US Marines studying mindfulness-based training
U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Carlos Lazano talks about a special training he underwent in which Marines were taught methods to "quiet the mind" and to reach an inner calm as a means to battle stress Tuesday Jan. 15, 2013 at Camp Pendlton, Calif. Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their training if they see positive results from a pilot project. Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
The U.S. Marine Corps, known for turning out some of the military's toughest warriors, is studying how to make its troops even tougher through meditative practices, yoga-type stretching and exercises based on mindfulness.
Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their training if they see positive results from a pilot project. Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present.
Facing a record suicide rate and thousands of veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress, the military has been searching for ways to reduce strains on service members burdened with more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Marine Corps officials are testing a series of brain calming exercises called "Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training" that they believe could enhance the performance of troops, who are under mounting pressures from long deployments and looming budget cuts expected to slim down forces.
"Some people might say these are Eastern-based religious practices but this goes way beyond that," said Jeffery Bearor, the executive deputy of the Marine Corps training and education command at its headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. "This is not tied to any religious practice. This is about mental preparation to better handle stress."
The School Infantry-West at Camp Pendleton will offer the eight-week course starting Tuesday to about 80 Marines.
The experiment builds on a 2011 study involving 160 Marines who were taught to focus their attention by concentrating on their body's sensations, including breathing, in a period of silence. The Marines practiced the calming methods after being immersed in a mock Afghan village with screaming actors and controlled blasts to expose them to combat stress. Naval Health Research Center scientist Douglas C. Johnson, who is leading the research, monitored their reactions by looking at blood and saliva samples, images of their brains and problem-solving tests they took.
Another 160 other Marines went through the mock village with no mindfulness-based training, acting as the control group. Results from the 2011 study are expected to be published this spring.
U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Carlos Lazano talks about a special training he underwent in which Marines were taught methods to "quiet the mind" and to reach an inner calm as a means to battle stress Tuesday Jan. 15, 2013 at Camp Pendlton, Calif. Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their training if they see positive results from a pilot project. Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)The latest study by Johnson will compare three groups of Marines, whose biological reactions will be also monitored. One group of about 80 will receive mindfulness-based training. Another of equal size will be given mental resilience training based on sports psychology techniques. The third one will act as a control group.
Results from that study are expected in the fall, Marine Corps officials said.
Marine Corps officials decided to extend the experiment to shore up evidence that the exercises help the brain better react to high-stress situations and recover more quickly from those episodes.
"If indeed that proves to be the case, then it's our intention to turn this into a training program where Marines train Marines in these techniques," Bearor said. "We would interject this into the entry level training pipeline—we don't know where yet—so every Marine would be trained in these techniques."
The idea is to give Marines a tool so they can regulate their own stress levels before they lead to problem behavior: "We have doctors, counselors, behavioral health scientists, all sorts of people to get help for Marines who have exhibited stress type symptoms but what can we do before that happens? How do we armor Marines up so they are capable of handling stress?" Bearor said.
Lance Cpl. Carlos Lozano participated in the 2011 study, taking the course during his pre-deployment training that also included catapulting from a helicopter in a simulated raid and enduring booming explosions in a mock Afghan village.
Lozano said he and fellow Marines were skeptical at first. Some wondered why their rigorous combat training was being interrupted by a class asking the warfighters to sit in silence and stare at their combat boots, becoming aware of how their feet touched the classroom floor.
"I didn't want to do it," the 21-year-old from Denver said.
But the exercises—also done while standing, stretching and lying down—had an effect, he said. He felt more relaxed and upbeat.
"Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training" or "M-Fit" was designed by former U.S. Army Capt. Elizabeth Stanley, a professor at Georgetown University who found relief doing yoga and meditation for her PTSD.
Stanley, who is also involved in studies for the Army, said the techniques can help warfighters think more clearly under fire when they are often forced to make quick decisions that could mean life or death, and help them reset their nervous systems after being in combat.
Maj. Gen. Melvin Spiese said he was convinced after looking at the scientific research and then taking the course.
While teaching troops to shoot makes them a better warfighter, teaching mindfulness makes them a better person by helping them to decompress, which could have lasting effects, he said.
"As we see the data supports it, it makes perfect sense that this is what we should be doing," said the 58-year-old outgoing general, sitting in his office adorned with pictures of war and a 1903 rifle. "It's like doing pushups for the brain."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Building Fit Minds Under Stress: Neuroscientists Examine the Protective Effects of Mindfulness Training Feb 15, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study suggests feelings of guilt may be a top factor in PTSD Dec 06, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- ONR looks to lighten the load for Marines Oct 10, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Mindfulness meditation may relieve chronic inflammation Jan 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
- Mindfulness meditation increases well-being in adolescent boys Sep 01, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
There is a link between use of anabolic-androgenic steroids and reduced mental health later in life. This is the main conclusion of a new study on elite male strength athletes that researchers from the University of Gothenburg ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 59 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Bullying because of perceived sexual orientation is prevalent among school-aged youths, according to a study led by Donald Patrick, professor of health services at the UW School of Public ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with the most severe and dangerous form of chronic anorexia are more likely to make a significant improvement towards recovery and stay in therapy if traditional psychological treatments are re-focused ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Patients with treatment-resistant major depression saw dramatic improvement in their illness after treatment with ketamine, an anesthetic, according to the largest ketamine clinical trial to-date led by researchers from the ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 19, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (6) | 1 |
A new computer model could help scientists predict when a particular strain of avian influenza might become infectious from bird to human, according to a report to be published in the International Journal Data Mining an ...
2 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Over the past few decades, neuroscientists have made much progress in mapping the brain by deciphering the functions of individual neurons that perform very specific tasks, such as recognizing the location ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
High-intensity, short duration warm up activities at half time intervals boost athletic performance, a study of soccer players has found.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
In a new study described in the journal Oncogene, researchers reveal how a key player in cell growth, immunity and the inflammatory response can be transformed into a primary contributor to tumor growth.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Melbourne researchers have identified an immune protein that has the potential to stop or reverse the development of type 1 diabetes in its early stages, before insulin-producing cells have been destroyed.
4 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
More than a decade ago, British parents refused to give measles shots to at least a million children because of a vaccine scare that raised the specter of autism. Now, health officials are scrambling to catch ...
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0