Aikido: A Martial Art With Mindfulness, Somatic, Relational, and Spiritual Benefits for Veterans

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Aikido is a martial art that originated in Japan and incorporates meditation and breathing techniques from Zen Buddhism. Like all martial arts, it requires mindful concentration and physical exertion. In addition, it is a compassion practice that also provides a spiritual perspective and includes social touch. These components make Aikido a unique form of mindfulness that has the potential to be particularly appealing to veterans coming from a Warrior Ethos tradition who are used to rigorous somatic training. Mindfulness practices have shown efficacy with veterans, and the self-compassion, spiritual, and social touch dimensions of Aikido also offer benefits for this population, many of whom are struggling with these issues. Several pilot Aikido programs with veterans that show promise are described.

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