I've been asked a number of times about meditation and music, so I thought it was worth discussing. The type of meditation I teach does not use music at all. It is all based on brain science and the training of new neural pathways. Music is not used, particularly, in trauma-sensitive meditation because of the triggers associated with it. What may seem relaxing to me or someone else, may very well be something that triggers a service member's mind to wander back to a village they were in overseas. This could be a potential trigger that revs them up instead of calming them down. Music also often evokes and charges up some deep emotion that could be related to an event in someone's life. It could bring up a loss of a loved one or the difficulty in another relationship. It may also be a stern reminder of what was playing on the radio just before someone's trauma occurred. There is no way to predict what could potentially connect with someone's psyche and cause a reaction.
Meditation is not being used as a method of re-hashing difficult experiences, it is a method of welcoming what comes up, if something comes up, and simply re-focusing the brain onto our designated focus at the moment. It helps to train a new neural pathway so that your focus is not on the trauma, but on your breath here in this moment. It helps to bring the brain into the present moment, as opposed to re-experiencing the past as if it were currently real.
You may need to read that last paragraph a couple of times to understand what I'm saying there. When someone with PTSD has a re-experiencing event, the brain truly believes that what they are seeing and feeling is happening right here, right now. It's REAL..............or so the brain thinks. Meditation, over time, may help to desensitize that by reminding you that what you are re-experiencing isn't exactly the truth of where you are right now. I've always said that I shouldn't believe everything I think because my brain would often get geared up and stuck in my trauma. A regular meditation practice helped to bring me into the moment I am in right now. I was able to train a new pathway, so that when those experiences do come up, I can more readily have a tool available to bring myself into the present, instead of re-experiencing the past as if it's real.
I explain things in the way that I understand them from my own experiences. Sometimes PTSD is hard to put into words. If you suffer from it, you know exactly what I mean. It can be hard to explain what it's like, but I try to put the information I give to you in real-life terms that can be relatable. They are simply meant to make you think about how you view PTSD and to give you some things to consider. Sometimes the brain gets so caught up in one trained pathway, that we can't even see that there could be another pathway available to us, mainly because we haven't given the brain an opportunity or an experience to train anything differently. But I can tell you, that new pathways are indeed possible and it's a true miracle to even hear myself say that because I thought no differently than the soldiers I've met.
Do your homework. Learn about your condition. Don't just accept that because the brain thinks something it's the way things are. PTSD doesn't make us broken. It makes us human.
If your brain thought a pot of gold was about to fall out of the sky............you wouldn't believe it, ahh...but if your brain thought that you were going to get into another accident right now, it would believe it. Are these both true? Are these both false? Is there a way to determine if either is about to happen? How are these things different?
One pathway was trained, the other wasn't. You can't determine the answer to either of those questions. You might think you can, but I can bet that you would be sure that the pot of gold wasn't going to happen, but you would be adament that the other would happen. We are only in this moment. We are not in the past. We are not in the future. Why would you believe one or the other when you can't feasibly determine either? Do you see what I am saying?
Play around with that idea a bit and see what you come up with. I have a story to tell about why I use that particular example, but that will come on another day. Consider the thoughts you believe each day because many times the thoughts that come with PTSD are pretty dark and frightening. Do you believe them? Are they actually true? Or is it just a super neural highway of stress that's causing you to believe they are true, simply because that's the highway that was most traveled?