Below are comments from veterans (and spouses) about their experiences with the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique. These experiences are divided into four categories: PTSD, depression, comments from spouses, and physical effects.
“My girlfriend, despite every reason not to, stood by my side. It meant a lot to me, and I was determined to find help calming my mind. I was willing to try anything, even some crazy magic that she suggested, like meditation. When she suggested it to me, I said of course I would try it, but, deep down, I didn’t feel like I would gain anything from it. After my first week of meditation I was able to sleep. It’s like I was living in a fog of war, and TM cleared the fog, allowing me to see things clearly. My day-to-day functions became clearer. My depression has improved daily and my aggression has vanished. TM has given the perspective to live with a peaceful mind. I find new improvements daily when I am consistent with my meditation”
—AB, Iraq War Veteran
“For me TM acted like an ice pack placed directly on the heated up and hyper-vigilant part of my brain that couldn’t calm down, that couldn’t think straight, that couldn’t hold a rational or coherent thought… Where everything else had failed, where other attempts and interventions had fallen short, where I had previously been baffled, TM literally cracked open my heart… The experience of TM almost defies description. It represents an experience I will never get over.”
—Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran
“In my short experience with TM, I have more energy, and I am getting out more (Isolation is one of the most obvious symptoms of PTSD.) I sleep better, still experiencing dreams and flashbacks, but with less fear; I still get angry frequently, but I don’t often display it; I believe I laugh more; I feel calm after meditation but realize it is time for the second of the day as my tension does increase again.”
—Former Captain, Combat Medic, Vietnam 1966-1967
“TM was a concept I thought was BS. Nothing that easy would work on a person so high strung like myself. I was leery… until I tried it. IT WORKS!!!
The ability to calm my mind and just exist with just me, for just me and only for just me is amazing. It’s like my cobwebs are gone. I can begin my day on a clear note, and I end each day with the same clarity. I’m just amazed how this concept, as I thought of it at first, has transformed my life and I have only been doing it for 3 days. I’m finally excited about things again because I know just how other vets with PTSD can benefit from TM like I have. The difference it will make can’t be bought or downloaded. It comes from within and that is a place I know I’ve missed, a place my PTSD took from me and TM has given it back.”
—OEF veteran (female)
“Death is so random in combat. I spent many years revisiting my near-death experiences and wondering why I had survived when a friend just a few feet away had not. That guilt, and the anger that accompanied it, haunted me for many years. TM has been the most effective tool I have found in dealing with this issue, especially the associated anger. My two-a-day TM sessions help me to prepare for the coming day, and at the end of the day, to deal with the frustrations I was unable to avoid. The battle goes on daily, and I have become very much aware of how different my day goes when I am not able to start or end my day with TM. I believe that it would be a useful tool for veterans young and old in dealing with the reality of post combat life.”
“Prior to TM, throughout my day I was triggered frequently throughout my day. There would be several times a day where I would feel frightened, heart racing, and constantly alert. On starting TM, I immediately felt these symptoms decrease.”
“The experience and opportunity of training and consistently meditating has been life-changing. Our household is calmer, quieter, happier, and we will always be grateful for the scholarship we were given to learn TM, which has become one of the best treatments we have ever found for PTSD.”
“I was interested in TM, but I was skeptical at the same time. The power of the TM meditation… It was surprising to me. Having that inner peace after meditation really emboldened me to deal with things that I’d been just kind of stuffing away.
To be able to have relief from agitation, have relief from anger, frustration, sleeplessness, alcoholism, drug addiction — that’s huge.”
—Sgt. James Thrasher,
US Marine Corps
“I would like to give you an update on how I am doing with TM. To date, I have not missed a meditation session… So far, my results from TM have been beyond anything I expected. I have gone from averaging 3 hours’ sleep a night to roughly 5 or 6. While that may seem insufficient for most people, to a PTSD sufferer who battles insomnia, that is a huge step.”
—Iraq War Veteran
“Between the fourth and tenth day I already experienced remarkable benefits from the daily practice which lasted throughout every day. Former anxiousness, agitation and worry were gone, and I actually got distinct experiences of feeling pleasant and happy, which I haven’t felt authentically in I don’t recall how long. I have a lasting calmness throughout each day, and can literally say that my stress has dropped by about 90%. It is like the mouse pulling the thorn out of the lion’s paw.
A weight has been lifted, which has allowed me to have more energy to do things, and I’ve picked up my pace in cleaning things out in my life. I have felt more creative and expressive than usual, and began preparing new dishes in the kitchen, which I haven’t done in a long time. My newfound energy has also allowed me to begin exercising again to lose the excess weight I’ve gained from inactivity. There’s a self confidence, as well, that I once had, and I’m now aware of again. I have to state that I know this is not from any kind of self hypnosis or autosuggestion. It’s too authentic and real for me to admit that. I actually know that I know that.
The biggest relief is that I am not dwelling in my thoughts throughout each day and worrying about everything when I’m alone in my house, or in my car going somewhere. I have also been commented on by family and friends, by phone and in person, that I seem calmer and more relaxed than usual, as well as being happy.
I cannot say that my PTSD is gone absolutely, because I have had a few triggers. However, I notice that they are few as compared to numerous. I feel that this is a huge breakthrough in my healthcare treatment, as nothing I’ve done or had done for my symptoms has worked before as this has.”
“Sadness and blues have decreased. Spending money when I’m sad and blue has decreased significantly, and I’m able to control myself. I’m able to control somewhat, my panic, aggressive nature. I believe I can take things more in stride, and I think somewhat clearer—see things around me clearer. TM has definitely helped me. I just need to practice it more often.”
“In the short period of time I have been meditating, there has been a near reformation of my life. What the doctors and medicines promised to “potentially” do over the course of years, I have gotten much closer to achieving in months. Some situations remain difficult, and so they will take longer to overcome and grow beyond. At times the troubling thoughts and nightmares come back, but, as a whole, the progress is palpable. I feel more in control of my life now, and I’m becoming hopeful about rebuilding and getting better, rather than lamenting the loss of who I was, and grimly marching the entire way through my decline. In addition to the calm I experience through meditation, I have also found it easier to manage my physical pain. I have been told that I look like an entirely different person from who I was coming back from country. I am vibrant, I smile, and I look much more grounded. The truth is you can’t practice TM without it positively affecting you.”
—Staff Sgt Todd Knauber, OEF
Comments from Spouses and Partners
“Since learning TM, I have noticed that Stephen seems much more at ease, not as tightly-wound. He has more patience with our young children and is able to relate with them rather than just reacting with anger towards them. Stephen and I are able to communicate with each other without the fear of anger or hurt for the first time in several years. TM has given Stephen an inner peace and ability to find calm when before he only found anger, fear and resentment. TM has saved our marriage, brought our family closer and given us hope that we can finish out this tour with the Marine Corps with peace and success! ”
—Wife of Marine Veteran
“Through your assistance, we were able to learn TM and implement the technique in our daily lives. We have both experienced incredible improvements mentally and emotionally. I have noticed greater overall equanimity, a pervasive calmness, and a significant reduction in my own stress and anxiety. Prior to learning TM, I would fret about most everything in my life. I worried chronically, stressed about insignificant matters, critiqued myself and life harshly, and would get caught up in negative thought patterns that often ended in bouts of depression. Despite practicing yoga and Vipassana meditation, my mind would run wild, and I would be very easily overwhelmed. I can say with confidence that TM has given me a newfound sense of confidence and relief. I feel significantly less overwhelmed and happier! Coping with difficult situations has become much easier, enabling me to be a better and more supportive partner, friend, and individual. After half a year of TM, I am mentally stronger and better equipped to handle the ebb and flow of life. ”
—Partner of Army Veteran
“This practice has been immensely helpful to the way my husband and I communicate. Often times we used strong words and loud voices to get our points across. Since starting TM, we have been able to really come together and increase our communication in a softer, supportive and loving manner even if it might be a negative subject. That said, my communication overall has become better as I am able to sit and take a moment to reflect before going into something.”
—Wife of Army Veteran
“Physically, my blood pressure has improved, my headaches have diminished and the anxiety attacks have gone. I have not had the chest pain I used to feel. Emotionally I have not had any feelings of rage or anger at insignificant trivialities.”
“I believe TM is assisting in response to A-Fib. I have had one episode since I started TM, and it resolved (cardioverted) spontaneously within 2 hours. With meds in an ER, it can take several hours or overnight; on my own, a less severe episode can take a day or more. Next, I feel my sleep has generally improved. I take prescribed sleeping medication, but I am sleeping longer in sections of sleep, can return to sleep more quickly, and generally feel it is improving.”
“Reduced typical daily caffeine intake by half. Managed to avoid a complete nervous breakdown… which was definitely on the horizon before I started TM, so I count that as a huge benefit, even though I’m still working on achieving the transformative benefits that I expect to achieve soon.”
“ALL of my physical issues either cleared up or became much less. These included: hypertension, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, PTSD, readjustment syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, alcoholism (2-3 fifths a week), restless leg syndrome, and insomnia due to back pain. I could cope with the problems much better, and my temperament has gotten better. My wife saw a change in me from the first evening. Her stress compounded with my issues and my marriage was all downhill.
I can honestly say that, without any doubt, TM saved my life, my marriage, and now it has saved my wife’s life also. My only wish is that I want to spread this and help as many vets as I can.”
—OC, Marine Veteran