Just three years ago, Army veteran, David George was breaking down walls in his parent’s house, enduring anxiety attacks, drinking heavily, and simply didn’t care about anything – not even if he died. He just wanted to feel normal. After hearing about an ad on the radio for meditation as a cure for PTSD, he decided to give this last resort a try. He says after just five days, he felt better, and after three months he was a changed man.
“You just get used to the feeling of the pain,” says David, 28. “I was so used to it, because I never took the time to lay down. It was as if I was always crawling on my skinned knee. When I did meditation, it [the pain] was gone for a second. It was enough for me to realize.”
This Saturday, the David Lynch Foundation’s Operation Warrior Wellness program sponsored a conference called “Women, Violence, and Meditation” in New York City which explored new research of Transcendental Meditation (TM) techniques for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, and other traumas. More than 200 people who have either lived through trauma, or have a loved one affected by trauma, were in attendance. TM is a technique of meditation derived from Hindu traditions that promotes deep relaxation through the use of mantra.
David’s mother who resides in Washington, DC, Julia George, has had her first TM class and is planning on going back with her husband.
“Many times I thought he would be dead,” she says. “I was afraid to go to his room. I spent three years like this. Many times he would tell me that he would prefer to die.”
She says he finally went to a psychiatrist, but there were no results after months, and her husband was getting so frustrated that he wanted to kick David out of the house.
“I was living with a constant scab that was being broken every single day,” says David. “In order to ignore it, I had to ignore everything. I would go out and do drugs or drink…I was feeling empty.”
Shortly after starting his daily meditation ritual for 20 minutes twice a day, he got his appetite back for life. He’s now attending film school in Los Angeles, and hopes to make documentaries for a living. He says he’s currently finishing one up on meditation.
Julia says although she is overjoyed at her son’s recovery, she’s still traumatized by what she went through. So that is why she wants to try meditation for herself along with her husband.
Dr. César Molina, a cardiologist from El Camino Hospital in California, who has been practicing the technique himself personally since the 1970’s in Puerto Rico and recommending it professionally since 1994, says you have to be taught TM by a teacher.
“They teach you a technique to use a mantra,” says Molina. “Mantras have been around for a long time in religious ceremonies, but for TM it’s a meaningless sound. It becomes refined and pleasurable to the mind, and then it finally disappears, and you are just purely conscious and aware – a state of restful alertness.”
He says it is because of this reason that a lot of stress disappears.
“You become rewired,” says Dr. Molina. “This is a benefit for people with PTSD, because in the process of restful alertness, the brain is reconnected in a more healthy way.”
David says that in the five years while he was at war, he was not himself. Even two years after he came back home, in 2007, he says he was an angry individual, and the only thing that helped him was TM.
“I got my heart back,” he says. “For so long it was working just to pump blood for me, but now it has enough strength to help other people. Back then, I wanted someone to push the glass off the table, now I am a half full kind of guy.”