23 May, 2022


Buddhist Psychotherapy

By Ruwan M Jayatunge

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge MD

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge MD

Renowned Psychologists like William James, Carl Jung, and Eric Fromm saw much of value in Buddhist philosophy and its positive impact on mental health. The modern mental health clinicians have found incomparable therapeutic efficacy in Buddhist psychotherapy. Buddhist psychotherapy has become a major complementary therapeutic strategy in mental health. Recent research has highlighted the importance of Buddhist psychotherapy in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, factitious disorders, addiction disorders, medically unexplained symptoms and various other psychological ailments. Buddhist psychology is increasingly informing psychotherapeutic practice in the western world (Kelly, 2008).

Psychotherapy is generally defined as a means a treatment of emotional, behavioral, personality disorders based primarily upon verbal or nonverbal communication. Buddhism is a method of mind training (Bullen, 1994). In the Buddhistic approach, situational, and psychological states are viewed more holistically (Hall & Lindzey, 1978).  As Sherwood (2012) underlines Buddhist psychotherapy is based on the Buddhist model of the cause of mental suffering (the noble fourfold truths) and the notions of attachment, permanence and clinging to notions of self as the perpetrating forces of mental suffering.

Buddhist psychotherapy mainly deals with self-knowledge, thoughts, feelings and actions to minimize the psychological distress.  Neale (2012) views Buddhist psychotherapy as a novel approach to the clinical practice of mental health and it combines aspects of conventional psychotherapy with traditional Buddhist psychological theory and practice. According to Neale (2012) the objective of Buddhist psychotherapy as just being mindful of one’s momentary experience without judgment have failed to understand the crucial role that wisdom and action   play in the process of healing and change.

Buddhism and Western Psychology often overlap in theory and in practice. Over the last century, experts have written on many commonalities between Buddhism and various branches of modern western psychology like phenomenological psychology, psychoanalytical psychotherapy, humanistic psychology, cognitive psychology and existential psychology (Aich ,2013).

Mind and Mental Factors in Buddhism

Buddhism is a religion that deeply discusses human mental process. Human mind has a special place on Buddhist philosophy and it has gone in depth to analyze the human mind. The Buddhist philosophy talks about the human mind and its pathological and non-pathological segments. In Abhidhamma – which is the higher teaching of the Buddha profoundly analyses human mental process. In Abhidhamma man is described as a psycho-physical being consisting of both mind and matter, and it gives a microscopic analysis of the human thinking process (Narada, 1956). In Abhidhamma the Buddha describes consciousness as a flowing stream intensely interconnected. These words were echoed by William James and in his theory of mind (1890) described that conscious mental life flows continuously like a stream. William James further illustrates the consciousness and writes thus – “the transition between the thought of one object and the thought of another is no more a break in the thought than a joint in a bamboo is a break in the wood” (James, 1988).

DSM and Buddhist Jathaka Stories

The Buddhist Jathaka story book deeply touches the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) based mental illnesses (Jayatunge, 2013). The Jathaka stories are a voluminous body of narratives that were compiled in the period, the 3rd Century B.C. to the 5th Century A.D. According to Professor Rhys Davids who conceptualized canonical Buddhist writings in terms of psychology in the early 20th Century, Jathaka   stories are one of the oldest fables. Most of the DSM based mental ailments are vividly described in the Jathaka stories. These Jathaka stories discuss profound psychological themes. For centuries these stories helped the people to view individuals with mental illnesses with a compassionate eye.

Empathy in Buddhist Psychotherapy

Some contemporary psychologists identify empathy as an automated, involuntary, biologically-inbuilt reaction. Nonetheless empathy is a part of social and emotional development. Goleman (2000) characterizes empathy as one of the key components of emotional intelligence.  Rogers (1961) indicates that empathy and unconditional positive regard for the client create a growth promoting climate.  Rogers thought that accurate empathy was one of the three core conditions of effective psychotherapy (Dowd & McCleery, 2007). Empathy strengthens the therapeutic alliance.   Vyskocilova and colleagues (2011) highlight that empathy helps to understand both emotional reactions and the meanings of experience for the client.

Buddhism is a practical philosophy that advocates providing empathic responses to humans as well as other living beings.  In Buddhist psychotherapeutic approach empathy has a special status. Buddhistic empathy is a state of mind that is filled with wisdom, tolerance and loving-kindness. According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering. It’s not passive — it’s not empathy alone — but rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering (Dalai Lama, 2005).

Psychoanalytic Technique and Buddhist Psychotherapy

In his famous lecture series at the Clark University in 1909 Sigmund Freud highlighted that psychoanalysis is a method of treating nervous patients medically. In classical psychoanalysis, unconscious defense mechanisms such as denial, splitting, and projection are identified as preventing psychic equilibrium and the genuine expression of self. In this method, defenses are made conscious, rendering them superfluous and health is achieved when one develops new, more appropriate ways of accessing validation, love, and connection (Neale, 2012).  Safran (2012) describes psychoanalysis as a new way of looking at inner life.

The psychoanalytical components in Buddhism have been emphasized by many scholars like Martin Wicramasinghe D.Lit, Laurence W. Christensen etc.  (Jayatunge, 2011).  Some contemporary psychologists see parallels between the Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis. The primacy of experiencing for both disciplines, particularly concerning the experiencing subject’s momentary state of consciousness, forms a central theme for both Zen and psychoanalysis (Cooper 2001).

Eric Fromm suggests that Zen Buddhism has a prolific influence on theory and technique of psychoanalysis.

“…[W]hat can be said with more certainty is that the knowledge of Zen, and a concern with it, can have a most fertile and clarifying influence on the theory and technique of psychoanalysis. Zen, different as it is in its method from psychoanalysis, can sharpen the focus, throw new light on the nature of insight, and heighten the sense of what it is to see, what it is to be creative, what it is to overcome the affective contaminations and false intellectualizations which are the necessary results of experience based on the subject-object split” (Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis Eric Fromm p. 140).

The psychoanalytical module in Buddhism is very much evident. Buddhism provides psychological methods of analyzing human experience and inquiring into the potential and hidden capacities of the human mind. According to Buddhism mind precedes its objects. They are mind-governed and mind-made. The verse 37 of the Dhammapada   explains the dynamics of human mind thus

The mind is capable of travelling vast distances – up or down, north or south, east or west – in any direction. It can travel to the past or the future.

Existential-Therapy and Buddhist Psychotherapy

Buddhism and Existential-humanistic psychology share common grounds with realm of representation, realm of action and reality of self. Both psychotherapies are based on mindful awareness and directed towards growth potential. Both consider the human condition as a whole.

Existential Psychotherapy is aimed to enhance self knowledge and search for meaning. Frankl (1946) believed that man’s main concern is not to seek pleasure or to avoid pain, but rather to search meaning in his life.  Search for meaning help individuals to construct connections, find wisdom and experience healthy transformation when dealing with trauma. Individuals surviving a traumatic event often demonstrate a need to create meaning around events to make sense and regain coherence to their lives, thereby reestablishing the biographical continuity which had been lost (Abernathy, 2008). Search for meaning is parallel to Buddhist philosophy. Buddhist psychotherapy encourages clients to search for meaning hence allowing posttraumatic positive growth. Tedeschi & Calhoun (1996) define Posttraumatic growth (PTG) as positive psychological change experienced as the result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances. Buddha’s Eight Fold Path encourages to search for meaning of life, death, and suffering.

CBT and Buddhistic Approach

In general terms Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic  approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures. According to the Buddhist point of view, suffering is not caused by external, traumatic events, but by qualities of mind which shape our perceptions and responses to events. These same words were repeated by the Psychologist Albert Ellis in 1953 when he introduced his action oriented therapeutic approach – Rational Emotive Therapy. According to Ellis not the event that causes psychological distress but the belief held by the client. He further argues that one’s emotional distress is actually caused by one’s catastrophic thinking in appraising stressful events. Rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT) argues that irrational beliefs result in maladaptive emotions leading to reduced well-being (Spörrle et al, 2010).

The Buddha often used Insight-oriented dialog and Socratic Method to give awareness to his disciples. Insight-oriented dialog is similar to the methodology of cognitive therapies. In Buddhist Psychotherapy  therapist and patient work together to identify dysfunctional mental patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that stem from a patient’s identification with their traumatic narrative. Once these specific issues are recognized, patients are prepared to use the healing relationship as an emotional corrective and employ meditation techniques to counter their particular cognitive-affective-behavioral habits (Neale, 2012).

Buddhist Meditation

Meditation is a synchronized mind body technique and conscious effort that helps transforming the mind.  In Buddhism meditation is regarded as the second category of the Eight-Fold Path. Buddhist meditation interventions have been integrated   in to contemporary psychotherapy.  Research based evidence supports the therapeutic use of meditation in a range of psychological ailments.

Oshita and colleagues (2013) indicate positive outcome following Buddhistic meditation and the subjects benefited from meditation and showed significant increases in their sense of coherence, self-esteem and purpose in life. A number of studies have shown that meditation activates and deactivates certain brain regions. Brewer and colleagues (2011) report that deactivation of posterior cingulate cortex (which has a prominent role   in pain and episodic memory retrieval) during a number of different types of meditation.  Tsai and Edds (2013) found increased alpha and theta activities in electroencephalography (EEG) during various forms of meditation.

The concept of mindfulness is based on Vipassana, a Buddhist meditation technique (Delgado-Pastor et al., 2013).  Mindfulness has been described as a practice of learning to focus attention on moment-by moment experience with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance (Marchand, 2012). As Tusaie & Edds (2009) indicate the practice of mindfulness is increasingly being integrated into Western clinical practice within the context of psychotherapy and stress management.

Numerous research concur the therapeutic effects of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy is strongly recommended as an adjunctive treatment for unipolar depression and anxiety (Marchand, 2012). de Zoysa (2013) reports successful use of  Buddhist mindfulness practice in the treatment of a case of obsessive compulsive disorder. Smith and colleagues (2008) reveal mindfulness-based stress reduction helps in reducing somatic pain. Winbush, Gross and Kreitzer (2007) highlight that increased practice of mindfulness techniques is associated with improved sleep in mindfulness-based stress reduction research participants. According to the research finding by Cahn and colleagues (2013) suggest that Vipassana meditation evokes a brain state of enhanced perceptual clarity and decreased automated reactivity.

Methha Meditation or Loving-kindness Meditation is widely used in Buddhist Psychotherapy.  Loving-kindness meditation is a practice designed to enhance feelings of kindness and compassion for self and others. Loving-kindness meditation appeared safe and acceptable and was associated with reduced symptoms of PTSD and Depression (Kearney et al 2013). According to Hofmann, Grossman and Hinton (2011) neuro-imaging studies suggest that loving-kindness meditation (LKM) and compassion meditation (CM) may enhance activation of brain areas that are involved in emotional processing and empathy. They hypnotize that loving-kindness meditation and compassion meditation may provide potentially useful strategies for targeting a variety of different psychological problems that involve interpersonal processes, such as depression, social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and coping with the strains of long-term caregiving.

Anapanasati meditation or ‘mindfulness of breathing is the first subject of meditation expounded by the Buddha in the Maha-Satipatthana Sutta, the Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness (Ariyadhamma, 1994). Mindful breathing increases oxygen intake and has stress reducing impact. Feldman, Greeson and Senville (2010) point out that mindful breathing may help to reduce reactivity to repetitive thoughts.


Buddhist concepts have profound influence on Western Psychotherapy. Buddhist psychotherapy is based on the Buddhist model of the cause of mental suffering and deals with self-knowledge, thoughts, feelings and actions to minimize the psychological distress.  Buddhist Psychotherapy has a positive impact on mental health and it can be used to treat a wide range of mental illnesses.


Email:  ruwanmjayatunge@gmail.com


1)   Rev Bandagiriya Sirinanda – Toronto Maha Vihara – Toronto Canada

2)   Dr. Patricia Sherwood -Honorary Senior lecturer – Edith Cowan University  Australia


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Latest comments

  • 5

    Decent article for a wrong audience. Please expect barrage of anti Budhist, insulting comments from lot of Colombo Telegrapgh readers who are waiting for a chance to attach Budhism because of few bad so called Budhists. Only a very few will comment on your subject.

    • 0

      Please read “chance to attack” not attach.

    • 3

      Good article by a Buddhist. Meditation is so acceptable in the world today & being borrowed without reference to buddhist philosophy.

      • 0




  • 3

    “Buddhist Psychotherapy” my foot.

    All Sinhala Buddhists, including the author, brainwashed from childhood with supremacist Mahavamsa must be subjected to psychotherapy to purge them from the prejudice of Sinhala Buddhist supremacy.

    Who said Sinhalese are following the teachings of the Buddha? Never!

    • 9


      Have you known the author since childhood?

      Or else, how would you know he has been “brainwashed from childhood with supremacist Mahavamsa”?

      Now my son, when you claim “All Sinhala Buddhists, including the author, brainwashed from childhood with supremacist Mahavamsa”, aren’t you unfairly tarring all with the same brush?

      I, for one, am a Sinhalese and a Buddhist, but definitely not a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist’. There is a BIG difference between the two.

      Just like, all Tamils are not LTTE terrorists.

      • 1

        Is it not true that Sinhalese children in Sri Lanka learn the myths of Mahanma thero from Mahawamsa?

        In schools in Colombo, when they play games even when Tamil pupils are there, the baddie is a given Tamil name, is it not true?

        Unless the author was educated in a school abroad, or didn’t go to Buddhist teachings in viharas, the probability is that he is also instilled the Mahawmsa prejudice against Tamils and ‘others’.

        • 2

          you are a hill billy jaffna idiot who does not know a single thing about what a sinhala child learns .

          • 0


            People like you are a disgrace to the Sinhalese.

            Aren’t you capable of commenting, without insulting people?

            I this how your Sinhala-Buddhist teachers taught you to address people?

            • 0

              This is a kind of mental disorder. Many of the commentators like Abhaya bring it as examples.

    • 5

      The good doctor is sharing his experiences about the psychiatry and buddhism. I feel you have been a born sinhalese hater not exposed to good nature of sinhalese people. Please refrain from commenting in a self destructive manner.

      • 1

        Yes, good nature of the Sinhalese people lead to anti-Tamil pogroms of 1958, 1961, 1977, 1981, and 1983 when thousands of Tamils were killed, raped and their properties ransacked while the Sinhala police and the armed forces (ranaviru!) aided and abetted these pogroms.

        To their credit there were some Sinhalese, the minority, helped protect the Tamils.

        The tormentors went on: “Demala sutha karandone.” Where did they get the idea of cleansing Tamils among Sinhalese? Didn’t they learn it some where? Where? Schools, or at home, or in religious classes?

        • 0

          You can’t even write a proper sentence in sinhala!
          How could you know about buddhism or sinhalese? I remember the story of buddha being silent when he was verbally abused . Abuser got tired and surprised asked buddha why he was not replying back. The answer was if the person who was abused had not felt any ill effects, all the hatred will return to the abuser
          Courtesy Ambulimama ( tamil children story books)

          • 0

            ken robert

            Lucky that Buddha got away with mild verbal abuse and was not living in modern day Sri Lanka.

            He would have been white vanned many times over until he is dead well before he attained his Parinirvana.

  • 5

    Who’s teaching do you follow -THIRU ????????????????

    Human Rights ,,,,Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm or Retribution ?????? Don’t you feel sad to hear that a pro ltte Diaspora mother in the U.K. kills her two sons and kills herself ?? Why ??????? Why is Channel 4 facing the wraught of the people? Whom did they deceive this time ? Oh !!!!!!!!! What came of our Prime Minister Rudrakumar? How many people’s money he attempted to cheat? Oh !!!! those Americans…. why did not the Prime Minister Rudrakumar not told that they wanted Sri Lanka to use “cluster bombs”? Bad set up. Sri Lanka did not fall in to the trap. At least now will the anti-GOSL and pro-ltte’ers appreciate the GOSL? Nooooooooooo…….. these pro-ltte tamils will never. How unfortunate. They prefer to face retribution than to making peace with GOSL? That Rapp fellow asks Gota why did you not prosecute ltte’ers but rehabilitate them? Finally what did the Americans want to see what was under the saree that Indian lady diplomat wore? Funny justice. She was no crimi8nal. RETRIBUTION TAKING MANY FORMS…. LETS MAKE PEACE FAST AGAINST ONE ANOTHER WITHIN SRI LANKA BEFORE IT CATCH UP WITH BEGINING THE NORTHERN RC CLERGY.

  • 0

    If the author is genuine he would have made a disclaimer about BBS its early antecedents in sri lanka and what he is preaching!

  • 2

    Yes, the development of all psychological disciplines came from what the Europeans learnt from Buddhism (mainly Sri Lankan Buddhism). Similarly Darwin came up with his theory of evolution after learning from the local beliefs of the people around the Galapagos islands.

    • 0

      lol . darwain learnt from galapagos islanders . this gets funnier by the day

    • 0

      This is not the truth.

      Local beliefs may have strengthened what Darwin thought.

  • 5

    Hi Ruwan,

    Thank you for sharing your expertise with us on this important subject. It is a great article.
    I recently read some books of Dr. Rick Hanson, a Neuroscientist at University of Wisconsin. He does lot of research on Neuroscience and Buddhism. His latest book is “Hardwiring of Happiness “It is amazing to know that modern research is proving what Buddha has been teaching in 2500 years back. There is no doubt among Scientists now that impermanency of everything and also the “Self” we believe we have is only an activity of the brain.
    I also enjoyed reading your article on “Psychoanalytic reading of Baththalangunduwa” sometime back. It is great that you are sharing your knowledge with us at Colombo Telegraph. Rather than reading political news from our country and getting angry and depressed, it is much more beneficial to read valuable articles like what you write. You do not attack any one, but share your expertise with everyone. Thank you again for your wonderful endeavor

    • 1

      Yes indeed a very good article. Alas, very few seem to appreciate this kind of articles considering the great relationship jathaka stories and psycho therapies that we become clear among us today. I also read the article with more enthusiasm.

  • 0

    Mental Disorders in humans like Nervous break downs in early society then have been less, compared to today’s proportions with increased population and a higher stress factor. Besides nervous conditions then, have been mostly attributed to influences of Evil Spirits and the Sorcerer had a field day in driving the spirits away, till Western Medicine established Psychiatry to treat mental patients scientifically in Asylums. Counseling in addition to treatment has served immensely to help patients to recover. The mind under stress after a close family bereavement have always sought solace in one’s Religious belief. However today most people are adapt to accept reality in a fast moving world as the pace of life is equally progressing.

    • 0

      Hi Gamini,

      Please note what Ruwan says is that in modern psychology, they have accepted without any dispute many concepts in Buddhsit philosophy and beneficial effects of practicing breathing mediation and Loving kindness meditation regularly on the functions of our brains and thinking. You and Jagath appear to be relying on Scientists to do everything for you. Please read on latest discoveries on neuroscience and psychology in internet. I understand you have a prejudice against all religions. It is ok. Forget the label. Just read the Psychology Today magazine or any good source you trust to know how far they have gone to accept the ancient wisdom in Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and even in Christianity. Reject what you do not want. Get what you want.
      The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.- Wayne Dyer

      • 0


        It appears you have misunderstood my post. I have not said that meditation, Lovingness, kindness are not therapeutically soothing to the mind as found in modern psychology. Long before Buddhism was born, these supreme qualities were found among the intelligent in society. So Human kindness, affection, love, Honesty and Sincerity were not something new, that Buddhism discovered. Even Meditation was practiced by Ascetics, Rishies in the Himalayas long before Buddha. Again before man’s quest for Religion, Astronomy and Astrology were discovered by these Rishies. Astronomy as you know is the branch of study of Planets in our Solar System and their movement. Mind you the discovery of the Zodiac was done, long before the Hubble’s Telescope was invented. How did they do it? I believe there had been individuals who had developed their minds to such a pitch, through meditation that they were able to comprehend the whole thing. Then they also discovered the influences on life from the planetary movements, which is known as Astrology. It is long after these two branches of study were found, only that the Religions were born. So my point was, although Ruwan was trying to credit Buddhism with the discovery by modern psychology, these aspects have been in existence long before.

  • 0

    I read a graduate thesis by a buddhist monk about “buddhist enviromental Psychology”. It explained how one’s mental environment affects the person’s body, the people and the environment around the person.

  • 0

    oh my god another Sri Lankan Sinhalam Buddhist bullshit article

  • 0

    Please please prescribe this psycotherapy to BBS, Sinhal Ravya, JHU, all monks in Sri Lanka, Rajapakse regime…

    CT readers dont need this bull shit

  • 1

    Dear Dr. Ruwan Jayatunga,

    “Renowned Psychologists like William James, Carl Jung, and Eric Fromm saw much of value in Buddhist philosophy and its positive impact on mental health. The modern mental health clinicians have found incomparable therapeutic efficacy in Buddhist psychotherapy”

    Since you are a Buddhist, you see most from the Buddhist point of view, but there is nothing wrong with that. After all, still 25% of the people in this 21st century believe, the Sun goes around a stationary Earth, and they see the Sun rises from the East and sets in the West.

    If one does a controlled experimental clinical study with controls using Buddhist Philosophy, Christian Philosophy, Islamic Philosophy, Sufi Philosophy, Hindu Philosophy and other Philosophies such a Greek Philosophy, one will most likely not much difference between the different philosophies. One may be surprised to find that those Philosophizes with a merciful God may do even better than Buddhist Philosophy, because there will be inner peace and calm for those who expect to be with a merciful good.

  • 0

    This is how US marines USe meditation in their lives to make their better SERVICE-MEN. MEditation is alsoed used to cure PTSD – disorders.

    else where I read they get training in Mindfulness (sathi-patthana) meditation

    ” While preparing for overseas deployment with the U.S. Marines late last year, Staff Sgt. Nathan Hampton participated in a series of training exercises held at Camp Pendleton, Calif., designed to make him a more effective serviceman.
    There were weapons qualifications. Grueling physical workouts. High-stress squad counterinsurgency drills, held in an elaborate ersatz village designed to mirror the sights, sounds and smells of a remote mountain settlement in Afghanistan.
    There also were weekly meditation classes — including one in which Sgt. Hampton and his squad mates were asked to sit motionless in a chair and focus on the point of contact between their feet and the floor.
    “A lot of people thought it would be a waste of time,” he said. “Why are we sitting around a classroom doing their weird meditative stuff?
    “But over time, I felt more relaxed. I slept better. Physically, I noticed that I wasn’t tense all the time. It helps you think more clearly and decisively in stressful situations. There was a benefit.”
    That benefit is the impetus behind Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (“M-Fit”), a fledgling military initiative that teaches service members the secular meditative practice of mindfulness in order to bolster their emotional health and improve their mental performance under the stress and strain of war.
    Designed by former U.S. Army captain and current Georgetown University professor Elizabeth Stanley, M-Fit draws on a growing body of scientific research indicating that regular meditation alleviates depression, boosts memory and the immune system, shrinks the part of the brain that controls fear and grows the areas of the brain responsible for memory and emotional regulation.
    Four years ago, a small group of Marine reservists training at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., for deployment to Iraq participated in the M-Fit pilot program, taking an eight-week mindfulness course and meditating for an average of 12 minutes a day.
    A study of those Marines subsequently published in the research journal Emotions found that they slept better, had improved athletic performance and scored higher on emotional and cognitive evaluations than Marines who did not participate in the program, which centers on training the mind to focus on the current moment and to be aware of one’s physical state.
    The Army and Marines have since commissioned separate studies of larger groups of troops receiving variations of M-Fit training, the results of which currently are under scientific review and likely will be published in the next few months.
    “The findings in general reinforce and extend what we saw in the pilot study,” said Ms. Stanley, an associate professor of security studies at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. “These techniques can be very effective in increasing situational awareness on the battlefield, in not having emotions drive behavior, in bolstering performance and resilience in high-stress environments. I’ve seen effects in my own life.”
    Military meditation
    A former Army intelligence officer, Ms. Stanley served in Korea, Macedonia and Bosnia. Subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she struggled after leaving the military and enrolling in graduate programs at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    Frustrated by the ineffectiveness of prescription medication, she began to research mindfulness and quickly became convinced that the mental and emotional health benefits of meditation could help not only her, but also other service members.
    Ms. Stanley wrote a paper for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), essentially arguing that meditative techniques similar to those used by Buddhist monks were both necessary and appropriate for today’s military — from drone pilots coping with information overload to infantrymen conducting dangerous and stressful counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.
    “The initial concerns form the military were, ‘Is this going to be a waste of time, and is this going to interrupt my finely honed rapid-action drills?’” Ms. Stanley said. “The concerns coming from the mindfulness side were, ‘If you teach them these skills, and they become more open people, will it undermine their ability to armor up psychologically? A few people even wondered if I was trying to make, quote, ‘better baby-killers.’”
    Undaunted, Ms. Stanley sought support for a pilot program through her connections in the Army — the same Army that in the mid-1980s conducted a Trojan Warrior Project, in which 25 Special Forces soldiers nicknamed the “Jedi Knights” received six months of meditative and martial-arts training that helped them perform better than their peers on psychological and biofeedback tests.
    She found an advocate in Maj. Jason Spitaletta, a then-Marine reservist who was a psychology graduate student in non-military life. Mr. Spitaletta read Ms. Stanley’s DARPA paper and brought it to the attention of his superiors, who agreed to participate in the 2008 study.
    Over eight weeks of 12-hour days otherwise devoted to mock firefights and exhausting field exercises, 31 Marine reservists were taught breathing exercises and yoga poses, how to focus their attention and how to prevent their minds from wandering. More than once, they could be seen outdoors, sitting cross-legged and practicing meditation.
    Amishi Jha, the researcher who evaluated the troops, found that the service members in the program ended up with improved moods and greater attentiveness — and that the individuals who spent additional time meditating on their own saw the biggest improvements.
    “It’s like working out in the gym,” said Ms. Jha, the director of contemplative neuroscience for the University of Miami’s Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative. “Right now, the military has daily physical training. Every day, they get together and exercise. But the equivalent is not given to the mind. The more [these troops] practiced, the more they benefited.”
    Brain training
    Why the cognitive boost? The answer lies in neuroscience. Previous studies have shown that habitual meditation:
    • Changes the way blood and oxygen flow through the brain;
    • Strengthens the neural circuits responsible for concentration and empathy;
    • Shrinks the amygdala, an area of the brain that controls the fear response;
    • Enlarges the hippocampus, an area of the brain that controls memory
    • In a recent, incomplete study of Marines taking an M-Fit course — the one Sgt. Hampton participated in — University of California at San Diego and Navy researcher Chris Johnson took blood and saliva samples from the participating service members and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan their brains.
    • According to a report in Pacific Standard, the troops recovered better from stressful training, while their brain scans showed similarities to those taken of elite Special Forces soldiers and Olympic athletes.
    “Basically, there are parts of the brain that work differently in high performers,” said Robert Skidmore, director of operations for the Alexandria, Va.-based Mind Fitness Training Institute. “It’s possible to train our minds to process things differently. With eight weeks of training, working memory capacity increases.”
    Essentially the short-term, scratch-pad system we use to manage relevant information, solve real-time problems and regulate our current emotional state, working memory is roughly equivalent to random access memory in a computer and functions on a daily basis like money in a bank account: Use it, and it depletes until it can be replenished.
    Heavy cognitive tasks, such as scanning an alley for armed insurgents, require working memory. So do emotional challenges, like dealing with the stress of leaving one’s family for an overseas deployment.
    According to Ms. Jha, depleted working memory has been linked to emotional impulsivity, prejudiced behavior, domestic violence and alcoholism.
    “It’s the core resource for regulating your own behavior,” she said. “It’s not like your psychological state or mood is separate.”
    In the M-Fit study, troops who meditated regularly increased their working memory capacity; moreover, they were more aware of their physical responses to combat stress.
    In a fight-or-flight situation — for instance, a firefight — the pupils dilate to take in more information. Blood flows away from the stomach and into the muscles, producing the familiar “butterfly” sensation. Heart and breathing rates rise. Stress hormones course through the body.
    More importantly, blood flow in the brain is redirected away from the areas that control rational thought and toward the areas associated with instinct and survival.
    “It’s really hard to access rational thought during high-intensity stress situations,” said Jared Smyser, 28, a former Marine who lives in Richmond, Va., and is training to become an M-Fit instructor. “All this stuff happens in your body because we’ve evolved to get away from predators. But it’s not really relevant in today’s warfare. You need to be calm, collected, making better decisions.”
    According to Ms. Stanley, meditative training can help troops do so by increasing efficiency in the insular cortex, which allows people to rapidly switch between thinking and unthinking states of mind.
    “It can be exercised when we are attending to sensations in the body,” she said. “So a whole lot of our course is teaching the ability to track those sensations. People come into the course thinking it will ruin their ability to respond fast in combat, but actually, we’re enhancing their ability.”
    In the future, Ms. Stanley said, meditation may become as standard in the military as rifle practice, another way of making troops more effective and resilient. Next year, the Marines will incorporate M-Fit classes into an infantry school at Camp Pendleton, making the program a tentative part of its regular training cycle.
    Mr. Smyser, who served in Iraq in 2005, said military mental training is overdue.
    “It absolutely would have beneficial to me [in Iraq],” he said. “I was very skeptical at first, but I’ve seen benefits in my own life. I’m interested in working with veterans with PTSD. And if we teach this upfront, we might be able to prevent some of the problems we have to fix afterwards.”

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/5/marines-expanding-use-of-meditation-training/#ixzz2q9JcZt7o
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter”

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    Meditation used to cure PTSD -disorders.

    “The need for evidence-based, alternative approaches for reducing PTSD is enormous, says Dr. Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and co-author of a study on OEF/OIF veterans that found a 40 to 50 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms, including depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and insomnia; and reduced stress levels and quicker recovery from stress. Dr. Rosenthal also found decreased smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse.
    I am among a growing number of veterans who have learned to practice Transcendental Meditation. I’ve helped to start a new association of veterans who practice TM with the purpose of organizing conferences to inform our fellow veterans about the unique value of the TM program.
    On August 17th, our DC Veterans Association Practicing the TM Program will host our first conference with medical researchers, psychologists, cognitive therapy specialists, and local meditating vets to explore the impact of TM on PTSD and quality of life.
    On December 3rd, in New York City, the NYC TM vets organization will co-host a benefit gala honoring FDNY Commissioner and Vietnam veteran Salvatore Cassano along with Hugh Jackman and Jerry Seinfeld, to raise funds to teach 1,000 NY Tri-State veterans and first responders to meditate.
    – See more at: http://www.tm.org/blog/people/tm-reduces-ptsd-among-us-army/#sthash.KT0JEqGb.dpuf

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    We Sri Lankans had that tool but we did not use it on our soldiers.

    “The U.S. Marine Corps, known for turning out some of the military’s toughest warriors, is studying how to make its troops even tougher through meditative practices, yoga-type stretching and exercises based on mindfulness.

    Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their training if they see positive results from a pilot project. Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present.

    Facing a record suicide rate and thousands of veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress, the military has been searching for ways to reduce strains on service members burdened with more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Marine Corps officials are testing a series of brain calming exercises called “Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training” that they believe could enhance the performance of troops, who are under mounting pressures from long deployments and looming budget cuts expected to slim down forces.

    “Some people might say these are Eastern-based religious practices but this goes way beyond that,” said Jeffery Bearor, the executive deputy of the Marine Corps training and education command at its headquarters in Quantico, Va.. “This is not tied to any religious practice. This is about mental preparation to better handle stress.”

    The School Infantry-West at Camp Pendleton will offer the eight-week course starting Tuesday to about 80 Marines.

    The experiment builds on a 2011 study involving 160 Marines who were taught to focus their attention by concentrating on their body’s sensations, including breathing, in a period of silence. The Marines practiced the calming methods after being immersed in a mock Afghan village with screaming actors and controlled blasts to expose them to combat stress. Naval Health Research Center scientist Douglas C. Johnson, who is leading the research, monitored their reactions by looking at blood and saliva samples, images of their brains and problem-solving tests they took.

    Another 160 other Marines went through the mock village with no mindfulness-based training, acting as the control group. Results from the 2011 study are expected to be published this spring.

    The latest study by Johnson will compare three groups of Marines, whose biological reactions will be also monitored. One group of about 80 will receive mindfulness-based training. Another of equal size will be given mental resilience training based on sports psychology techniques. The third one will act as a control group.

    Results from that study are expected in the fall, Marine Corps officials said.

    Marine Corps officials decided to extend the experiment to shore up evidence that the exercises help the brain better react to high-stress situations and recover more quickly from those episodes.

    “If indeed that proves to be the case, then it’s our intention to turn this into a training program where Marines train Marines in these techniques,” Bearor said. “We would interject this into the entry level training pipeline — we don’t know where yet — so every Marine would be trained in these techniques.”

    The idea is to give Marines a tool so they can regulate their own stress levels before they lead to problem behavior: “We have doctors, counselors, behavioral health scientists, all sorts of people to get help for Marines who have exhibited stress type symptoms but what can we do before that happens? How do we armor Marines up so they are capable of handling stress?” Bearor said. “

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    How buddhism contributes to environmental conservation.

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    Yes. Buddhist Psychotherapy=psychotherapy given to buddhists or = theraphy for the buddhist psyche (Urgently required) or = therapy for buddhist psychos (also urgently required). Is there Hindu psychotherapy and Islamic psychotherapy and Christian Psychotherapy and Rationalist psychotheray and atheist psychotherapy and how many different types of psyche are there apart from the usual human one?

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    The note on Buddhist Psychotherapy by Ruwan M. Jayatunga ( January 11, 2014 )is an academic exercise. It is of high calibre.
    In the subsequent forum, some partipants exhibit incivility which is an ugly spectacle fouling the milieu with malodor.
    A.A.W.Amarasinghe, MD,
    Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Medical College of Georgia, USA.

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