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Mindful grounding and trauma

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Bartanian, Garbis J.




Doctor of Buddhist Ministry


Gauthier, Jitsujo T.
Gabriel, Victor
Shakya, Miroj


The qualitative research on this intervention involves therapists and their work with patients within the field of mental health, working with inner city and under-served teens from 12 to 18 years’ old in Middle and High School settings. While providing care to patients, one of the key elements used in therapeutic interventions is that of mindfulness. Thus, while using mindfulness-based techniques, such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) or Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), therapists worked to treat patients’ symptoms. Often however, many of the therapists using these interventions faced situations where patients began exhibiting maladaptive behaviors with their original symptoms being left intact or severely intensified. Furthermore, in using mindfulness techniques many of the patients working through severe anxiety found themselves dissociating from their bodies in an attempt to avoid re-experiencing powerful traumatic emotions. Thus, two main issues resulted, a) symptoms got worse, and b) dissociation from the body took place.

As a response, I devised an intervention that incorporated principles of Buddhist meditative practice such as virtue, mental cultivation through awareness, and subsequently wisdom, i.e. the three trainings (sīla, samādhi, paññā). The goal of this intervention is to alter patients’ automatic reactions of being drawn into overwhelming feelings and the dysregulation of bodily sensations, and instead to simply ground the patient by intentionally directing their thoughts and attention to the here and now, while using the body and its parts as anchors of awareness. Thus, the intervention was coined the “Mindful Grounding” (MG).

In using the MG, patients were able to meet their treatment goals much sooner than originally anticipated in their initial assessment during intake. In some cases, therapists observed reduction of anxiety, depression, anger, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms within one or two sessions from first introducing patients to the MG intervention.

The process of experiencing the body thus in a new way as prescribed by the MG, involves helping patients become calmly reacquainted with their own bodies. It is through this connection of body and mind that they develop a deeper and more existential connection with their world, as they heal with the insight gained through acceptance and understanding of their trauma and thereby rebuild their lives.

Degree Granter

University of the West



Library Holding