On February 5, I visited the 24th military zone in the state of Morelos, Mexico, where I taught 200 members of the Mexican armed forces my system for inner peace. I have shared these simple teachings with people from many different walks of life, including high-security prisoners, ex-guerrilla soldiers and families affected by natural disasters. This was the first time I have taught soldiers in active service, in an event organized by the State Commission of Human Rights. The course was realized with the intention of reducing PTSD in soldiers. In Mexico, almost 6,000 complaints were lodged at the national Human Rights Commission against violations committed by the army between 2007 and 2011, when the previous administration deployed soldiers to fight drug-related violence and organized crime. As a result, finding a way to reduce anxiety, aggression and stress levels in the military has become of special importance, as these factors have been shown to directly affect the behavior of soldiers in extreme conditions.
The act of going into a situation of conflict will naturally take an emotional and psychological toll on the individual. As I said in the event, you are soldiers, but first of all, you are humans. Humans are sensitive: We feel, we are affected by things. If we construct an artificial wall to prevent ourselves from being touched, there will be repercussions. Anything that is repressed will inevitably reemerge in some way or another.
A striking example of this is the suicide rate amongst returning soldiers that was recently announced in the U.S. What does the fact that more soldiers take their own lives than die in combat mean? It means that it is hard to live with oneself after going through war, and this can come as no surprise. The events of our past mark us all, and in these cases, the violence of war leaves a mark that is difficult to ignore. My proposal is that instead of ignoring it, soldiers learn to embrace their pain, to feel it, release it, and ultimately to reinvent themselves in every moment, without perpetually replaying the trauma of the past.
The system I teach takes the practitioner inward, to cultivate an ever-more permanent experience of what I call “love-consciousness.” Greater present moment awareness, objectivity and efficiency are some of the results of this experience, as well as deeper feelings of peace, contentment and compassion.
It may seem strange that as a teacher of peace, I work with soldiers. But I believe that peace on earth will come from peace within each human, and if the soldiers on our battlefields can begin to cultivate more peace, more compassion, maybe unnecessary violence will be reduced, and conflicts that are exacerbated by nervous reactions, high tension and mistrust could be resolved with less collateral damage.
I hope that war is not a necessary evil, at least not forever, but while there is war on this planet, let’s do our best to reduce the pain that it causes, on all sides.
Isha Judd is author of “Love Has Wings” and “Why Walk When You Can Fly?” published by New World Library. Her website is www.ishajudd.com