Meditation, yoga may offer answers for PTSD, combat stress: Camp Pendleton class teaches meditation

Desert Storm veteran says meditation changed life

CAMP PENDLETON - The issue of post-traumatic stress disorder and combat stress is front and center these days, and Marine Corps leaders think they may have some answers: meditation and yoga.

A new class that attacks stress with relaxation recently began at Camp Pendleton. 

"I think it's a great idea," said Billiekai Boughton.

More than two decades ago, Boughton, an Army communications specialist, was part of the Desert Storm contingent that marched into Kuwait.

She saw the bodies of Iraqis and Kuwaitis killed by Iraqi troops and was eventually diagnosed with PTSD, including symptoms of social anxiety, sensitivity to noise, lack of focus and nightmares.

"My nightmares would cause me to the point of panic and I would wake up in fear for my life," said Boughton.

Two years ago, as part of a program for her PTSD, she started to meditate.

Today, her only treatment is the meditation. She meditates two times a day for 20 minutes each time.

"There's no question to me that meditation has changed my life. On a scale of one to 10, my symptoms went from a 10 to a two to three on a given day," said Boughton.

Meditation is one of the practices being taught in an eight-week course that recently began at Camp Pendleton.

Marines will be guided through meditation and yoga-like stretching as part of a research study.

In a previous 2011 study, many Marines reportedly slept better and performed better on athletic and emotional evaluations.

Some estimates say as many as 500,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan may be suffering from PTSD.

Boughton says meditation has helped her because part of the meditation is to identify the stress in your body.

"By acknowledging the stress, what you're doing is preventing it from festering," she said. 

The results of the research will be released in the fall. If successful, Marine Corps leaders say they could implement the techniques across the Marine Corps.

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