Flowers are often associated with deep religious and spiritual meanings for many because they rise from dirt and only show their beauty for a brief amount of time each year. The Lotus Flower is no different. Thriving in the mud and the muck, The Lotus often envokes a sense of purity as it arises from the flower’s growing habit of rooting in mud and pushing up through running water into full bloom. The deeper and thicker the mud, the more beautiful the blossom.
In July, a group of female veterans from across the country gathered together just outside of Pittsburgh, in the rolling green hills of Pennsylvania, for a week-long retreat with The Warrior Connection. Several generations of veterans were represented, from the Cold War, Gulf War, through the Global War on Terror, all connected by the emotional trauma and moral injury that they experienced as a result of their service. Through the week and with the use of expressive arts, a mindful presence, and shared experience, a light began to emerge and shine a little brighter from within each of these brave women who found the courage to say three difficult words - I need help. That is what brought each of them to The Warrior Connection.
A highlight of the retreat included the intentional inclusion of play in the program curriculum, manifesting in the form of a late-afternoon soccer match brimming with sweat and laughter in the hot summer sun. Additionally, music and dance were prominently featured as mediums through which these veterans were empowered to share their powerful stories with one another, specifically in the creation of their New Chapter - the NEW vision for their lives as they prepare to return home with new tools and resources, provided by our program. One of which is most notably HOPE - hope for their now brighter future.
The cultivation of joy was also highlighted as a key tool for these women to rely on regularly, a thread tying all Six Pillars of Well-Being (physical, mental, relationships, career, finances, and spirituality) together through the newly-formed community of The Lotus Warriors tribe. Each woman left the retreat with a collective pledge to bring the joyous effort to their ongoing paths of forgiveness, gratitude, generosity, and hope - Lotus Flowers in full bloom.