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Time magazine, along with a number of other news outlets, ran a profile recently about a program called “Warrior Mind Training” being used by the U.S. Army to “train its 1.1 million soldiers in the art of mental toughness.”

The Defense Department hopes that giving soldiers tools to fend off mental stress will toughen its troops at war and at home. It’s the first time mental combat is being mandated on a large scale, but a few thousand soldiers who have participated in a voluntary program called Warrior Mind Training have already gotten a taste of how strengthening the mind is way different – dare we say harder? – than pounding out the push-ups.

Sounds a bit like Shambhala Training: Heart of Warriorship, except that it features . . actual war.

The article doesn’t mentioned Buddhism; supposedly Warrior Mind Training is “rooted in the ancient Samurai code of self-discipline” and was created by a woman named Sarah Ernst and her two colleagues. It seems to be a mindfulness practice where the object of meditation is the sound of a drum.

Is this laudable or unfortunate? I’m inclined to find it encouraging. Although the training seems to emphasize “mental toughness,” hopefully soldiers who are more mindful will be more skillful and better able to handle their emotions well, both in the combat zone and when they return to civilian life. It will be quite a while, if ever, before humanity achieves “Victory Over War;” in the meantime, the most we can hope for is that it be minimally harmful.
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