23 veterans, many of whom didn’t know each other, came together for a weekend in which they could get away, learn some tools to manage their stress, anger, and anxiety, maybe enjoy some much needed downtime. The Feathered Pipe has a way of forcing you to slow down, breathe, and simply acknowledge or appreciate the moment. These men and women each have their own stories, their own reasons for coming that weekend. The best part is they all showed up.
The transition from military to civilian life can be a tough one. Where you were once part of something filled with purpose, you very quickly find yourself in a world where the word camaraderie is only heard in movies, and brotherhood is something you only read about. On the first night of the retreat, one veteran looked around and said, “There are people here like me.” On the second night, another veteran said, “There are people here who understand; I don’t have to explain anything to them.” On the last night, one said, “This is the first time in a long time that I have hope.”
What I witnessed that weekend was men and women, spanning over 40 years of service, realizing, some for the first time, that they are not alone. The work of Veterans Yoga Project is meaningful, important work, and don’t for a second think it isn’t. I know what this Project has done for me personally. To be able to share this with others brings back that sense of purpose, fills the void left behind by the military.
When asked what the word yoga means, you may get a myriad of answers. Some spend their entire lives searching for the truth, never fully understanding the meaning of “union”. The connection and transformation these veterans made over the course of the weekend was nothing short of beautiful. They defined the word union. That weekend was yoga in action, and to be present for that is beyond words.