Have you ever suddenly had a memory of a disturbing experience and noticed how it altered your state of being? We all have these moments where we seem to relieve the sensations imbedded in that memory, sometimes making us cringe with feelings of fear, shame or guilt. Memories of this sort can disturb us in subtle and not so subtle ways. It can feel like we are once again caught in that embarrassing moment, or worse, in that terrifying situation as in the case of PTSD. There are many effective and successful techniques for the treatment of just these types of traumatic memories, including EMDR, Breathwork, Guided Imagery, EFT, Trauma Informed Yoga amongst some of them. There are also many skills we can utilize on our own that can diminish these feelings quite effectively. The next time you find yourself activated by a disturbing memory try this breathing and mindfulness technique:
Begin by noticing how your body is responding to this memory. Noticing what's tense, what's agitated and just stay with it for a moment. Notice the thoughts that accompany this memory, and begin to notice the rhythm of your breath. Now deepen your breath, fully in, through your nose, expanding your belly, your chest, breathing in for 2 seconds, now suspend the breath for one second and exhale through your nose, to the count of 4 seconds. You can count in your mind as you breath. Do this for 5 minutes if possible. If this ratio of breathing is not very challenging for you, extended to 3 seconds inhale through nose, 2 seconds suspend, 5 seconds exhale through nose. When you're finished notice the sensations in your body, what's shifted, what is now relaxed. Continue to do this type of breath anytime a disturbing thought comes into your awareness. It may allow for other more helpful information and knowledge about yourself and/or the situation to be considered.