Stay Present with Mindfulness to Help PTSD

November 9, 2018 Traci Powell

If you stay present in the here and now, you can train your brain to steer away from PTSD's unwanted flashbacks. Learn more at HealthyPlace.

To stay present in the here and now is one of the great challenges of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Flashbacks and triggers can pull you back to the past and a world that is no longer reality. With practice, however, you can train your brain to stay present instead of tormenting you with the past.

To Stay Present with Mindfulness Versus Meditation

It can be so much easier to stay present using mindfulness over meditation. I've had many people suggest to me that I simply need to meditate to stop my brain from drifting back to the traumas I lived through. What those people don't understand, though, is my sitting in the lotus position with my eyes closed trying to focus on not focusing on anything sets me up for an endless stream of flashbacks. My traumatized brain is not able to quiet itself because it loves to relive the past.

I want you to know that if you have tried meditation and find it difficult to keep the past from creeping in, there is nothing wrong with you. You may want to beat yourself up for not being able to do something others make sound so simple, but your brain works differently from people who haven't lived through trauma.

Mindfulness, however, is something you can begin to practice that teaches your brain to stay present. When you are mindful, you take in your surroundings. You don't have to sit quietly with your eyes closed, but instead, you engage your brain to observe what is happening here and now. I've found that mindfulness helps me most when I do something that requires me to use all of my senses, such as taking a walk and focusing on all of the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations around me.

Staying Mindful Helps You Stay Present

When you stay present by keeping your brain busy in the world here and now, you help it keep from drifting back to the past.

The next time flashbacks or intrusive memories of the past want to try to run your brain, focus on your current experience of something in your environment and you're mind will be able to stay present, full of today instead of yesterday.

Tags: stay present

APA Reference
Powell, T. (2018, November 9). Stay Present with Mindfulness to Help PTSD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Traci Powell

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Lizanne Corbit
November, 12 2018 at 5:05 pm

While this speaks to PTSD and is so, so incredibly helpful for those suffering with that. This reminder to stay present and use mindfulness is so widely beneficial! We could arguably all use some more effort to stay present. It's amazing how presence, mindfulness, and gratitude come together and empower us.

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