• Top 10 DCoE Blogs of 2015
    2015 #TopTen #DCoEBlogs

    Themes often define a year. In 2015, that was definitely the case: our audience clicked and commented most often when we shared tips, resources and practices related to mindfulness. Other topics our readers found of particular interest were moral injury, resources for military kids and caring for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Listed below in order of popularity are the top 10 blog posts of 2015 on the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) website.

  • What You Need to Know about Mindfulness Meditation
    mindfulness blog series

    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. DCoE 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.

  • How to Improve Your Health with Mindfulness Meditation

    As described in previous blog posts, mindfulness meditation has swiftly gained popularity as a self-care strategy for improving psychological health. It’s not only a hot media topic, but also an exploding area of new research. However, many people are confused about the definition of mindfulness and the different types of mindfulness meditation. In this post, Dr. Marina Khusid, a family medicine physician and chief of Integrative Medicine with the Deployment Health Clinical Center, outlines some important distinctions between common mindfulness meditation techniques.

    People think time travel is impossible, but we actually do it all the time.

  • Let Your Brain Relax: Mindfulness Meditation Can Reduce Some TBI Symptoms
    DCoE blog: Mindfulness

    Staying in the moment can be hard for anyone, but it’s a particular challenge for people recovering from brain trauma. Mental distractions, such as too much excitement, anxiety and other mental stress, are hallmarks of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can affect the healing process. According to experts and research, a simple and effective way to help the brain repair itself is to give it a little R&R (military slang for rest and recuperation).

    That’s where mindfulness meditation, which helps quiet the mind, comes in. This form of meditation is becoming more common as research continues to prove the benefits of using it to treat traumatic brain injury. Mindfulness meditation teaches patients to achieve open, accepting, non-judgmental awareness (mindfulness) of the present moment by focusing attention on the breath. It is helpful not only during the stressful period immediately after an injury but throughout the recovery process, according to an expert with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC).

  • Mobile App Teaches Mindfulness Techniques for Daily Life
    Meditation and healing combats stress
    Army Spc. Melanie McConathy maintains a meditative posture during a Zen meditation practice in 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Margaret Taylor)

    The ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness is becoming more popular in our fast-paced western world, from helping employees in large corporations such as Google to aiding service members at military installations around the United States.

    “Mindfulness is part of a new wave in psychology, helping people recognize and cope with thoughts and feelings,” said David Cooper, a psychologist with the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2). “It teaches us to observe what is going on in our minds — to not put too much importance on our thoughts and let them go.”

    The last post in the DCoE Blog series on mindfulness described simple steps for meditating mindfully. A more thorough introduction to mindfulness and a series of mindfulness practices are available through a free mobile app that aims to help military members learn to reduce tension and improve coping skills.

    T2 collaborated with psychologists at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD on the app, called Mindfulness Coach. It introduces the concept of mindfully focusing attention and guides users through a variety of practices.

  • Mindfulness Meditation Can Help Your Brain Handle Stress
    Service member in silhouette outlined by sunshine
    U.S. Army photo

    This is the first in a series of posts on mindfulness meditation. Future posts will feature mindfulness meditation techniques and how the practice can help treat various health concerns.

    After two tours of duty in Iraq, Michael (not his real name) struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild depression. A psychiatrist prescribed the 32-year-old service member medication and exposure therapy and saw him every two weeks.

    The therapy helped, but after a year Michael had trouble keeping up with the visits. He didn’t want to backslide; was there something he could do at home? Actually, there is: mindfulness meditation.