US Army Veteran Gerald Vest, accepting the Social Worker of the Year Award, 2012. Photo: Maria Bagwell
By Gerald Vest, US Army Veteran and retired Social Worker, Ft. Bliss Restoration & Resilience Center
Breathing may be one of our most important guides readily accessible and available to us every moment of our life. Tarthang Tulku Rimpoche, author, teacher and Founder of the Nyingma Institute, describes breathing as our most effective means for healing, interacting and supporting our whole being.
“Once we know how to contact the energy of breath, breathing becomes an infinite source of vitalizing energies.” Furthermore, he states: “…breathing charts the life rhythms, the way we breathe signals the disposition of our energies.”
It is for these reasons and because meditation has been a daily part of my life experience that I encourage all of our warriors and families to learn about their breathing patterns. I love to sit or work with Qigong/Kath State Exercises and observe my breathing while enjoying Nature’s relationship with us.
For example, every evening the Doves and other birds come for their early evening feeding, bath and strut around our back yard. They are very brave as are our four dogs who love to chase them from their territory. Cody, for example, our Shepherd, will take them out of the picture when their instincts are not focused. I realize that animals and Nature are not in competition, but rather possess an instinctual form of behavior that we all possess.
Wouldn’t it be great if our World Leaders would sit and observe their breathing prior to or during diplomacy and peace meetings? Opening our mind with our Breath offers us a real opportunity to engage and interact with others in order to find peaceful solutions to every problem as well as to discover the peaceful alternatives to war and conflict.
It is often hard to accept that All is Known; however, as we enter our mind with questions, challenges and concerns, our Mind discloses Truth and responds accordingly. An example of this knowing can be understood as we agree or disagree during our teaching-learning processes and experiences. As described in The Tarot, the Book of Life Experience, our knowledge, wisdom, love and truth are an unfolding process of ego and spiritual development of our whole being. The Minor cards show our ego development while the Major Arcana introduces us to our spiritual or essential qualities of maturation.
It is for these reasons and for our understanding that it is important to maintain a “continuum of awareness” of our senses, breath, pain, blocking, and flow of energies so that we can experience the Gestalt or Holistic presentation of life, Nature and our relationships.
We know that Nature or Mind has no judgment, as in the beliefs and rules established by our family and our society. Nature operates in a lawful and absolute Way—No Contradictions, only “collisions of energy” as described in particle science—All is in Total Interaction whether we are aware or not. It is only our Egos who are in conflict with Nature—the Self Preservation; Relations, and Adaptation Instincts respond to any dangers or insecurities as protective and supportive mechanisms. I suspect the greater the number of beliefs we hold, take us further away from the opportunity to be united with our True Nature and respond effectively or skillfully to symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
Therefore, observing our breathing and becoming aware and mindful allows us to restore our health and wellbeing and become closer to who we are while offering us Hope and an opportunity to fulfill our aspirations and destiny to be complete loving, responsible, compassionate and respectful Human Beings.
I dedicate this log to SSG Woody who served as our NCOIC in the Ft. Bliss Restoration & Resilience Center, leader of the Wolf Pack and retired a year ago from military following 20+ years of successful leadership and following several tours of duty in Iraq. Woody reportedly took his life on May 3, 2011. God Bless you Woody, my dear friend and comrade. I hold our politicians responsible for these deaths as they had other alternatives and chose not to follow their instincts and past experiences of Wars.
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As a former social worker for the premier US Army Warrior Restoration & Resilience Center (R & R Center), Ft. Bliss, TX, my responsibilities included meeting with soldiers and their families diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress (PTSd). I met with Warriors individually, in couples and in groups. Additionally, I served as the Coordinator of Health Education administering weekly programs, offered a daily meditation/relaxation program, and facilitated our weekly, water polo activity. Our experimental and experiential holistic approach for PTS recovery, incorporates integrative and medical practices–Medical Massage, Yoga, Reiki, Acupuncture, Tai Chi, Qigong, Braintrain & other neurological programs, and other therapies, such as, Expressive Arts, and Therapeutic Field Trips. (2008-2010)
In addition to my practice with soldiers, I created and often teach “Social Work Practice with Elders”), NMSU School of Social Work, founder and team leader of the international community of certified partners of the 15-Minute StressOut Program; Team Leader, Las Cruces, Health Promotion Team with Elders; and, Stress Management/Health Promotion Instructor, 3 hr. classes US Army Community Services, & Wm Beaumont Army Medical Center, Social Work Services, Ft. Bliss, TX (1981-2008).
Currently serve as TRICARE Provider, UNM Hospitals; an Integrative/Holistic Health Practitioner & Social Worker; Consultant-Trainier & Teacher; National & International Presenter; and, Co-Team Leader, SNM Integrative Health Services Alliance with Vets, Injured Warriors & Families, Las Cruces, NM 88005 (575)524.2379
Reprinted with permission from SelfGrowth.Com