Navy Explores Alternative Medicine


By Debbie Gregory.

In a sign of the times, the Navy held its first-ever “resiliency medicine” summit, which included exploration of healing methods outside of Western medicine, including meditation and yoga.

Guest headliner Deepak Chopra told the audience, “Stop thinking of your body as a thing. If you think of your body as a structure, you can only use mechanical means, like surgery or drugs. … Understand that your gene expression is influenced by your thoughts, your emotions, your social relationships.”

Since 2013, Cmdr. Jeff Millegan, a doctor stationed at the Navy hospital in Balboa Park, has put about 500 Navy personnel around San Diego through a seven-session “mind-body” curriculum. The curriculum includes discussion of sleep, meditation, social connections, diet and exercise.

The core issue is stress and the way it causes illness or magnifies existing health problems.

“We have a lot of sailors who go on ships that deploy by themselves, without a mental health provider, for seven months. These guys are trying to manage stress as best they can,” Millegan said during a break. “If we give them skills, tools to regulate their emotions, they are less likely to be overwhelmed.”

This is not news to the David Lynch Foundation, whose Operation Warrior Wellness (OWW) program uses transcendental meditation (TM) to build resilience and heal the
hidden wounds of war.

Since its initial launch in 2010, the OWW initiative has partnered with leading veterans service organizations, Army and Marine bases and VA medical centers across the country to deliver the Resilient Warrior Program to veterans, active-duty personnel and military families in need. The initiative also partners with military colleges to create a new generation of more resilient officers.

Over 340 published studies document the effectiveness of TM.

Another technique is tai chi,  a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.

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