The Pentagon and peace: not two words you see in the same sentence too often. Wired‘s Katie Drummond goes inside the Pentagon’s Alt-Medicine mecca, where the generals meditate:
The general is surprisingly good at meditation. It’s not just the impeccable posture — that might be expected of a man long used to standing at attention. It’s his hands, which rest idly on his knees, and his combat boots, which remain planted firmly on the floor. Over the next several minutes, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Surgeon General of the Army, will keep his eyes closed and his face perfectly relaxed.
Few in this hotel conference room, where three dozen have assembled to mark the 10th anniversary of the Samueli Institute, a research organization specializing in alternative therapies, are able to match Schoomaker’s stillness.
Even as our first speaker implores that we “close [our] eyes … feel the chair, feel the air, feel the breath going in and out,” this motley crew of professors, bejeweled clairvoyants, military personnel and Einsteinian-haired futurists tap their toes, shuffle papers and ogle paper plates of fruit and croissants.
“Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you imagine you’re going, you’re actually only doing it right now, in this moment.” Our meditation guru for the day, Dr. Wayne Jonas, is not only a retired Army medical officer and former director of the holistic branch of the National Institute of Health. He’s also the leader of the organization we’ve met to celebrate.
Schoomaker is here because he has a health crisis on his hands. And he’s betting on guys like Jonas to help cope with it — despite the obvious institutional schisms between Schoomaker’s organization and this one.
The Pentagon is turning to alternative medicine to help alleviate the devastating symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder that afflict more than 250,000 military personnel; soothe the brain trauma that’s left thousands more with tremors, speech impediments and memory lapses; and assuage the chronic pain that lingers after grueling, repeat deployments.
The Samueli Institute might be the Pentagon’s best chance at making alt-medicine work. Or, at least, figuring out if it even stands a chance…
[continues at Wired]