PICKERINGTON — As a military veteran, Marc Goldman knows what it means to be stressed. He also knows what it takes to find the “right tool for the right job” when it comes to that stress.
He’s currently in recovery for a drug and alcohol addiction. One way he’s found to focus his thoughts is “active meditation,” like the yoga program offered by Operation Meraki this past Thursday.
The non-profit organization’s Reset is a wellness program that focuses on the health and well-being of military veterans and their families. Serving veterans throughout Ohio, Operation Meraki offers several classes and groups to assist veterans in their return to civilian life.
Operation Meraki founder Michael Thomas explained Reset will connect veterans to the tools they can use to address trauma and anxiety.
“These programs are not trauma care, but modalities to allow veterans to explore what they can help them work through trauma and anxiety caused by their time serving in the military,” he said. “We want them to have a space to try these measures out, and to get engaged. Tonight’s yoga session is a presentation of what can be offered.”
“That’s the point of Operation Meraki, to be a catalyst in their treatment measures.”
This avenue of trauma informed care, which allows the ‘patient’ to decide what direction to address their need, is one that Thomas himself experienced.
“Meditation helped me, which this yoga will offer for people. It gave me the ability to process the world. It didn’t automatically fix everything, but it allowed me better control of my life, especially in public, when I didn’t realize I wasn’t in control,” he said. “That’s something veterans have to deal with: they can’t shed the trauma they’ve experienced, and they can feel wrapped up. Meditation allowed me to relax, and cope with my social anxiety.”
“It grounded me. That’s what we want for veterans, to help them operate in the world. The stigma around veterans with (post-traumatic stress disorder) is they’re broken so they get thrown away. These modalities offer vets a way back into society.”
The yoga session lasted one hour, guided by Elizabeth Wood, a certified iRest teacher with Kula Yoga and Wellness in Pickerington.
iRest is a meditation practice, based on the ancient tradition of Yoga Nidra, adapted to suit “the conditions of modern life.” Wood said she teaches in several locations where trauma is present.
Goldman said he’s found yoga to be helpful to focus his meditations because he’s active, which keeps his attention on breathing and being mindful of what he’s doing.
“I served in the US Army for seven years, and sought treatment for my drug and alcohol addiction. The (Office of Veterans Affairs) has offered yoga to help teach breathing techniques, which is one place I’ve used it,” he said. “I find that going through the poses helps me focus because it’s calming, and guided sessions work better for me than recordings, because it feels more real.”
“I’ve learned you need an assortment of methods to help you. For me, sometimes it’s yoga, and sometimes it’s riding a motorcycle: having that noise that’s too loud to think helps. But you just need to get the tools to have the right way to help on the right days.”
Goldman and Thomas had connected during another Operation Meraki program. Goldman said he’s found there are a lot of overlapping veterans programs, so you’ll run into people you’ve worked with before.
“I knew Mike, had worked with him before. I also like helping other veterans, because you never know what the turnout will be like, so I go with an open mind,” Goldman said. “I know that yoga has helped me in the past, and I want to make sure other vets have the same opportunity to meet their needs.”
“I never come away worse than when I started, so to me, it’s better to go, even if it’s the hardest thing to get through the front door.”
Thomas said the yoga program will be offered once a month to start, with sessions led by teachers from Kula’s studio.
“And depending on popularity, we may offer it twice a month. We want veterans to get active and stay healthy, which is Reset’s focus. We’re planning on starting programming to help veterans get eating healthier, and staying active,” he said. “We want them to get help to find healthier elements that will work for them.”
He said any veterans with questions can visit the organization’s website, https://www.facebook.com/operationmeraki/, or check out their Facebook page for more information.
This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Local veterans non-profit offers meditation to help combat trauma