- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
Marines expanding use of meditation training
Mind Fitness Training found to help troops improve mental performance under stress of war
Question of the Day
Essentially the short-term, scratch-pad system we use to manage relevant information, solve real-time problems and regulate our current emotional state, working memory is roughly equivalent to random access memory in a computer and functions on a daily basis like money in a bank account: Use it, and it depletes until it can be replenished.
Heavy cognitive tasks, such as scanning an alley for armed insurgents, require working memory. So do emotional challenges, like dealing with the stress of leaving one’s family for an overseas deployment.
According to Ms. Jha, depleted working memory has been linked to emotional impulsivity, prejudiced behavior, domestic violence and alcoholism.
“It’s the core resource for regulating your own behavior,” she said. “It’s not like your psychological state or mood is separate.”
In the M-Fit study, troops who meditated regularly increased their working memory capacity; moreover, they were more aware of their physical responses to combat stress.
In a fight-or-flight situation — for instance, a firefight — the pupils dilate to take in more information. Blood flows away from the stomach and into the muscles, producing the familiar “butterfly” sensation. Heart and breathing rates rise. Stress hormones course through the body.
More importantly, blood flow in the brain is redirected away from the areas that control rational thought and toward the areas associated with instinct and survival.
“It’s really hard to access rational thought during high-intensity stress situations,” said Jared Smyser, 28, a former Marine who lives in Richmond, Va., and is training to become an M-Fit instructor. “All this stuff happens in your body because we’ve evolved to get away from predators. But it’s not really relevant in today’s warfare. You need to be calm, collected, making better decisions.”
According to Ms. Stanley, meditative training can help troops do so by increasing efficiency in the insular cortex, which allows people to rapidly switch between thinking and unthinking states of mind.
“It can be exercised when we are attending to sensations in the body,” she said. “So a whole lot of our course is teaching the ability to track those sensations. People come into the course thinking it will ruin their ability to respond fast in combat, but actually, we’re enhancing their ability.”
In the future, Ms. Stanley said, meditation may become as standard in the military as rifle practice, another way of making troops more effective and resilient. Next year, the Marines will incorporate M-Fit classes into an infantry school at Camp Pendleton, making the program a tentative part of its regular training cycle.
“It absolutely would have beneficial to me [in Iraq],” he said. “I was very skeptical at first, but I’ve seen benefits in my own life. I’m interested in working with veterans with PTSD. And if we teach this upfront, we might be able to prevent some of the problems we have to fix afterwards.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
- Taking to Twitter: Everybody's Oscar night in 140 characters
- Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin cry foul at WWE Tea Party stereotypes
- Oscar Pistorius and the 'roid rage' defense: It's no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card
- Spatial media: Astronaut Chris Hadfield live chats from 220 miles above earth
- Hero-worship for a cold-blooded killer: The cult of Christopher Dorner
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- GOP Rep. Tim Murphy rolls out mental health legislation
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow