The best books to heal trauma with yoga and meditation

Deirdre Fay Author Of Becoming Safely Embodied: A Guide to Organize Your Mind, Body and Heart to Feel Secure in the World
By Deirdre Fay

Who am I?

I am someone whose trauma history came out of the blue…while living in a yoga ashram, meditating, and training for triathlons. After almost seven years of ashram life I left, went to graduate school, and explored trauma, attachment, and wisdom traditions in inpatient and outpatient hospital settings, my private practice, and beyond.  I amassed skills sets in trauma treatment (as a supervisor under the guidance of Bessel van der Kolk and Janina Fisher), attachment theory (with Daniel Brown, PhD), compassion (Compassion Focused Therapy & Mindful Self-Compassion), body therapy (as a trainer for Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, practitioner in LifeForce Yoga and Self-Awakening Yoga), and Internal Family Systems.

I wrote...

Becoming Safely Embodied: A Guide to Organize Your Mind, Body and Heart to Feel Secure in the World

By Deirdre Fay,

Book cover of Becoming Safely Embodied: A Guide to Organize Your Mind, Body and Heart to Feel Secure in the World

What is my book about?

It’s the essence of skills used with groups in person and online over the past twenty-five years; as Janina Fisher, PhD said, using the BSE skills “people got better faster.”  Whether you are healing from abandonment issues or from pain or from grief or other trauma/attachment wounding—or whether you are helping someone else to heal—Becoming Safely Embodied is your map and guidebook to finally feeling at home in your internal world, cultivating a body, mind & heart that’s a safe place for rest, reflection, and wellbeing giving you the life you want to live, instead of living in the life your history catapults you into. I can’t wait to share it with you!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

Why did I love this book?

Those of us who were students of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche received an email one day a number of years ago. Rinpoche had left the comfort of his monastery in the middle of the night with a begging bowl, his robe, and some money. My jaw dropped. This treasured teacher was following in the footsteps of monks searching for freedom by letting go of the safety and comfort of his titles, role as the esteemed abbot of three monasteries…to wandering with only a begging bowl. Instead of using his writing or videos to show us how good he is at meditation, Rinpoche deliberately uses his own experience of anxiety and panic attacks to teach us the power of meditation. 

This book is astounding, exploring the rare experience of a present-day meditation teacher’s intimate experience of putting practice into action.

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Helen Tworkov,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In Love with the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rare, intimate account of a world-renowned Buddhist monk’s near-death experience and the life-changing wisdom he gained from it

“One of the most inspiring books I have ever read.”—Pema Chödrön, author of When Things Fall Apart

“This book has the potential to change the reader’s life forever.”—George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo

At thirty-six years old, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche was a rising star within his generation of Tibetan masters and the respected abbot of three monasteries. Then one night, telling no one, he slipped out of his monastery in India with the intention of spending the next four…

Book cover of Attachment Disturbances in Adults: Treatment for Comprehensive Repair

Why did I love this book?

I was incredibly lucky to spend almost thirteen years learning attachment theory with Dan Brown in a small group setting, meeting with clinicians I highly respected. Dan’s incredible capacity to integrate the theory and literature of developmental psychology, attachment theory, and the wisdom traditions made it clear that the reason trauma doesn’t heal is because of the underlying attachment issues. David Elliott headed the team of co-authors which I am honored to be part of, making the book immensely readable. In 2018 it won the prestigious International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) Pierre Janet Writing Award.

By Daniel P. Brown, David S. Elliott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Attachment Disturbances in Adults as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Attachment Disturbances in Adults offers an innovative therapeutic model and set of methods for treating adult patients with dismissing, anxious-preoccupied or disorganised attachment. With rich detail, it integrates historical and leading-edge attachment research into practical, effective treatment protocols for each type of insecure attachment. Case transcripts and many sample therapist phrasings illustrate how to apply the methods in practise.

Book cover of Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga

Why did I love this book?

It was hard to pick just one of Amy’s books. She’s written a fabulous novel called Temple Dancer and a great book teaching Yoga Skills for Therapists. I had to go with her original groundbreaking book though, Yoga for Depression. Amy was the first person to actively advocate using yoga to treat mood issues like anxiety and depression. Her work, integrating the practices of yoga with contemporary research on yoga and psychology, make it an important – practical book for your bookshelf. 

By Amy Weintraub,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Yoga for Depression as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Take the natural path to mental wellness

More than 25 million Americans are treated with antidepressants each year, at a cost in excess of $50 billion. But the side effects of popular prescription drugs may seem nearly as depressing as the symptoms they’re meant to treat. Veteran yoga instructor Amy Weintraub offers a better solution—one that taps the scientifically proven link between yoga and emotional well-being as well as the beauty of ancient approaches to inner peace.

Addressing a range of diagnoses, including dysthymia, anxiety-based depression, and bipolar disorder, Yoga for Depression reveals why specific postures, breathing practices, and meditation…

Book cover of Mindful Compassion: How the Science of Compassion Can Help You Understand Your Emotions, Live in the Present, and Connect Deeply with Othe

Why did I love this book?

This was another tough choice as Paul is a prolific writer, one of the earliest researchers and writers on the importance of compassion in healing. In this book, Paul teams up with a former Buddhist monk, Choden, to skillfully blend evolutionary and Buddhist psychology. Repeatedly, we are shown how compassion can be a powerful motivational force bringing about real, lasting change to end toxic self-criticism, heal trauma and shame, help us feel worthy and loveable, and be kinder to ourselves and others.  

By Paul Gilbert, Choden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mindful Compassion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are you ready to transform your mind and emotions? To cultivate compassion, stability, self-confidence, and well-being? If so, get ready to change the way you experience your life with this highly-anticipated approach using mindfulness and compassion. Therapists have long been aware of mindfulness as a powerful attention skill that can help us live with greater clarity and awareness - but mindfulness alone is not enough to completely change the way a brain works. In order to fully thrive, we require motivation. Compassion, like anger or aggression, is an extremely powerful motivational force that can bring about real, lasting change. Written…

Book cover of The iRest Program for Healing PTSD: A Proven-Effective Approach to Using Yoga Nidra Meditation and Deep Relaxation Techniques to Overcome Trauma

Why did I love this book?

I really struggled with coming up with only five best books. When I first started dealing with my own trauma there were two peer-reviewed articles on trauma and meditation. Now there are thousands. Part of me wanted to highlight the new exemplary books coming out and yet, I know the books that have impacted me and have stood the test of time. The iRest Program is one of them. Based on the Advaita teachings of Jean Klein (which I am immensely lucky to have studied with) iRest provides a simple way to do just that – rest. Since hypervigilance is one of the painful symptoms of trauma, being able to rest, to still, to quiet, is essential. 

By Richard C. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The iRest Program for Healing PTSD as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you know how debilitating the symptoms can be. Many times, people with PTSD will suffer flashbacks, have intense nightmares and difficulty sleeping, and may feel angry, anxious, and constantly "on alert." Living with PTSD is extremely difficult, but there are ways that you can manage your symptoms and, in time, recover.

In The iRest Program for Healing PTSD, clinical psychologist and yogic scholar Richard C. Miller-named one of the top 25 yoga teachers by Yoga Journal-offers an innovative and proven-effective 10-step yoga program for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The deep relaxation…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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