Christopher Germer, PhD, Faculty, Harvard Medical School, author, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, and co-editor, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy
“Deirdre Fay offers a unique, new vision for understanding and treating trauma. . . . Individually, each of these approaches may be considered cutting-edge in the trauma field, but together they have profound significance for how we can assist trauma survivors on the path to healing.”
Janina Fisher, PhD, international expert and lecturer on trauma, dissociation, and traumatic attachment, author of the forthcoming book, Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors.
“Deirdre Fay’s Attachment-Based Yoga & Meditation for Trauma Recovery is a perfect fusion of heart, soul, and science—a rare and welcome mixture in a professional book! Fay gracefully integrates neuroscience and attachment research with the perspective of the yoga and meditation world to create a practical, compassionate guide to understanding the painful struggles of traumatized clients badly failed by their primary attachment figures. This beautifully written book also describes a cutting edge best-practice model for trauma treatment and offers a toolkit of accessible, practical strategies inspired by yoga and meditation practice. All therapists need this book—if only for inspiration!”
Paul Gilbert, PhD, FBPsS, OBE, author of The Compassionate Mind
"Deirdre Fay, internationally renowned for her work on becoming safely embodied, has succeeded in introducing an extraordinary, integrative approach to trauma and therapy. Rooted in our understanding of attachment processes, this book outlines key sources of shame and dissociation that can underpin trauma and divert healing. Fay textures her insights with new and fascinating ways of utilizing body-based meditations, compassion-focused skills, and yoga approaches to help people engage body and mind in healing trauma and other emotional wounds. Unique, engrossing, and deeply pragmatic, this book is an important contribution to the field and will be of immense value to those working with traumatized people."
Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, Developer of the Internal Family Systems Therapy model of psychotherapy
“I know Deirdre Fay to be an excellent trauma therapist who weaves together a number of complementary approaches. So it is no surprise that she has produced an impressive volume that combines her extensive study of yoga with many innovative trauma therapies and with attachment theory. Full of practical exercises, it will be of great value to therapists and clients alike.”
Amy Weintraub, Founder, LifeForce Healing Institute, author of Yoga Skills for Therapists and Yoga for Depression
“This book you hold in your hand—do not put it down! Attachment-Based Yoga and Meditation for Trauma Recovery is not only a major contribution to the literature of trauma treatment, it is one of the most moving books you will ever read. You don't have to be in recovery from trauma or a healing professional to absorb the lessons of heart, body, mind and spirit it offers, page after page. This book will change you at the most profound and life-altering level. Deirdre Fay has created an astonishing resource that integrates wisdom traditions of yoga and meditation, in both philosophy and practice, with current understanding and research in trauma treatment. I wept, I learned, and I cheered as I read Attachment-Based Yoga and Meditation. Finally, someone has the wisdom to integrate it all. Thank you, Deirdre Fay!”
Overview of Chapters
Chapter 1: An Integrative Approach to Healing Trauma
Most people want out of pain. That's natural and understandable. On the surface this is about easing the symptoms of suffering. This is the first phase of trauma treatment. Even as trauma symptoms are eased, the greater issue is to ease the fractured sense of belonging, helping the person remember who they truly are. This chapter explores an attachment-based approach to healing trauma, integrating yogic psychology.
Chapter 2: Foster Self-Compassion to Ease Shame
The godawful moments of shame take over in a nanosecond. Anyone who has had the experience of shame can recall the acute experience, the physiological horror of wanting to die, hide, numb, disappear - or as one of my clients says, "zeroing out." The body knows the experience first. Within a moment defensive responses come roaring online with the demand to hide, disappear, shut down. In the tightly packaged aftermath, the frontal lobe shuts down, information processing gets cut off. The tsunami of shame sets off every alarm in the body igniting a cauldron of intensity, filling the person with seething self-criticism, self-hatred, and every other dastardly self-attack. This chapter explores using self-compassion as an antidote to the horrific experiences of shame.
Chapter 3: Support Safe and Secure Body Access
Entering the body means crossing a very new and different threshold, even learning a new language. Generally, people don't undertake that learning until life cracks them open and they find they can no longer cope.
People with trauma or attachment wounding report feeling as if they are living with a terrifying internal fireworks display erupting in their mind, heart, and body, sometimes all at the same time. With huge amounts of sensate data coming in, it is difficult to parse out what information is useful and what isn't. The body is flooded with data that feels "real." Learning to organize all this disorganized data is the chief task of anyone healing from trauma.
Chapter 4: Disarm Dissociation with Presence
Trauma treatments support the natural impulse to heal, supported by the tools, treatments, and maps to follow when dealing with people's complicated inner and outer lives. Despite that, we are regularly faced with our clients' unrelenting internal distress. They acutely feel the staccato moments when they're unable to make sense of all that is fermenting inside them.
They come to us vulnerable, disorganized in their inner worlds, asking us to enter into the broken states that consume them. Desperately alone, they ache for relief while at the same time pushing away the hope that it can ever be different.
We go there with them, willingly suspending the reality of the moment to enter into what Daniel Stern called the Intersubjective Matrix (2004), where the emphasis is on nonverbal, implicit contents of the present moment.
Many with trauma and attachment issues come into therapy having no narrative memory of traumatic events. Their bodies, instead, tell the story, shaking, clenching, moving with no attendant content. Having a map, an explanation, a reason for why traumatic responses affects them in the way they do helps people deal with being in their pain-racked body.
A trigger is the lever one presses to discharge a firearm. With PTSD, triggers come when stimuli in the here and now cause neurons and synapses in the brain to fire instantaneously, connecting to stored associations. The trigger is in the moment, evoking thoughts, feelings, or memories that surge up. The person then "remembers" unplesant, horrible, disturbing, frightening, or replusive experiences.
Learning how to identify and intervene in triggered responses builds an internal platform for recovery.
Chapter 6: Develop Intrapsychic Boundaries
Boundaries are generally defined as physical, regarding touch, proximity, and process boundaries comprising thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Even as trauma violates physical and sexual boundaries, clients often experience a more complicated boundary, which is the focus of this chapter.
For those with insecure attachment styles, the rupture of this Self/Other boundary, left unrepaired, creates enormous turmoil. This physic boundary between people acknowledges that we are separate from others, allowing us to stay connected without fusing. Without this boundary, a client can reel in psychic disarray when their attachment needs emerge.
This chapter explores the complicated boundaries as well as the confused time boundaries between the present moment and the past (that which has already happened, but is still psychically active.)
Chapter 7: Prana as Guidance
All the skills in this book bring us to the point of knowing, expecting, anticipating, and surfing the turbulence of a trauma/attachment history. Ultimately learning to shift from suffering, being alone with the pain, to having a measure of freedom, is the hardest transformation. Navigating the fiery cauldron of suffering burns away that which isn't one's true nature, so that the essence of who is there, which can never die, can emerge.
This is the vital key - finding and knowing we are more than just our suffering so that we can enter that felt experience. Encountering turbulence in any form, making contact with the pattern, in order to re-pattern from within, and pivot to a more nourishing life.
That is the subject of this chapter. Frankly, that is the essence of living a satisfying and nourishing life.