By Pamela Stokes Eggleston, Meditation Teacher
for the Veterans Collection on Meditationstudioapp.com
Meditation has significant, transformative healing benefits. The practice can help the practitioner fully connect to body, mind and spirit. But how is meditation accepted within the military and veteran communities? Studies show that meditation helps veterans find peace through decreasing sympathetic activity (fight-flight-freeze) reactions and increasing parasympathetic activity (rest and digest). Veterans are empowered to find a safe space and peace within. Those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can especially benefit from the profound practices of mindfulness and meditation.
However, not all veterans suffer from PTSD. The belief that all veterans return home ready to snap at any given moment is completely false. In fact, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans suffer from PTSD, many dealing with chronic pain, nightmares, hyper vigilance and insomnia. The VA is slow to fully accept the advantages of meditation and mindfulness, but it’s coming as the scientific studies are steadily demonstrating undeniable benefits.
Indeed, meditation is a therapeutic modality. While not a cure, it can certainly help mitigate the symptoms of PTSD with regular practice. It helps to rewire the brain and recover from combat stress. It creates neuroplasticity – the ability to change neural pathways in the brain. And it quiets the mind and calms the spirit. Accordingly, it’s considered a viable complementary and alternative practice to other forms of therapy and prescription drugs.
Using the principles of mindfulness, we can practice loving-kindness, open our hearts to true understanding and individual needs, and look at meditation in its myriad forms to guide the work that so desperately needs to be done within the veteran and military communities. The more meditation and mindfulness instructors can offer this from a place of authenticity, the more widespread meditation will become.
We offer up these complimentary meditations for Veterans, Families of Veterans and to those continuing to serve in the Military.
Compassion meditation for veterans and their families from Pamela Stokes Eggleston:
Mindfulness for Trauma meditation, from Suzanne Manafort:
Access more resources : listen to guided meditations for military families and caregivers.
MILITARY FAMILIES: A POPULATION OFTEN OVERLOOKED
It’s well-known that the trauma of war has a strong impact on our service members. But we often forget that the reality and aftermath of combat and deployment impact military families as a whole – and that yoga and meditation can serve as valuable tools as support.
It’s impossible to completely prepare for the realities of war, or for what occurs at home. After combat, a new set of challenges arrive for veterans and their families. Lives rearrange in order to support those returning from service. The focus of family undergoes a necessary shift to tend to the physical injuries and disabilities, psychological and emotional scars.
We are dedicated to serving both veterans and service members, and their caregivers and family members, with tools for finding strength, resilience and a calm body and mind.
Developed for Military Families
These guided meditations led by Mindful Yoga Therapy ambassador Pamela Stokes Eggleston were designed for military spouses, military and veteran caregivers, and military children. Originally recorded and available on Meditation Studio App (App Store or Google Play). There are over 20 different meditations available in the Meditation Studio Veterans Collection. Download the app.
Pamela Stokes Eggleston has practiced yoga for 15 years and completed specialized training to include certifications in plant-based nutrition, stress management, prenatal yoga and MYT training to work with service members and veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and combat stress.
Through Yoga2Sleep partnerships and strategic alliances, she works with the VA and Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans.
More from Pamela Eggleston Stokes: listen to guided meditations for veterans and military.
Join us in bringing Yoga Readiness Kits to 10,000 service members
This Memorial Day, Give Back Yoga is deeply honored to introduce a new campaign that aims to bring Yoga Readiness Kits to 10,000 active duty service members. Today, we invite you to honor the memory of a loved one who served by making a donation to help bring a free yoga kit to an active duty service member. Through this gift, you can help others in the military community to access a tool for healing from the traumas of deployment.
A gift of inner peace and resilience, when they need it most.
From our inception, one of Give Back Yoga’s primary focuses has been sharing yoga with veterans. The Yoga Readiness Initiative builds upon this work, broadening our focus to reach active duty military personnel and their families. This gift is extended in a spirit of gratitude for those who serve – offering tools that can help service men and women connect with strength, calm and inner peace when it’s time to be “at ease.”
Each Yoga Readiness Kit contains:
- Mat & Props: For a yogi, the mat is home base – a place to return to for grounding, clarity and peace. Through the support of corporate sponsor Gaiam, each Yoga Readiness Kit contains a mat, block and strap to support a service member in exploring a personal practice.
- Practice Guides: Practice guides offer valuable step-by-step instruction for asana and meditation, as well as the context of each practice and why it works. Yoga Readiness Kits include a Mindful Yoga Therapy practice guide and Yoga for Warriors book, along with a Connected Warriors resource guide.
- Digital Resources: Digital resources can be used at nearly any time, in any place. As part of each Yoga Readiness Kit, service members can access free downloads of breath work practices and guided meditations, while connecting with other service members who are exploring the gifts of yoga.
With your help, we want to reach 100,000 service members with these Yoga Readiness Kits. For every $75 donation, we can send a kit to a man or woman who is actively serving. Will you sponsor a service member today?
Image courtesy of: Robert Sturman
The Yoga Readiness Initiative is made possible through the generous and loving support of corporate partners, service organizations and volunteers; including Gaiam, the Give Back Yoga Foundation, Connected Warriors, Mindful Yoga Therapy and Sounds True.