EMDR and Mindfulness/Meditation (Part II)

EMDR & Meditaiton

EMDR and Meditation

After coming back from my 2nd EMDR training, I got very sick with the flu and it took me 4 to 6 weeks to recover. During that time, I was so sick to a point that I was really feeling depressed. However, my desire to go back to meditation was “nagging” behind me. Once I felt that I can finally breathe through my nose, I started to practice meditation here and there.

One day, I had a very good session with a client who struggled with the fear of flying since 911 in 2001. I did one session with her that day and was feeling pretty good about it. I came home and started to practice my meditation. During my meditation, I struggled to stay focused on my breathing. Suddenly, I heard myself telling myself: “take a deep breath and what did you notice?”

I was shocked, really shocked and thought that I really had a tough day practicing EMDR. However, at that moment, I realized that “OMG, EMDR is the open-eye meditation and meditation is the closed-eye EMDR!”

A lot of veterans told me that they cannot meditate because they cannot close their eyes. I often said this to them: “you can just stare at something by still your focus.” Closing your eyes to meditate because “the eyes moves and the mind wonders.”
So, when the therapist administers the bilateral stimulation, essentially, it takes the clients mind to wonder. As we don’t know how the memory system was build, our brain takes us to go through the body sensation, the images, the thoughts, and the emotions tied to the memory.

“Take a deep breath and what did you notice?”
Essentially, when the client just notices what goes through their mind, they only observe the images, physical sensations, thoughts and emotions, JUST LIKE MEDITATION, you observe but not react to those images, physical sensations, thoughts and/or emotions!

Therefore, the less you talk with the clients between the bilateral stimulation, the better because the more you talk, the more you encourage the clients to react to those images, physical sensations, thoughts, and/or emotions.

The “technique” (lack of better ways to describe it) of meditation is to develop the ability to observe but not react and to stop yourself when your mind wonders with the images, physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts. When you have the ability to stop yourself and bring yourself back to the breathing, you develop the ability not to react to the environment unconsciously.

At the same time, as bilateral stimulation from EMDR brings you to different places, images, physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions, and you are able to stay with it, only stay with it but not react to it, you stop the reaction you generally has towards those “worst part of the memory.” You break the cycle of “trigger, react, avoid, and reinforce the worst part of the memory.”


As I said in the beginning, I am happy to report that I have finished the EMDR training as well as getting my meditation practice back. I think it is a very successful story and a good demonstration to show that EMDR does work. I am not saying it because I received the training but because it works on me!


EMDR and Mindfulness/Meditation (Part I)

EMDR & Meditaiton


I started my EMDR training in September 2015 hoping that this treatment method will be another important tool in my toolbox to work with people with trauma history and PTSD. Eight months later, I am finally done with the training and happily to report that I can officially be certified.

In the last 8 months, I have seen so many magical moments with my clients who were willing to try EMDR. It was really magical to me to see how they use their own brain’s healing power to heal their trauma as well as seeing their growth post-trauma.

At the same time, I also went through my own transformation through EMDR as a person.

What I loved about my EMDR training was the requirement for all the therapist-in-training to experience EMDR as the client as part of our training. In the 2nd training in Feb, the first thing was to connect my the psychological resources by using Bilateral Stimulation as part of “resourcing” before jumping into working on my issues. The resource I chose was to pick up my meditation habit as it was once helped me to feel grounded. During that time, I have not meditated consistently for about 6 months due to my chaotic life. I know that I need to get back to meditate regularly because my life had been chaotic. Because my life was chaotic, I fell out of meditation but it was the main reason I needed to get back to meditation to find some grounding. 

I know, it is paradoxical but that is the dilemma I was in at the time.

I am happy to report that I am actually back to practice meditation regularly two months after I set this goal during my EMDR training. More importantly, during the process to enhance this resource (meditation) while going through EMDR training, I realized how similar EMDR and meditation to each other.


EMDR is an evidence-based treatment that has been found helpful to the clients with PTSD, anxiety, and phobia symptoms. When I explained to my clients about EMDR, I warned them that “it might be funny to think that the therapist waving fingers in front of your eyes and you just follow my fingers can really help.” However, it really goes beyond just following the therapist’s fingers.
The more I know about Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) and the brain function, the more impressed I am with EMDR. Essentially, through the bilateral stimulation (waving fingers in front of the client’s eyes and the clients follow it), the therapist stimulated the clients’ memory systems that stored the physical sensation, the images, the negative thoughts, and the emotions that tied to the memories. It is not the memory that makes us jumpy, anxious, fearful, etc. It was the physical sensation, the images, the negative thoughts, and the emotions that tied to the memory that triggers the reaction. Essentially, bilateral stimulation triggers that process to start “clean out” the physical sensation, the images, the negative thoughts, and the emotions that are no longer needed in the current life but only the useful information that are still needed. 

How and why this work, apparently, no one knows but it works. In the last 8 months, I have seen a lot of “magic” happened with my clients.
The standard EMDR protocol asked the therapist not to talk to the clients too much between the processing. We are told that too much talk will disrupt the processing. We ask the clients to trust their brain has the power to heal and will take them to the place where they needed to be in order to heal. The client is asked to just observe what’s coming up and let the brain take him/he to where he/she needs to be. The standard script between the sets is “take a deep breath, what did you notice.”


Continue reading “EMDR and Mindfulness/Meditation (Part I)”

EMDR, Training Notes

EMDR Basic Training Weekend 1 (Part 3): Clinical Implication

Clinical Scenario # 1: What cause PTSD?EMDR 3-1

For years, when I was reading the research on childhood sexual abuse and PTSD, the research cannot define it is the “abuse” or “lack of care/concern from the caregiver” causing PTSD. That is, we don’t know whether it is the “abuse” itself causing PTSD, or it is because the adult didn’t provide the protection that caused PTSD.

Continue reading “EMDR Basic Training Weekend 1 (Part 3): Clinical Implication”

EMDR, Training Notes

EMDR Basic Training Weekend 1 (Part I)

EMDR 1Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is the training I have wanted to go for years! I am so excited to finish the part 1 of the first training and here are my notes and my reflection on my clinical work from the training. The part I of the notes is my very basic understanding of the theory.

Continue reading “EMDR Basic Training Weekend 1 (Part I)”