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!