Mindfulness is flexible and deliberate attention to one’s experience as it happens. When we are mindful, we maintain ongoing, nonjudgmental contact with both psychological and environmental events as they occur.
By using mindfulness as a coping tool, veterans can rewire their brains’ patterns of thought and behavior and improve their lives. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, improve resilience, increase self-awareness, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and help individuals cope with chronic pain.
When used in combination with process-based therapies like acceptance & commitment therapy (ACT), developing mindfulness skills can help veterans reconnect with the present moment, strengthening direct and immediate interaction with their experiences. Reconnecting with the present moment builds the foundation for increased exposure to thoughts and emotions that veterans might be avoiding.
In mindfulness skill development, individuals begin with observational exercises to build sustained attention and awareness and eventually progress toward more sophisticated strategies based on their unique experiences. Practicing mindfulness is particularly effective for veterans, because the same skills and discipline that allowed veterans to focus while in training or when deployed can be used to foster a focus on the current moment and what is happening both internally and externally.
At Pyramid Military Therapy & Recovery Programs, the goal of mindfulness skill development is to allow veterans struggling with substance use and mental health disorders to experience the world more directly so that their behavior and response to stressors becomes more flexible and consistent with their personal values.