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Identifying Triggers through Mindfulness Practice

The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an experience during which a person is directly or indirectly exposed to actual or threatened death or serious injury (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000). In this definition, scholars include events such as combat, childhood abuse, and rape. Current literature also describes trauma as betrayal, illness, infidelity, job loss, divorce, racism, and other events that threaten one’s well-being (Levine, 2008; Waelde, Pennington, Mahan, Mahan, Kabour, & Marquette, 2010). The resulting stress, called traumatic stress, can cause mental, emotional, and physical symptoms. These include intrusive memories of the event (such as nightmares), avoidant and numbing behaviors (e.g., withdrawal, substance use), hyperarousal (chronic anxiety), and depression (chronic lethargy).

An Effective Strategy for Improving Physical & Mental Health

There are many different definitions of mindfulness, but a commonality exists among all the definitions. Mindfulness, a form of meditation, contains three key ingredients: 1) focused attention on an object, 2) observing moment by moment, and 3) observing nonjudgementally.