To train future soldiers, the U.S. Military is using new technologies and ancient traditions, like yoga and meditation, to retrain their brains, help them be better soldiers, and prevent trauma.
Historically, one purpose of meditation has been to reduce stress, however, the Army's long-term goal is to use it to mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The University of North Texas and Bruce J. West, Army Research Office, published a study in June 2018 that studied 2 forms of meditation to determine which has more effect on stress levels. They found that the long-term practice of meditation has the effect of making permanent the meditation-induced physiologic changes. Moreover meditators show a stronger executive control, that is, the ability to carry out goal-oriented behavior, using complex mental processes and cognitive abilities.
Here’s a review of some of the recent meditation studies and uses in all the branches of the US Military:
"Soldiers are experts at standing at attention," according to Jha; however, maintaining this type of mindful attention under the intense physical and emotional demands of deployment is a far more difficult task.
A University of Miami-led research study, led by principal investigator and neuroscientist Dr. Amishi Jha, and funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, has shown that meditation positively support active-duty Soldiers in protecting and training their own minds and helping better prepare Soldiers for high-stress combat situations while also improving overall cognitive resilience and performance.
"I would like to emphasize that these practices are powerful, but that they only work if they are exercised daily," said Jha.
In 2014, a research team recruited 8 Marine Infantry platoons at Camp Pendleton. 4 platoons underwent standard military training, while the other 4 had a 20 hour meditation course added, along with a requirement for 30 minutes daily meditation. After their training was completed, they went through a mock ambush attack. The meditating group of Marines breathing and heart rates returned to normal faster than the others. Other results indicated that the meditators moved from the fight-or-flight status faster than the other marines.
Elite navy SEAL training that includedmeditation showed more activation of the insula, related to awareness, pain and emotion; and increased gray matter volume and better synapses in pre-frontal cortex. Soldiers showed better biofeedback tests of muscular and neurological reactions to stress after 10 days of meditation/yoga and the practices helped relieve stress as well as increase awareness. They were able learn a foreign language better, learn complex technical weapons systems better and were better marksmen.
Are you looking for ways to deal with stress or ways to be more effective in your life? As you can see from above, learning a meditation practice and using it regularly can make a change in your life. Find a meditation that you will do daily.
We like to recommend The Art of Ascension as it is so simple and so effective. You can meditate without any special postures, it requires no special equipment, and can be done anywhere.