The Traumatic Stress Institute fosters the transformation of organizations and service systems to trauma-informed care (TIC) through the delivery of whole-system consultation, professional training, coaching, and research.

Embodiment Practice to Promote Feelings Awareness

May 13, 2022 / by John Engel, MA

Monthly RC Mindfulness: Come Fill Your Cup – May 2022

RC Trainers, Champions and staff from Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts and beyond, joined us for our May RC Monthly Mindfulness session, including 9 new staff participating in a New Employee Orientation session at TSI’s home agency, Klingberg Family Centers. A recording of each session is available to registrants. This blog offers a brief summary of the session and resources to support your own practice.

 

Enjoy the read and remember that all staff, Champions, and Trainers at RC agencies are welcome to attend this free, monthly drop-in offering – share this registration link with your coworkers today.

Join us June 1st when we will introduce and experience a mindful listening practice.

Session Summary

Embodiment practices are aimed at using our own bodily sensations to promote self-awareness and emotion regulation. In our Risking Connection (RC) curriculum we refer to this as “feelings awareness.” RC treaters and clients – in fact, all humans – often develop habits that override our bodily sensations. For example, when we feel sensations of tiredness at work we might consume a caffeinated drink or eat a sugary food. When we feel sensations of such as fidgetiness we might busy ourselves with our work. When we feel throbbing sensations in our head and neck, we might take medicine. In each of these examples we might not fully notice our bodily sensations. Instead we might respond in a way that reduces the unpleasantness of the bodily sensations without ever considering their source. In this way, our habitual responses cut us off from noticing and learning from our bodily sensations.

Mindfulness practices offer an opportunity to notice our bodily sensations – without judgement and without attempting to change the sensations – to be present with our bodily sensations, to investigate them with a genuine curiosity.

In our recent session, we engaged in an embodiment exercise with our hands as a way to explore awareness of bodily sensations. This exercise is offered by David Treleaven, author of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing, in this 4-minute video.

If you choose to watch and/or practice the exercise, consider the following reflection questions, either alone or with others:

  • What did you experience in this exercise?
  • How might this exercise and experience support you in your role as an RC treater?
  • How might this exercise and experience support you in your interactions with your colleagues? 

Resource and Reminders for Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness Practice


Tip #1:
Scan your environment for safety. Practicing in a safe space (alone or with others) will help your survival brain perceive safety, so that you can access calm and focus.

 

Tip #2:  During mindfulness practice, experiment with different internal support anchors by focusing your attention on the bodily sensation of your feet contacting the ground, the movement of your arms or legs, or your head balancing on your neck and shoulders. When you notice your mind wandering gently guide your attention back to one of these bodily sensations.

 

Tip #3: Meditation is not recommended as a way to move from a highly dysregulated state to a place of calm, especially for trauma survivors. Rather, movement-based activities– including gentle rhythmic motion, walking, yoga, and other forms of exercise – better support nervous system regulation. Once regulated, mindfulness practice can feel more available.

 

Tip #4: If you are new to our Monthly RC Mindfulness (or simply wish to review prior sessions), feel free to explore mindfulness blogs on the TSI website. The posts with the image of a yellow cup are part of the Monthly RC Mindfulness series. There is also a three-part series from Summer/Fall 2020.

Tags: Mindfulness

John Engel, MA

Written by John Engel, MA

John Engel, Program Coordinator at the Traumatic Stress Institute of Klingberg Family Centers, where he serves as a trainer and consultant for agencies adopting whole-system change to trauma-informed care. John also facilitates strategic change initiatives and product development for TSI, including development and launch of the Online ARTIC Scale. John also leads mindfulness in the workplace initiatives, including design and delivery of a webinar entitled, ‘Mindfulness in the Workplace: Practices for Sustaining Trauma-Informed Care,’ a day-long virtual training event, ‘Mindfulness: The Inner Work of Racial Healing and Trauma-Informed Care, ‘Monthly RC Mindfulness’ pilot and a ‘30-Day RC Mindfulness Challenge.’ John is a Certified Workplace Mindfulness Facilitator (CWMF), is certified in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and has participated in virtual and in-person Mindfulness in the Workplace Summits by Mindful Leader.