The opportunity to be engaged in a mission that supports people like me, a veteran and military family member, all over the world is a distinct privilege. We often say that when one person in the family serves, the whole family serves. As an Army brat, a Marine Corps spouse (when he was still in uniform), an Army mom, and a veteran myself, I can affirm that each of those roles exacts its own measure of sacrifice and provides its own measure of joy and satisfaction.
I did not practice yoga when I was a child, or on active duty, nor when I was first married and my husband was still active, so I cannot speak to how yoga and meditation affected me in those roles. I can, however, speak to how they affect me as a military family member. My practice of yoga began when I was in counseling following a near-death experience during an ultramarathon. From my first class, I felt the healing potential in the practice. It took me five years after that initial class to begin my yoga teacher training, but when I did, it did not take me long to become a Warriors at Ease Teacher. During that period, two of my three children began their military training as cadets and are now in the Army as a Captain and a Second Lieutenant.
With Warriors at Ease in my life, an active yoga practice with teachers and practitioners who understand the military way, I have noticed that the worry family members can carry is more healthfully managed. Anxiety, as my counselor mentioned once, is part of the human condition. How we respond to it is what matters. Warriors at Ease classes are a tremendous resource for cultivating a mindset and a physical experience of capability, of ease, of the fullness of being in the present moment – not the past, not the future, but right here, right now. Those qualities are not just a tagline – health, resilience, connection – they are the real deal for Warriors at Ease.
Planning is one way a military family member is affected by their service member’s commitment. We’ve all heard the statements, “Plans are made to be changed” and “A plan is one way of knowing what won’t happen.” Household goods have been packed, picked up, and en route to the new location when orders are changed. Siblings have planned weddings around a military family member’s leave schedule only for the unit to be called up and leave canceled. These ripples into a family’s life only hint at the ways a family is affected by their service member’s duty.
Family members often are first in the line of protection, comfort, and care when an injury is sustained in service. Visible or invisible, wounds affect the brothers and sisters, the moms and dads, the aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends too. Family members are also significant in events such as promotion ceremonies, parades, and changes of command; moves to new places in the United States and beyond, with resulting changes in employment or schools for spouse and kids; and reconnecting with friends from old places in new places. This awareness of military culture undergirds the approach Warriors at Ease takes to teaching yoga and meditation that supports all who serve. We truly are on the journey together.
As service members and their families often have to, I had internalized how to press on, how to keep on keeping on. Unfortunately, I was so used to discomfort from putting my head down and driving on, I did not know how to recognize certain warning signs that day on the trail. Years later, yoga and in particular, Warriors at Ease yoga, helped me reconnect my mind’s awareness with my body’s status and capability so that I could make good decisions about how and how hard to train going forward. In fact, I typed the first draft of this post on an airplane on my way to the Grand Canyon where I hiked with my son, brother, and three others for three days. We were dialed in and ready for a great adventure. We modified our original plan because July is brutally hot in Arizona and we live at the beach in North Carolina. As yoga teaches us how to, we decided how to proceed without judgment or attachment and in so doing, we flourished in the adventure that arose.
Warriors at Ease offers support to the entire military family through in-person and remote classes and exists in the people who practice wherever they are — in a canyon, in a house, on a base, you name it. Come join us – and bring the family!