When some people who are unfamiliar with meditation think of the practice, they tend to have a mental image of calm, smiling people who are generally passive in nature.
They people have “go with the flow” attitudes about their jobs, personalities and their relaxed lifestyles.
Certainly, meditation increases our ability to relax and remain calm. It can impact our demeanor and stress-fueled reactions in a positive way, but it’s most certainly not just used by those with slow-paced lifestyles.
Simply put, meditation is for the tough.
A Warrior Mindset
The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a prime example of embracing meditation with a warrior mindset. And using it for tough positions and roles where a level head is key.
The famed military college has recently implemented a program of meditation courses that it’s calling "Modern Warriorship."
The relatively new program already has 19 cadets enrolled. And the students practice every morning for 15 minutes, as well as for a few minutes before they start their homework.
An Essential Training Tool
During a recent ABC News interview, the VMI assistant psychology professor Dr. Matthew Jarman explained that mindfulness meditation is an essential training tool that teaches cadets how to “lean in” and effectively deal with stress.
"Meditation is not this kind of soft, fluffy thing," Jarman said during the interview.
"You're facing your fears, you're facing your stresses head-on, you're kind of leaning into them, and it's giving you the tools to do that more effectively and to not be swept away by them."
He added that, thus far, the cadets have been very receptive to the training. He also believes that meditation is truly teaching them how to be warriors.
This isn’t the first time that meditation has made headlines for being used to make people stronger, tougher and “better warriors” either.
A number of fire departments, police forces and military bases and branches have all made waves by incorporating meditation into their training for new and seasoned recruits.
And it makes perfect sense that it would be used to help the toughest professionals do their jobs, and do them well.
After all, meditation allows people to have a clear head under pressure. Whether they are performing a life-saving rescue, responding to a fire or emergency call, or are in a high-stress situation where being able to think clearly is key.
All too often, our fear can cause us to make a wrong reaction when it is most important.
But meditation is essential in allowing us to examine situations without judgment, and act accordingly.
In other words, we can respond to difficult situations without stress, and unhelpful distractions, but with rational thinking.
Getting Rid of the Stigma
The VMI’s new program is, after all, just another tough institute that has embraced the practice. And with the positive reception so far, it’s very likely that more universities and military academies will likely follow suit.
Clearly, the stigma that meditation is for already-relaxed lifestyles is slowly going away. Professionals are realizing meditation isn’t just for the stress-free. It's also for the tough and hardworking people who need it the most.
Having a professional teacher on your side will go a long way in getting you started. Once you’re on the path, you’ll be amazed at how far meditation will take you.