Posts Tagged ‘Richard W. Schneider’

Study suggests meditation may help prevent PTSD—Boston Globe article by Bryan Bender

December 3, 2012

Study suggests meditation may help prevent PTSD

By Bryan Bender | Globe Staff | December 02, 2012

Norwich Rooks Meditate after classes

Lance Ostby, Rob Wetmore, Matt Miller, Aaron McDuffie, and Jeremy Ward practiced meditation following afternoon classes. Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — It is part of a highly regimented daily routine at Norwich University, the nation’s oldest private military academy and a cultivator of battlefield leaders for nearly two centuries.

Dressed in combat fatigues and boots, a platoon of first-year cadets — “Rooks” — are up early in their barracks. On the orders of their instructor, the young men and women take their places. At 0800 sharp, they sit on wooden chairs in a circle and begin — to meditate.

The first-of-its-kind training is part of a long-term study to determine whether regular brief periods of silent, peaceful consciousness can improve troops’ performance. Ultimately, researchers hope the transcendental meditation training might be made available across all branches of the military to help inoculate troops against acute post-traumatic stress disorder, which has reached epidemic proportions and is blamed for a record number of suicides in the ranks.

For an institution that demands that incoming cadets exhibit physical and mental toughness, meditation training is a radical approach. The broader military culture had long associated meditation with a leftist, antiwar philosophy. Known by its shorthand, TM was widely introduced to the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Hindu leader who once served as the spiritual guru to the Beatles.

“I was very skeptical at first,” said Norwich president Richard W. Schneider, a retired Coast Guard admiral who is among several university officials who have also been trained in the technique. “I’m not a touchy-feely guy.”

But the preliminary results of the study, now in its second year, surprised even its lead researchers. They have been methodically tracking the dozens of participants and several control groups of non-meditating cadets through detailed questionnaires as well as brain wave and eye scans to measure levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

“All those things decreased significantly,” said Dr. Carole Bandy, a Norwich psychology professor overseeing the project. “In fact, they decreased very significantly.”

Positive traits such as critical thinking and mental resilience improved, according to preliminary findings shared with the Globe that Bandy and her team plan to publish next year.

The project has garnered high-level attention from the Army.

“Becoming more psychologically fit is just like becoming physically fit. It is better to do it before you are injured,” said retired Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, a surgeon who until recently ran the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program and visited Norwich three times to be briefed on the work. “There seems to be no question that meditation is, frankly, good for you. I am very encouraged by the Norwich University study.”

(more…)

Washington Post: VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSD

May 4, 2012
 

VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSD

By Steve Vogel, Published: May 3

Seeking new ways to treat post-traumatic stress, the Department of Veterans Affairs is studying the use of transcendental meditation to help returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans Affairs’ $5.9 billion system for mental-health care is under sharp criticism, particularly after the release of an inspector general’s report last month that found that the department has greatly overstated how quickly it treats veterans seeking mental-health care.

VA has a “huge investment” in mental-health care but is seeking alternatives to conventional psychiatric treatment, said W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary of veterans affairs.

“The reality is, not all individuals we see are treatable by the techniques we use,” Gould said at a summit Thursday in Washington on the use of TM to treat post-traumatic stress suffered by veterans and active-duty service members.

By some estimates, 10 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan show effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, numbers that are overwhelming the department

“Conventional approaches fall woefully short of the mark, so we clearly need a new approach,” said Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University’s medical school.

Rosenthal told the gathering that TM, a meditative practice that advocates say helps manage stress and depression, is “possibly even a game-changer” in how to treat PTSD.

VA is spending about $5 million on a dozen clinical trials and demonstration studies of three meditation techniques involving several hundred veterans from a range of conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Results from the studies will not be available for 12 to 18 more months.

But Gould said he was “encouraged” by the results of other trials presented at the summit.

Two independent pilot studies of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans showed a 50 percent reduction in symptoms of post-traumatic stress after eight weeks, according to the summit’s sponsor, the David Lynch Foundation, a charitable organization founded by the American filmmaker and television director.

Results from the initial phase of a long-term trial investigating the effects of TM on 60 cadets at Norwich University, a private military college in Vermont, have shown promise, school officials said at the summit.

Students practising TM at Norwich showed measurable improvement in the areas of resilience, constructive thinking and discipline over a control group not using the method. “The statistical effect we found in only two months was surprisingly large,” Carole Bandy, an associate professor of psychology who is directing the Norwich study, said at the summit.

“For us, it’s all about the evidence,” said Norwich President Richard W. Schneider, who added that he was a skeptic before the trial began.

Operation Warrior Wellness, an initiative of the David Lynch Foundation, is providing TM training to troops recovering from wounds at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. Soldiers report “dramatic improvements” in sleep, according to the foundation, as well as significant reductions in pain, stress and the use of prescription medications.

Lynch, the director of “Blue Velvet,” “Mulholland Drive” and the television series “Twin Peaks,” is a longtime practitioner of TM.

“The VA is very interested in what this can do,” Lynch said in a telephone interview Thursday. He acknowledged that many in the military are wary of transcendental meditation, with its New Age and mystic connotations.

“Big-time,” Lynch said. “They’re skeptical until they start hearing stories, or experiencing it for themselves.”

Related articles: Washington Post: Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD? | POLITICO: Coping with PTSD | Norwich University President Receives “Resilient Warrior Award” at National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC | Huffington Post: David Lynch Brings Transcendental Meditation To D.C.

Norwich University President Receives “Resilient Warrior Award” at National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC

May 4, 2012

Norwich University President was honored with the “Resilient Warrior Award” during a National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC for his leadership in exploring the use of Transcendental Meditation in building resilient warriors

“The disturbing prevalence of PTSD among returning troops underlines the need for more effective resilience training among our cadets.” — Norwich University President Richard W. Schneider, RADM USCGR (Ret.)

Washington, DC (PRWEB) May 03, 2012

Dr. Richard W. Schneider, RADM USCGR (Ret.), the 23rd President of Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., received the inaugural “Resilient Warrior Award” for 2012 during a national summit on “Resilience, the Brain and Meditation,” held on Thursday, May 3, at the Army and Navy Club in Washington D.C.

The award was presented to President Schneider by veterans of four wars who direct Operation Warrior Wellness, a division of the David Lynch Foundation 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which has provided Transcendental Meditation (TM) scholarships for more than 250,000 at-risk youth and veterans and their families who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The award cites Schneider for “leading and training a new generation of resilient warriors who will safeguard America and secure the peace with honor and integrity.”

Under Schneider’s leadership, Norwich University recently completed the initial phase of a long-term, longitudinal, randomized controlled trial with 60 cadets, investigating the effects of TM on psychological distress and resilience. Key results of the first nine-week period included reduced perceived stress, improved constructive thinking, decreased state anxiety, increased behavioral coping, reduced depression and improved dispositional resilience.

“Norwich is proud to be in partnership with the David Lynch Foundation and the Educational Foundation of America for providing the resources for this wonderful effort,” Schneider said.

“The disturbing prevalence of PTSD among returning troops underlines the need for more effective resilience training among our cadets. Based on existing data and preliminary results of ongoing trials at Norwich, I believe the Transcendental Meditation technique represents an essential tool to promote resilience in cadets.”

Ed Schloeman, CMS (Ret.), national co-chair of Operation Warrior Wellness, praised President Schneider for “equipping his cadets with the most important of tools—one that will help them overcome stress and promote resilience throughout their life in the military—throughout their life. He is a great educator, a wise man, and a true leader.”

After receiving the news of the award, Schneider said: “I am honored to accept this award on behalf of all those who have worked so hard on this project to experiment with providing our future soldiers, sailors, and airmen the tools necessary to become more resilient, even better warriors, and better human beings.”

Other speakers at the Summit included W. Scott Gould, the US Deputy Secretary of the Veterans Administration, and Norman Rosenthal, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical School and author of a breakthrough research study, which found a 50% reduction in the symptoms of PTSD among veterans who practice TM.

Reported in newstimes.com. Related articles: Washington Post: Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD? | POLITICO: Coping with PTSD | Washington Post: VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSD |

POLITICO: Coping with PTSD

May 4, 2012
Opinion Contributor
Coping with PTSD

More than 500,000 returning veterans suffer from psychological injuries, the author said. | AP Photo

By RICHARD W. SCHNEIDER | 5/3/12 9:24 AM EDT

Developing military leaders who are smart, strong and courageous — both on and off of the battlefield — is essential. We are still learning how to create soldiers prepared for the emotional wounds of war. We need to teach coping skills to help these men and women reduce the terrible effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veterans, who have experienced the horrors of war, are the most common sufferers. More than 500,000 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from psychological injuries — including PTSD or major depression.

But even military cadets, when in a highly disciplined and rigorous academic environment, can feel similarly overwhelmed. Under intense stress, many men and women just give up. They don’t have the tools to stay focused and grounded.

We must give them the tools they need. This means helping them to be successful socially, emotionally and in a military setting. Our future leaders need this knowledge.

Transcendental Meditation has demonstrated an ability to help those suffering from PTSD and high stress environments. Recent trials of TM’s effects on psychological distress have revealed: reduced perceived stress, improved constructive thinking, decreased state anxiety, increased behavioral coping and reduced depression. This is the focus of the David Lynch Foundation, which highlights TM’s positive effects.

TM helps military cadets become more resilient, according to Norwich University studies, so that they can be better soldiers on the battlefield as well as better equipped to recover from the traumas of war and have a normal life after returning home.

Evidence suggests that TM may help people handle the stresses that come before as well as during military service and when they return to civilian life.

A 2011 Norwich University study, with funding from the David Lynch Foundation and the Educational Foundation of America, showed the positive effects that TM can have on helping students cope with the stresses of leadership in being a member of the Norwich University Corps of Cadets. TM has proven to be a highly effective coping strategy and has set a high bar to further explorations and research.

Many cadets who enter the military will likely be exposed to trauma that can have a destructive effect on their lives and the lives of their families. Whether a veteran or a military cadet, the method of dealing with PTSD is crucial.

For these “invisible wounds” can take a high toll — on family, quality of life and work performance. There is also a greater risk for violent and self-destructive behavior.

Effective treatments have been difficult to identify. Many expensive combinations of chemicals, for example, have been explored. But TM is an evidence-based technique that is available anywhere and at any time. Those who practice it develop the ability to improve daily stresses in the workplace and in life.

The technique helps address anxiety, mood change and situational awareness. Its powerful impact can produce long-term results in improving daily lives.

The goal is clear: to develop the whole person with maximized abilities and capacity in all situations.

Richard W. Schneider, a rear admiral USCGR (Ret.) is the president of Norwich University. The David Lynch Foundation on Thursday is hosting its first annual National Summit, investigating effects of Transcendental Meditation on active-duty personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD, cadets in training — and their families.

Short URL: http://politi.co/JPLv7Z

Related articles: Washington Post: Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD? | Norwich University President Receives “Resilient Warrior Award” at National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC | Washington Post: VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSD

Washington Post: Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD?

May 4, 2012

Posted at 02:45 PM ET, 05/03/2012.
This story has been updated. Previously titled: Summit Examines Use of Transcendental Meditation to help Vets with PTSD. Later published in Washington Post: VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSD

Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD?

By Steve Vogel

Seeking new ways to treat post-traumatic stress, the Department of Veteran Affairs is studying the use of transcendental meditation to help returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The reality is not all individuals we see are treatable by the techniques we use,” said W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, told a summit on the use of TM to treat post traumatic stress Thursday in Washington.

Director David Lynch founded a charitable organization that funded a summit on using Transcendental Meditation to treat military veterans with PTSD. (David Livingston – GETTY IMAGES)

The VA is spending about $5 million on a dozen trials involving several hundred veterans from a range of conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Results from the trials will not be available for another 12 to 18 months.

But Gould said he was “encouraged” by the results of trials which were presented at the summit.

Two independent pilot studies of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans showed a 50 percent reduction in symptoms of post-traumatic stress after eight weeks, according to the summit’s sponsor, the David Lynch Foundation, a charitable organization founded by the American filmmaker and television director.

Results from the initial phase of a long-term trial investigating the effects of Transcendental Meditation on 60 cadets at Norwich University, a private military college in Vermont, have been encouraging, school officials said at the summit, held at The Army and Navy Club.

Students practising TM showed measurable improvement in the areas of academic performance and discipline over a control group. “The statistical effect we found in only two months was surprisingly large,” Carole Bandy, an associate professor of psychology who is directing the study at the university, said at the summit.

“For us, it’s all about the evidence,” said Richard W. Schneider, president of the university, who added that he was a skeptic before the trial began.

“Conventional approaches fall woefully short of the mark, so we clearly need a new approach,” Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School.

Operation Warrior Wellness, a division of the foundation, is providing TM training to troops recovering from wounds at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. Troops report “dramatic improvements” in sleep, according to the foundation, as well as significant reductions in pain, stress and the use of prescription medications

Lynch, the director of “Blue Velvet,” “Mullholland Drive” and the television series “Twin Peaks,” is a longtime practitioner of TM, a meditative practice advocates say helps manage stress and depression.

Related articles: POLITICO: Coping with PTSD | Norwich University President Receives “Resilient Warrior Award” at National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC | Huffington Post: David Lynch Brings Transcendental Meditation To D.C.


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