Not long ago, I read that our average lifespan is 30,000 days. How many days have you already used up and how many might you have left?
Life is so precious. Each day is a blessing that holds a responsibility to express your special gifts into the world. What would your days be like if you weren’t bogged down by the past, reacting emotionally in the present, or anxious about the future? What if you could feel really at home and at peace in your skin, be in tune with the deepest desire for your life and express your best self in the world?
I work with combat veterans facilitating a guided meditative inquiry called Integrative Restoration (iRest Yoga Nidra). Research has shown this practice to be beneficial to veterans, as well as many others, in helping to alleviate burdens they harbor, some for many years. It’s a privilege to witness their healing.
While many veterans’ experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it is not considered a mental illness, but rather a natural reactive state of awareness. When in a dangerous situation, the rational part of our brain is spontaneously bypassed — shifting over into a high-alert mode — to the older amygdala brain where the fight or flight emotions are triggered.
While PTSD symptoms vary, in combat situations the vigilance switch is never turned off. For many returning veterans, this high-alert state is still largely present and can be suddenly re-triggered.
Everyday situations can trigger misperceptions and emotions for each of us. One doesn’t need to have experienced life-threatening situations to have a heightened emotional response.
Fear, anxiety and low self-worth might result following a job loss. A lost relationship may leave you feeling un-lovable, defeated or hopelessly alone. You might find yourself reacting to some type of phobia. The cause, story or memory behind your reaction can be long buried in your subconscious, yet your everyday experiences may be continually aroused by them.
Coming home to heal
It’s not our life circumstances that define us. Rather it’s our response to these circumstances. This realization becomes clearer as you begin to access a deeper “homeground” of presence or well-being. You come to realize this ground as independent of outside circumstances. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions are all movements rising, falling and passing through our awareness.
Interestingly, many Native American veterans are less likely to exhibit strong symptoms of PTSD when they return home. Where early native customs still prevail, their communities understand that, when you go into war, you are a different person when you come out. Purification and healing rituals are held for returning veterans to help them adjust and reintegrate back into their clan. War stories are shared and various lodge ceremonies are held.
As one VA psychologist recently stated, the issues of veterans, such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain, insomnia, chemical dependency, PTSD, and sadly suicide, represent a microcosm of society at large. Most of these are spiritual and social conditions. You don’t have to go away to war to suffer from these conditions. We all know people who have them.
The rest of our society could learn the value of reintegration and transition healing processes.
The military is beginning to acknowledge that it isn’t a weakness to ask for help. Unfortunately, most veterans were trained otherwise – and the rest of us are not far behind.
Psychologist Brene Brown in her book, “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead,” says that weakness is not having the ability to ENGAGE with your emotions. She stresses our need to ENGAGE with our emotions, rather than stuff them.
Our true nature awaits
Not one healing modality fits or works for everyone’s issues. We must each discover what resonates for us. I tend to be attracted to practices that involve the body/mind, such as hatha yoga, movement, and iRest meditation.
The military, though lax in the past, is finally coming around to expanding treatments for veterans. In addition to traditional drugs and psychological therapies, many facilities now include yoga, meditation, tai chi – even movement therapy.
At some level, we are all trying to find a way home to our true nature – that place within us were we feel whole and complete, where true peace and love reside. Our innocent child may seem long dead and gone. Taking his or her place may be guilt, anger or lack of self-worth. Yet, its fearless essence is still alive in that deeper place, waiting to be reunited with its wholeness where there is curiosity and openness to engage with life.
“You cannot find yourself by going into the past.
You find yourself by coming into the present.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
The work of healing is about coming back to wholeness which is independent of past and future. Have the courage to reflect on the obstacles that may be holding you back from manifesting all your best. Find the help or healing modality that’s right for you so you may become free to live your deepest desires.
Need a sounding board or want to join an iRest meditation class, give me a call at 847-359-6391, or check out my Courses page.