Time for Re-training: Time for Healing
Life in the United States and around the world these days has many stressors: the Coronavirus pandemic, police brutality, the resulting protests, stress of unemployment and the immense financial burdens accompanying limited income, relationship challenges in lock-down, or challenge of lack of relationships, being more on one's own, with increased risks of mental health collapse and drug abuse that may accompany home confinement. In the political arena, reflected in the media, a yawning division is seen between parties vying for control of the nation.
With the horrible death of George Floyd on May 25 from the brutal action by four policemen in Minneapolis, groups have protested across the United States, even while CoVid-19 ravages the land. We all see the problem, but do we see the solution?
There are many possible effective approaches to finding a solution. In this article, we will look at one unique stress-reduction tool, Transcendental Meditation, which has over 350 peer reviewed studies (TM.org) showing a broad range of support for both prevention and stress reduction.
It is often stress that leads police to over-react to the challenges of their job. As with health care first responders, the stress can build up year after year in police, creating high levels of stress or post-traumatic stress. Some policemen are simply in the wrong profession and should be removed. However, in many cases, a well-intentioned officer can become overwhelmed by daily pressures and stressful events and begin over-reacting.
So, to prevent build-up of stress and to reduce stress when it does build up too high, the most effective, rapid and side-effect free modalities should be made available to police across the nation. Common psychological tools include gold standard Prolonged Exposure and cognitive behavior therapy. Pharmaceuticals, less effective than psychotherapy, may also be used.
There are also a wide range of complementary and alternative protocols that have been shown in scientific studies to be highly effective and have minimal or no negative side effects. In the light of the need for treatments to help the 66% of US Veterans not coming out of PTSD with psychotherapy (Jama, Aug. 4, 2015), many groups are investigating alternatives, including use of horses and dogs to provide companionship, diet and exercise routines, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and different types of meditation. The US Government has gone so far as to spend 25 million dollars to test implantation in the head of a chip that would desensitize an area of the brain that may be associated with PTSD.
One well-documented protocol for reducing stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM). According to a 2018 research study in Lancet Psychiatry, TM is at least as effective as Prolonged Exposure (PE) without risking re-exposure to the traumatic events. The study showed that whereas 40% of veterans showed significant reduction in PTSD with PE, at least 60% of veterans who were TM practitioners showed significant reduction in this chronic and debilitating mental condition.
In addition, regular TM practice has been shown to structure resilience, thereby helping to maintain lower levels of stress in daily life.
One police officer, a woman who asked to remain anonymous, faced many murders, deaths, many types of violence for years and ended up with trouble sleeping, horrible dreams, anger, drinking problem, hypertension, feeling numb, always worried and fearful. After years of service and stress, she was diagnosed with PTSD by a mental health professional.
She tried many drugs but they made her feel numb or some of them had negative side effects, such as losing her hair
Then, she heard about Transcendental Meditation, read a book about it, and decided to learn it.
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