Meditation is often linked to Buddhists and yogis, but now the U.S. Marine Corps is incorporating mindful meditation practice in its training to bring about calm, awareness, and healthy recovery for Marines in deployment.
Last Tuesday, the Marine Corps began its eight-week training course called Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training or “M-Fit” with about 80 Marines. The exercises are designed to help Marines stay alert and mindful under pressure, as well as relieve stress from extensive deployments and combat.
Nearly 30 percent of returning U.S. soldiers are affected with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to long and multiple deployments, with symptoms that include flashbacks, avoidance, and overwhelming anxiety. The Marine Corps has reason to believe that mindful meditation training will have a positive impact for Marines in high-stress situations – and there is scientific evidence to support that this age-old practice does help people find calm and relief.
One study suggests that the brain reacts the same to meditation as it does to sex, which includes the feeling of “decreased sense of pain.” Meditative practice for monks has shown to have the greatest measured spike in activity in the region of the left prefrontal cortex, which is correlated with happiness. Further research shows that meditation is a “therapeutic powerhouse” that can help reduce loneliness and risk of disease in older adults.
U.S. Army Capt. Elizabeth Stanley, who designed the program and relieved her own PTSD symptoms with yoga and meditation, believes the training can help troops think more clearly when forced to make quick decisions under pressure, as well as “reset” their nervous system post combat. Outgoing general Maj. Melvin Spiese says, “It’s like doing pushups for the brain.”
This isn’t the only initiative that’s taken a holistic approach to military and veteran health. Founded by 2010 grad Alvaro Matta, Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness Center is a non-profit that that provides holistic health education to active duty and reserve military members, veterans, and their families.
Mindful meditation and yoga practice are sources of primary foods that nourish us beyond the food we eat, giving us physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy. Need a place to start? Try a guided meditation to help you visualize your dreams.
How does mindful meditation help you in your daily life?