the military & mindfulness

A New York Times story today looked at the problem of US soldiers processing an overload of data and making split-second decisions which can save lives or mistakenly take lives.

The military is experimenting with training the soldiers in “mindfulness,” and its methods sound like a crude version of Vipasanna meditation techniques. I’m wondering if the military is aware of the parallels. If not, someone needs to clue the psychologists behind the training program in on one of the world’s oldest, proven techniques for increasing mindfulness.

Here’s a clip from the story, which is linked here.

“The military is trying novel approaches to helping soldiers focus. At an Army base on Oahu, Hawaii, researchers are training soldiers’ brains with a program called “mindfulness-based mind fitness training.” It asks soldiers to concentrate on a part of their body, the feeling of a foot on the floor or of sitting on a chair, and then move to another focus, like listening to the hum of the air-conditioner or passing cars.

“The whole question we’re asking is whether we can rewire the functioning of the attention system through mindfulness,” said one of the researchers, Elizabeth A. Stanley, an assistant professor of security studies at Georgetown University. Recently she received financing to bring the training to a Marine base, and preliminary results from a related pilot study she did with Amishi Jha, a neuroscientist at the University of Miami, found that it helped Marines to focus.”

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