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…
‘Mindfulness’ therapy may help veterans with PTSD
Brett Smith, redOrbit.com: As veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars return to their lives away from the battlefield, many are having difficulty coping with the additional strain brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A new study in the journal Depression and Anxiety points to promising results for veterans suffering from PTSD. Researchers found that veterans who engaged in mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, stretching, and acceptance of uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, experienced a reduction in PTSD symptoms compared to their colleagues who did not engage in the same activities.
“The results of our trial are encouraging for veterans trying to find help for PTSD,” said lead author…
Professor profile: Richard Davidson, expert in meditation
Sam Cusick, The Daily Cardinal: While people have been meditating for centuries, one University of Wisconsin-Madison professor is working to scientifically prove meditation makes people happier.
Richard Davidson, a psychology professor at UW-Madison since 1984, also runs the university’s Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, which includes his research to incorporate the Dalai Lama’s theories on the healing powers of meditation into scientific research.
Davidson said he has been interested in this topic for many years, although he was initially hesitant to publicly express his interest, since many people did not feel it was “scientific research.” But, after meeting the Dalai Lama in 1992, Davidson said he…
When you harm others, you harm yourself
The 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.”
Help, I can’t stop thinking!
Many of us feel that our thoughts are out of our control. We think about work long after we have left, we worry about the future and keep going over things that have gone wrong in the past. Meanwhile, life seems to be slipping by.
Modern psychology also recognises that compulsive thinking can lead us into stress, anxiety and depression. Worrying about our problems seems important, but it leaves us feeling worse and believing we have less power to change things.
Mindfulness helps by giving us the mental space to stand back, recognise what’s happening and explore alternatives. Here are some helpful approaches associated with mindfulness and meditation.
1. Learning to let go of thoughts
Even a short period of meditation shows that focusing the mind on the body and the breath leaves you feeling calmer and more settled. Everyone finds that thoughts arise in their minds and the practice involves gently guiding our attention back to the breath. In doing this again and again we are learning to let go of thoughts and regain control of what our minds are doing.
2. Noticing that thoughts are just thoughts, not facts
Troubling thoughts reinforce a powerful belief about our situation: I must keep going; only I can do this; if this fails it will be a disaster. Thoughts like this are associated with stress. There is something wrong with me; it has all gone wrong; here I go again. Thoughts like this tend to foster depression.
When we think like this, we believe that the thought is telling us the truth: I really must keep going; there really is something wrong with me. The practice of letting go of thoughts allows us to stand back from them. Then we see that they are just thoughts and we can explore them without necessarily believing them. For many people this is a revelation. It’s liberating to see that thoughts are not facts, just things that happen in the mind. Seeing thoughts in this way makes them less powerful. Then you can explore them, asking if they are true and discovering what you really believe.
- “Thought is a man in his wholeness, wholly attending.”
- How to get rid of resentment
- “Thought is gazing onto the face of life, and reading what can be read.”
- Using thought to still thought
3. Accepting difficult thoughts
Often we know it’s unhelpful to keep thinking in certain ways and tell ourselves I wish I could switch off, or I must stop worrying. But we end up like the person who tries not to think about pink elephants. The more we try to control our thoughts by force, the stronger they grow. Our whole life can seem like a fight and battling with thoughts is part of this.
Mindfulness training encourages us to accept that troubling thoughts are a part of our experience, rather than fighting them. We learn to notice these thoughts when they come up without pursuing them or believing that they are true. We can even befriend them.
People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) experience this especially strongly and mindfulness can be very helpful in working with these conditions. It also helps in avoiding slipping back into depression, which is why medical practitioners recommend Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to avoid relapsing into depression.
4. Thinking Clearly and Creatively
Of course, thinking isn’t always unhelpful. Reflection, analysis and clarity are all very important. Mindfulness can help us to think more clearly because we are less prone to distractions and more able to notice when feelings are colouring our thoughts. It also fosters creativity because it opens up the connections between thinking, feeling and intuition.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: ‘A man should learn to detect and watch the glimmer of light that flashes across his mind from within.’ Those glimmers are there in all of us: messages from the part of us that truly understands and sees connections and possibilities. That is the basis of creativity. The faculty that lets us detect and watch those glimmers is mindfulness.
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
Spiritual help for violence victims
Sanjeev K Ahuja,, Hindustan Times: The terror-struck managers, supervisors and engineers at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant — who witnessed violence at the factory premises on July 18 — have been attending meditation and spiritual classes at the Brahma Kumari Om Shanti Retreat Centre (ORC) since July 30. ORC members have also delivered discourses for the workers, who were arrested on the first day of the attack, in Gurgaon jail.
“The first batch of 35-40 managers attended a two-day workshop on July 30-31. ORC director BK Ashsa Didi also addressed the staff.
Besides meditation, the workshop also stresses upon how workers should overcome fear and improve inter-personal relations,” said BK Sanjay of ORC.
“A total of four sessions have been organised till now, the most recent one being on August 13-14. More sessions will follow next week,” he added.
Situated at a distance of 35km from Gurgaon, ORC is located at Bhora Kalan, 1km off the Delhi-Jaipur highway.
The participants stay at ORC during the workshop and get up as early as 4am.
“The session addresses the issue of overcoming fear. The participants include those who were either attacked or witnessed the violence and want to overcome their fear through meditation and other techniques,” said Ashok, a programme coordinator.
He said the decision to conduct training sessions for the managers and supervisors was taken at a meeting held two days after the
On July 18, irate workers had attacked managers, supervisors and engineers at the Manesar plant and burnt properties.
The violence erupted after a worker Jiya Lal allegedly slapped a supervisor. A general manager was killed and 100 others, including two Japanese staff, were injured. Maruti had declared an indefinite lockout which in force till date.