“As a Veteran I was looking for that missing piece of my recovery from injuries: TM is what I needed. The TM teachers took great care of me and my family. We now practise as a family and the benefits for all of us are incredible. We are more focused, calmer, and look forward to our meditation sessions.”
—Bruno Guevremont, CAF Veteran,
Invictus Games Ambassador, North Pole Explorer
Helping Veterans and Their Families Heal Together
Canada has close to 700,000 Veterans, representing about 4% of the adult male population and less than 1% of the adult female population. Veterans form a group with unique life experiences that often isolate them from the general population.
Many Veterans experience operational stress injuries (OSI)—that is, psychological difficulty resulting from operational duties performed while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. OSI describe a broad range of issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress (PTS). Veterans can also have high levels of substance and alcohol use, homelessness, and relationship breakdown.
While there are many programs available for former members of the military through Veterans Affairs Canada and related service organizations, many individuals still go undiagnosed and untreated. It can be challenging for a Veteran to reach out and seek the help he or she needs, and when they do, not all therapies work for all individuals. There is an ongoing search for services and programs that can help veterans return to healthy ways of living.
The TM technique has been shown to be very beneficial for the overall health of Veterans. The deep rest it provides allows for mental and physical healing to take place without having to relive experiences or commit to a long period of clinical therapy.
A study published in 2018 showed the efficacy of Transcendental Meditation (TM) as compared to Prolonged Exposure (PE) and an active PTSD health education (HE) control, in US Veterans with documented PTSD. Sixty-one percent of Veterans in the TM group experienced clinically meaningful improvement for PTS symptoms compared to 42% of Veterans in the PE group.
Reference: The Lancet Psychiatry; Vol. 5, Issue 12, p. 975-986, December, 2018.
Besides being very effective, TM is particularly well suited for Veterans because:
- It is accessible, confidential, easy to learn, and simple to practice in the comfort of the family home.
- It is portable: it can be practised privately anywhere at any time without a need to leave the community.
- The training doesn’t involve controlling the mind or concentration, which can be difficult for those suffering from flashbacks or intrusive thoughts.
- The whole family can learn the technique. Research has shown that involving the whole family in any treatment program has beneficial effects.
- It is taught by compassionate certified teachers with decades of teaching experience and some additional training for clients with PTS or occupational stress injuries.
- Once learned, it is a lifelong self-help tool for veterans and their families, with a lifetime of support for sustained impact.
- It is an adjunct modality to support existing services and traditional medical protocols.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is a useful tool to combat physical and psychological stress in Veterans, including PTSD. TM has been shown to significantly lower stress, and to help the body recover more quickly from stressful situations. Beyond remediation of the physical and mental symptoms of stress, TM can strengthen and calm the nervous system on a daily basis to bring alertness and vigilance to the working day. Both the psychological and physical stress involved in military work can be mitigated through regular practice of TM.
Transcendental Meditation is:
- Evidence-based—over 675 scientific studies; 406 have been published in independent, peer-reviewed journals or other edited scientific publications;
- Simple to learn—standardized instruction ensures consistent results;
- Easy to practise—does not involve concentration or controlling the mind;
- Confidential and portable—can be practised privately, anywhere, at any time.
Benefits of the regular practice of the TM technique include:
- Reduced symptoms of PTSD and depression;
- Reduced anger and hostility;
- Decreased reliance on alcohol;
- Reduction in high blood pressure;
- Reduction in high cortisol levels;
- Increased resilience;
- Decreased perceived stress.
Our Work with Veterans
Helping Veterans and Their Families Thrive
An Innovative Approach to Family Well-Being
A Project funded by Veterans Affairs Canada
In the summer of 2019, the Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative received funding to teach stress reduction training in the form of the Transcendental Meditation program to both Veterans suffering from toxic stress, Occupational Stress Injuries (OSI), or PTSD-related symptoms, and to their spouses and children so that the family as a whole can create a more resilient, healthy, harmonious, and supportive living environment for each other. Funding has been extended until the fall of 2023.
A Four-Step Project
Step 1. Partnering and client intake: CWWI is partnering with Veterans’ services or related organizations, Veteran-to-Veteran peer groups, RESPECT Forum members, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers who work with Veterans.
CWWI presentations have been and will continue to be made to these medical and social services personnel. Any Veteran and family member referred by a Veterans’ service organization or related organization’s doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker is eligible to participate in this program.
Step 2. Training: The TM training is taught in a course with participants attending 12 meetings over a period of 6 months consisting of:
- an information session introducing the program (1 meeting, 1.5 hours);
- instruction in the training (4 meetings, 1.5 hours each); at this point the individual practises the program at home, going forward;
- follow-up to make sure that the Veteran family members are receiving maximum benefit from the training (7 meetings over six months, 30–60 minutes each);
Step 3. Analysis of data (one month to analyze the evaluation data);
Step 4. Reporting to Veterans Affairs.
The final report for the 1st phase of the project was submitted March of 2021.
Click here to read a 3 page summary of the report.
Tweed, Peterborough, Kingston, ON
Click here to learn more how Transcendental Meditation offers promise as a clinical treatment option.
Click here to learn more on the Veteran and Family Well-Being project.