It was once thought that the term “post-traumatic stress” (PTS) was reserved exclusively for military personnel and veterans. More and more often, however, we are hearing the term used for many others— from women and children, to our friends and acquaintances.

PTS not only occurs on the battlefield, but also in our communities and homes.

Shockingly, in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds. One of the most common places that violence against women occurs is in the home. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence, and more than 10 million children witness domestic violence each year.

Both women and children who experience domestic violence commonly suffer from post-traumatic stress and its many debilitating physical and psychological effects. Studies have also found that the medical and mental health treatment for those who have suffered from incidents of domestic violence is at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. This is in addition to the more than seven million days of absence from paid work annually.

As published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, research has shown that the Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) technique is effective in addressing and relieving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress.1 TM is a simple, natural, effortless technique that allows the mind to settle easily into a state of deep, peaceful relaxation. While the mind is restfully alert during the practice, the body experiences deep rest, which dissolves deep-rooted stress. This reduction of stress has been shown to lead to a variety of benefits for health and well-being essential in overcoming the effects of traumatic stress.

A meta-analysis of 146 research studies, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, showed that the TM technique was twice as effective in reducing anxiety than other techniques such as the relaxation response, progressive muscle relaxation, and EMG biofeedback.2

Putting this research to work in an effort to help combat the epidemic of violence and assault against women and children, The David Lynch Foundation launched a Women’s Initiative in 2012 that offers TM to heal and empower victims of abuse. The Initiative partners with leaders in the field of domestic violence and human trafficking across the US and around the world.

Reducing stress and discovering inner peace are key ingredients to recovery from traumatic stress. Hope can remain an illusion if peace and happiness are not growing inside of us. This truth applies to many throughout the world and in our own community.

“We try to do it all. It’s time to learn how to ‘check in’—inwardly,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, Chief Medical Correspondent for Discovery Health TV. “Peace, enhanced creativity, and higher levels of integrated thinking are all gifts awaiting women who experience TM. So when it comes to trauma, you can dampen the scream of the trauma and just bring it into a simple whisper because you’re in control. And if that’s not empowering, I don’t know what is.”

Dennis Rowe is the director of the Palm Springs center for Transcendental Meditation® and can be reached at (760) 537.1006.

References: 1) Journal of Traumatic Stress 26(2), 295-298, 2013; 2) Journal of Clinical Psychology. 1989; 45; 957-974; 2)

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