Meditation Fit For A Marine

| 27/02/2012 | 1 Comment More

Recent experiments with the US Military confirm the benefits of Mindfulness.

Back in the summer of 2008, Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia, a group of reservists were preparing for a tour in Iraq.  Twelve hour days of weapons qualifications, counterinsurgency training and last but not least, silence, yes you read right, silence…  Marines sitting in Lotus position in their combats with rifles slung across their backs.

These Marines were part of a study, partially funded by the Department of Defence, testing whats best described as meditation and its potential to increase the minds performance under the stress of war.

Spitaletta, a psychologist in civilian life and Major in the Reserves persuaded his commanding officer to participate after reading a provocative briefing sent to the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.  In the paper, an ex-army officer named Elizabeth Stanley illustrated meditations effect on emotions, which could help healthy soldiers stay calm and alert in chaotic situations like the aftermath of an IED explosion.

Researchers tested Marines for something called ‘Working Memory Capacity’ a term scientists use to define a cognitive resource that is much more than simple recall.  Working Memory Capacity powers complex thoughts.  Its what we call upon to settle ethical dilemmas like whether or not to pull a trigger.  The level of this resource can be developed throughout the day, a roadside bomb can make it harder to solve a problem that requires math skills a few hours later in the day.  On the battlefield low levels of working memory capacity might even mean the difference between life and death.

The results the Marines experienced was published in the Peer-Review scientific journal ‘Emotion’ showed that the men who embraced meditation walked out of pre-deployment training with minds that were more agile than those who didn’t.  They also reported improved athletic performance, relief from anxiety, better sleep and strong memory.

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