I recently led a workshop for staff who work at a Domestic Violence prevention shelter focusing on mindfulness. Taking time and space for our Selves to practice minfulness can be a useful tool in times of peace or conflict. Some strategies we worked with included noticing, breathing, and sharing:

Noticing: Take one to five minutes to look or move around the space you are in and be aware of what you observe and feel.

Breathing: Close your eyes (if you are comfortable with that) and take ten breaths. Relax your shoulders and your jaw. Feel the earth breathing through you, let her support you.

Sharing: share your experience with a trusted friend: what did you feel? any mind's-eye images, questions that came up, etc.

That is some mindfulness practice in a nutshell; I hope you try it and would love to hear what you have to share.

Peace and love ladies!


Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices Against Gender-Based Violence.

Comment on this Post


Hi Michelle - 

Thanks for this reminder! I've found that practicing mindfulness can be helpful in so many situations. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the last thing that I want to take time to do, especially when it feels like another thing on my "to do" list. But, I always feel so much better when I do take the time. 

I can only imagine how powerful mindfulness would be for those working in domestic violence shelters. Do you think it would also be helpful for survivors of violence? Do you know of any resources that might help survivors to use mindfulness to cope with their abusive situation (past or present)?

I'm glad that you are part of this community and I hope to hear more from you!

- Liz

Hi Liz, thanks for reading. My thoughts re: your insights - 

Do you think it would also be helpful for survivors of violence? Yes most definitely! Mindfulness has been proven to support folks experiencing all types of life experiences from PTSD to eating disorders, day-to-day struggle, DV, and more.

Do you know of any resources that might help survivors to use mindfulness to cope with their abusive situation (past or present)? Additional resources range from develping a daily mindfulness practice independently or by working with a mindfulness coach such as myself, participating in a support group (TREM for example), or even something such as drawing. There are also a lot of coloring books created for grown-ups which can be a fun and creative way to be present without the pressure of having to sit and be still.

Thanks again Liz, perhaps we can connect here in PDX!

Thanks Michelle for providing the practice of mindfulness workshop to staff who work with domestic violoence survivors at dv shelters. Providing tools that staff can draw upon during their time providing support for vulnerable and at-risk women (and their children) during this very difficult time is wonderful. Mindful breathe and speaking works to help calm the mind. I try my best to use mindfulness during ttimes that require me to take a step back and not add a strong emotion or judgement into the situation I am experiencing and I imagine that the mindful practice you teach does something similar.

Have you found that certain authors or exercises work better than others when working with domestic violence issues and situations, whether that be with staff or with the survivors (and their children)? Have you experienced a pattern of feedback from the participants?

Thank you for your work. There is a trickle-down impact to the survivors who feel this support and sense of calm I imagine happens with mindfulness practice by their support groups of staff at the shelters.

-- Lisa

Hi Lisa, thanks for writing.

In terms of a pattern of feedback I've noticed that while it may not look like everyone is engaged or paying attention, when I create space for folks to share it can be the most beautiful surprise to hear what someone says.

I create my own programs and have been inspired by the work of Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky in her book Trauma Stewardship as well as Al Siebert's book: The Resiliency Advantage. The TREM curriculum/program is also helpful as is Facing Codependence (the book combined with the workbook). 

Do you have any go-to resources or suggestions?


I do not have any go-to resources or suggestions... this isn't my area of expertise at all. However, I did email a friend of mine who does this work here in the States and I will forward you whatever she sends me.


Hi Michelle,

i must say that i have not worked with any gender based violence organisation, but i do like the method/formula you have given us....i will try it out one of these days.


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only LOVE can do that. -Martin Luther King Jnr.

Hi Michelle,

I'm really glad to read your description of what basic mindfulness practise can do in providing a level of healing for survivors. At a time when I was doing lots of group and individual work with women healing from abuse, I felt one of the most important things I could share was basic yoga, meditation, deep breathing. This not only demystified these practices, it created strength and clarity to move through the sorting out of and feeling the effects of what had been done. It also gave women a very practical practise that long outlasted the meetings with me. These practices also gave me the strength and clarity to continue listening and to know how to be helpful. It remains important to me, as well as making sure I take myself somewhere in nature often - wrapping my arms around the nearest tree to let go of pain and take in the amazing strength. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to take care of ourselves and to share how with others.

In sisterhood,