David Lynch and The Pentagon have teamed up to help spiritually heal veterans after traumatic events. We investigate the use of Transcendental Meditation for PTSD.
Imagine. You wake up at 4:30 in the morning. You’re unable to sleep. Restless. Your whole body feels like deadweight because it’s been months since you had a proper night’s sleep. Your minds eye is flooded with images. Though you’re awake, you hear gunfire that rang out years ago. You can smell smoke though there is none. Your heart is racing as though your life were in danger right now. And you keep seeing your friends’ eyes slowly closing for the last time.
This is the agony that veterans with PTSD experience each and every day. The reward for their service, for having risked their lives for their country, is to be haunted by visions of war and death.
It’s a blur on the retina of the mind’s eye. Everywhere you look you see horror.
One in eight returning soldiers will experience PTSD. It is most common in U.S soldiers. And less than one in five of those soldiers will receive adequate treatment.
The government has official stated that it does not have adequate resources to offer help to those in need. Soldiers who seek help face the stigma of being a soldier with an emotional, psychological condition.
Left untreated, PTSD leads to numerous serious complications. Veterans turn to alcohol and drugs in the hope of stopping the terrorising images in their own minds. Many self-harm because physical pain takes away the mental trauma. Some cannot find escape. They choose to commit suicide because the pain in their minds is unbearable.
This poem was written by a veteran with PTSD. It enlightens us to the suffering these brave men and women endure:
The cell I live in is my mind, where I reside, the place I hide.
For when the past comes here to stay, I fold away, I hide inside.
This cell is dank, it’s walls sweat blood, it’s ceiling crushes from above.
The floor is wet, the stench is sweat, this place is lacking warmth, and love.
I built this place with my own hand, the reason for to lock away,
The light of day.
And darkness reigns in this foul place, the flashbacks come, the nightmares stay.
For when the past comes round to call, my sanga hides me from the truth.
It shelters me from all that hate, it is my only covering roof.
And though to all I’m brash and bold, my outer skin seems hard and cold,
Reality is a different thing, I feel so weak, so used,
I’ll tell you how this came about, although I really have no doubt,
That you already know,
Because like me you have this room, the place to go, where you can shout,
It came about as I am weak, a person plagued by simple thoughts,
That are not simple anymore, they squirm and toss, a hate, of sorts.
And when I close my eyes so tight, I see again the shattered forms,
Of burning buildings, burning men, in bloody lightning storms.
Of screaming children, arms and legs, just lying there, the dawn to find,
Of shattered lives, of shattered minds, of shattered hopes, from my own kind.
And so my cell protects me from this scene, but in itself provides a place,
Where torture rules, the stinging whip, the tears of blood run down my face,
For in my mind, I built this place.
The brick’s are moulded from my hate, and kiln-fired in the fire of life.
The morter mixed from fear of death, and watered down with tears, and strife.
So course by course, as years went by, I built this cell,
I learned to cry.
And when at last my time does come, when I lie down, to wilt and die,
Then this fine shelter will collapse, fall over and be turned to dust.
For all my fears will go with me, my legacy of brick and rust.
My spirit then will fly so free, the past not there to trouble me.
And so to you I say these things, to fellows who have lived like me,
To you who’s anguish rules your lives, fear not,
For someday we’ll be free.
Many veterans are turning to Transcendental Meditation for PTSD
Some veterans are better equipped to handle PTSD than others. And one of the many ways veterans are handling PTSD is with meditation, specifically, Transcendental Meditation.
You can read our free guide to Transcendental Meditation here.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a type of mantra meditation that was introduced my Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s.
Ever since the Beatles brought Transendental Meditation to the West, celebrities have been using it, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey, and David Lynch (director of Mullholland Drive).
David Lynch has subsequently become a world leader in popularising Transcendental Meditation. His charity The David Lynch Foundation calls itself a “consciousness based education system for world peace”. The foundation offers Transcendental Meditation lessons to those in need of spiritual healing, among them war veterans.
It’s a seemingly unusual way of helping a veteran. Meditation and war. Historically, they haven’t mixed.
When vets hear about Transcendental Meditation many are understandably wary. Transcendental Meditation has been viewed as a cult by some.
During the sixties, when the world turned hippie, TM found its stride. Thousands of the Maharishi’s followers flocked to Fairfield, Iowa, determined to use Transcendental Meditation to bring about world peace.
But then the word spread that TM could induce “Yogic Flying”. Many raised a dubious eyebrow.
These mystical claims tarnished TM, as did the revelation that the movement was a cash cow. By 1998 the foundation was worth $3billion.
The combination of wealth and bizarre claims of people “flying” turned TM into the Joker of the spiritual health world.
Times have changed.
Today, with the popularisation and general acceptance of meditation, TM is coming back into focus. Its being aided by the work of celebrities like David Lynch.
But David Lynch’s own story doesn’t inspire confidence in TM, either. The Hollywood director paid $1million to attend a “Millionaire’s Enlightenment Course” in 2003 along with other one-percenters. Not a lot of money for a Hollywood director. But an impossible sum for most vets.
It’s not been easy bringing TM to the people who actually need it (people who are not celebrities; peole who actually know what “’the struggle is real” should mean). When you don’t have a million bucks, some “gurus” won’t listen to you.
It’s cost the taxpayer millions of dollars to bring TM to vets.
The David Lynch foundation “raised” (was given) $30 million from the Pentagon and the National Institutes of Health (that’d be taxpayer money, then) to research TM and to bring it to veterans.
Clearly, TM is big business. Profitable, no doubt. But we’re dealing with veterans. Money is irrelevant. All that matters is whether or not TM actually helps those brave men and women to recover. So let’s cut to the chase. TM: yes or no?
Does Transcendental Meditation Help With PTSD?
Many studies have “proven” then TM helps PTSD.
One study has caught particular interest.
The study, “Impact of Transcendental Meditation on Psychotropic Medication Use Among Active Duty Military Service Members With Anxiety and PTSD,” was published in the journal Military Medicine. It stated that Transcendental Meditation helps reduce or eliminate the need for vets with PTSD to use psychotropic meditation and to better control PTSD. (source: PsychologyToday)
The study looked at 74 active-duty members with PTSD or anxiety disorder. Half the group practiced TM, the other half did not. Four weeks later, the group who had practiced Transcendental Meditation had reduced or stabilised their symptoms or had stopped using psychotropic drugs. One in ten of the group had increased their drug usage.
Of the group who did not meditate, 59% had reduced or stabilised their symptoms and 40% had increased their medication.
The researchers stated that TM was helpful for calming the mind and healing the brain. They recommend practicing TM twice a day for 20 minutes.
Of course, it’s those men and women who have actually served the country who have the most right to opine about the effectiveness of TM, not those in white coats or sitting in luxurious offers “raising” millions (and taking much of it). So what do the vets themselves say about it?
Actually, a lot of them are very keen on TM.
Many vets who practice the technique say it makes all the difference. One such veteran, Mary-Ann Rich, says she would not miss a meditation session for the world.
Rich suffered recurring dreams of being covered in blood on top of garbage cans stuffed with limbs. The result of seeing many amputations in the war. TM, she says, has helped keep her PTSD in check. “I’ve started to feel happiness, which I hadn’t felt in years.”
The Facts Of PTSD and Veterans
One in Eight soldiers will experience PTSD. Less than 20% will receive adequate treatment.
Many will not receive treatment because society still places a stigma on mental health problems.
Lacking treatment, many vets turn to alcohol and drugs.
More than 6500 vets commit suicide every year.
Scientific research shows that TM can reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a healthcare professional. This article is written purely for education. Always consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before using advise and techniques on this site.