Though I am no expert on the subject of meditation, through practicing and teaching Buddhist forms of it for over 25 years, coupled with the RSE experience, I'd like to share my thoughts.
While the style or technique being promoted as beneficial to USA soldiers may very well be the motivation for its use, there may also be reason for concern. The practice of concentrating the mind on one thing, be that the breath, an image or even a particular sense awareness (like listening to and following the sounds in music), is often used as the initial step to prepare for other forms of meditation. These basic forms of meditation are referred to by many terms both within and outside of religious practice, but essentially their motive is the same; to transform how the mind operates.
Buddhist theory teaches that there are but a few times that the mind is in a state that allows such transformation to take place. These states are claimed to occur at the time of death, during the transitory period between death and reincarnation, while dreaming and during deep meditation. At least by Buddhist theory, meditation is accepted to be a training practice for controlling or directing the mind during death, the transitory state after death and during dreaming. Beyond any religious practice then, it stands to reason that if the mind were held in any state of altered consciousness, even those induced through hypnosis, drug use, anoxia etc., it might be similarly receptive to transformation.
The common denominator in all of these altered states of consciousness is that there is a disassociation from the physical body, its senses and its emotions. In higher forms of meditation this transcendence is not the ultimate goal of meditation. Rather, it is generally accepted as the gateway to initiate a particular practice which alters the mind for a particular purpose. In religious traditions, these particular practices may include the use of 'tools' that help to guide the practitioner's mind and to keep the practitioner focused. They may include things like the use of dance, sounds, chanting, drumming or may be physical objects like pictures, icons, candles etc. Each tool carries with it a symbolic meaning to the practitioner and their mind settles upon it; as often that is the only familiar thing it easily perceives at the time. When the practitioner rises from such meditation, the 'tool' that was used may then serve as both a conscious and a subconscious reminder of the transformation that was the intent of the meditation.
Transformative meditation practices normally require preparation and training simply because one must understand how to guide the mind when the normal receiving and processing of information becomes distorted or is transcended. Without this preparation, one could end up more confused and delusional coming out of meditation than when they entered into it. It is worth mentioning that it seems that a trance state is not necessary for this confusion/delusion to happen. Repetition alone seems to be adequate to create the distortion because once the mind becomes familiar with a particular state of operation, that seems to be enough to eventually deliver the mind to be comfortable with it.
If only for the time being let us accept the theory that the mind in the meditative state is open to influence and to transformation.
Then if we consider cases where the preparation that meditation (especially higher forms/trance state) practices normally require are put aside, then we have to wonder who or what is going to do the influencing/directing of the mind in its transformation. Perhaps more importantly we should consider what the purpose of the transformation being made is, and is there knowledge and/or permission given from the one who will be subject to it?
The USA military may be promoting meditation as beneficial to its soldiers while in fact engaging in something with quite a different motive or purpose. Just like at RSE, few questioned what other inaudible sounds/messages may have been coming through on the music that was played in the arena. What did we actually hear while we were in a trance state induced through hyperventilation? How about while we were drunk and fatigued beyond normal consciousness? Was prolonged twilight an open door for information to be disseminated via peaceful music?
It makes me wonder what, other than music are these soldiers listening to and why? Will there be the need to 'deprogram' them at some point?
With practice, one can train the mind to operate the physical body in states that transcend what is accepted to be normal consciousness; with its sensations and emotions severely altered or transcended altogether. Imagine if the transcendence of the body-mind consciousness could be induced with little training. What would be the outcome if people like these monks were armed with modern weapons and then directed to act for military/political ends?
Could it be that a greater threat to humanity than weapons of mass destruction are the weapons of mass distraction?
Much love, unbound