Healing Resources for Child Sexual Abuse Survivors: Guided Meditation
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 guided 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?
We have thousands of thoughts each day. Chances are, if you’re a survivor of child sexual abuse, you have thoughts you wish would just go away! You may sometimes encounter triggers, or reminders of the abuse, that bring up painful memories or exacerbate certain symptoms linked to your trauma. You might feel stuck in the unwanted associations of the past, or you might feel anxious and overwhelmed by what the future holds. That’s where Mindfulness can help you. If you can stay grounded in the present instead of fighting or focusing on intrusive thoughts, you can be more empowered to move forward on your healing journey.
What Is Guided Meditation?
Meditation is an especially powerful way to practice mindfulness; it includes anytime we focus our thoughts intentionally and with purpose. Each time we practice directing our thoughts 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 thoughts 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 thoughts back to the present, gently and without judgment. A guided mediation can be just the way to get some experience and lay a foundation for more mindful action!
Follow along with this guided meditation to claim a moment of Mindfulness.
Using guided meditation and guided imagery is an excellent way to build up your ability to practice mindfulness and focus on themes and actions that will help you heal and grow.
How Do I Know if My Meditation Is Working?
You will know you are making progress when you are more able to gently redirect your thoughts toward the present moment or towards ideas you enjoy meditating about. As you do so, you calm the limbic system, which will allow you to take more control when it tries to protect you in an unhelpful way. You also strengthen your frontal lobe by teaching your mind how to respond to your direction. It may feel unnatural to meditate at first but working through these exercises will strengthen your ability to address intrusive thoughts you do not want to dwell on by grounding your attention to the present and building more control over where you focus your thoughts.
Note: Don’t expect to eliminate all the distressing thoughts you experience altogether, even when you have regularly practiced meditation. If you find that attempting to meditate consistently amplifies any thoughts about self-harm or distress, consider seeking guidance from a mental health or medical professional that can help you process these thoughts and take an approach that is more helpful to your personal circumstances.
Your mind is not the only part of you that will benefit from including meditations into your routine. There is much evidence being collected regarding the physical benefits of mindful practice. Regular mindfulness can promote improved concentration, decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression, helps manage blood pressure, and decreases physical stress and tension. Be attentive to what you feel and experience and use your judgement to continue what brings you positive results.
Mix It Up
There are many different guided 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
You could also try a more guided form of meditation by using a meditation app or podcast. There are many excellent options to choose from, and you can check out our list of recommendations below:
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 thoughts where you’d like them to go, and gently redirecting them with compassion and curiosity whenever they begin 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.