From day to day we have the potential to think many different kinds of thoughts, but we don't always realize that we have the power to choose which ones to follow. Learning to weed the garden of our own mind is just part of the evolution each of us has to go through on the road to discovering what makes us who we are post-trauma.
The road of recovery post-trauma isn't about erradicating all negative thought, it is about recognizing that negative thoughts and positive thoughts can all exist, but that we have a choice in which ones to put our attention on. It sounds easier said than done, doesn't it? Well this is where a tool like meditation and other practices can help draw your awareness of thoughts and ideas you either didn't or couldn't access prior, or weren't sure you were able to access.
Many find that when they sit down to meditate, one negative thought seems to bring an army of other negative thoughts that descend in an instant. This is all normal. This is how our brain functions and it's true that one negative thought usually comes with friends, but while sitting in meditation we can choose to follow those negative thoughts, allowing our experience to escalate or we can bring non-judgmental awareness to the fact that we are simply having thoughts that feel negative. When we detach from the judgment of the thoughts, we become less aroused by the thought and have the opportunity to choose a focus to replace the thought from it's position of dominance over us.
Mantra meditation has been very helpful in doing that for me and a number of clients. Keeping in mind that I take a trauma-sensitive approach to meditation, a mantra for us is simply a set of two or three words that we use as a focus, so we repeat these two or three words gently as many times as we need. As other thoughts come up and try to distract us, we repeat those words and use them not only as an interruption to the other thoughts, but as a way of recognizing that we can choose where we put our attention. This is how we begin to weed our mind of thoughts that don't belong in the garden of our mind. If we let the weeds take over, we'll have a lawn full of them and very little thriving, healthy grass.