meditation and the military

Meditation training may help reduce stress disorders among US military personnel

wildmind meditation newsMedical Xpress: Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Naval Health Research Center have found that mindfulness training – a combination of meditation and body awareness exercises – can help U.S. Marine Corps personnel prepare for and recover from stressful combat situations.

The study, published in the May 16, 2014 online issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that incorporating meditative practices into pre-deployment training might be a way to help the U.S. military reduce rising rates of stress-related health conditions, including PTSD, depression and anxiety, within its ranks.

“Mindfulness training won’t make combat easier,” said Martin Paulus, MD, …

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After struggling with PTSD, Navy veteran uses meditation, counseling to help others overcome trauma

Free Speech Radio News: This Memorial Day weekend, veterans, families and communities across the US are taking part in events to honor soldiers who have died while serving in the armed forces. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is calling for a moment of silence on Monday at noon eastern when officials will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. For many veterans and their families, it’s also a time to find ways to confront their past experiences and to heal. It can be a long process marked by trauma but one that…

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When you harm others, you harm yourself

casualties-of-war-movie-poster-1989-1020469753The statement in the title of this post is a common belief in spiritual and religious circles, but it appears there’s some hard evidence that when you harm others, you harm yourself as well.

According to a press release from the Association for Psychological Science, researchers looked into why it is that some soldiers (31.6%) who have traumatic combat exposure develop PTSD.

It seems that three factors are important: age, a history of childhood physical abuse, and harming civilians or POWs.

…childhood experiences of physical abuse or a pre-Vietnam psychiatric disorder other than PTSD were strong contributors to PTSD onset. Age also seemed to play an important role: Men who were younger than 25 when they entered the war were seven times more likely to develop PTSD compared to older men. The researchers also found that soldiers who inflicted harm on civilians or prisoners of war were much more likely to develop PTSD.

The combined data from all three primary factors — combat exposure, prewar vulnerability, and involvement in harming civilians or prisoners — revealed that PTSD syndrome onset reached an estimated 97% for veterans high on all three.

So harming others does seem to play a role in causing mental harm to ourselves — at least for soldiers who have experienced traumatic combat.

The article is “The Roles of Combat Exposure, Personal Vulnerability, and Involvement in Harm to Civilians or Prisoners in Vietnam War–Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.”

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British Army to send 4,000 Buddhist troops to India for meditation to combat post-traumatic stress

Giridhar Jha, Daily Mail, India: The toll of war, over a period of time, can get the better of even the most seasoned army men.

It’s a fact well-established by the series of random shootings by veterans, especially in the United States and United Kingdom, who find themselves unable to forget the horrors of the battlefield, long after they return to civilian life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is no longer a fancy psychological term only found in bulky books and journals on the subject. It’s a reality countries involved in wars are grappling with on a day-to-day basis, and which has forced them …

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Marines expanding use of meditation training

Patrick Hruby, Washington Times: While preparing for overseas deployment with the U.S. Marines late last year, Staff Sgt. Nathan Hampton participated in a series of training exercises held at Camp Pendleton, Calif., designed to make him a more effective serviceman.

There were weapons qualifications. Grueling physical workouts. High-stress squad counterinsurgency drills, held in an elaborate ersatz village designed to mirror the sights, sounds and smells of a remote mountain settlement in Afghanistan.

There also were weekly meditation classes — including one in which Sgt. Hampton and his squad mates were asked to sit motionless in a chair and focus on the point of …

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Through meditation, veterans relearn compassion

Amy Standen, NPR: The epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder has pushed the US Department of Veterans Affairs to explore new and sometimes unorthodox treatments. In one VA facility in Menlo Park, Calif., veterans of current and past wars gather to meditate and break down the shields that combat forced them to hold.

Marine Esteban Brojas is rocking back and forth in his chair in a rehabilitation center for veterans in Menlo Park, Calif. He rubs his hands together so quickly you can hear them.

“You know, you’re going into a building, and you know there’s a grenade being popped in there,” he says …

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Battle-weary troops find rare comfort in Buddhism

Ian Drury, Dail Mail, UK: Buddhism is experiencing an extraordinary upswing in popularity in the [British] armed forces.

Since 2005, the number of servicemen and women practising the religion has risen from 200 to 3,800. Around 2,800 are Gurkhas, whose home nation Nepal has pockets of Buddhism.

But the other 1,000 are British, with many converting since they joined the military.

According to spiritual leaders, the reason behind the phenomenon is that Buddhism allows service personnel to escape the stresses and strains of military life.

Sunil Kariyakarawana, the Buddhist chaplain for the armed forces, said: ‘Buddhism has a different perspective …

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Yoga, deep breathing used to address soldiers’ post-traumatic stress

Meg Jones, Journal Sentinel: Rich Low dreamed of Iraq long after he returned home from the war.

The memories haunted him when he was awake, too. About six months after his deployment, he was driving at night when a sudden burst of lightning snapped him back to Baghdad and the bomb that exploded near him during a thunderstorm.

Low’s pulse raced as adrenaline surged through his body even though he was driving on a road far from any war zone.

He didn’t know post-traumatic stress was affecting him. Not until he took part in a University of Wisconsin-Madison study that taught Iraq and …

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‘Mindfulness’ grows in popularity—and profits

Julie Carr-Smyth, AP: In what’s become a daily ritual, Tim Ryan finds a quiet spot, closes his eyes, clears his mind and tries to tap into the eternal calm. In Ryan’s world, it’s a stretch for people to get this relaxed. He’s a member of Congress.

Increasingly, people in settings beyond the serene yoga studio or contemplative nature path are engaging in the practice of mindfulness, a mental technique that dwells on breathing, attention to areas of the body and periods of silence to concentrate on the present rather than the worries of yesterday and tomorrow.

Marines are doing it. Office workers are …

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VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSD

Steve Vogel: Seeking new ways to treat post-traumatic stress, the Department of Veterans Affairs is studying the use of transcendental meditation to help returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans Affairs’ $5.9 billion system for mental-health care is under sharp criticism, particularly after the release of an inspector general’s report last month that found that the department has greatly overstated how quickly it treats veterans seeking mental-health care.

VA has a “huge investment” in mental-health care but is seeking alternatives to conventional psychiatric treatment, said W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary of veterans affairs.

“The reality is, not all individuals we see are treatable by …

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