Have you ever been lost while driving and without the appropriate map?
If you pull out an old map or use one from the wrong region, there is a chance that you will not find your way. Much in the same way, when someone goes to war and returns, the landscape has changed and it can seem as though you are lost. And if you are talking with someone who is operating with the right map, it can get frustrating because you are operating from different perspectives.
When we go through a powerful experience such as war, it is not unusual to develop mental and physical skills (a map of sorts) to navigate through that complex and difficult experience. And these skills become engrained, more so than in other experiences because of the gravity of the environment. Upon return, the tendency is to continue those engrained behaviors, to access an existing map but in what has become a different landscape. And as you can imagine, the map does not match the environment. And if the skills of land navigation are engrained, even unconscious, it can seem to be the only way to read a map, it might even hold us captive to it, not wanting to let go of it. We continue to get lost, to suffer wrong turns, often not even realizing it or not sure of an alternative.
To create a new map, to re-establish our bearings, may require an understanding first that it is happening and then realizing that there must be change in order to navigate the new surroundings and live fully in the new place. Constructing a new map does not mean we throw the old one out, just set it aside, adjusting to the changes. This program focuses on the physical, mental, and emotional skills that might need adjustment in order to allow us to successfully re-integrate. We suggest an approach to recognizing the change, making meaning of the ways we can be captive to old maps, reframing behaviors and creating new maps, capable to seeing the colors of the landscape, navigating life after war. Through a series of gatherings, we will work on the mental, emotional and physical re-mapping through exercise intended to get grounded, and conversation designed to re-frame assumptions so that they match the new landscape, and to recover from emotional injury.
Our program supports veterans’ transition home using collaborative discussions, yoga and peer-counseling.