begins to show a way through. There are other mindfulness audiobooks notably Tara Brach’s work with RAIN meditation in Radical Self Acceptance that are also helpful.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kris
  • 01-03-22

Helpful but poorly presented

Interesting and insightful examples, but some of them are corrupted by some woke narrative which I find as completely useless and non practical.

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  • Lilypad
  • 12-07-21

Retraumatised by this book

I'd suggest caution when reading this if you're anything like me and are prone to excessive rumination, catastrophizing, etc. I'm sure this book was written with the best of intentions and the utmost professional dedication, care and expertise. However, what we focus on grows, so it's no surprise that this type of content that comes with a heavily negative slant is sometimes counter-productive and might do more harm than good.

The book borders on fear-mongering - as if trauma victims don't already inflict enough of that on ourselves; I don't want, or need, to live in any more fear of my own mind than I already am. The descriptions and examples given in here, detailing how (and why) mindfulness might induce more trauma, are extremely triggering for me. All it has done is put me in a heightened state of hypervigilence and excessive introspection. I didn't realize this initially, but drew the connection after listening over a period of days and growing increasingly fearful, agitated. I found myself ruminating excessively on whether or not I was in a state of "mindfulness-induced retraumatisation", and every other negative outcome this book cautions against. I'm only halfway through, but unfortunately I'll have to stop right here before actual damage is done to my already damaged psyche.

As a sidenote, I experienced the same mental and emotional heaviness and dread when listening to talks by Willoughy Britton on the same subject, and now I understand why this is so.

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  • Elizabeth M
  • 09-04-21

A must-read for all Practitioners!

The book went far beyond expectations and made the case for being aware that trauma may be present among many of our pupils and this consideration should be at the forefront of any Mindfulness teacher.