Does anyone find that the mindfulness techniques worsens their PTSD symptoms?

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but to say that it's overrated, and it's not something that works for the whole population.

^Hmm.. interesting comment. Perhaps it's taken on a life of it's own and doesn't that happen with everything from yoyo's to hairdo's...

But ^that's stating the obvious.

It's obviously not for everyone or else the WHOLE WORLD would be doing it already. Instead of going on a bender... we'd all opt for mindfulness.. eh nope! It's not mandatory.

At its most basic level being mindful simply means to be in the moment to me. That could mean just concentrating on what the hell I'm doing so I get it right. :rolleyes: Or taking a step back rather than rip a head off. :sorry:


Think we may be having three conversations going on here
a, Mindfulness, as a state,
b, Mindfulness, as a technique,
c, Mindfulness, as westernized/DBT take on a technique.
& Its balancing or setting off other issues use.

What are the differences? I thought it was all the same.



I have exactly the same issues. My CPN insisted I went to mindfulness courses etc - got my own benefit. I managed 1 session and ended up with hours of back to back flashbacks. I was in a really bad way. I was told it was because I was doing it wrong!!!
Years later tried again and it still has the same impact.

I do complicated cross stitch instead. I have to think about the pattern and what I’m doing rather than trying to clear my mind which allows trauma memories head space.


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I do complicated cross stitch instead. I have to think about the pattern

I've just taken up cross stitch :)

Often use language learning apps in the way you describe using cross stitch. Something to focus my mind on and get me out of flashbacks or intense emotions.
Yes, your experience with mindfulness is quite common among people with PTSD. It might be helpful to suggest that our Ts read _Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing_ by David A. Treleaven. Keeping our eyes open is the top recommendation, and so many of us figured that out ourselves according to this thread. Treleaven has many other suggestions for helping us use mindfulness without being immersed in flashbacks, including taking breaks, shorter practice periods, soothing self-touch (like butterfly hands on heart and diaphram), a few deep breaths.

I haven't read enough yet to know if the "Window of Tolerance" concept is discussed often, but an essential component of mindfulness is recognizing where we are relative to the zone: Hyperarousal (sympathetic nervous system is in flight-or-fight response mode), hypoarousal (dorsal vagal freeze/immobilization mode), or optimal arousal zone (ventral vagal "social engagement" zone. (For the googlers among us, this is Steven Porges' polyvagal theory also.) The idea is that as we're practicing mindfulness, we'll be able to sense when we shift from the optimal zone to hyper- or hypoarousal states, and then use techniques to get us back to optimal.


@flowerapple Thank you for bringing up this topic! I have similar issues with Mindfulness. Anything described as a Mindfulness activity has been problematic for me. And I just started DBT group therapy, and I didn't realize how much Mindfulness would be involved.

Guided meditation is the worst for me. My heart starts racing almost immediately.

Around the middle is anything where I'm supposed to focus on my breathing or breathe a certain way. I hate that! It's like, yes, let's challenge me to do something really hard and then act like it's somehow supposed to be calming and not panic-inducing. I think if someone sold an activity to me as, "this is probably going to make you panic," I at least wouldn't have the added judgment on top!

Lastly are things where someone labels a basic activity as Mindfulness. Usually when someone is trying to convince me that it's not terrible. I will mention that I go on hikes or sit outside and look at grass. Then they will say something like "That's Mindfulness!" Except, I don't actually do these things mindfully without thinking of anything else. So I don't think these actually count, but if they do, they are the least distressing forms.

But yeah, Mindfulness stuff feels like it could be good in the way that exposure to triggers could be good. It gives you an opportunity to practice other skills to regulate. However, since no one expects me to panic from mindfulness, and the guided activities all go on way too long for me, I typically am outside my window of tolerance in a few seconds. (Thanks for bringing that up @Cloudymorning) And then I feel like it's basically useless for me. Because I just end up disassociating to deal with the feelings because it's too much too fast. So I don't understand the appeal.

However, with all that said, the longer I've been in therapy, I have noticed that I am now naturally more aware of things that I previously filtered out. I can notice my own emotional states better. And even small things like when I'm drinking my coffee in the morning, I notice that I am more likely to have thoughts like, "I am really enjoying this flavor/experience."

So I feel like someone might be like, "Well that's Mindfulness!" In which case, I don't actually have an issue with it, and I can almost see why that would be considered helpful, but to me that is a sign of my symptoms improving, not a tool to get there.

Which is why "Mindfulness" activities come across to me like someone saying, "Quick! Do this challenging activity while pretending it's not stressful! And it has to be helpful or you're doing it wrong because we just spent the 10 minutes before trying to convince you how great it is." Which is very stressful, yes? It just reminds me how different I am.


YES! The few times I have tried it, I have either ended up outside my body and in terrible places and frames of mind, or my mind caved onto me and I had melt downs.

Rani G2

I think this type of practice is much less triggering for us: your eyes are open so less feeling of vulnerability, no breathing so you don't get anxious and no body scan so no bad memories crashing in.

@Cypress, makes sense.
Only pranayama techniques have helped me so far. Sitali Breathing or the natural Breath. Usually listening to Indian Mantra, or any other Buddhist or Vedic chanting (Grew up in Sri Lanka) Helps to ground myself. Everyone with their own styles...

Rani G2

did it when I was living in India
If I may ask, under guidance? Ashram? Just a question our of curiosity..
Pranayama should be integrated in yoga practice? Mindfulness I don’t know much about, just the whole Kabbat-Zinn beginnings... his father-in-law Zinn appeared to be more interesting to me ;-)


Not an ashram, I was working there for a few years and did it with my yoga teacher. We also had a pranayama practitioner come to our office once week as part of a wellness campaign and everybody, both Indians and Westerners, really liked it.

I think as a stand alone practice it definitely competes with buddhist meditation and its stepchild mindfulness.
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