Guided meditation heals veterans, people alike

Jun 2, 2018

Photos and letters thanking veterans hung from bushes, trees, and vines at Friends Academy’s meditation grove, prompting numerous walkers to stop and take in the scene on June 2.

“Dear Dadda, thank you for serving our country. I am so glad you served our country,” one of the notes read.

The Encompass Community at Friends Academy hosted the exhibit to end the Zeiterion Theater’s Veterans Experience program. The six-month series of events spotlighted soldiers’ stories.

For Tom Voss, an Iraq War vet who led the group in guided meditation, his story came in the form of a movie which followed his and another veteran's journey from Wisconsin to California. The two reflected on the experiences they faced overseas and at home.

Now Voss and the film’s producer take viewers of the film out in nature after they've seen the movie. For Voss, it is a way of healing a moral injury, or an injury of one's soul.

“Nature and immersing yourself in nature has many healing qualities and it’s one of the things I really attribute to my own healing,” Voss said.

During the mile-long walk and meditation, visitors allowed nature to slow them down, breathe, and relax as with a stroll through a Friends Academy trail.

Voss led an alternate nostril breathing exercise in the meditation grove after the walk. Participants took a deep inhale through the right nostril and a long exhale through the left, focusing on breathing and letting their bodies sink. The exercise, as Voss explained, has a calming effect on the brain's two hemispheres and the nervous system. It was just one of many Voss began after coming home from war.

The film was picked and he lead the walk because of his experience dealing with his pain through the use of nature.

His story was hopeful and gave people a way to process what they were going through, said Rosemary Gill, the executive director of programming and development at the theater.

“Our aim was two-fold, to both highlight their experiences and draw attention, recognition, and respect, as well as engage and educate the greater public about what it means to serve our country,” Gill said.