Movie Stars and Veterans on Meditation, Abuse Victims on Prayer

The experiences of abuse survivors and combat veterans have much in common: fear, danger, violence, uncertainty, and trauma. These two groups of people experience high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression even after they’re safely out of harm’s way. So learning how to deal with the memories on a daily basis can be quite a burden. Social support and acceptance can play a large role, but can only go so far. Psychotherapy is one of the primary and most effective means of working through residual trauma, particularly when the therapist or counselor specializes in working with survivors of trauma.

These mental health specialists help their clients talk through and address their memories during counseling sessions. But they also equip them with the tools to calm and center themselves at home between sessions, and continuing on in life once the therapy draws to a close. These often include physical and spiritual practices, such as yoga and meditation that have a long history. At a recent fundraiser for veterans’ mental health, combat veterans and celebrities came together to promote transcendental meditation as a means of overcoming PTSD. Clint Eastwood, Russell Brand, and David Lynch stood with Vietnam, WWII, and Iraq war veterans to share their stories and support for the method.

Then there’s what sociology researcher Shane Sharp calls “the most common religious practice you can find”: prayer. Similar to meditation, prayer calms the mind and helps people to focus and articulate a problem they’re struggling with. Sharp’s recent work focuses on how women involved in violent relationships use prayer to cope, and later to heal. Not only is prayer a safe venting outlet for their anger and a buffer to loneliness, said Sharp, but it works like any other interpersonal interaction: the person imagines how they appear from the other’s perspective. “During prayer, victims came to see themselves as they believed God saw them,” he said, providing a positive self-image that they weren’t receiving from the abuser.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Gillian

    December 15th, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    I strongly believe in the power Of spirituality and believe that it can be q solution to most,if not all,of our problems.Spirituality is a very strong thing that can really alter the way a person perceives himself or how ge goes about doing things.And when all it does is positive,there is no reason not to give spirituality a try.

  • Ashton

    December 15th, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Adding Clint Eastwood’s voice to the ever growing crowd of meditation supporters will help persuade men as well as women to try it, surely. He shatters any old preconceived ideas that you need to be a guru, a hippie or a monk to meditate. I didn’t know he was a practitioner and am glad to see him promoting it.

  • rosie

    December 15th, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    Men are a tough nut to crack when it comes to convincing them of the merits. I’ve suggested it before as a relaxation method and received an immediate no way. Seeing some of our military vouch for meditation’s effectiveness may at least make them curious. See, tough guys can meditate too!

  • selena

    December 16th, 2010 at 2:05 AM

    Even if the critics don’t like it, it’s still worth a shot if it gives the vets any relief. Meditation has been practiced for literally hundreds of years worldwide. Critics should ask themselves this : if there truly was nothing to it, why would the practice have survived for centuries?

  • russell

    December 16th, 2010 at 5:06 AM

    soonetimes mental wounds are much harsher than physical ones and it can take much longer too…and if there is something that can help a person who is in that condition,then it sure is great.

  • tina c

    December 16th, 2010 at 5:33 AM

    OK so I am glad that when celebs get involved in a cause it does seem to get some people moving and get some things solved. But it does annoy me that there are so many celebs who think that just because they say it then it makes it a real cause that people should participate in. What I have to say to them is thank you for raising awareness but why should I listen to the “solutions” raised by many of you who did not even finish high school, much less get a college degree in anything other than looking pretty?

  • Mandy

    December 16th, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    I read an interesting article at NPR this morning on how the act of meditation and/or prayer affected the brain. Brain scans done before and during it showed increased frontal lobe activity. Maybe the hard science will quieten the skeptics.

  • texmex

    December 16th, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    Whoa!Turn down that envy volume a notch, will ya tina c? LOL. Don’t tar all celebrities with the same brush. There are very bright stars and not so bright ones, with and without college degrees. There’s diversity in any industry, including Hollywood. What the top celebrities have in common with all industry hotshots is that most worked very hard to get where they are today.

    You’re a big girl. Just because they endorse anything doesn’t mean you have to take it on board. And Clint Eastwood can be called a lot of things but pretty he ain’t. ;)

  • Desiree

    December 16th, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    Several turn to meditation as a last resort rather than seeing it as mainstream. That’s unfortunate because once you’ve got into it, you realize how much you’ve been missing out on. I think the soldiers suffering from PTSD especially will appreciate the calm, centered connectedness you feel. It’s wonderful to hear them validate the experience.

  • Sutton

    December 17th, 2010 at 5:48 AM

    There have been too many facets of society that has dismissed the power of prayer but I am telling you from my own personal experiences that this is the one true thing that woorks. You may feel like it takes too much time and too much faith to believe in a higher power and there may be a while when you feel like you are getting nothing in return. But that power of prayer is strong and I know many more people who would attest to the same thing. I am so glad that such big names are standing behind some of these fellow Americans who are in the most need of our love and support and helping them to get out their message and to show them that there are numerous people who care about them and their experiences.

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