Elizabeth A. Stanley and Amishi P. Jha. “Mind Fitness: Improving Operational Effectiveness and Building Warrior Resilience,” Joint Force Quarterly, No. 55 (2009): 144-151.
What can be done to enhance the military’s capacities to operate in complex environments while simultaneously protecting against the stressors inherent in them? This article proposes a new training program for both improving operational effectiveness and building resilience to the stressors of deployment: Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT)®. This program includes techniques and exercises that previous research in civilians has demonstrated to be effective at enhancing the capacities central to mind fitness, such as mental agility, emotion regulation, attention, and situational awareness. Importantly, these exercises appear to achieve improvements in mind fitness by changing brain structure and function so that brain processes are more efficient. Our pilot research, conducted in pre-deployment Marine Reservists, suggests that MMFT is similarly successful at bolstering mind fitness and building resilience against stressors in a military cohort. Mind fitness training can immunize against stress by buffering the cognitive degradation of stress inoculation training and by permitting more adaptive responses to and interpretation of stressors. Finally, beyond its immediate effects for managing stress and enhancing mission performance, mind fitness training is protective: it builds resiliency and leads to faster recovery from cognitive degradation and psychological injury.