Is the Military going to accept Mindfulness as a way to enhance stress resilience and performance? At the time I wondered if this opportunity was right for me and aligned with my career goals. Having years of experience with mental skills training & mindfulness meditation throughout my life led me an interview for a Human Performance/Resilience position with the Army. Mindfulness provides tremendous benefits if the practice becomes part of a soldier’s daily routine. Unfortunately many soldiers around the world hadn’t been introduced the technique up until about 2013.
Mindfulness in the military was just beginning to make its way into programs like MBat from University of Miami but it was not yet a popular program. At that particular time, the Army hadn’t fully adopted Mindfulness training but they were teaching breathing techniques coupled with short sessions of Bio-Feedback technology. However, the stage was set for someone to finally introduce Mindfulness training programs to soldiers in order to increase performance measures, stress resilience outcomes, increase job satisfaction and enhance focus & concentration.
Providing Mindfulness to the Military
For the next 6 years my colleague and I trained soldiers in Mindfulness meditation techniques. Throughout the trainings we inserted breathing techniques using biofeedback. First, the focus was smaller training programs based in Mindfulness and breathing techniques. We started to focus on measuring brainwave activity and used Neurofeedback machines to measure results. Through the last few years we started training whole platoons and squads of units from all spectrums of jobs inside the military from Special Forces recruiting, Apache pilots, Artillery and Infantry companies. During this time we also provided Mindfulness training to Medical Homes, Medical Care Clinics and medical staff within one of the largest military hospitals in the country.
Designing Mindfulness Programs
Through the years we discovered some of the best practices for designing Mindfulness training programs. We received feedback from people working within one of the most stressful environments and most were putting their lives on the line! However, in many ways this system started being created through experiences in Erik’s work as far back as his time at Integral Institute in 2007 and his work teaching mindfulness to high school football and baseball teams from 2008-2011. Through this experience, we created systems of workshops in order to teach the masses Mindfulness training for the best results possible. This system is always evolving through participant feedback, technology and scientific feedback. Over time this feedback allowed us to produce the most effective training we could possibly offer. After all of our years of research, experience and systems we created, we decided it was time to launch SatiMind.
Adopting Meditation Practice
Meditation practice has been something my colleague and I have adopted as a way of life and when I started meditating consistently everyday over 16 years ago, my life changed. I started to hit the baseball better, increase my grades and noticed I was happier for no real reason except my mind was at peace. Learning to center your mind and take advantage of your attention will change you at your core, from the inside out and this is how change happens for all of us. When we adopt Mindfulness as a way of life our Mind becomes more efficient and positive changes start to happen in the brain.
The Mind Becomes Efficient in Many Ways
- Shifting from task to task without being distracted
- Mind wandering less throughout the day
- Tapping into micro & macro Flow states (the Zone)
- Experiencing the release of pleasure-inducing chemicals in the Brain
- Performing at a higher level due to more focus & concentration
Mindfulness Is A Way of Life
Many of us can experience the powerful effects of Mindfulness practice but it has to become a daily habit, A Way of Life! “The real meditation is How you Live your life.” This simple but powerful quote from one of the godfathers of Mindfulness meditation, Jon Kabat Zinn. Jon always reminds us how important it is to continue practicing the skill each day in order to fully experience & enjoy every moment. When we taught this concept to soldiers in small pockets of time that they had available we found a 6% increase in their Mindfulness scores. This data was collected through administering the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS): Self-Report scale measuring Mindfulness in Four areas:
- Observing (attending)
- Describing (noting)
- Acting With Awareness (mindful)
- Non- Judgment (acceptance)
There are so many stressors & distractions in our every day life as Civilians. And not only do we deal with stress and overload, so do Soldiers on higher scale. They are mentally & physically worn down from high op-tempo and by practicing Mindfulness each day it can allow all of us to enhance our focus, lower our stress, attend to what’s important in the moment, cultivate more awareness and learn to be non-judgmental of our experiences throughout our day.
Insights from the Founders~
Insights from The Founders, Erik Leslie and Derek Beairsto