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U.S. Army adopts mindfulness meditation

Narayan Lakshman

Washington: In an unusual departure from traditional prescriptions for coping with high stress, the United States Army is recommending something more eclectic to its soldiers in Iraq — mindfulness mediation.

According to Major Victor Won, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, mindfulness is a simple but ancient approach to living that western medicine has begun to recognise as a powerful tool for dealing with stress, illness and other medical or psychological conditions, and it could help soldiers in any circumstance.

Quoting the definition of the term used in the book Wherever You Go, There You Are, by popular mediation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, he said, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way or maintaining the awareness on purpose, in the present moment.”

Major Won said it would be more effective for soldiers to learn and train in mindfulness prior to deployment, as the practice will offer soldiers a means to cope with their mental stress before getting into a high-stress environment.

University of Pennsylvania researchers, with the Army's support, were said to be examining the effects of meditation as a means to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Major Won said, “Many psychotherapists around the world have applied mindfulness, treating various psychological diagnoses such as PTSD, depression and even personality disorders.” It was “through finding peace within and clarity that you see that you are not the thoughts or the emotions that bind you and take you away into suffering,” he added.

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