Stress seems to be a permanent feature of modern life and a constant challenge to overcome. Many of us have experienced the impact stress can have on our productivity, our success and our ability to fulfill our highest aspirations. To quote Ted Talk speaker and meditation expert Bob Roth, “Stress is the black plague of the 21st century. Modern medicine has no way to prevent it and no way to cure it. ”
The level of stress most of us experience does not come close to that of those who live with traumatic stress—stress that comes from exposure to terrible events outside the range of daily human experience, events that are emotionally painful, intense, and distressing.
Among those who struggle with a heavy stress load are veterans. The traumatic events they experience as active soldiers stay with them, sometimes for the rest of their lives. The quality of life for veterans has become a growing concern. As a result of this increased awareness of the importance of improving veterans’ mental and physical health, there are now many tools that veterans can access.
One tool that is proving to be very helpful is the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. TM is a simple, natural procedure that is easy to learn and enjoyable to practise. When practised regularly, TM brings relief from stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and insomnia. In addition, TM improves a person’s overall perspective on life, leading, ultimately, to a life lived in happiness.
How TM works: The TM technique is practised for 15-20 minutes twice daily while sitting comfortably, with eyes closed. During meditation, the mind settles to quieter levels of thought to reach a natural state of inner silence. As the mind effortlessly settles down, the body correspondingly settles down to a state of deep physical rest, as evidenced in peer-reviewed research (see link below). The inner peace and calm experienced during TM produce a unique and profound physical relaxation, activating the body’s self-repair mechanisms. This allows the body and mind to effortlessly heal from within. More than 350 peer-reviewed studies have shown that TM effectively reduces all types and levels of stress. [Insert here a link to the collected papers or a smaller publication.]
Bringing TM to Veterans
TM is now being offered to Canadian veterans and their family members through a unique organization: The Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative (CWWI). Their mandate is to bring the TM technique to populations whose lives are impacted by traumatic stress. This includes police, firefighters, nurses, and families and youth at risk. CWWI recently received funding from Veterans Affairs Canada through the Veterans and Family Well-Being Fund to bring the TM technique to veterans and the family members who support them. The first phase of the project was completed in the spring of this year, and the results are remarkable.
Results of the Project
Researchers tracked the results of 36 participants (veterans and family members) by measuring the degree to which they experienced changes in their perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and anger after learning and practising the Transcendental Meditation technique. The pre-test was administered just before learning the TM technique; the post-test was administered 12 weeks after learning the TM technique.
In only 12 weeks of practising TM, veterans experienced, on average, a 22% decrease in perceived stress. In that same period, they also showed a 38.24% decrease in depression, a 45.24% decrease in anxiety and a 35.35% decrease in anger (see charts below).
Family members experienced similar results from regular TM practice.
Comments from Participants
As well as administering quantitative measures, the researchers asked participants to describe what they experienced as a result of three months of TM practice. Here are some of the responses:
- “I have more energy and drive; I look forward to being active.”
- “My mental energy has improved exponentially. My outlook is much more positive and I don’t feel the mental fatigue I did before. I feel more balanced and in control.”
- “I sleep better and I have more energy when I meditate consistently.”
- “I connect better with my wife – communicate better, moods are stable.”
- “The most rewarding part of TM for me is my reduction in stress. As I have continued to practice, I have noticed how relaxed I am.”
- “Definitely positive impact in personal relationships. Big reduction in anger and violent reactivity.”
Besides being effective in helping veterans deal with traumatic stress, TM has other advantages:
- Once learned, it is a technique that veterans can use for the rest of their lives;
- The TM course provides comprehensive instruction by highly-trained and experienced teachers;
- TM is enjoyable to practise;
- TM can be done in the privacy of one’s own home;
- There is follow-up available whenever an individual feels the need.
Helen Creighton, National Director of CWWI, says. “We feel honoured to be working with veterans and their families to maximize their health and well-being. TM is an easy technique to learn and practise and has had a significant positive impact on the quality of life of not only veterans, but their spouses and children.”
The Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative has funding to continue this project until June, 2023. Through the project, TM is being offered in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Ottawa Montreal and Fredericton.
For information on how veterans can get involved, visit:
Or contact Helen Creighton, CWWI National Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative, visit: https://canadianwomenswellness.ca/