Why Veterans Are Turning to Transcendental Meditation for PTSD Relief

Why Veterans Are Turning to Transcendental Meditation for PTSD Relief April 25, 2023

PTSD relief
PTSD relief
Benjamin Faust / Unsplash

Military members are at a heightened risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a condition in which you have difficulty coping after witnessing a shocking or terrifying event. For many, PTSD relief is a matter of life or death.

There is no time frame on how long PTSD lasts — some cases range from months to years — and those diagnosed with it may experience powerful physical and emotional reactions to triggers. Sometimes, people develop PTSD long after the event occurs.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Report said that 24.4% of the veterans who died by suicide in 2020 were also diagnosed with PTSD. Their triggers developed after experiencing war, assault, disaster, injury or another event. Sadly, suicide is all too common among veterans, leading experts to seek mental health solutions, such as transcendental meditation.

Extensive studies have examined the positive effects of transcendental meditation on veterans with PTSD. Researchers have found that a routine practice can significantly benefit those diagnosed with such a challenging mental health condition. 

Transcendental meditation for PTSD relief in veterans is a viable therapy treatment, and many people have benefitted from it. Here’s what it is and its many benefits.

PTSD Prevalence Among American Veterans

According to the VA, seven out of 100 veterans develop PTSD at some point in their lives — an occurrence more common among women than men at 13% versus 6%, respectively. PTSD is also three times more prevalent among those deployed than those not during similar service eras. 

Addiction is also common in this population. Another 60%-80% of veterans with PTSD struggle with substance abuse problems in an attempt to manage their triggers or numb emotional pain. 

It shouldn’t be too surprising that military members and veterans are susceptible to PTSD. They tend to live with painful memories following their enlistment — sometimes for the rest of their lives. 

After enduring life-threatening situations, watching their comrades die, killing innocents or experiencing sexual assault — which many female service members do — many find themselves desperate for peace of mind and PTSD relief. However, while some veterans seek medical treatment for their mental health problems, others try transcendental meditation or a combination of both.

What Is Transcendental Meditation?

Transcendental meditation — also known as TM — is a mantra-based meditation practice in which the practitioner repeats a word or phrase in their head for a set duration of time. Transcendental meditation allows your body and mind to reach a deep state of relaxation so you become more alert.

You don’t need experience or equipment to practice TM — you must only sit comfortably twice daily for 20 minutes with your eyes closed. The longer you repeat your chosen word or phrase, the more your conscious mind moves toward the mantra.

However, TM mantras aren’t spoken in English — they are vibrational sounds from Vedic traditions. You might recognize one or two chants from the following:

  • Om: The most sacred mantra that’s repeated at the beginning and end of Sanskrit teachings, representing creation
  • Om Namah Shivaya: A worship phrase that translates to “I bow to Lord Shiva”
  • Aham Prema: An acknowledgment that we are all worthy of love, translating to “I am Love”
  • Sat Nam: Translated to “Truth is my identity,” which encourages us to live in connection with our highest selves

You can make thousands of sounds during transcendental meditation, and a TM teacher can help you discover the best mantra for your practice that suits your needs. Ultimately, the mantra’s vibrational sounds pull your attention away from active thoughts and settle the mind — this is what makes TM for veterans with PTSD so powerful.

Benefits of Transcendental Meditation

A lot happens to your mind and body when you start a transcendental meditation practice. You will find it improves many other areas of your life. Some of the benefits of transcendental meditation include the following:

  • Less stress
  • Improved sleep
  • Lower anxiety and depression
  • Improved concentration
  • Better decision-making

Meditation can also boost your immune system to fight off infections. Chronic stress and anxiety are difficult for the body to handle and can make you sick. You have a better chance of making healthier nutritional and exercise choices and improving self-care with a routine TM practice. 

Another intriguing benefit of transcendental meditation is its ability to alleviate pain. A new study uncovered that regular meditation reduced intensity by 32% and discomfort by 33%.

More research backs these findings, with 28% of patients with chronic pain also screening positive for PTSD. These individuals were younger and experienced higher pain levels than those without PTSD. Since many veterans have combat injuries, receiving PTSD relief through transcendental meditation can improve any residual pain they experience and greatly enhance their quality of life.

Transcendental Meditation for PTSD Relief

Some types of meditation feed the thinking person’s mind — such as a Stoic practice — in which you reflect on events that happen to you in your daily life. However, these meditation exercises may force you to revisit painful instances and may not be as effective for veterans seeking PTSD relief.

Experts agree that one of the benefits of transcendental meditation is that it’s a stress-free mindfulness activity for those who feel triggered by instances that remind them of traumatic or terrifying events. One study even found that 50% of veterans who practiced TM no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Veterans also self-reported fewer feelings of depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Some veterans who are faithful followers of a particular religion may think twice about starting transcendental meditation. However, although TM is rooted in Hinduism, it isn’t considered religious — meaning anyone from any faith or denomination can participate. Transcendental meditation for PTSD relief can only help those willing to try it with an open mind.

Receive PTSD Relief Through Meditation

Although not a medical-based mental health treatment, transcendental meditation may offer veterans PTSD relief. You can reap the benefits of transcendental meditation for optimal healing from traumatic experiences and events. Sometimes, it is the most effective coping mechanism for veterans and current service members, helping them find peace in their lives.

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