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Transcendental meditation: An option to help veterans heal

shutterstock_129015947More than 22 million troops have served in the U.S. military, and as a result many carry very painful physical and emotional scars, including post-traumatic stress (PTS). According to researchers, including Norman Rosenthal, M.D., psychiatrist and medical researcher at Georgetown University Medical School and author of The New York Times bestseller, “Transcendence,” the practice of transcendental meditation (TM) has become an evidence-based mental technique for veterans who are looking to reduce their stress after returning from military life.

As a military-friendly school, one goal of National Louis University’s Veterans Program is to serve as a resource to student veterans, and as such, we wanted to share some basic background about TM, as well as a link to learn more.

What is Transcendental meditation?

Transcendental meditation is an effortless technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization by meditation, repetition of a mantra and other yogic practices for 15-20 minutes twice a day. Taught by certified teachers, TM allows the mind to settle inward beyond thought to the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness, offering an inner calm.

Is TM helpful?

According to Dr. Rosenthal, research on the transcendental meditation technique on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as well as Vietnam veterans, demonstrates its effectiveness for reducing symptoms of PTS — and treating a number of the disorders associated with the illness. Findings include:

  • Reduced PTSD: 40–50 percent reduction in PTS symptoms, including depression (see PTS)
  • Greater resiliency: Reduced stress levels and quicker recovery from stress
    (see Resiliency to Stress)
  • Reduced cardiovascular disease: Decreased blood pressure, harmful cholesterol, and atherosclerosis; and a 47 percent reduction in cardiovascular-related mortality (see Cardiovascular Disease)
  • Decreased substance abuse: Decreased smoking, alcohol and drug abuse
    (see Substance Abuse)
  • Decreased medical expenditures: 14 percent reduction in annual medical expenditures, as compared to the norm (see Decreased Healthcare Utilization)

Where can I go to learn more?

Visit Operation Warrior Wellness, which is a David Lynch Foundation-sponsored outreach to bring TM to veterans, military personnel and their families. It was created when two veterans, Jerry Yellin, a distinguished P-51 fighter pilot from World War II, and Ed Schloeman, a Marine Vietnam veteran, met four years ago. Yellin was an avid practitioner of TM. Schloeman was inspired by his friend’s experience with TM and was amazed by the effect it had on his own life. They both wanted to share the technique with other veterans and active-duty military — many of whom also were suffering from the destructive effects of traumatic stress.

To watch a video about TM on CNN, click here.

One comment on “Transcendental meditation: An option to help veterans heal

  1. As a veteran I have has used TM and contemplative meditation for years during and following my military service. As a mental health professional I have also had the privilege of working with vets who are dealing with PTSD. Recent studies on EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing are having a lot of success in treating PTSD. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/emdr-what-is-it

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