What You Need to Know about Mindfulness Meditation

By Carol Roos, DCoE Public Affairs 

A Marine with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 sits on the ramp of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter after completing a portion of a joint Downed Aircraft Recovery Team exercise aboard Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 30, 2015. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brittney Vito

A Marine with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 assumes a meditative position on the ramp of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brittney Vito

Mindfulness meditation swiftly gained popularity as a self-care strategy for improving psychological health symptoms and overall resilience. Clinical evidence shows that this strategy works.

The Defense Centers of Excellence wrote a series of mindfulness blogs to help you understand what mindfulness meditation is, how it can help, what studies and data support it, and how individuals can integrate it into their daily lives. Below is a quick rundown on the entire series, including what you need to know about mindfulness meditation and how to get started.

What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness meditation comes from a Buddhist tradition. It increases awareness of the present by focusing on your breathing, body and thoughts. With continual practice, this technique trains the brain to stay in the present moment and can help you accept things for what they are, without judgment.

Mindfulness Meditation for Healing
In addition to traditional techniques of meditation, which can be practiced at home or at community meditation centers, there are several group mindfulness-based therapeutic techniques developed for clinical environments. These techniques are proven effective in treating psychological health challenges such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Each combines group training in mindfulness techniques with daily practice tailored to a specific clinical condition, as well as various forms of follow-up. Ask your mental health counselor whether one of the techniques might work for you.

U.S. Army Spc. Melanie McConathy maintains a meditative posture during a preliminary Zen meditation practice, April 4, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Margaret Taylor

U.S. Army Spc. Melanie McConathy maintains a meditative posture during a preliminary Zen meditation practice, April 4, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Margaret Taylor

  • Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction
  • Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
  • Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention

Mindfulness meditation is also helpful for traumatic brain injury. Mental distractions, such as too much excitement, anxiety and other mental stress, are hallmarks of TBI and can affect the healing process. According to experts, this meditation technique is a simple and effective way to help an injured brain give itself a little rest and recuperation.

Though it is a new concept to integrate mindfulness as a part of therapy, there are studies that validate its impact on treatment of psychological health that also helps physical health.

Feedback from recent studies is very positive, as each participant not only shared the positive results of the mindfulness meditation itself, but also the benefits for a wide range of conditions experienced within the group, including PTSD, chronic pain and anger management. Participants also experienced other unexpected positive benefits – check out this story about an Army study of mindfulness meditation.

Getting Started and Tips
Starting a mindfulness meditation practice doesn’t take too much time: you only need 5 to 10 minutes. That’s the amount of time you might spend waiting in line for coffee. The posts below will help you get a jumpstart on mindfulness and offer tips to help in various situations.

Share your success stories on practicing mindfulness with us!

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