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Becoming Self Aware as a Trauma Surviving Mama

May 29, 20244 min read

Please share your story and how you help people.

Sure, I've been teaching meditation and mindfulness for 21 years.

I began teaching meditation to children and then training parents, teachers, and therapists, on how to teach meditation to children. I did that for 15 years. Then I shifted gears about five years ago. Now I train adults, how to treat other adults and teach other adults. I also do mindfulness coaching with people, helping them with stress, trauma, and grief.

And then I also train people to become mindfulness coaches. Yeah, how I came about doing all this. I've just been around it my whole life. My parents were both meditators. I was going to ashrams when I was two years old. So it's just something I've always been around kind of rejected it in my teen years, but then came back around to it in my twenties and I was teaching school. Then I started this business teaching meditation to children.


Wow. So how does, how does meditation benefit a trauma survivor?

Yeah. I'm actually in the middle of reading that book: The Body Keeps Score. Wow. It's amazing. It talks all about that. Basically how it works is we have three centers. We have what's going on in our mental capacities, and our thinking. We also have our fight or flight responses, our nervous system, and then the third center I call the heart and that's where our deep emotions are. Joy, gratitude, but also pain, loss and trauma are there.

How mindfulness helps someone heal from trauma is to become aware of how those three centers are playing out in making things difficult. So a typical example would be a trauma survivor is learns how to get through by just persevering and just putting one foot in front of the other and just a lot of stuff going on mentally, just lots of thoughts of putting pressure on oneself to do better, to be better to keep going. So that's one scenario of how I would help someone who's a trauma survivor.

Thinking is usually the root of it, but then there are also people who, because of their trauma, are stuck in fight or flight mode and so they need a whole nother set of techniques to help them soothe their nervous system and train their nervous system, retrain their nervous system to automatically move themselves out of fight or flight mode, which is a more healthy response.


Then as far as the deep loss and rejection and abandonment and all of that, the self-compassion practice is so helpful for healing, healing through that pain. Yeah, it's really a multi-level kind of approach that you need to take with healing your trauma because it's not just affecting one area, it affects many areas in many different ways.

So it's not, there's not one quick fix. It takes time and practice and consistency to really see the benefits. Yeah, it's different for different people. I mean, some people don't have a fight or flight situation. It’s a different presentation.

What is the first step that they would take to become more self-aware?

Yeah. Simply take a moment to just sit and notice your thinking- and that takes patience. The first time might be a disaster, but if you take a few minutes here and there out of your day over time in a couple weeks, you'll eventually start to be more aware of your thinking.

Pressure-type thinking might be valuing-type thinking. Underneath perfectionism, we're often thinking we're not good enough. So that's why we have to over-compensate by making sure we do everything perfectly. So becoming aware of that and then connecting the emotions that are resulting from this cycle. That can be really eye-opening because if they're in their head and doing all this, they're probably disconnected from some of these difficult emotions of feeling disappointed, feeling worried feeling fear and things like that.

Once they can see that at the end of this cycle, in the end, they end up feeling burnt out. They end up feeling self-critical. They end up feeling not good enough. And that's helpful to be mindful of, of that. And then moving in with some self-compassion to reverse, those thought cycles. So it's that can be really powerful taking some of those steps.

Just simply recognizing and getting to know what your emotions look like for you. Just because somebody’s angry looks like yelling and screaming doesn't mean that everybody's angry looks like yelling and screaming. So learning how to identify your emotions in that way is all on its own is very powerful.

Connect with Sarah Vallely on her website here

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Emily Cleghorn has a fire burning in her soul to make the world a better place and it’s not hard to see why.

If someone would have told her that she would use her trauma that she was enduring in her childhood to inspire and lift others up, she would have laughed you off.

Emily grew up in beautiful small town Nova Scotia, a place she couldn’t wait to get as far away from as soon as she was old enough to leave home. For her, where she grew up represented a lot of pain, disappointment and unmet promises. It represented a lot of limitation and toxic relationships.

She somehow found a strength deep within her to keep persisting. She was aware of the statistics for kids that grew up in similar situations and she made a decision early on that she was not going to be one of those statistics.

She was going to be different...


For Emily, mamahood has been a journey of learning how to regulate her own nervous system so she could teach her babies to do the same.

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It can do the same for you!


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