Posts Tagged “mindfulness training”

It may be hard for you to picture a bunch of Marines meditating but that’s just what they did under the guidance of The Mind Fitness Training Institute  in a study to boost resilience. 

The short version of this story is that mindfulness training works.  That’s not news to the many people who already practice a mindfulness based program but it certainly was news to the Marines who engaged in this project. 

Here is an example of one of the mindfulness exercises the Marines were taught:

An early exercise was to have the men consciously shift attention between 2 places.  They were asked to sit quietly and simply bring their attention to the point of contact between their feet and the floor or their seats and the chairs or their hands on their laps. If or when they noticed their minds wandering, they were asked to bring their attention back to that point of contact. 

Once their attention had stabilized, they were then asked to shift their attention to a new bodily sensation or sound.  It could be a focus on breathing or sounds in the environment.  When attention moved away, they were asked to bring it back to the breath or the sounds.  After that had stabilized they were then asked to shift back to the original point of focus. 

The shifting back and forth trains the mind to be able to place attention where you want!  And when distractions occur, to bring it back to where you want it to be. 

This is an easy and portable exercise that works to boost working memory capacity which is essential to healthy cognitive and emotional functioning.

 

 

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You might think that Marines are already mentally tough!  Well, sure – those who become Marines are brave and willing to put themselves in harms way but mental toughness represents a specific constellation of qualities and behaviors that some Marines may lack. (These include ability to concentrate and manage distractions; ability to bounce back from set-backs and mistakes; ability to manage emotions, etc.)  

For example, we know that the number of suicides among Marines increased from 33 (among a total troop level of 208,000) in 2007 to 42 in 2009. After eight years of war, record numbers of troops are experiencing depression and anxiety, as well as the more severe conditions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  According to the Pentagon, American troops in Afghanistan are suffering the highest rates of mental health problems since 2005, and morale has deteriorated. Mental problems send more men in the U.S. military to the hospital than any other cause.  

 Being a warrior in the ambiguous battlefield that is Iraq or Afghanistan induces high stress that can lead to impulsive, erratic behavior and anxiety and depression.

Liz Stanley of the Mind Fitness Training Institute  along with her colleague Amishi Jha has created a program to teach Marines mindfulness.  The goal is to build a resilient Marine who is able to withstand the rigors of combat stress.

Bottom line?  It works! Read the rest of this entry »

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