By Rita Cosby, edited by Jim Luce
New York, N.Y. As a television journalist for more than twenty years, I have seen women and girls in their worst state, overwhelmed by their difficult ordeals from battling homelessness, drugs, prostitution…. or from a fight of a different kind, a deep depression or anxiousness stemming from the traumas of war.
Post-traumatic stress can immobilize even the most courageous veteran and the numbers are staggering. An estimated half million men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan alone are believed to have some form of PTSD, numbers which should make us all realize it is our problem as a society, and our responsibility to help those who’ve given their all for our country.
Yet PTSD is so pervasive and so complex, often caregivers begin to experience many of the same symptoms of traumatic stress and thereby need help themselves for similar symptoms. Transcendental Meditation can be the solution to providing comfort not only to those suffering from the unseen wounds of war, but for those family members or other caregivers who are mentally and physically exhausted and need a daily recharge to enhance their own mental stability.
I know firsthand what the effects of mental trauma can do to a family. One Christmas when I was a teenager, my own father left our family and was truly a man void of any emotional connection. Decades later, I learned he was a Nazi prisoner of war who experienced more horror by the age of eighteen, than most of us will ever experience in a lifetime. He escaped through sewers at one point, then was captured, and escaped again weighing 90 pounds and standing six feet tall. How could experiencing such brutality at such an early age, not affect him and others close to him the rest of his life? In fact, I never really knew my own father until we reunited just a few years ago. War had devastated our relationship.
Sheer stress from battle caused my father not to be able to relate to people on a personal level for decades, even his own family. This led to decades of anger, confusion, and deep heartache. Through Transcendental Meditation, I finally have found an inner peace and sense of calm, and been able to talk to other family members and caregivers of those battling PTSD across the world, stressing they also take care of themselves in order to be in the best shape to help those they love. Assisting warriors to overcome PTSD or caring for anyone overcoming some form of trauma, is often a long, grueling, and very unpredictable road. TM provides the giver an increased appreciation for their own strength, self-worth and a much-needed daily chance to rejuvenate, refocus and bring clarity.
“Caregiver Stress Syndrome” has actual physiological and psychological symptoms that can result from the ongoing emotional strain of care giving for a loved one, or attending to the all of the needs of a child or dependent adult. More women than men are caregivers, with women making up a whopping 66 percent of the caregiver population. Studies show that over time, they experience their own PTSD… sleep deprivation, increased stress, burnout, substance abuse and poor eating habits. They are more likely to miss their own doctor’s appointments, putting their own needs on the back burner. Women, in particular, studies show, are more likely to suffer from high stress due to care giving than men.
Research has shown that TM can reduce symptoms of PTSD in the warrior and the caregiver by as much as 50 percent. In a landmark study pioneered at the Denver Veterans Center, after just three months of practice, veterans experienced significant across-the-board reductions in emotional numbness, anxiety and PTS symptoms.
I wish in my own life, my father and my family would’ve known about TM many years ago. I believe he could’ve found an inner peace from the demons of war, and I could’ve found my father that much sooner.
Today my dad is finally home, and thanks to TM, I can look at this very bumpy journey as a valuable life experience, which I hope, will help others find that true joy and sense that anything can be overcome if you learn to look within yourself.
Rita Cosby is an Emmy award-winning TV host and correspondent.
The symposium “Women, Violence, and Meditation” was held at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, March 31, 2012 sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation and Third Fire Films. Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the U.S. One in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime around the world. Most often, it is a member of her own family. Over 19,000 women veterans have been victims of military sexual assault during the past year.
Healing and Empowering Women and Girls. For more information on how you can help secure funds to support outreach to women and girls, please contact the David Lynch Foundation’s Women’s Initiative, 654 Madison Avenue, Suite 805, New York, N.Y. 10065 or by e-mail.
Women, Violence & Transcendental Meditation Series
Dr. Sarina Grosswald: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder More Prevalent Than We Realize (video)
Ms. Joni Steele Kimberlin: Filmmaker: Get Real Wise Women Speak (video)
Dr. Pamela M. Peeke: Empowering Women & Girls with Mind-Body Fitness (video)
Ms. Soledad O’Brien: Opens Women, Violence & Meditation Symposium (video)
Ms. Tara Jones Wise: Transcendental Transition from the Military (video1, video 2)
Plus: African Relief (video) | COTN (video) | Children on the Night (video)
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The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org) is the umbrella organization under which Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW) is organized. If supporting young global leadership is important to you, subscribe to J. Luce Foundation updates here.
Special thanks to Rafael Burgos, Daniel Santa and Pierre Bercy for technical support.