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!

The books I picked & why

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

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Helen Tworkov,

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

Why 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.


Attachment Disturbances in Adults: Treatment for Comprehensive Repair

By Daniel P. Brown, David S. Elliott,

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

Why 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.


Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga

By Amy Weintraub,

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

Why 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. 


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

By Paul Gilbert, Choden,

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 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.  


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

By Richard C. Miller,

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 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. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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