Finding myself again: how meditation helped with PTSD

By Cameron Harman on 3rd Sep 2020

After my tour in Afghanistan (2011) I knew that life would never be the same again. A year over there had left me bitter and scarred, not the once happy kid I had been. Now an entirely new challenge was ahead of me being home. My time in war
was not as dramatic as the film American Sniper but it had its moments. During a routine patrol to a nearby valley, the vehicle I was riding in was struck by an IED (improvised explosive device). The first thing I could think to do was check to make sure my legs were still attached to my body. My head was pounding, my ears were ringing, much like being in a severe car accident. At the time I didn’t think about how this single event would affect my mental health. Now back in the United States, I thought I would eventually feel safe and go back to normal. My nightmare was only beginning.

Fast forward six years later (2017) I am done with my service in the army. Freedom at last, but something was still just not right. I found myself in a state of rage constantly, and if I wasn’t mad I was sad about how often I was mad. Something
needed to change. My last experience with a counselor ended with him falling asleep in his chair while I am trying to be vulnerable. Therapy is wonderful and helpful to many, but this was something I needed to deal with myself. A simple google search for how to deal with depression lead me to meditation. Meditation was the gateway drug to learning how to manage my thoughts and heal my mind. Being still and silent cured the anxiety of always being on edge. It showed me that in this present moment I am safe. Merely the thought of danger was causing the anxiety. So I began to study the mind, reading books on Buddhism, and learning the Eastern ways of mind management. Western ideas of mind management are very different, I wanted to find a way to bring them both into harmony.

2020 has showed us the worst in ourselves at times. It is a scary and uncertain time for everyone. According to a CDC report in June of 2020 forty percent of adults in the U.S reported having struggles with mental health. Now was my chance to put my practices to work both eastern and western. During this time I found these techniques to be helpful.

• Journaling: Writing down your thoughts can help you see they are just thoughts.
• Meditation: Can help you calm your mind and relax.
• Daily Mantra: Something that gives you motivation or inspires you like “You got this” or “Be in this moment”.

Our minds can be a useful tool or our worst enemy. If you can learn to create positive habits to train you mind, life will start to get easier to navigate. With proper encouragement our minds can get us through these difficult times. Remember to find
time for yourself, to breath and be grateful. Buddha said it best “what we think we become” your thoughts create your reality. Change your mind and you change your world.

Cameron Harman is the founder and host of the Hermit Radio podcast.

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