In the past 20 years, 18 African nations have been ravaged by war.
It is estimated that up to 100 million Africans have been victims of war, violence, sexual abuse or natural disasters or witnessed horrific acts of terror and now suffer from post-traumatic stress (PTS).
PTS disables Africans and prevents people from living happy productive lives.
Its influence ripples out, affecting the lives of friends and families, co-workers, communities, nations and Africa as a whole.
In many ways, PTS keeps affected communities under the shadow of trauma, even after the overt disturbance has passed.
Left untreated, PTS cripples functioning and puts its victims at greater risk for self-destructive and violent behaviour: severe depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, anxiety, emotional numbness, unemployment, family problems and suicide.
Experts acknowledge that PTS has been resistant to the many conventional approaches used to treat psychological disturbance.
Particularly in Africa, with limited numbers of psychiatrists and psychologists and limited access to physician-prescribed drugs, there is a pressing need for simple, cost-effective and easily sustainable treatments.
There is, however, an alternative approach that is highly effective in treating PTS.
We suggest that all Africans and in particular all African militaries implement the transcendental meditation (TM) programme because there is a large body of evidence supporting the positive benefits this alternative approach.
A number of pilot studies published in refereed journals have demonstrated that TM can rapidly reduce symptoms of PTS and with regular practice these symptoms are further reduced and a wide range of other benefits is gained.
TM is an evidenced-based solution, with a substantial amount of published, peer-reviewed research that has accumulated since 1970.
In both case studies and clinical trials, TM has vastly outperformed other modalities by dramatically reducing stress, anxiety, depression and a host of PTS symptoms.
Here are some evidence-based examples showing reductions in PTS:
* The February 2014 issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress documents significant reductions in PTS symptoms within 10 days among African war refugees from the Congo who were taught TM. In a month, eleven subjects were virtually free of symptoms.
* An April 2013 study in the same journal showed that PTS symptoms among African refugees went from “severe” to “non-symptomatic levels” after 30 days of TM and remained low at 135 days.
* In 2011, the journal Military Medicine published a study showing the effectiveness of TM in reducing PTS in veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Participants had a 50% reduction of symptoms after eight weeks of TM.
* And in 1985, a report in the Journal of Counselling and Development demonstrated a significant reduction of symptoms among Vietnam War veterans practising TM for at least three months.
In recent years, military-related leaders in the United States, Latin America, Asia and Africa, have applied TM not only because it reduces PTS, but because peer-reviewed scientific papers have confirmed that regular practice produces many other wide-ranging, measurable benefits.
These include increased intelligence, creativity; reduced stress and improved health; and more fulfilling and harmonious interpersonal relationships.
More importantly to warriors, TM increases resilience, mental clarity and physical strength as well enhancing mind-body coordination.
Also, from a practical standpoint, the TM programme is easy to do and has no religious philosophy attached.
For nearly 60 years, it has been taught to millions of people (including schoolchildren and their teachers) around the world from every race, cultural background, religion, ethnicity and educational background.
Numerous studies show that TM uniquely calms the stress of tense, burnt-out, anxious and depressed people.
In particular, a 2013 meta-analysis of 10 controlled studies found that TM significantly reduced anxiety, and the higher the anxiety level, the greater the reduction.
More than 350 research studies on TM have been published in 160 peer-reviewed academic and medical journals.
The peer-reviewed process ensured that this evidence-based research met the highest standards.
No other stress-reduction programme has comparable research support.
In 2011, the David Lynch Foundation and African PTSD Relief co-sponsored an initiative to make the TM programme initially available to 10,000 Africans suffering from PTS.
We support this initiative. Any organisation, whether a school, business, or a military, would be pleased to know that its members are operating free of PTS.
They would also want to be more effective and efficient, whether during war or peace. We recommend that TM be put on military training programmes because it brings out the best in any individual, and any military would be pleased that its warriors are working at their optimal levels.
The TM evidence-based research tells an objective story pointing to a simple, fast, and cost-effective solution for not only conquering PTS, but to help alleviate many of Africa’s other pressing problems.
Achieving lasting happiness and peace – both inner and outer, that’s what we all want for all African people, sooner, if possible, than later.
The authors urge African leaders to adopt this evidence-based programme. – May 7, 2014.
To learn more about the research and plans to use the TM program to reduce PTSD across Africa, please visit www.africanptsdrelief.org
* Maj-Gen (Ret) Kulwant Singh leads an international group of generals and defence experts that advocates Invincible Defence Technology; Dr David Leffler is executive director of the Centre for Advanced Military Science (CAMS); and David Shapiro is founding president of African PTSD Relief.
www.themalaysianinsider.com Proven way to deal with stress of war