Life changes. We closed the door on our private surgery practice in Los Angeles County, so my husband could continue on his path as a surgeon for the U.S. Army. When we did so, I knew I wanted to focus on the aftermath of war. Hence, this blog has been three years, and two deployments in the making.
During our 20+ years in medicine, we had the privilege of working with many veterans –from WWII to the present day wars. It wasn’t lost on anyone in our office what a profound impact war had on many of our patients –even 50 years after they had come back.
War grips the body, tightens the muscles, and sends an unending profusion of related and non related thoughts through our minds. This manifestation in the body affects us in ways both physical and emotional. Sometimes the way people deal with it can be destructive, while others find safer alternatives that help soothe mind, body and spirit. Not every person who comes home develops PTSD, but everyone develops a sense of urgency to help those who do.
Yoga –even without wanting to know or care about the 8 Limbs, Chakras, Sanskrit, Yamas and Niyamas, can be incredibly relaxing. And frankly, that’s not what we cover here on WarRetreat. For us, yoga can be a stolen hour (or even a moment) to focus on one’s breath; and a chance to check in and be present. I know this firsthand. During my husband’s first deployment, whenever I heard his unit got bombed, I’d run to the yoga studio. Fortunately, I had extraordinarily understanding yoga teachers who took care of me. No one ever forced their beliefs on me, and they let me know –my practice was about me and nobody else. Instead of feeling weighed down, I got through that deployment feeling grateful for all the small things. War still loomed, but I was able to take in patches of beauty.
I will never know what it’s like to watch a brother or sister-in-arms die in combat, to feel as though the next step taken might result in an explosion, or the smells and loudness of war. I will never know what it’s like to arrive at the scene of a natural disaster and find the city wiped out, and its inhabitants helpless. What I do know is what it’s like to watch your loved one go off to war, to raise kids alone, and jump at late night phone calls. What I can offer to my military family and the war community is a safe place on a yoga mat. It seems like a small offering, but here on this blog, they will always be safe, honored, and respected.
To the yoga community –there is more overlap than you think. I hope you will learn more about the military community, what holds us together, and the strong bond we share.