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Subject: Grunt Goes ZEN; Mental Training To Sharpen Focus On The Moment
SCCOMarine    10/8/2008 1:34:08 PM
For those interested. It started at Camp LeJeune to treat the Marines of the Wounded Warrior BN. It then spread to Pendleton, to the Army's Fort Bragg & even to the Coasties in the Coast Guard's Special Missions Unit based out of Camp LeJeune. These guys are now bringing it back to the guys in their Regular Units & they like it. Could be a Revolution afoot, all it takes in the right Unit Commander or SgtMajor to intergrate it into their Unit Training Program.
 
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SCCOMarine       10/8/2008 1:43:30 PM

Mind training helps with combat, then PTSD

By Kevin Maurer - The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Oct 8, 2008 10:25:09 EDT
 

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — The explosion of practice mortars sent Army Spc. Kade Williams into panic attacks, and nightmares plagued his sleep. The ravages of post-traumatic stress had left the veteran of the war in Afghanistan vulnerable, and he was desperate for help.

But sitting silently on the floor with his eyes closed while listening to a soft-spoken instructor tell him to find a focal point by pressing on his lower stomach as guitar music hums in the background? That seemed a bit far-out.

Until he tried it.

"I will be the first one to admit that I was wrong," Williams said.

Warriors have long used such practices to improve concentration and relaxation — dating back more than 1,000 years to the techniques of the samurai. Here at coastal Camp Lejeune, 100 miles inland at the Army's Fort Bragg and at several bases in California, such meditation now comes with a name: Warrior Mind Training.

The course is catching on in military circles as a way not only to treat both post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries, but to improve focus and better prepare soldiers and Marines for the rigors of combat. It can also improve shooting range performance and raise training test scores, said Sarah Ernst, a senior Warrior Mind instructor.

At North Carolina's Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps' main base on the East Coast, the courses are offered through the post naval hospital's "Back on Track" program, which helps wounded sailors and Marines recover mental health issues.

"This is a way to turn off your thoughts and get razor-sharp attention. We kind of work out the muscles, before our troops ever see action, so that they have the mental skill set to stay focused in the heat of battle — and to be able to leave the horrors of war behind when it?s time to come home," Ernst said.

"Our motto is, 'Take the war to the enemy, but leave the battle on the battlefield.'"

Ernst started practicing relaxation techniques at Georgetown University 15 years ago. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the beginnings of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ernst read news stories about the rising number of soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder or those committing suicide.

Using what she learned at Georgetown — such as the ability to relax and manages stress — Ernst said she developed a program specifically for the military. Although it sounds similar to common meditation and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, Ernst said Warrior Mind Training also encompasses ancient training techniques used by samurai, including an emphasis on living in the moment. Ernst said the samurai handled the carnage on the battlefield by only focusing on it during the fight.

"At the end of the day, a yellow ribbon bumper sticker is not going to cut it," she said. "If this is something that will help some of our soldiers, we should do it."

She and three other instructors started the Warrior Mind Training program at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton, Calif. The program is free to service members and funded by the instructors. It has grown to two courses a week at Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg. At Camp Pendleton, the course is taught three times a week at several places on base and continues to expand as Ernst trains new instructors.

Williams, the Army specialist, went to his first class in June, three months after he returned from Afghanistan. He now attends regular classes and practices alone three mornings a week. He says he feels safe for the first time since he returned.

"Many of our patients have expressed very positive feelings, including a sense of relief to be able to relax," said Lt. Cmdr. Erin Simmons, a clinical psychologist who heads the Back on Track program at Camp Lejeune. "Many have said that they have better control of their triggers as a result."

Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Credle learned about the classes from a flier. Credle, a Camp Lejeune-based instructor who trains his fellow Coast Guardsmen to operate speed boats, thought the classes might help him concentrate.

"Being able to focus on the here and now is pretty relevant when the boat is going 40 knots, because you are talking about a catastrophe if something goes wrong," Credle said.

Credle's first class took him into an exercise room at a gym on Camp Lejeune. Ernst, in jeans and a black blazer, sat at the front next to her iPod and speakers. She told the students to place two fingers just under their bellybutton, close their eyes and concentrate on that spot. Use the music, she said, as a focal point to clear the mind of all other thoughts.

Credle and three other stud

 
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Jeff_F_F    Computer analogy   10/8/2008 3:10:00 PM
I compare it to a computer running Win3x on top of DOS--DOS did the work of making sure data got where it needed to go, Windows was a warm fuzzy GUI to make it more comfortable for the end user to manipulate the files and data. Unfortunately it had lots of errors and slowed the system down.
 
Your brain is a computer running DOS. Your mind is the fuzzy GUI running on top of it, you don't need your mind to plan and act--that is what your brain does. Your mind just gets in the way by running extraneous processes slowing down the entire system and can even lock the whole thing up.
 
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smitty237    Now and Zen   10/8/2008 6:45:19 PM
They may be onto something here.  I'm certainly not advocating that all of our soldiers and Marines become Buddhists, but I do think that anything that helps our fighting men and women maintain an even keel and clear their minds is probably a good thing.  I've been a cop for over fourteen years now, and I know that there has to be a better way of dealing with stress than hitting the bottle and/or internalizing everything.  Talking to other people about what you're dealing with is fine, but too many of us have been conditioned to avoid this sort of thing because we don't others to perceive us as weak.
 
  A number of years ago I was the first officer on the scene of a school shooting in which a man murdered his son and seriously wounded his wife with a gunshot wound through the neck.  Needless to say it was a long day.  I attended an incident debriefing put together by a crisis intervention team at the hospital the next day.  All of the firefighters that were at the scene attended the debriefing (including the Chief), but I was the only cop there.  Later I heard snide remarks from a lot of my cup buddies, and even received some negative feedback from police administration.  After that I swore I would never attend another incident debriefing.  Maybe this could be a way for warriors of all types to deal with stress and clear their minds of all the crap that keeps them from getting the most out of their lives once they set their weapons down for the day.   
 
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SCCOMarine       10/8/2008 10:00:59 PM

I definitely think it could be helpful w/ the Debrief/Post Op.

I also think it could be helpful w/ Pre Op.  Anybody who had to jock up for a foot patrol thru some serious areas of enemy stronghold, conducted raids, or ambushes would definitely appreciate the ability to mentally train the mind to beam in on the moment prior to every mission.
 
Not to be cheesy & bring up a movie, but, thats what they were trying to depicted in that Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai when they show him have a mental freeze frame then have a draw when sparring the one guy. 
 
The Japanese believe that duels were often won not by the strongest, but the one who could most focus on the moment & impose his will on the enemy at that moment.
 
Thats also why they could pull out a knife and rip there own guts out, not b/c it was the easiest place to cut but b/c it was the most Painful.  A final F U to deny you the priviledge of killing me, but taking the most painful way out to show you wasn't afraid to die... Now thats Focus
 
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dirtykraut       12/23/2008 11:38:19 PM
Reminds me of the Veitnamese monks who set themselves on fire and sat in the lotus position until they burned to a crisp. While that particular incident may have been stupid, you have to believe that there is something that can be said for zen and the meditative technique when trained individuals can completely block out pain...
 
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