The Marine Corps are considering adding meditation classes as a preventative and therapeutic method for handling the rigors of combat, Patrick Hruby of The Washington Times reports.
"Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training" (M-Fit) started with a group of reserve Marines four years ago, and the results have been quite positive.
From The Washington Times:
A study of those Marines subsequently published in the research journal Emotions found that they slept better, had improved athletic performance and scored higher on emotional and cognitive evaluations than Marines who did not participate in the program, which centers on training the mind to focus on the current moment and to be aware of one’s physical state.
The study, started under the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, was spurred by the writings of a former Army captain who was having difficulty coping with PTSD through the sole use of pharmaceuticals.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one's attention to present experience on a moment-by-moment basis. Awareness is cultivated by focusing on a point of concentration – most commonly the breath – and sustaining it with a non-judgmental mind .
Initially there were were problems with teaching Marines to meditate — chiefly, that their primary occupation is to kill.
“The concerns coming from the mindfulness side were, ‘If you teach them these skills, and they become more open people, will it undermine their ability to armor up psychologically? A few people even wondered if I was trying to make, quote, ‘better baby-killers,’” said former Army Captain Elizabeth Stanley.
But the Mind Fitness Training Institute describes the primary benefit of Marine mindfulness as "a 'mental armor' which both increases warriors’ operational effectiveness and enhances their capacity to bounce back from stressful experience."
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