Mindful war

Who knew that US military personnel were using mindfulness techniques in the field of intelligence work (aka spycraft) and elsewhere?

This article, Global Intelligence Gate: From Confessions of an Economic Hit Man to the Stratfor Corporation from WL Central, which deals with Wikileaks related news appeared recently.

It’s not only for the sake of relieving PTSD  or anything quite so compassionate. It’s more like how to keep your shit together when you’re waterboarding someone.

Why would mindfulness be useful in spycraft? One of the leading providers of this type of mindfulness training is The Mind Fitness Training Institute. They provide an 8 week course for “existing groups”. No it’s not your average warm and fuzzy retreat.

From The Mind Fitness Training Institute website:

With mindful attention, we can directly perceive an experience without the filter of biases and judgments that often accompany our thoughts about an experience.

That’s an interesting and accurate statement. To be able to just engage in an experience without filters can be a remarkable experience. Quashing that pesky conscience, home of moral judgments could also be quite remarkable. In some circumstances one might even go so far as to induce psychopathic behavior. Imagine a fighting force trained in that manner. Pretty horrific.

Now consider the context.

Mindfulness as an inoculation against PTSD sounds like a good idea. It might help prevent some of the veteran’s suicides, the numbers of which have increased dramatically in recent years.

The reading list in this program is quite extensive and wide ranging, from 

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face
stress, pain, and illness. New York: Delacorte Press.

Begley, S. (2007). Train your mind, change your brain: How a new science reveals our
extraordinary potential to transform ourselves. New York: Ballantine Books.


Asken, M. J. & Grossman, D. (2010). Warrior mindset: Mental toughness skills for a nation’s
peacekeepers. Milstadt, IL: Warrior Science Publications.

Grossman, D. (1995). On killing: The psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society.
Boston: Little, Brown.

Well if the Norwegian mass murderer can use meditation to help him kill better why can’t the US Army use a little mindfulness for the same thing?

Anders Behring Breivik used meditation to kill – he’s not the first

6 comments on “Mindful war

  1. I do wonder about the efficacy of such things; it seems very strange that any of this can be really effective but there was tha Nowegian mass murderer, so there’s that.

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