Many domestic violence survivors experience anxiety and depression. Broken to Brilliant uses evidence-based therapies to help survivors rebuild their lives after leaving an abusive relationship. We encourage and equip them to practise self-care so they can move forward in their healing journey.
Blogging GEMS program
The Blogging GEMS program introduces the evidence-based strategies of Gratitude, Exercise, Mindfulness Yoga, Service and Support to survivors, for them to try and to blog about their experiences.
What is Mindfulness Yoga
iRest Yoga-Nidra is a holistic therapy (1) which combines awareness of your body (asana) with breath
work (pranayama practice) and mindfulness meditation (emotions, thoughts, witness) (2).
Research has shown that practising mindfulness yoga is associated with a ‘significant reduction in anxiety, psychological distress, and perceived stress’ (2). iRest Yoga-Nidra has been shown to help domestic violence survivors to reconnect with their inner self increasing their resiliency and coping and creating a sense of calm (3). Overall, yoga is practised as a tool for release from human suffering (4).
Broken to Brilliant was fortunate to have Andrea, an experienced registered nurse, trauma process practitioner and certified iRest Teacher to lead the program for survivors.
A good combo
The combination of mindfulness practice with gentle yoga movement and tapping, was a form of yoga that I had not undertaken before. I found it to be very calming and restorative. There were no yoga poses that were too hard to bend and stretch into. What was helpful was learning to treat our thoughts that wander in during mindfulness activities with care and kindness – to welcome them as they float through without judgement.
I found being still and allowing thoughts to flow into my head difficult to sit with. The thoughts raised emotions and feelings that I have pushed down hard and pretended they are not there, while I keep myself busy with everyday life.
Learning to not judge these thoughts and allow them to come up without categorising them as good, bad, horrible or pushing them away needs a lot of practice. Also, it shows you what you are not dealing with, which is enlightening.
Suppressing emotions or trying to avoiding hurtful emotions can work as a short-term coping strategy. In the long-term, allowing these thoughts to be released without judgement will help to release the trauma and relieve the pent-up anxiety.
The other technique we learned was therapeutic tapping, which is another technique used to reduce anxiety (5). I used tapping to ward off stress headaches that I suffer from. It relieved the tension and released the stress, preventing the pain of a mind-gripping headache and a physiotherapy visit.
Mindfulness Yoga healing for trauma survivors
iRest Yoga – mindfulness yoga – is an ideal tool that can be used during the healing journey for domestic violence survivors (4). It teaches you to be gentle, kind and caring to yourself – something that anyone who has suffered trauma will benefit from.
Andrea Bolding is a Registered Nurse, a certified Trauma Process Practitioner, has Advanced training in Evidence Based EFT and is a Certified iRest Teacher Yoga & Meditation Instructor at EMDR Level 1 and an Acceptance & Commitment Therapist.
Blogging GEMS program
This Blog is a part of the Blogging GEMS program, which supports domestic violence survivors to practise the self-care strategies of Gratitude, Exercise, Mindfulness, Support, and Service (GEMS). As they practise the strategies, they blog about it.you can read their survivor GEMS Blogs:
Mindfulness Meditation Blogs:
1. Butterfield, N., Schultz, T., Rasmussen, P., & Proeve, M. (2017). Yoga and mindfulness for anxiety and depression and the role of mental health professionals: a literature review. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 12(1), 44-54. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-01-2016-0002 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312155544_Yoga_and_mindfulness_for_anxiety_and_depression_and_the_role_of_mental_health_professionals_a_literature_review
2. Eastman-Mueller H, Wilson T, Jung AK, Kimura A, Tarrant J. iRest yoga-Nidra on the college campus: changes in stress, depression, worry, and mindfulness. Int J Yoga Therap. 2013;(23):15-24. PMID: 24165520. https://www.irest.org/sites/default/files/attachments/IJYT_No-23_Eastman-Mueller.pdf
3. Shearin, J. Anderson, K. and Wilson, T. (2014). iRest Integrative Restoration, A Meditative Approach to Healing: Bringing Calm and Ease to Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence and/or Stalking. https://www.irest.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Partner-Violence-iRest-Research-Poster.pdf
4. Kappas Mazzio, Andrea, Natasha Mendoza, Megan Lindsay Brown, Drishti Sinha, Jill Messing, Seth Wilson, and Laura Walton. "Yoga as a Complementary Approach
5. to Healing for Adult Victims and Survivors of Interpersonal Violence." Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 44 (2021): 101427. Web. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1744388121001262
6. König, Steber, Seebacher, von Prittwitz, Bliem, & Rossi. (2019). How Therapeutic Tapping Can Alter Neural Correlates of Emotional Prosody Processing in Anxiety. Brain Sciences, 9(8), 206. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9080206