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Katie’s Bookshelf: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness by David Treleaven

David Treleaven’s book, “Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness,” advocates for Mindfulness teachers to recognize the importance of understanding trauma from a biology, interpersonal, and systemic perspective, guide students safely through practices, and continuing to partner with other trauma professionals in their community. He puts a large emphasis on understanding the ongoing traumas that those who are in marginalized groups have to deal with and how this impacts their day to day life.

The author gives a brief background of Mindfulness but assumes one who is reading this already has that foundation. He provides more information on trauma and the residue it leaves in the body. He then outlines his 5 principles of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness; staying within the window of tolerance, shifting attention to support stability, working with dissociation, practicing with relationship, and understanding social context.

“The point here is that other people–who they feel are safe and trustworthy–can help survivors regulate arousal, whether through settling eye contact, physical touch, or overall presence.”

As a therapist and yoga instructor who spends a lot of time taking in content on trauma, mindfulness, and yoga, I found this book incredibly enlightening and useful. Treleaven approaches this heavy topic with a wealth of his own knowledge, vignettes to describe how mindfulness can be effective and ineffective with those who have endured trauma, and steps for the Mindfulness practitioner to understand how to structure, lead, and address a class and a survivor with a trauma-sensitive approach. I really enjoyed his emphasis on systemic trauma in that it gave me a better understanding of how the ongoing trauma can show up differently than other traumas. I also appreciated his information on the vagus nerve as it relates to neuroception(being able to connect to the social world).

This book is a must read for any practitioner of mindfulness or yoga, since mindfulness is used so abundantly in classes. All instructors will teach survivors of trauma whether they know about it or not. It’s always important to know the risks and how to address an abreaction.

Read this book if:

  • You are a Mindfulness, Meditation, or Yoga Instructor
  • You are a therapist who may be utilizing or recommending mindfulness practices

Buy it Here

Treleaven, D. A. (2018). Trauma-sensitive mindfulness: practices for safe and transformative healing. New York: W.W Norton & Company.