For Valentine’s Day, we asked movers and shakers in veterans’ service organizations:What’s LOVE?
“Love is, at its essence, a kind of capacity…
to be present for others.
to allow for our differences.
to endure difficulty.
to go beyond our self interest.
Love is the capacity to do all of this with an effortless grace that allows us fully and spontaneously embrace all that is.” –Eric Walrabenstein, Veteran, U.S. Army, Bootstrap Stress Management System
Eric Walrabenstein is a nationally-recognized expert in the fields of yoga and mind/body health and the founder of Yoga Pura, one of Arizona’s largest yoga centers. As a former infantry officer in the U.S. Army, he knows first-hand of the sacrifice and dedication the members of our armed forces make every day. His wide-ranging experience in the military and civilian sectors, combine with his profound understanding of yoga technology and mind/body health to make him uniquely equipped to help our troops and veterans end their struggle with chronic military-related stress conditions. In addition to his work with BOOTSTRAP and teaching at his Arizona center, he regularly travels the nation training yoga, meditation, and mind-body health teachers from around the world.
It’s good and healthy to see a yoga studio state this so plainly, and boldly. We don’t expect all studios or teachers to do this, but let’s just say that in addition to getting that extra training, signing up for Yoga For Vets, a sign on your window doesn’t hurt. Not comfortable? Wonder if it will scare your other clients away because it will test their comfort level? Think of this: veterans weren’t comfortable going into combat, and some aren’t very comfortable when they come home.
If you’re in Phoenix visitYoga Pura,founded and owned by an Army veteran. Hooah!
Jillian and I know there are people who think war is wrong, and that veterans are brain washed automatons. What they often think of military spouses can be just as bad. We shrug because that’s simply the state of their mind and we don’t let it get in our way. Once in awhile, we can spark a revelation, but by and large to try to do that 24/7 would be a colossal waste of time. We thrive in this teeter-totter-technicolor world.
We focus on helping others, though we can’t ignore how much baggage is delivered at the yoga doorstep by well meaning yoga-doers. Recently a call was put out by It’s All Yoga Baby to boycott Hyatt Hotels, which is in a contractual disagreement over union matters, work conditions, as well as the firing of housekeepers to subcontract them at a lesser rate. The reason for this ire is that Yoga Journal has contracted to have their annual conference at the San Francisco Hyatt.
Regardless of what has happened internally at Hyatt, Yoga Journal has decided not to back out of their contractual agreement and go ahead. Does this make Yoga Journal anti-union? Should we assume yoga-doers will be pro-union? Does this make either side good or bad? Should everyone quit hunting for cheap rooms at 4-star hotels online pitting one website against another? Should they pay full price instead so higher wages may be paid? Does this mean they shouldn’t stay at that cute non-union trendy boutique hotel because it might pay lower wages and have equally difficult conditions?
To us, the bigger question is: Do we really want to lay that baggage on the yoga doorstep? WarRetreat is here to help people with bags staggeringly weighted with traumatic experiences. We think it’s unfair to ask them to haul anything more than a request to stretch and breathe. And even with that –one has to go softly.
We choose to let two big corporations work that shit out. This doesn’t mean we don’t care: rather, we accept there are more sides to every story, that our actions lead to imbalance in ways seen and unseen, and not everything will be to our liking. If it were, we probably wouldn’t like it anyway. Traction is only gained when we are uncomfortable.
But what we like is the response of former Army Infantry Officer, now founder of Operation Bootstrap. He’s also a yoga teacher and studio owner in Phoenix. Walrabenstein (who was once called a great XO by one of his men) wrote this in rebuttal to the boycott Hyatt post on the yoga blog,“It’s All Yoga Baby.”
We’ve gone ahead and lifted it, which was shortly posted on his Facebook page. Walrabenstein shoots with clean barrel, and his intellectual gun is smokin’ hot. (Though we did smirk when he felt compelled to confirm his compassion for the disenfranchised for the It’s All Yoga Baby readers. At WarRetreat, we don’t check for passports).
Dear Yoga Friends,
Let me start out by saying that I do in fact care about the disenfranchised. I do work to see a more just and compassionate world. And if I were in charge of the Yoga Journal conference, I would very likely change venues in support of those who are seeking a fair shake from the global giant Hyatt.
And thus, I stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are voicing their disappointment in Yoga Journal for deciding to hold their conference at the San Francisco Hyatt.
But I do so in the name of this opinionated and imperfect character Eric Walrabenstein—not in the name of yoga. Certainly not.
To voice our outrage about Yoga Journal’s decision to on the basis of yoga—or their affiliation with it—is to, frankly, not understand the purpose, or practice, of yoga. And quite colossally so.
Here’s the thing:
-Yoga is not about standing up for what’s right, while going to war with what’s wrong. It’s about transcending right and wrong all together.
-Yoga is not about aligning ourselves with those who do good and against those who do not. It’s about being liberated from the self all together.
-Yoga is not about standing up and fixing the problems of the world. It’s about sitting down and seeing the innate perfection that has always already been.
This war against reality is the ego’s game, not yoga’s—and certainly not your truest self’s.
So, by all means stand up for the causes that you believe in: Rail against injustice, fight for the disenfranchised, champion the good and assault the bad. It is your right, and some would argue your responsibility, to make this world a better place in which to live.
But please don’t drag yoga into your war against God’s perfection.
Yoga is about creating unconditional stillness; yoga is about accessing the perfection of what is; yoga is about recognizing who you truly are—beyond the one filled with outrage and self-righteousness.
If you wish to truly do something in the name of yoga, sit, breathe, and smile.
Love & blessings… E
P.S. I have no doubt that this idea will ruffle a great many feathers; particularly those of the spiritualized, feel-good crowd who confuse temporarily satiated egos for some sort of spiritual progress. I understand. I get pissed at things too, whilst trying to remind myself that this too is part of the inherent perfection of what is.
Kanani’s note: ConsiderOperation Bootstrap, a thoughtful, well designed and proven effective program that was many years in the making. Operation Bootstrap helps veterans find stress reduction through yoga. Support it for the price of a cup of coffee.
An in-home, accessible to all stress reduction using yoga techniques is appealing to the nation to help get sent free of charge to any veteran who wants it. Bootstrap USA is the culmination of a mutli-year effort led Former US Army Infantry Officer Eric Walrabenstein. Walrabenstein worked with a team of veterans that included psychologists with the aim of producing no-pressure product that could be used in the privacy of a veteran’s home, at their own pace.
Walrabenstein and his team want to raise enough money to put the entire ten-week Bootstrap program online via a customized learning portal that will dispense lessons, provide expert coaching and assistance, as well as connect troops and veterans with resources and to one another in order foster a level of camaraderie missing since their days of service. The mind/body connection program can be used for an hour or less per day, and still show significant signs of stress reduction.
Bootstrap’s secret is a three stage Life Restore process. “Our goal is to engage users as active participants in their own healing,” he says, by fostering understanding about the workings of stress, while providing powerful techniques to interrupt it. By learning this, people become empowered to manage their wellness over the long haul.”
They’re asking for a $3 donation, as well as help to push the word out through social networks over the next 90 days. Bootstrap offers a variety of press releases and samples of tweets and posts to tell people about the program. To give $3, simply go to http://bootstrapusa.com/give.