Does Mindfulness-Based Therapy Help Trauma Sufferers Live in the Moment?

“Veterans with PTSD who received mindfulness-based therapy reported greater (though modest) improvement in symptom severity than veterans in another form of therapy.”

Mindfulness…”Living in the Moment.”  Quote from this link…

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy teaches people to pay attention to the present moment in an accepting way. Past studies have shown it can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, but could it also provide relief for those who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? A new study finds veterans with PTSD who received mindfulness-based therapy reported greater improvement in symptom severity than veterans in group therapy sessions focused on current problems. Their overall improvement, though, was modest.  PTSD affects nearly a quarter — 23 percent — of all veterans who have returned from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Left untreated, this condition poses unique dangers to veterans and their families.”


It is a true story that living in the moment doing the things you are passionate about, including making a difference for others, offers a way to keep the pain of past traumatic experiences at a safer distance and mitigates anxiety about the future.  Some will argue that these healthy distractions achieved through mindfulness-based therapy can keep a person in denial of addressing the root causes of post trauma symptoms.  I say doing both in a balanced way can be effective.  I would rather practice mindfulness therapy than use prescription drugs or alcohol as self medication for the long term.  I also need to revisit and reconcile my own life trauma circumstances as an on-going process to keep a healthy perspective of those early child and young adult years that were so painful living in a highly stressful and sometimes violent home.

In my most recent book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2, Chapter 4…Teaching Kids Empathy & Compassion…Avoid the dangers of emotional numbness and denial, explores my own experience and resources in helping parents, teachers, and children understand how mindfulness-based therapy can work effectively.  Following is an excerpt from Chapter 4…

As vice chair of Neighbors for Kids, I have the privilege and opportunity to work closely with our staff and the children as part of my role as a board member for this amazing after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Our program is growing with many new kids enjoying a very popular summer camp and registering for the start of the new school year.  Our kids become very excited and busy with recreation and academic programs centered in a core learning curriculum known as “STEAM,”  A Framework for Teaching across the Disciplines.   We are also an after-school site for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers project in collaboration with the Lincoln County School District (LCSD).

Our teachers and volunteers take a few minutes before each class to help students relax and refocus…a mindfulness exercise.  The exercise is as simple as staying quiet for 3 minutes with some deep breathing and positive thoughts.  Often children are distracted because of the challenges of socializing and sometimes from sad thoughts.  I could easily see that taking a little time for meditation with the kids helps them get ready for a new learning experience.  The short break between programs also helps us adults do a better job of mentoring and teaching kids as well. 

I have written often about the topic of “mindfulness”  (click highlighted text for video clip) in the context of life after trauma for adults.  But the practice and benefits of meditation or mindfulness therapy definitely apply broadly as a way to relax for people of all ages.  Children in particular get stressed out the same as adults.  We all need a mindfulness timeout a few times a day to stay calm and focused on the joy of living, learning, and growing.”

Take a look at my author page, and download “My Journey Part 2” and other books and resources to explore mindfulness-based therapy.  I have enjoyed far more peace of mind in these later years by becoming highly aware of my own post traumatic stress symptoms, and engaging in a balanced treatment strategy that works.  Each individual must find their own way, or in the case of children, show them the way by practicing living in the moment techniques.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1 & 2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

Steve Sparks, Author, at Sunriver, Oregon in May 2015.



Practicing Mindfulness is Life Changing! Being in the present…Now a classroom exercise for kids…

Jon Kabat-Zinn: There are a lot of different ways to talk about mindfulness, but what it really means is awareness. Anderson Cooper: Is it being present? Jon Kabat-Zinn: It is being present. That’s exactly what it is.

Being Present and Aware is Mindfulness…  Quote from this website article and highly informative video clip with Anderson Cooper, CBS News 60 Minutes…

Anderson Cooper: I don’t feel I’m very present in each moment. I feel like every moment I’m either thinking about something that’s coming down the road, or something that’s been in the past.

Jon Kabat-Zinn: So ultimately all this preparing is for what? For the next moment, like the last moment, like, and then we’re dead (laugh) so in a certain way…


Our teachers at Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon, spend a couple of minutes before each new program or class to help kids to be in the present…to be mindful.  I have watched the technique many times and notice immediately how important it is to learning for children to transition quietly and breathe deeply as a way to focus on the present.  Kids run from one thing to the next, minds full of anticipation and reflection…often not ready to focus in the present.  Helping kids get back to being in the moment really works!

It took me many decades and most of my life to appreciate the value of being in the present.  Mindfulness is the foundation for my own journey of healing as a trauma survivor.  I am practicing being in the present right now while writing this important blog post.  Writing is one of my key treatment strategies that changed my life almost 4 years ago while researching and writing my book, along with starting this blog.  My mind does drift and being in the present takes some discipline.  Self talk resulting from returning to a painful past and thinking too much about the future with anxiety is a habit not easily broken, especially for trauma survivors. 

Although my life experience has proven that during those special times that I unknowingly practiced being in the present, it was always relaxing and joyful…  I dreamed of being mindful of the present every moment of the day, but did not know how…  I haven’t yet achieved perfection at “being,” but the joy of being present most of the time these days is a peace of mind to be treasured…  Jon Kabat-Zinn: “a timeless quality of being in the moment…”

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

New Mexico…food for the soul like no other place!

Taos Pueblo…”The Place of the Red Willows”

Taos Pueblo… Quote from this website article by World Heritage…

“Taos Pueblo, or Tau-Tah, the place of the Red Willows, is considered the longest continuously inhabited place in the United States, a village of about 150 full-time residents, with around 2,000 people living on Pueblo land.

This sign greets you as you enter the village:

Welcome To Taos Pueblo

The Red Willow People of Taos Pueblo welcome visitors as they have for over 1,000 years. To visit the living village is to walk into a sacred place where life continues from the earliest of human existence. Little has changed here in the high desert village. From the people to the pristine landscape, Taos Pueblo continues to enchant visitors old and new.”


“Living in the moment” is at the center of New Mexico’s cultural and spiritual experience, starting with ancient Native American Heritage and connecting with modern America at our roots and soul.  The memorials, and tributes to the history of America’s warriors make a clear connection to the past and the present.  It would take a lifetime to capture the full depth and breadth of this beautiful land and diversified community that thrives on spirituality, healing, and the arts, connecting all of us as brothers and sisters.  

Bataan Memorial Museum and Library
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Angel Fire Vietnam Veterans Memorial
New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial “Rose Garden”

The Bataan Memorial Museum  and Library “Honoring New Mexico’s Citizen-Soldiers since 1598” traces the origins of New Mexico’s National Guard back to the Spanish militia.  “When the Japanese captured 70,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers in 1942, most of New Mexico’s national guard was among them. Released more than three years later, only half of the 1,800 men from New Mexico survived to return home. On exhibit are maps, press clippings and testimonials, along with Civil War artifacts and items connected to the codetalkers and other Native Americans who participated in U.S. wars.”  America’s first warriors are honored both at the many tribal cultural centers, including the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and the memorials to veterans of all wars…New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial.  Angel Fire, New Mexico, nestled in the high mountain valley near Sante Fe, offers one of the most sacred memorials to Vietnam Veterans…The David Westphall Foundation, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

One of our most special experiences of spiritual healing in New Mexico was at Chimayo near Santa Fe.  Judy and I visited Chimayo in the fall of 2012 on an earlier visit.  I wrote about Chimayo, “A Special Place for Healing and Prayer.”  Click on my blog post…


Our recent visit included  Glenn Green Galleries in Tesuque, New Mexico near Santa Fe, which captured our attention and provided even more New Mexican spiritual context from the many sculptures and works of art on display in the gallery and on the property.  Glenn Green, owner, shared stories of two notable artists,  Eduardo Oropeza and Khang Pham-New.  Please click on the referenced links to learn more about their life experiences and body of work…  The stories show the healing value and passion of artists who discover their natural gifts early in life.    Mr. Green tells the stories that bring the art and the artists to life.  Glenn’s passion for his own work as a collector of unique art is about the artists whose stories are as much a part of appreciating the power of healing as the finished sculptures and other works of art displayed in his gallery.

Glenn Green Galleries
Eduardo Oropeza
Khang Pham-New


Judy and I couldn’t get enough of these special and unique spiritual venues during our visit to New Mexico.  Each sacred memorial, museum, and exhibit was special and moving to us in so many ways.  My own history as a Vietnam era US Navy veteran and post WWII military child has a much deeper heartfelt meaning than at anytime in my past.   Judy’s own history of her father’s WWII US Navy service provided her special meaning and legacy.  Judy’s history also includes knowing friends and loved ones who served in Vietnam, and some who did not come home.  We were both overwhelmed with emotion at times.  America’s connectedness to Native American Heritage and the bravery of tribal soldiers’ sacrifice in all wars of our past could not be better demonstrated than in the history of New Mexico and its people.  The people of New Mexico were most welcoming and gracious to us everywhere we visited.  Our recent extended visit to New Mexico was one of the most memorable, healing and spiritual experiences in our lifetime.  The best news is we are already planning a return visit!  Check out the reference websites and plan your own special visit…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

Steve at Glenn Green Galleries, outdoors exhibit park…


Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Mark Knopfler – Brothers in arms [Berlin 2007]… The mindfulness and healing value of music is powerful!

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author




“Brothers in Arms…”  Click on here for this emotionally powerful video music clip…

Artist lyrics…Brothers in Arms (Berlin 2007)…  Quote from this website…

“Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers in arms…”

Brothers in Arms…Dire Straights Album…learn more…

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Brothers in Arms
Studio album by Dire Straits
Released 13 May 1985 (1985-05-13)
Recorded AIR Studios, Montserrat, November 1984 – March 1985
Genre Rock, roots rock, blues rock, new wave
Length 55:07[Note 1]
Label Vertigo Warner Bros. (USA)
Producer Mark Knopfler Neil Dorfsman
Dire Straits chronology
Alchemy (1984) Brothers in Arms (1985) Money for Nothing (1988)
Singles from Brothers in Arms
  1. So Far Away” Released: 8 April 1985
  2. Money for Nothing” Released: 24 June 1985
  3. Brothers in Arms” Released: 14 October 1985
  4. Walk of Life” Released: 30 December 1985
  5. Your Latest Trick” Released: 28 April 1986

Brothers in Arms is the fifth studio album by British rock band Dire Straits, released on 13 May 1985 by Vertigo Records internationally, and by Warner Bros. Records in the United States. Brothers in Arms charted at number one worldwide, spending ten weeks at number one on the UK Album Chart (between 18 January and 22 March 1986), nine weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States, and thirty-four weeks at number one on the Australian Album Chart. The album is the seventh best-selling album in UK chart history, is certified nine times platinum in the United States, and is one of the world’s best selling albums having sold 30 million copies worldwide.[1][2][3][4]

The album won two Grammy Awards in 1986, and also won Best British Album at the 1987 Brit Awards.[5][6] Q magazine placed the album at number 51 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.[7]