By Pamela Stokes Eggleston, Meditation Teacher
for the Veterans Collection on Meditationstudioapp.com
Meditation has significant, transformative healing benefits. The practice can help the practitioner fully connect to body, mind and spirit. But how is meditation accepted within the military and veteran communities? Studies show that meditation helps veterans find peace through decreasing sympathetic activity (fight-flight-freeze) reactions and increasing parasympathetic activity (rest and digest). Veterans are empowered to find a safe space and peace within. Those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can especially benefit from the profound practices of mindfulness and meditation.
However, not all veterans suffer from PTSD. The belief that all veterans return home ready to snap at any given moment is completely false. In fact, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans suffer from PTSD, many dealing with chronic pain, nightmares, hyper vigilance and insomnia. The VA is slow to fully accept the advantages of meditation and mindfulness, but it’s coming as the scientific studies are steadily demonstrating undeniable benefits.
Indeed, meditation is a therapeutic modality. While not a cure, it can certainly help mitigate the symptoms of PTSD with regular practice. It helps to rewire the brain and recover from combat stress. It creates neuroplasticity – the ability to change neural pathways in the brain. And it quiets the mind and calms the spirit. Accordingly, it’s considered a viable complementary and alternative practice to other forms of therapy and prescription drugs.
Using the principles of mindfulness, we can practice loving-kindness, open our hearts to true understanding and individual needs, and look at meditation in its myriad forms to guide the work that so desperately needs to be done within the veteran and military communities. The more meditation and mindfulness instructors can offer this from a place of authenticity, the more widespread meditation will become.
We offer up these complimentary meditations for Veterans, Families of Veterans and to those continuing to serve in the Military.
Compassion meditation for veterans and their families from Pamela Stokes Eggleston:
Mindfulness for Trauma meditation, from Suzanne Manafort:
Access more resources : listen to guided meditations for military families and caregivers.