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Illustrated Embodied Grounding Exercise – Free Printable

Social media can be a dark, divisive place sometimes. On the other end of the spectrum, depending on the accounts you choose to follow, it can be really easy to find yourself surrounded by toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is the sort of blind optimism that refuses to entertain the potential for complex human experience that makes space for diverse combinations of emotional experiences.

I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be okay- it might not be. I won’t say that it’s all going to be alright- because maybe it will never again be alright in the way you have known alright until this moment. But right now, in this breath, you can draw into your lungs the exhale of the leaves around you and feel the warmth of your both capable and helpless hands spread to your chest as your heart moves forward one beat at a time.

Image of a woman wearing a yellow poncho over a black shirt and jeans with black hair in pigtails. She has her hands placed on her belly and chest with eyes closed. Text reads, "Place one hand on your chest, the other on your belly. Breathe. Notice. Repeat."

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Trauma Survivors and Mindfulness

Front cover of the book "Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness"

For some people, especially trauma survivors, the embodiment that comes with many mindfulness practices can be overwhelming. For those of grieving, positive affirmations can feel like pebbles that reverberate in an empty cavern of loss. If long or open-ended mindfulness practices feel overwhelming or frightening because they leave space for anything (and everything!) to come up, focus instead on locating and deeply experiencing a single body sensation for a single moment: the weight of your shoes on the floor, the warmth that moves from your hand as you place it on your chest, or the yawn of a muscle allowed for one moment to relax.

For Providers: The research on mindfulness is hard to dispute. From strengthening neural connections to increasing emotional and biological health, we know mindfulness is beneficial. What is less researched and less well understood is how to responsibly use mindfulness practices with people who experience intrusive thoughts or sensations related to trauma. The above, briefly outlined, practice is loosely based on some of the ideas in the book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, a book a highly recommend for yoga instructors or health providers who want to use mindfulness practices in a trauma-informed capacity.