Paul Yang, MD., Ph.D.



Title: Unraveling the Chains of Trauma: Embracing Mindfulness for Healing and Freedom


Ms. X, a dedicated county employee, has been grappling with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of ongoing harassment by her Unit chief. The toxic work environment has taken a toll on her mental health, leading her to take medical leave. In her pursuit of change, she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint, hoping for a fair ruling that would release her from this oppressive situation. As a coping mechanism, she has turned to meditation to find solace. However, she struggles with breaking free from the recurring patterns of trauma.


Even during her medical leave, Ms. X is entitled to receive holiday pay, provided her Unit chief signs the necessary forms. Unfortunately, her Unit chief refuses to cooperate, adding to her distress. After numerous attempts, she finally secures the signature for the form. However, when it comes to the Juneteenth day holiday, her Unit chief once again refuses to sign, ignoring her repeated attempts to contact him. Faced with this hopeless situation and feeling helpless, her anxiety and depression worsen.


Together, we explore the process of internal reactions triggered by these unpleasant encounters. Guided by Buddhist psychology's five-aggregate principle (form, sensation, perception, mental formation, and consciousness), we delve into the formation of internal knots tied within her unconscious mind. Ms. X learns that these knots grow stronger with each encounter, influencing her perception and mental state.


Through mindful attention, she becomes aware of her reactions when her Unit chief denies signing the timecard (Form). A sense of doom washes over her (Sensation), and she interprets it as another act of retaliation (Perception). Thoughts arise, such as, "He will never let go of his grip on me. The cycle of harassment will persist endlessly" (Mental formation). These thoughts quickly trigger memories of past trauma, fueling her belief that he will continue to fabricate accusations and falsify documents (Consciousness).


Recognizing the transient nature of these internal formations, we emphasize the importance of seizing the opportunity to break free while they are still loosely tied. Ms. X is encouraged to pause, release her attachment, and distance herself from the situation. Stepping outside, she breathes in the fresh air, finding solace in the vastness of the sky and the calmness it represents. In emptiness and tranquility, she gains clarity and can address the situation at hand, focusing solely on the issue of the two missing holiday paychecks. Breaking free from the habitual unconscious reactions demands patience and unwavering commitment. With persistent practice, she can gradually liberate herself from triggers and find freedom from anxiety and depression.

Throughout this journey, Ms. X is reminded that her true nature is akin to the vastness of the sky—spacious, boundless, and unharmed. As hope gleams in her eyes, she embarks on her path of mindfulness practice, aiming for personal growth, healing, and ultimately, liberation.

By embracing mindfulness and cultivating a deeper understanding of the internal knots formed by trauma, Ms. X encourages individuals to embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing, offering a guiding light for those seeking liberation from their past experiences.


Keywords: trauma, mindfulness, healing, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, harassment, toxic work environment, coping mechanism, meditation, change, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), fair ruling, mental health, medical leave, holiday pay, Unit chief, resistance, internal knots, Buddhist psychology, triggers, liberation, freedom, resilience, transformation, perseverance.