Healing from within: Relief for victims of domestic violence
November 22, 2016
In 2013 The David Lynch Foundation and the New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence formed a partnership to help victims of domestic violence across the city heal from trauma.
Thanks to the partnership, victims of domestic violence were able to learn Transcendental Meditation, an effortless practice repeatedly proven to help alleviate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, at the city’s Family Justice Centers at no cost.
Studies published in peer-reviewed journals help evaluate the effectiveness of specific tools for combating stress and trauma and inform the decisions to make them available to those who unfortunately have been exposed to violence. Yet encountering the real-life stories of the power of healing from within, stirs something different and deeper in us.
That is why the article by Rachel Katz, the lead teacher for the David Lynch Foundation’s Women’s Health Initiative, published at Lennyletter.com offers a valuable insight into the results of the partnership.
Katz writes: “Many survivors say that their physical wounds heal, but the emotional and psychological damage far outlasts the relationship.
Often the women I meet have some resistance to the concept of closing their eyes and spending time alone in their head. After all, that is where painful thoughts and memories lie. The enjoyment of just being can seem challenging and abstract. But with each meditation, their bodies are able to heal deeply rooted traumas, and their brains begin to function in a healthier, more integrated way.
You might be surprised to know that we spend a lot of time in class laughing. We laugh at how good it feels to have a sense of freedom from within, and to be free of self-punishment as well as external abuse. In the past, for many of my students, it just didn’t seem possible to feel anything but exhaustion, fear, anger, hurt, confusion, numbness, being overwhelmed.
But with TM, they begin to let go of those negative feelings, and the energy they spent holding on to them is released.
Recently a young mother asked me to meditate with her before a court date where she would have to be in the same room as her abuser. The last time it had happened, she’d been so nervous she couldn’t speak. This time was different. She walked in calmly, but not coldly. She knew she had every right to be angry and sad, but she was no longer going to be intimidated. She spoke with an ease and deliberateness, and she noticed people in the room treating her with more respect. She respected herself. She wasn’t distracted by worries or doubt — she saw her path and stayed its course.
Survivors often neglect themselves and put others’ needs before their own. But you must take care of yourself.
It’s like they tell you on an airplane: you must put on your own oxygen mask first — secure your vital needs — before you can expect to help anyone else. When a survivor is living with symptoms of trauma and stress, it can be challenging to know what she needs and wants; it can be hard for her to sort what she wants to accomplish.
By starting the day with TM, her first waking moment is an act of self-care, and then in the late afternoon, she meditates again, to recharge for her evening. When the nervous system is able to restore itself through deep rest, research shows that the effects are increasingly sustained throughout the day.
Progressively, this style of functioning for the mind and body naturally empowers the survivor to make the best choices for herself without much deliberation and with more confidence.
While the circumstances under which I meet my students are painful, I love the work I do. To witness their resilience and healing is nothing short of a complete joy.”
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