Meditation Lifeline for Veterans With PTSD

With more and more military veterans returning from our military conflicts abroad experiencing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, many are beginning to think outside of the box in terms of treatment, with encouraging results. One practice that has begun to garner attention in terms of treating those with PTSD is the practice of meditation. Though it is early in the game, it appears as though the practice of meditation is a tool veterans can employ to facilitate the healing process and find peace of mind.

Recently, groups of researchers have conducted studies meant to gauge the effect of meditation on military veterans suffering from PTSD. One such study, conducted in tandem by the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, included mindfulness meditation as part of an overall Mindfulness Therapy treatment plan. Mindfulness meditation is meant to help one’s mind stay in the present while letting go of past and even future thoughts. Studies have shown it to be very effective in helping those who have experienced trauma in a variety of settings, including veterans. Results of this eight-week study showed the mindfulness treatment plan to be more effective in treating veterans than traditional treatment had been.

Those who practice meditation tout as one of its greatest benefits the ability to relieve anxiety and stress. It stands to reason then that the potential of meditation to help alleviate the symptoms of PTSD would be great. One of the other great aspects of meditation is that it requires no visits to a doctor or dependence on the VA. It is free, and can be practiced anywhere. What it does require is practice, but with that practice comes the potential for healing every time meditation is employed.

At first glance meditation might not seem a natural fit for those trained in the art of war. In reality, however, it may end up being a saving grace for thousands whose lives continue to be adversely affected by PTSD. The idea of meditation is one that is gaining increased acceptance within military circles, and with good reason. Even the Department of Veteran Affairs is studying the use of transcendental meditation to help returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA is said to be ready to commit about $5 million on a dozen trials involving several hundred veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts.

Meditation has long been seen as a way to raise awareness. In a satisfying twist, awareness of its ability to help those with PTSD is growing, to the benefit of the veterans we all owe so much to.