Recently, we’ve seen a spate of long winded statements from yogis. Like this prayer from a yogalebrity, and this article in the unedited elephant journal. While we know their intentions are well meaning, here’s our advice:
1. Use fewer words. Omit purple prose that in its final distillation doesn’t mean much. Learn what to put in and what to leave out. Eliminate anything that detracts from your message by learning what to leave out.
2. Fact Check. Misspelling may seem a small thing, but it signals something bigger. When a writer repeatedly misspells the name of a well-known institution such as Camp Lejeune, it’s a sign they haven’t done their research. It looks like the writer has limited themselves to facts they already have at hand. Their credibility is gone with the very people they might want to win over.
3. Avoid assumptions or accusations. “Our returning veterans are largely unsupported by the military and the population at large..” The writer makes it sound like nobody cares. This isn’t the truth. While efforts are slow, and never enough, the writer gives no indication of any current efforts being implemented at present.
4. Don’t base everything you think you know on statistics alone, and don’t use those statistics as a billy club to make your point. Numbers are often mired in nuances not apparent on the first, second or even third glimpse. Make an effort to figure out how the system works. Pick up a phone and call someone to see what solutions are in place. Read studies such as The War Within: Suicide Prevention in the U.S. Military, or watch the presentation by General Chiarelli as he discusses findings in a Pentagon press briefing. What is going on now? What is proving to be successful? What isn’t?
It’s fair to criticize once you have a broader scope, much as they did in the recent policy brief, Losing The Battle: the Challenge of Military Suicides by Center For A New American Security. But keep in mind, as much as they criticized, they also made recommendations.
5. Don’t be pressed by a self imposed deadline. “It’s Veterans Day” mentality can lead to sloppy or non-existent research.
6. If you want to work with veterans and their families –relax. Any tension or desperation you carry can come off as demanding and screechy.
Jillian, Dave and I are in agreement that while we need to be cognizant of the tragic reality of the toll traumatic stress takes on individuals and families, we can build bridges by understanding what institutions are doing now to rectify the situation. PTSD isn’t going to be solved alone by any one group -not even the yoga community. It’s going to take partners who show respect for one another, even if they may seem very much opposite of one another. We can be tough, but we must always be mindful.