The annual remembrance of September 11th, 2001 evokes a lot of emotions in me, many of which have changed over the last few years.
In 2011, I wrote an account of where I was when it all went down in 2001, and how I felt that the “Tumbling Towers Built America’s Next Greatest Generation.” But I’m not sure I’d write about it the same way today as I did even just 5 years ago.
How about you? Do you feel the same way about it now as you did a few years ago or the very day it happened? How have your thoughts and feelings changed? Have the US wars abroad affected your opinion at all?
For most of the last decade plus, when the calendar hit 9/11, my heart swelled with pride that I was part of a microcosm of my generation who volunteered to serve during a time of war. Five years ago, when my business wasn’t a business yet but merely a blog, I shared a letter from my father whereby he berated my choice to join the Marines as a juxtaposition to the honor I felt at having joined. The irony of his letter is that he wrote to his youngest daughter, a college junior in Air Force ROTC, exactly one week before September 11th, 2001, and probably had no idea the weight it would carry as history rolled forward. He told me he’d never support my decision to join the Marines, should I choose to do so, but at least I’d never have to fight in a war.
Although my father, with whom I was very close, said, “I will never say I agree with you becoming a Marine,” I never doubted my decision to join the Corps. Although every conceivable obstacle my father listed in his letter – or I imagined possible (and ones I never knew existed) – were ones I faced during my seven-year career, I do not regret becoming a Marine. Although I experienced rape, traumatic brain injuries, sickness, stressful deployments, although I suffered a mini-stroke a year after leaving the military (one the doctors ascribed to extreme stress from the previous decade), although friends died and more seemed to be irrevocably changed, and although, now I ascribe to and do my best to live out ahimsa (non-violence & compassion), I am still proud of having served in our nation’s military. Although my lifestyle has changed significantly in the last 15 years, I look back on those years of training and Active Duty service with fondness while recognizing I exercise agency in making new choices as I evolve.
So, now in 2016, 9/11 reminds me of service in a broader sense and it encourages me to stick with yoga.
Yoga continues to save my life.
Yoga makes my life, my relationships, my business, my health better.
If not for my time in the military, I may not have ever pursued yoga to the degree I do now. Yes, I was literally brought to my knees and knocking on death’s door while on my second deployment to Iraq, but my faith, my friends, and yoga picked me up.
Therefore, I have dedicated my life to sharing this healing art, coupled with faith, with as many people as possible.
I will continue to teach FREE yoga classes at VFW Post-1 every week in Denver…
I will participate in events like the Service Member to Civilian Summit in AL this fall because people attending and presenting are on a mission to more effectively equip veterans as they transition into civilian life…
I will share not just the personal healing yoga has gifted me, but the scientific proof many westerners are hungry for…
The neurological evidence that mindfulness therapies rewire our brains for the better….
The longitudinal studies bursting forth from some of our country’s most esteemed educational institutions outlining how yoga and meditation make everything in our lives better…
CHANGE YOUR BREATH, CHANGE YOUR BRAIN
Meditation affects the rhthyms in the brain, effectively acting as the “volume knob” in regards to your attention. As you are better able to affect that “knob,” you are often then better able to regulate pain and negative emotions. Brown University recently published a study – as countless highly respected educational institutions are now doing across the country and the world – showing that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) helps with the brain’s ability to process and filter sensory inputs as well as cognition and memory, therefore showing its power both for stress reduction and improving every day functions.
The brain scan evidence from magnetoencephalography techniques showed that participants who had undergone MBSR had significantly faster neuronal response times than those in the control group (who did not undergo MBSR training), as reflected by concentration of alpha power.
“Alpha power” sounds sci-fi, but this is the real deal. People who deal with chronic pain often struggle with ignoring irrelevant pain stimuli on a daily basis. MBSR helps with this as well as producing positive emotional benefits.
Sounds like a real-world, win-win to me.
So why don’t you give yoga, meditation, or simple breath-work a try even if you don’t suffer with chronic pain or haven’t experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury?
On this potentially dark day, please choose be a light to others. Peace and Namaste, my friends.
Are you a post-9/11 Veteran living within 375 miles of Charleston South Carolina? You can join us Nov 11-13th, 2016 for a RESILIENT LEADERSHIP RETREAT