Many veterans can identify with the often chaotic and unpredictable lifestyle that comes with military service. Whether getting ready for an upcoming mission or deployment, navigating the day-to-day high operational tempo, or simply trying to cultivate a better work/life balance.
Military life comes with its challenges, and veterans may continue to carry mental and physical stressors that are calling for reconciliation after military service. However, they may not be familiar with all the resources available to them to support their experience.
Our intention with this post is twofold. First, to help increase understanding of the challenges veterans, service members, and their families often experience. Second, to provide effective, free resources that can be used starting today, by anyone who may need them.
Exploring The Challenges Veterans Can Face
Some of the unique challenges veterans face after leaving military service include:
- Finding a new sense of purpose
- Feeling connection in a new and unfamiliar community
- Taking the time needed for reflection and reconciliation of all they’ve experienced along their journey
While serving, purpose was generally driven by what the mission dictated, with each service member having their own professional contribution as a part of a team supporting an overarching mission. There were deadlines to meet, places to be, and specific uniforms to wear.
Upon leaving service, there’s no longer anyone telling them what to do, where to be, or what to wear. While this can create a sense of freedom, at the same time, it may also lead to anxiety for some. A sense of normal routine is no longer present. Establishing connections in new and unfamiliar settings takes time and patience. It requires understanding the different languages in professional settings, and accepting that experiences are going to be different.
At no fault of their own, it can be challenging for someone who hasn’t served to understand the experience of someone who has. This can make community connection even more challenging.
There’s also often an underlying need for a veteran to reflect on and reconcile all they experienced. If left unacknowledged and without resolution, those experiences may affect their sense of inner peace and wellbeing moving forward.
How Practicing iRest Meditation Can Help
One of the reasons iRest Meditation is so helpful for reflection and reconciliation is because it’s a practice of bringing our fragmented parts back into wholeness. It creates the experience of feeling connected to yourself again, to other people, and to life as a meaningful experience. Using a whole-person approach, overall wellbeing is improved through a focus on physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. This fosters healing and resilience.
By working with physical, emotional, and mental challenges, iRest Meditation makes it possible to navigate and integrate past experiences for profound recovery. It also offers people effective skills for coping with whatever is arising for them. This may help veterans foster a sense of ease and calm as they navigate life’s transitions and challenges.
The practice enables a person to feel safe when they are safe because iRest Meditation also activates the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s integrative in that it heals unresolved beliefs, issues, traumas, and wounds present in the body and mind. It’s restorative in that it aids the body and mind to return to a natural state of functioning.
iRest Meditation can help veterans realize and set intentions for a new path forward, and to reconnect and rediscover their sense of purpose and meaning in life. Whether you’re currently serving, a veteran, military family member or a professional working with the military, iRest Meditation helps you address the unique challenges you face.
Free Resources for Veterans, Active Military, Family, and Friends
The resources below can be used for daily support to reduce anxiety and stress, and foster calm and connection.
We encourage anyone currently serving in the military to use these resources as a preventative measure and regular aid for navigating your experience.
- Download the Veterans Affairs Mindfulness Coach App containing 42 iRest meditations
- Bookmark our meditation library and choose a theme that resonates
- Enjoy our free meditation course and share it with family and friends who’ll also benefit
- Join us for Meditation & Conversation - our monthly live online community sessions
We all deserve access to knowledge, practices, and community that can support us through inner challenges, enable healing, and reestablish a sense of inner calm and connectedness. Please share these resources with anyone who may benefit.
Find A Military-Informed iRest Class Or Program Near You
You may be best supported by joining an iRest class or program taught by skillful trainers, specifically designed to assist those currently serving and veterans.
iRest is currently being taught and shared in several military and veteran settings around the world.
- Warriors at Ease
- Exalted Warrior Foundation
- Warrior Wellness
- Veterans Health Administration’s Whole Health Program
- Deployment and Reintegration Yellow Ribbon Programs
- On military installations, within military medical treatment facilities across the U.S., and overseas, and throughout the Veterans Health Administration Military medical treatment facilities. View the list of worldwide military and veteran centers including the Australian Defence Force and Canadian and British Armed Forces
If you'd like to learn more about how iRest can help military and veteran communities, please email iRest Institute's Head of Military and Veteran Programs, Kerryn Story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2006, research has been conducted on the efficacy of iRest for helping service members manage PTSI symptoms. Since this hallmark study, numerous service members, their families, and veterans have benefited from practicing iRest.
Sullivan, M., Lopez, S., Nault, D., Moonaz, S., & Miller, R. (2021). Yoga meditation for active duty military members with posts-traumatic stress disorder: Results and discussion of a landmark initial study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 27(6), 522- 524.
Nassif, T., Chapman, J., Sandbrink, F., Norris, D., Soltes, K., Reinhard, M., & Blackman, M. (2016). Mindfulness meditation and chronic pain management in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with traumatic brain injury: A pilot study. Military Behavioral Health, 4(1), 82-89.
Stankovic, L. (2011). Transforming trauma: a qualitative feasibility study of integrative restoration (iRest) yoga Nidra on combat related post-traumatic stress disorder. International journal of yoga therapy, 21(1), 23-37.
Nassif, T.H., Norris, D.O., Soltes, K.L., Blackman, M.R., Chapman, J.C., Sandbrink, F. (2014). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Mindfulness Meditation (iRest) for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain in U.S. Veterans Using the Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale. Washington D.C. VA Medical Center (poster presentation).
Pence, P., Katz, L., Huffman, C., & Cojucar, G. (2014). Delivering integrative restoration-yoga nidra meditation (iRest®) to women with sexual trauma at a veteran's medical center: a pilot study. International journal of yoga therapy, 24(1), 53-62.