UNITED STATES, April 5, 2019 (New York Times): Mindfulness -- the practice of using breathing techniques, similar to those in meditation, to gain focus and reduce distraction -- is inching into the military in the United States and those of a handful of other nations. This winter, Army infantry soldiers at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii began using mindfulness to improve shooting skills -- for instance, focusing on when to pull the trigger amid chaos to avoid unnecessary civilian harm. The British Royal Navy has given mindfulness training to officers, and military leaders are rolling it out in the Army and Royal Air Force for some officers and enlisted soldiers. The New Zealand Defence Force recently adopted the technique, and military forces of the Netherlands are considering the idea, too. This week, NATO plans to hold a two-day symposium in Berlin to discuss the evidence behind the use of mindfulness in the military.
"I was asked recently if my soldiers call me General Moonbeam," said Maj. Gen.Walter Piatt, a commander of the coalition forces in Iraq, who was director of operations for the Army and now commands its 10th Mountain Division. "There's a stereotype this makes you soft. No, it brings you on point." The approach, he said, is based on the work of Amishi Jha, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami. She is the senior author of a paper published in December about the training's effectiveness among members of a special operations unit. The paper, in the journal Progress in Brain Research, reported that the troops who went through a month-long training regimen that included daily practice in mindful breathing and focus techniques were better able to discern key information under chaotic circumstances and experienced increases in working memory function. The soldiers also reported making fewer cognitive errors than service members who did not use mindfulness.
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