The Science of Meditation

Written by Paul Melvin Benavidez, MFA

Last week I wrote about the growing interest in meditation and mindfulness training due to scientific research. During the weekend, a Gazette reader called me about the article and wanted to know more about “mindfulness training” because he heard the term used by the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Secretary during the 2017 Defense Budget Request held on C-Span February 23rd. During the session, General Dunford responded to several representatives’ questions about mindfulness training. Here is one of his comments: “mindfulness enhances the resiliency of our marines and sailors...of our forces...mitigate with the challenges...focus on the challenges they are confronted...there is a lot of promise to enhance the capabilities of the force with mindfulness training.” In other words, what the General was saying is that meditation practice does what science is telling us it does, that it creates in the individual the state meta-awareness - heightened visual, intellectual, audio, keenness; spaciousness for creativity; a dramatic decrease in stress levels; less reflexive emotion and much more. The growing popularity of meditation practice is real.

Do a “military mindfulness” internet search. You’ll be astounded at a number of hits you receive. It’s not just the Armed Forces who are using it. Go ahead, do a corporate mindfulness search, then healthcare and dementia. Now, if we can just get the U.S. Department of Education to adopt a meditation program in K through 12 for students and teachers! We’re talking about shaping and reshaping the brain called neuroplasticity, thicker cortical walls, building robust cognitive skills, better attention, focus and decision making. The truth, increased gray matter is not just for the Armed Forces, it’s for all of us young and old.

Stay tuned for more on the Science of Meditation and your health. Next week: Public Enemy #1