How do you make tough Marines even tougher? Teach them to meditate and do yoga.
That’s the goal of a new training program called “M-Fit” – which stands for Mindfulness-based Fitness Training. It was designed by former U-S Army Captain Elizabeth Stanley and it’s based on an ancient concept which says that in order to have a strong body, we first need to have a strong mind!
To achieve that, M-Fit teaches things like meditation, yoga-type stretching, and “mindfulness.” What’s that? According to Captain Stanley, it’s about keeping the mind in the present, and focusing all your attention on the body’s sensations, including breathing.
For example: One exercise asks soldiers to sit in silence, staring at their combat boots, until they become “aware” of how their feet touch the floor. Believe it or not, brain-calming exercises like that are important to the Marines, who face some of the highest stress levels in the military. It’s also a big deal to the military as a whole, which now has record high rates of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans.
So, the hope is that M-Fit can help soldiers think more clearly in high-stress situations like combat, for example - where they’re often forced to make quick decisions that could mean life or death!
And in early testing, the training does seem to help Marines feel more relaxed – even in simulated combat situations. Captain Stanley says, soon, this training program could be implemented at the entry level – so all military will have stress-relieving techniques in their arsenal!