Many trauma-informed, evidence-based therapeutic interventions for PTSD have high drop-out rates and may not appeal to some Veterans, so there is a need for alternative methods for symptom relief. A technique to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia that is practical, simple, portable and easy to learn would be ideal. Dr. Jill Bormann and colleagues have developed a complementary, mind-body-spiritual intervention for symptom management and wellbeing—the Mantram Repetition Program (MRP) that has been shown to help Veterans and others. Mantram comes from the work of Sri Eknath Easwaran, a teacher of meditation who studied ancient wisdom traditions and translated them into practices that appeal to everyone. The word “mantram” differs from “mantra” because it is defined as sacred and is believed to have divine power. In, contrast, the word “mantra” as used in modern society refers to any secular self-created phrase, affirmation, motto, or slogan that is repeated. Research has shown that the silent and frequent repetition of a mantram has a positive effect on the one who repeats it.
The Mantram Repetition Program is an educational, skills-training intervention that has three parts: 1) choosing and using a mantram, 2) slowing down thoughts and behaviors, and 3) developing one-pointed attention (mono-tasking) for symptom and stress management. These tools are intended to work with other treatments, including meditation, to help a person decrease reactivity to stressful situations. The practice of mantram repetition is something individuals can do literally “on the run” because it does not require eyes closed, any particular position, nor any particular time or place. It is a “portable stress buster.”
Another advantage of the Mantram Program is that it encourages the unique contribution of spirituality for wellbeing, which is often an overlooked resource in our complex healthcare system. The program is also less costly than other comparable programs for PTSD and has few, if any, side effects. It has been delivered in various groups including homeless women for insomnia, healthcare providers across disciplines, and Veterans with PTSD. The program can be taught in person (individually or in groups) or online using self-learning modules or via large webinars. (See: https://psycharmor.org/courses/mantram/)
MRP has been well received by Veterans.
“When I get really angry, when I feel I need to do something stupid, that could get me in trouble, I use the mantram… And I get to a safe point to where I can function. It calms me down…” –Vietnam Veteran
“This is another tool in my arsenal to fight the demons in my head. It works very well for sleep.” –Iraq Veteran
“Sleeping was easy. Being awake was hard. The mantram brings me back to where I am right now.” –Iraq Veteran