Transcendental Meditation—a type of meditation that encourages practitioners to cultivate mindfulness and eliminate distracting thoughts without embracing a specific religious ideology—may reduce symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTSD) among active-duty soldiers, according to a study published in Military Medicine.
According to statistics from the United States Department of Veterans affairs, 7-8% of the general population and 11-20% of soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan experience PTSD each year. Research already points to a number of benefits associated with various types of meditation, including reduced anxiety and insomnia, lower blood pressure, lower rates of depression, and even improvements in symptoms of asthma and cancer.
Transcendental Meditation for Soldiers with PTSD
Soldiers on active duty often face multiple deployments where they are repeatedly exposed to trauma and violence and removed from their family and other support systems. To explore how Transcendental Meditation might help, researchers recruited 74 active-duty service members with either PTSD or an anxiety-related condition. All participants had sought treatment at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Half of participants practiced Transcendental Meditation as a supplement to their usual treatment, while the other half continued therapy without trying meditation. After a month, 83.7% of those in the meditation group had stabilized, reduced, or eliminated their use of psychotropic medication, while 10.9% had increased their dosage. Among those who continued their usual treatment without meditation, 59.4% stabilized, reduced, or ceased their use of psychotropic drugs, and 40.5% increased their medication dosage.
The study’s authors say only about 30% of people who take psychotropic medication for PTSD respond to treatment, so these results may offer an alternative for soldiers with the condition.
Practicing Transcendental Meditation
Dr. Vernon A. Barnes, the study’s lead author and a physiologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia, recommends two 20-minute sessions of Transcendental Meditation each day. Over time, he says, this approach can calm the brain, reducing activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Transcendental Meditation is a branded, trademarked approach to meditation that requires practitioners to learn from a certified instructor. To find a course or learn more about the practice, click here.
- How common is PTSD? (2015, August 13). Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/how-common-is-ptsd.asp
- Meditation. (2014, July 19). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858
- Transcendental Meditation may reduce PTSD symptoms, medication use in active-duty personnel. (2016, January 11). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-01/mcog-tmm011116.php
- Transcendental Meditation technique. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mum.edu/about-mum/consciousness-based-education/transcendental-meditation-technique/
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