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Making Soldiers M-Fit

Compiled/Written by Murali Kamma Email Compiled/Written by Murali Kamma
May 2013
Making Soldiers M-Fit

M-Fit, formally known as MMFT, makes soldiers mission-ready. It stands for Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training. Elizabeth Stanley, who teaches security studies at Georgetown University, and Amishi Jha, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Miami, developed this eight-week program to assist U.S. soldiers preparing for combat operations.

If M-Fit reminds you of meditation and yoga, you are on the right track. Stanley, a former U.S. Army officer, was suffering from stress-related disorder when she turned to this ancient tradition. It worked. A key component of the training, in which soldiers do mind fitness exercises every day, is to reduce stress and increase awareness. To succeed in a combat mission, knowledge and skills are important, but so is mental fitness along with physical fitness.

“Some exercises build concentration by focusing on one object of attention, such as a particular body sensation,” Stanley and Jha write in their article on MMFT. “Others build situational awareness and nonreactivity through wider attention on internal and external stimuli. And some exercises use focused attention to reregulate physiological and psychological symptoms that develop from traumatic or stressful experiences.”

A pilot program in 2011 yielded positive results, and now the U.S. Army is implementing it more widely, not only to boost performance but to reduce the high suicide rates among soldiers as well. Earlier this year, the School of Infantry (West) near San Diego introduced the MMFT program.

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