Described as reoccurring terror following an intense or, what could be termed ‘traumatic’ incident, post-traumatic stress disorder has been effecting those who have experienced significant stress due to a particular incident or string of incidents probably since the beginning of time. More than 7,000 civilians and military personal suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. You don’t have to have gone to war to experience it. Many people living through serious car accidents, fires or natural disasters, or seen a loved one die have also ended up with what would be called PTSD. So what can help? Research is finding more and more than PTSD can be greatly alleviated and even resolved through different forms of dream therapy.
During dream time is when we process traumatic emotions and memories, as many of us have experienced through analyzing our nightmares and realizing they mirror some event in our life that we are unresolved over. Dream therapy, including placing patients into a R.E.M. state, where memories can be reactivated, seems to be having some great results, say scientists at the University of California, Berkley. Not only do sleepers reactivate their memories, but during treatment can then, put them into better perspective and integrate them in a non-stressful environment.
What if I can’t afford dream therapy?
Great news for individuals suffering from PTSD who can’t afford ‘dream therapy’ – there is an inexpensive, at home alternative. Ever heard of Yoga Nidra? Perhaps, if you have read one of my earlier articles Lose Weight while you Sleep, where I introduce the technique and it’s beneficial uses for weight loss, you are familiar. Yoga nidra is an ancient yogic technique which moves the practitioner safely and consciously into dream and deep sleep states where the subconscious and unconscious mind can be healed and reprogrammed by the sleeper. Yoga nidra can be done at home with the use of an audio device, while laying on your bed.
Richard Miller and Rod Stryker are two of the most well known yoga nidra teachers using the practice in the United States. Miller has a book called Yoga Nidra, published in 2005 where he describes the method in detail and it’s correlation to yogic philosophy. He has been using this technique to help all kinds of people recover from PTSD, substance abuse and other difficult situations. In the year 2005, Miller enacted a yoga nidra program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for veterans with PTSD, where it is still active, as well as in a number of other military facilities elsewhere. Yoga nidra is a new, yet ancient kind of dream therapy that has been benefiting those with PTSD for many years.
To use the method at home, you can simply acquire a yoga nidra guided meditation CD through amazon.com and put it into your disc player at home. There are 2 stages of the practice where you are required to state your ‘San Kalpa’ or resolve. This is the point at which you affirm to yourself the desired state of mind you wish to develop, such as ‘I am calm, centered and free from stressful memories‘ or ‘I am free, clear, calm and centered in my whole being‘ or ‘I experience only joyful memories with pleasant sensations.‘ As you can see, you cater the San Kalp or resolve to fit you – though it must be stated in the affirmative as if it is already true, this is critical in reprogramming the subconscious and erasing painful memories.
Practice should continue at least once per day for a two week minimum, more often if possible. You will know when technique has worked when you no longer are experiencing symptoms of PTSD and are noticing your life take a turn for the better. If you get tired of using the same meditation CD over and over, there are plenty more to choose from. Using intermediate and advanced versions of the practice will help you delve in deeper and effect more change, though you can be highly successful using only one version of the practice.
Post traumatic stress disorder, to the people who are experiencing it, is a very real and scary thing. Symptoms of PTSD shows that the mind is not dealing with the images it has taken in. The stressful emotions triggered by memories of what happened continue to plague the sufferer endlessly. The most important thing in processing traumatic events is the ability to integrate and release the images burned into the subconscious. Dream therapies like yoga nidra are an effective way to assist one in recovering from PTSD. For more information or assistance in practicing, contact your local yoga studio for possible instructors of yoga nidra. Let stress become a thing of the past and the clarity of a new experience open.
Written by: Stasia Bliss