• You Can Practice Mindfulness Meditation – Every Day
    U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bowcock

    Meditation is a valuable tool for mental health, but working it into a busy schedule can seem challenging.

    Dr. Mark Bates, associate director of psychological health promotion at the Deployment Health Clinical Center, recommends several short meditation practices that can fit into your daily routine. These meditation practices can be a good starting point for bringing mindfulness into your everyday life.

    “You don’t have to add anything to your day; you can integrate meditation to enhance your day,” Bates said.

    It is important to note that relaxation is not the goal of these meditations, even though they may help you relax. Meditators should focus on simply performing the meditation, rather than attaining a specific mood state.

    Focusing Attention

    • Benefit: This meditation can increase calm and focus during different activities. Focusing attention helps you follow through on completing a goal while reducing distraction.

      “A big part of mindfulness practice is being in the moment,” Bates said.

  • Practicing Mindfulness Meditation to Cope with Stress

    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. This post on mindfulness meditation from the Real Warriors Campaign gives information on the practice and explains how to get started.

    Mindfulness meditation is a popular form of meditation that can help you cope with psychological concerns. It can be combined with clinical care and aid in keeping a healthy lifestyle and staying mentally fit. Meditation can help you learn to better control your emotions and even memories of traumatic events. It can also help you become more aware and accepting of negative thoughts. You learn not to be judgmental about your thoughts and instead think of those thoughts and feelings as momentary impulses that will pass.

  • Presenters Teach Mindfulness and its Benefits at Summit

    Providers learned how mindfulness meditation can help treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) and had a chance to try its techniques for themselves at a presentation last week.

    During the 2015 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Summit, Dr. Panakkal David, a psychiatrist with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, discussed three key concepts in mindfulness: attention, awareness and present-moment experience.

    Although mindfulness is sometimes confused with relaxation training, the two are very different, Panakkal David said.

    “Relaxation training helps you feel better temporarily, but it does not produce the same change [in the brain],” Panakkal David said.

  • Help Kids Tackle Stress with Mindfulness
    Defense Department photo by Samantha L. Quigley

    This article is part of a series on the practice of mindfulness. The series focuses on programs and therapies proven to help improve psychological health and overall well-being.

    Stress doesn’t discriminate. We often think of stress as an adult issue, but children experience it too. Children in the military may experience even more stress because of the constant changes of military life, such as relocations, new schools, making new friends, deployments, or injuries of a loved one.

    We can’t shield our children from stress entirely, but we can help them learn relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness, to find relief and regain control of their emotions.

    Through a review of studies, the Pennsylvania State University’s Prevention Research Center suggests that nurturing mindfulness in children may be an effective method to build resilience, as well as to treat certain disorders. These studies consistently showed that mindfulness can improve children’s behavior and overall health.

    How to Teach Your Kids Mindfulness

    Mindfulness can be more than quiet time; it can be fun and interactive. These tips and resources can help teach your children how to practice mindfulness...

  • 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.