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Taking the wilderness work to veterans

After 10 years of offering wilderness retreat programs, and many more years teaching meditation, I’ve decided to expand this wonderful work to communities and people who are particularly in need. It’s motivated by sensing the preciousness of time and knowing of the incredible amount of pain carried by so many. But it’s also coming from seeing how nature is such an incredible resource and refuge especially when people are in states of overwhelm, trauma, and pain.

So many people go for refuge to the woods, parks, and ocean as a solace and balm for the inner and outer distress we carry. So what better use of this meditation work that I do in nature than to provide a setting for people who are, or who have been, under a lot of stress to learn the meditative skills and nature based mindfulness practices as a way of working with that pain.

In that light I’ve been meeting with Lee Lesser, a long time student from Green Gulch Zen Center who has co created an organization called Honoring the Path of the Warrior to specifically work with veterans. For the past few years, they have organized transformative wilderness retreats for vets from Iraq and Afghanistan and women’s meditation retreats for veterans.

I feel particularly moved to work with vets given the huge numbers returning from service abroad, and the high rates of PTSD, depression, and suicide, and the lack of resources to deal with some of those conditions.

This June we will be collaborating to teach a rafting retreat for veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the middle fork of the American River. We will be creating a safe community in which to explore the outdoors, learn about nature based meditations, and explore teachings, practices, poetry, and council.

Since this is a relatively new organization, Honoring the Path of the Warrior is still looking for funding to help support the retreats – particularly the rafting retreat in June. You can contribute by going to the website http://www.honoringthepath.org/

I’m excited and honored to be participating in this course and look forward to sharing with you how it unfolds.

Blessings,
Mark

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