Introduction to the Military Meditation Coach Podcast

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JULIE KINN [music] Welcome to the Military
Meditation Coach. I’m Dr. Julie Kinn with the DOD’s Defense
Health Agency. I’m here with CDR Jeffrey Milligan,
director of the Navy Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control, also known as
NCCOSC. CDR MILLEGAN I’m very excited to be here,
Julie. JULIE KINN Me, too. Because today, we’ll be telling our listeners
about the Military Meditation Coach Podcast Series, how you can use it for your own use
or in the clinic setting. Well, why don’t we get started CDR Milligan? How did you come up with the idea for the
Military Meditation Coach? CDR MILLEGAN We have been running a mind-body
medicine program at Naval Medical Center San Diego since 2013, which is designed to get
people mentally fit through regular meditation to build their resiliency and their ability
to manage stress in a healthy and functional way. The big key is that people, to be successful
with this program, is regular work. Very similar to jogging, very similar to lifting
weights, the way you get better is not by doing it once, but having a regular practice. Meditation, although seems simple on the surface
as far as a repetitive focus, as far as staying in a nonjudgmental awareness while you do
it, is very challenging. It’s very hard to sit there in one moment
for an extended period of time. It also, it’s very intimidating. And I think that’s why, for the most part,
people who have practiced meditation have done it in temple settings, in organized religion
settings because it provides a structure and it provides a discipline for what you’re doing. CDR MILLEGAN We wanted to have a way to create
that same level of guidance and ability to have someone mentor you through it. And really, honestly, the smartphone has been
the most amazing invention, to me, for meditation since temples. Because now we have the ability to have someone,
wherever you go, have someone guide you through a full meditation for 10 minutes, 15 minutes,
20 minutes, and keep you on task. Because it’s a recording. They’re going to continue to go forward, and
your job is just to follow them. And recordings are perfect for meditation
because in the end, meditation is about repetition. It’s about keeping yourself in the moment. And so having a recording help you do that,
and just be repetitive is exactly what people need. CDR MILLEGAN And so for someone who’s starting
out, simply knowing that all I have to do is close my eyes and have some attitude of
open awareness, and then just simply follow the prompts of whoever’s leading me through
a meditation until they’re done, is very freeing, and specifically helps you stay on task to
do a extended period of time because you don’t have to check your watch, you don’t have to
keep on looking at the clock. You just know when this person who’s leading
you through a meditation is done, you’re done. And so, that’s critical. Now, the other big piece of this is there’s
a lot of opportunities out there now for people to download various meditations. There’s meditation apps offered commercially. Those cost money, and that can be a problem
for getting buy-in among our military population, but more importantly, you want something that
they can listen to offline, something that’s on their phone. JULIE KINN Some of the recordings we’re going
to have during this series are three minutes long, and some are 40 minutes long, and they’re
a whole variety of styles. It sounds like you’re saying, “Try it out,
see what works for you, and then when you find one that works, use it multiple times. It doesn’t need to be just a one-time use. It’s really about repetition.” CDR MILLEGAN Absolutely. And what we wanted to do more than anything
else through this meditation coach is, one, to serve a particular gap. There are so many ways to meditate well. There’s not just one way, one size fits all. JULIE KINN Okay. Next question. How does meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation
help our service members and civilians too? For a lot of folks, mind-body medicine isn’t
something they pair with military health. CDR MILLEGAN We’re very good as military members
with physical fitness and we understand the need for it. We understand the need to be able to be ready
to exert our bodies in very difficult settings at a moment’s notice; to climb that ladder,
to run a long distance carrying heavy weights, to be able to be ready, to be there for their
buddy in the moment of need. Much the same way, we need our mental facilities. And we need it now, Julie, more than ever
because we’re asking our people to do very stressful tasks and activities on a regular
basis that require a lot of mental acuity, mental focus, and the ability to separate
your emotional response from what you’re doing. You can get very wrapped up emotionally and
lose sight of what’s really important as far as making good choices. CDR MILLEGAN Probably the best example of
that is you have someone on a patrol and he has to make huge decisions in the moment. Is this person someone who’s trying to kill
me or not? If they are I need to defend myself and act
accordingly. Or this could be someone who simply seems
suspicious but is just simply a local civilian trying to do their own– go their own way. And they have to make a very quick decision
in that moment. And that could have major strategic implications
for our entire government. And this allows someone through regular, focused
work on their mind to allow their mind to be able to work the way they want it to work
ideally. So your ability to go, “In this moment, I
need to be able to distinguish friend from foe.” I can do that in a normal setting, but when
I get stressed out, my brain starts to function less acutely because it gets stressed out. But by doing regular meditation, you’re able
to increase the endurance of the mind. So in that moment, you can be aware of your
stressful feelings, aware of your emotions, and be able to put it in its proper place
so you can still make those very important, quick, cognitive decisions in the way that
you feel is best for you, best for your values, and best for the mission that you’re currently
involved in. CDR MILLEGAN It’s also so incredibly important
for people who deploy in the Navy, who go on small ships and don’t necessarily have
access to a counselor or even a chaplain and still want to be able to maintain their deployment,
be successful, due to their own personal goals, their professional goals but might feel overwhelmed
in the moment because it’s a 24/7 environment. There’s not much room for error, and you can
also have a lot of social strain or feel isolated. And in that environment, you can start to
feel that your situation is hopeless. But if you have the ability to be able to
see the bigger picture, to constantly allow yourself to remember why you’re there, what
your purpose is in the moment and be able to really believe that, it can lead to increased
resilience for the sailor. And a big part of that is just simply having
the ability in the moment to be able to recognize when you’re becoming overwhelmed and then
being able to take the steps necessary at that point to be able to allow yourself to
manage that moment in a healthier way. JULIE KINN Last question. Who made these recordings? Who are the presenters we’re going to be hearing? CDR MILLEGAN What you’re going to get is recordings
made by our own military health system team, essentially people who have come forward,
who I’ve worked with, who are known as being people who are very experienced with various
meditative modalities, who out of the goodness of their heart have volunteered their time
and their voice to be able to provide a recording of a set meditation. And so what you’ll hear are meditative recordings
that come directly out of our own military health system team. JULIE KINN That’s fantastic. Thank you so much, Commander Milligan. CDR MILLEGAN Oh. Thank you very much. JULIE KINN We’re interested in hearing back
from you all, too. Please let us know which kinds of meditation,
mindfulness and relaxation exercises you enjoy. You can get in touch with us on Facebook and
Twitter @MilitaryHealth. The military meditation coach is produced
by Navy Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control and Defense Health Agency. The views expressed here are those of the
presenters and do not reflect official policy of the Department of Defense or the U.S. government. [music]

 

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