The US National Institute of Health has spent more than $25 million on TM studies, which show that it decreases anxiety, high blood pressure, rates of heart attack and stroke as well as substance abuse, addiction, and depression.
Every 65 minutes, a U.S. military veteran committed suicide in 2010. That’s according to a comprehensive study released last Friday by the Department of Veteran Affairs, which tracked veteran suicides from 1999 to 2010 (PDF). Then there are the suicides of active-duty service members: Last year they outpaced combat deaths, hitting a record high of 349.
These alarming statistics—as well as such tragedies as last week’s murder of Chris Kyle, a highly decorated Navy SEAL sniper, by an ex-Marine—may be one reason why the U.S. military is exploring alternative means of preventing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD. Among the alternatives is meditation.
The military’s first foray into meditation goes back to 1985, when it found in a small pilot study that Transcendental Meditation—a trademarked technique first introduced by the Beatles’ guru, Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi—significantly decreased the stress and anxiety levels of Vietnam veterans. Within three months, 70 percent of the meditating vets no longer needed the support services of their veterans’ center.
Despite these positive results, “It hasn’t been until the last few years that there has been a more official interest,” says Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, which promotes Transcendental Meditation to treat PTSD. “I think the reason why they’re really looking at Transcendental Meditation now is that the problem is so acute.”
TM is one of three major branches of meditation, all of which have different effects on the body and brain. Several U.S. vets say the technique helped them overcome severe mental distress. On Monday, Luke Jensen, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, described at a fundraiser for the David Lynch Foundation at the New York Athletic Club how he became suicidal in Afghanistan and later put a gun to his head and threatened to kill himself in front of his wife and young children. He says TM brought him back from the edge. “It was the first time in so long that I felt hope,” he said. Jerry Yellin, a fighter pilot in World War II, told of how he lived with nightmares, behavioral disorders, and addiction for 30 years before trying meditation. “I got my life back 100 percent,” said Yellin, who is now co-chairman of Operation Warrior Wellness. “150 percent.”
A small pilot study at the private military college, Norwich University, also showed that first year “rooks” who practiced TM twice daily were more alert and achieved better grades than those who weren’t meditating. Without TM, “I’d definitely be falling asleep in every single class,” said one rook, interviewed for a video documenting the study.
The Department of Defense last year granted the Maharishi University of Management Research Institute and the San Diego Veterans Administration Medical Center $2.4 million to further research the effectiveness of using TM to treat PTSD. The military is also exploring other types of meditation, according to Captain John Golden of the Deployment Health Clinical Center. Among them are Integrative Restoration Meditation, which has been proven effective as an adjunct treatment for PTSD, and Mindfulness. No one, to date, has performed studies comparing the techniques, says Roth. “I think they should. It’s not about who wins, but what works,” he says.
The National Institute of Health has spent more than $25 million on TM studies, which show that it decreases anxiety, blood pressure, rates of heart attack, stroke, and death, as well as substance abuse, addiction, and depression. But TM is also pricey. For civilians, training costs $1000 a pop (although discounts are available). Training for troops costs $500 per head, and the David Lynch Foundation raises money to cover those costs.
The military isn’t paying for meditation training yet, says Robert Cancro, professor and chairman emeritus of psychiatry at NYU Longone Medical Center. He says most DOD treatment spending goes toward drugs. Other than costs and pending research, Cancro says we must still overcome a lingering distrust of meditation. “There’s a stigma associated with meditation that is not associated with taking Valium, and that’s really unfortunate.”
Winter is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.
By: Shazia Khan 02/06/2013 05:30 AM
First popularized in the united stated by The Beatles, transcendental mediation is now being used to combat stress in veterans. NY1’s Shazia Khan filed the following report.
Deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, 34-year-old Luke Jensen says his nearly two-month experience as a military police officer took its toll on his mental health. Once back home in Ohio, things continued to spiral down.
“I had put a gun to my head in front of my wife and children. That’s how intense it was,” Jensen says. “Everything was setting me off. Punching holes through my walls. Punching holes through doors. My children walking on eggshells around me.”
Counseling, various therapies and medications didn’t work. But in 2011, Jensen says he got his life back with transcendental meditation.
“I noticed very soon, I started sleeping better, and just that alone was huge,” Jensen says.
Jensen shared his story at a recent conference exploring meditation as a means of overcoming posttraumatic stress disorder and preventing suicides in the military.
“You have one veteran committing suicide every hour in the United States,” says Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation. “Thirty times more vets commit suicide then die in combat.”
The David Lynch Foundation organized the conference. The nonprofit launched Operation Warrior Wellness three years ago to provide veterans, military personnel and their families free training in transcendental meditation.
“What this meditation does is, it provides the body with a very profound state of rest and relaxation,” Roth says. “Research shows there is a 50 percent reduction in symptoms of PTSD among meditating veterans.”
In addition, a 2012 study by the American Heart Association found regular practice of this age-old, nonreligious technique may lower the risk of death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients.
Jensen strives to mediate twice a day for 20 minutes.
“Our home is a happy home again now, thankfully,” he says. “And they do remember it, but they know that there was a happy ending to it.”
Rock singer and songwriter, Paul Rodgers, famous for hits like, “All Right Now”, “Feel Like Making Love” and “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” talks about his experience of meditation.
“I meditate daily, and started way back in ’67 when I was 17.”
Middlesbrough-born Paul, who was the lead singer of Free and, later, Bad Company, say’s that he’d discovered meditation in 1967, at the age of 17, when George Harrison – whom he was a fan of – had spoken about Transcendental Meditation.
“I delved into it, and I’ve found I always go back to it – even throughout all the crazy years and the rollercoaster life of rock ‘n’ roll. When I go back to it I find it centres me and calms me down and leaves me knowing where to go next.”
Rodgers, who has played with Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Brian May and many more, says that the youthful energy needed to perform rock comes from meditation, working out at the gym, and a healthy lifestyle.
From NME & Radio 2 interviews
People across the UK meditate for all kinds of reasons, but finding ways to cope with “stress” is one of the most common :
Work stress ‘raises heart risk’
By James GallagherHealth and science reporter, BBC News
Thought provoking piece from the Financial Times on meditation & business :
Hate to say it, but all in all, not a bad article on TM!
Continuing with our series “All kinds of people meditate!” Most of these are I think in the US, but from the experience of teaching TM for 35 years, I know the same is true in the UK.
14 Executives Who Swear By Meditation
CEOs have stressful jobs, and some have taken to intense hobbies to find solace from the daily grind. Some practice meditation—or even Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based technique derived about 50 years ago from ancient Indian practices.
We’ve compiled a list of leaders who say that meditating gives them an edge in the competitive business world. Some have even built it into their company’s culture.
Click here to see the CEOs who meditate
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/ceos-who-meditate-2012-5#ixzz1uTlpjd7o
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