U.S. Army adopts mindfulness meditation

August 4, 2010

In an unusual departure from traditional prescriptions for coping with high stress, the United States Army is recommending something more eclectic to its soldiers in Iraq — mindfulness mediation.

According to Major Victor Won, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, mindfulness is a simple but ancient approach to living that western medicine has begun to recognise as a powerful tool for dealing with stress, illness and other medical or psychological conditions, and it could help soldiers in any circumstance.

Quoting the definition of the term used in the book Wherever You Go, There You Are, by popular mediation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, he said, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way or maintaining the … Read more »

Meditation may improve drinking and substance abuse behaviors in active military personnel

Meditation may help improve drinking and substance abuse behaviors in active duty service personnel undergoing treatment in a residential program, according to results from a small study reported at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2010 Annual Meeting.

“Using mindfulness-based, breath-centered meditation may be a helpful treatment modality for service members who wish to recover from substance dependence or abuse,” said lead investigator Amy Canuso, DO, from the Department of Psychiatry at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California, during her presentation.

“I would tell clinicians that this is an option that should be explored,” Dr. Canuso told Medscape Psychiatry. “I would consider including it in therapeutic programs at facilities and into therapeutic practice. Substance … Read more »

University of Wisconsin to study effects of meditation, yoga on veterans’ stress

In the seven years since he finished his stint in the U.S. Navy, Todd Dennis has rarely slept well.

Though never diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, he’s struggled with some of the symptoms, including insomnia and feelings of anger.

Dennis says those symptoms have eased since February, when he began practicing yoga and meditation techniques he learned through the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.

Beginning this fall, the center will apply the tools of neuroscience – including brain imaging – in studies to determine what if any effect such contemplative practices have on veterans with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

“We’ll be looking at whether they make an impact in … Read more »

Can training soldiers to meditate combat PTSD?

A University of Pennsylvania-led study in which training was provided to a high-stress U.S. military group preparing for deployment to Iraq has demonstrated a positive link between mindfulness training, or MT, and improvements in mood and working memory. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware and attentive of the present moment without emotional reactivity or volatility.

The study found that the more time participants spent engaging in daily mindfulness exercises the better their mood and working memory, the cognitive term for complex thought, problem solving and cognitive control of emotions. The study also suggests that sufficient MT practice may protect against functional impairments associated with high-stress challenges that require a tremendous amount of cognitive control, … Read more »

Meditation may boost mood and mental toughness

February 21, 2010

LiveScience: Meditation exercises could boost mental toughness in soldiers readying for war, keeping them from becoming overly emotional, according to new research.

The study found that mindfulness training, which teaches people how to stay alert and in the moment without becoming emotional (giving them a kind of “mental armor”), improved the moods of U.S. Marines preparing for deployment to Iraq. Practicing mindfulness also improved a type of memory that enables people to complete complex mental tasks.

The key is practicing these mindfulness exercises daily, just as you would any other exercise, according to study co-author and University of Pennsylvania cognitive neuroscientist Amishi Jha said in a statement.

The study involved 48 Marines who were … Read more »

Military Buddhist chapel represents tolerance

October 13, 2009

NPR: The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., is home to the only Buddhist chapel on a U.S. military base. After a controversy over religious intolerance during the summer of 2005, the chapel was built in the basement of the academy’s iconic Cadet Chapel.

In 2005, conservative evangelical Christians were accused of trying to force their religion on others. According to current and recently graduated cadets, the religious climate has improved substantially since then.

Chapel Construction

The controversy prompted the Air Force to issue guidelines for religious expression. The military also has made efforts to accommodate all faiths. These include the construction of the 300-square-foot Buddhist chapel at the Air Force Academy paid … Read more »

Former soldier meditates with inmates

October 9, 2009

Independent Florida Alligator: As they walk into the stark gray room at the Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, K.C. Walpole greets each inmate with the grace of a mentor and the sternness of a soldier. Dressed in all black, his head shaved smooth and his broad shoulders fit into perfect posture.

“Are you full of fire and brimstone?” he asks a woman as a smile dimples his aging face.

She nods at him.

“Is there anything we can do to fix that today?”

She points to her head, grabs an imaginary object from it then tosses it away.

“Yeah, let’s get rid of those thoughts,” Walpole agrees.

Walpole, 66, visits the female inmates at … Read more »

Samurai mind training for modern American warriors

September 6, 2009

Time: Not long ago at Fort Bragg, N.C., the country’s largest military base, seven soldiers sat in a semi-circle, lights dimmed, eyes closed, two fingertips lightly pressed beneath their belly buttons to activate their “core.” Electronic music thumped as the soldiers tried to silence their thoughts, the key to Warrior Mind Training, a form of meditation slowly making inroads on military bases across the country. “This is mental push-ups,” Sarah Ernst told the weekly class she leads for soldiers at Fort Bragg. “There’s a certain burn. It’s a workout.”

Think military and you think macho, not meditation, but that’s about to change now that the Army intends to train its 1.1 million soldiers in … Read more »

Ten most popular posts on Wildmind this year

April 30, 2009

Top TenJust to help you keep track of what’s hot on Wildmind at the moment, we’ve put together this list of the ten blog posts that have received the most visitors this year. Enjoy!

10. Naming negative emotions makes them weaker Wired Magazine reports on research that’s of relevance to meditators — especially those that use the vipassana technique of “noting,” where we name the most prominent aspect of our experience, saying inwardly, for example, “anger, anger” when we recognize that that emotion is present.

9. Top 10 Myths About Meditation Bodhipaksa debunks the ten most common meditation myths.

8. The Buddha as Warrior It might seem strange to think of the Buddha as a “warrior” … Read more »