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In April 2024 the Magnolia Zen Center hosted a 5-day Veterans Retreat. This was an opportunity for military veterans and their loved ones to address the unique personal challenges they face as a result of their service. Participants learned practical tools and insights to help them navigate post-service life and find peace with their un-peacefulness.

Here are some short reflections from some of the participants!

Reflections Veterans Retreat April 2024:

Easy/Nice Aspect: The camaraderie among fellow veterans was heartwarming. Connecting with others who understood the unique challenges we face was both comforting and uplifting. 
Hard/Difficult Aspect: The emotional vulnerability required during group sessions was challenging. Opening up about personal struggles and traumas was tough, it certainly riled up my emotions.
– Female Air Force Veteran, 1998-2021

One thing that was easy and nice was living in the homes for the week. Seeing how this lifestyle will fit into your own home was so cool. I didn’t feel so out of the ordinary, like in some sort of dormitory, temple or yurt. The normalcy was the floor holding me as I ventured into ways of living I never had before. 
It’s really hard to think of something difficult during my week. Everything that was hard (and there were only a couple) was where my big lessons were learned. I guess my answer shows I really wouldn’t change a thing. My transition back has been nothing short of magical. I feel like instead of striving to be someone new, I am more in my true self than I have EVER in my life been. I love you all, and as John nudged me toward you, I am ecstatic to have a tool to share that will save families and lives. All starting with a book to check out. 
– Male Army Veteran, 2000-2005

As always it was my privilege to attend the 2024 Zaltho Veterans Retreat. Pro: the size of the group was very manageable, menu for all meals was excellent, all facilities are wonderful and being able to attend with fellow veterans in a unique experience at Zaltho!! Con: I would have liked another day or two of retreat.Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity at the Magnolia Zen Center.
– Male Army Veteran, 1982-2016

The highlight of the retreat for me was the silent meditation and how it was incorporated into every activity. I also enjoyed the writing meditation and the question-and-response sessions. The writing meditation triggered a lot of feelings and helped me to look deeper into myself. It was very enlightening. The question-and-response sessions were interesting and helpful. It gave me a better understanding of the Buddhist Practice and answered plenty of my unanswered questions. Overall, the retreat was absolutely wonderful, and I enjoyed and benefited from every moment. 
Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend such an enlightening and joyful and life-changing retreat. 
– Female Army Veteran, 1984-2017

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insight of the human spirit. AnShin has parallels with other veterans and those who are willing to look inside themselves, he is a trusted compass to peace. Thank you to all who we had the privilege to meet.
– Male Veteran, 2001-2010

There were so many takeaways from the retreat and some new self-care tools. I am now very aware that there is an opportunity for meditation in everything! Our eating habits have changed – how I prepare our meals, eating in silence, and be mindful of how I chew my food, aiding digestion. 
I came home with a new outlook on life and a renewed self-value, finding some balance as a wife and caregiver. The letting go or “funeral” portion of the retreat allowed me to release a childhood trauma that affected more than four decades of my life. Lastly, the moments that were just for me. Like playing with your beautiful cats and sharing ways to keep them healthy longer. And the last day, allowing me to make your bowl sing! I did not know what to expect going into the week, but by the end, I felt at peace. I believe this retreat offers what so many veteran retreats do not – a very safe place to share, accept, and let go without judgment or exploitation. I would love to attend another retreat. 
– Wife of an Army Veteran

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