One hundred and fourteen Thursdays ago I wrote THIS my first Art of Peace, Blog Post.
My idea was simple. Since I studied the Art of War before I went to war I studied the Art of Peace at home.
Here are the most popular posts.
Negative Ghost Rider the Pattern in Full
Shoulder and Neck Pain
Taming the Hyper Vigilant Mind
Don't Do Anything Stupid like get yourself killed.
A Flashlight for The Valley of The Shadow of Death
Do You Know What Yoga Is?
How to Slow Play Death
Para-Sympathetic side of the a modern Warrior Ethos
Machine Guns Breathing and Mantra
Crossfit a Spiritual Practice described as Hooah
It took me a while to grapple with my experience with PTS. Yet it was the process of grappling with these experiences that led me to try different things and look for wisdom from different people.
That's really how Armor Down started to grow. Not with a business plan as much as a clear desire to improve my life experience.
I didn't know what to do so I took different classes, worked with different teachers, went to retreats and conferences and before you know it there were people in a community that cared about me. Not in the sense of my buddies or family but in the sense that I was a colleague. Someone contributing to the conversation.
This feeling of being seen as a contributor was a similar feeling to the one I had down range. Not the same, but similar. I belonged.
As I began to experience life beyond the suffering of my situation I started to experience what many ancient and current teachers claim is part of the motivation for a yogic, meditative, soft practice.
Beneath the doubt, worry, and fear, there is a divine stream that runs through all things. With practice you can connect with this 'holy spirit'. You will have some idea of this energy when you feel patience, love, compassion and understanding more often than not.
I started to see this and felt a real sense of connection.
This feeling lasted a while but seemed to get corrupted whenever shadow creeped into my thoughts.....shame, rage, anger, doubt, worry, fear.
Took me a long time to realize that I had to find a way to accept the existence of these things too.
Not in the sense that I would not fight against injustice but in the sense that life can not be what it is without shadow.
Here's a better example.
Early in my PTS experience rage would erupt and I would lash out violently or with shame filled crying.
In the middle months I would experience rage and it wouldn't erupt.
Later rage would show up and I would feel ashamed that it was there to begin with, that I was failing to evolve.
Later still rage would show up and I would watch it with less shame and more a sense of curiosity like " how did that get there".
In my present experience, I experience rage as signal of tension in parts of my body. The rage expresses itself sensationally and I use that expression to guide my awareness to those ares of sensation and do what I can to settle them. If they don't settle I never mind, and go through my many tools to mitigate the consequences. Sometimes I even have to sit and just wait for the rage to pass.
The difference now is that not only do I not feel shame for feeling rage, I feel appreciative. I recognize it as an expression of intelligence, one that is affording me an opportunity to evolve.
This was an exciting revelation because it meant that I didn't have to live in a sanitized environment scared that something would set me off, on the contrary there was no environment that I couldn't enter because it didn't netter whether I was feeling good or bad because I know how to work with either.
This experience has empowered me beyond my former limits. I'm not afraid to evolve because I'm not afraid to be afraid. I'm not afraid to mess up because I'm not afraid to feel shadow.
Without any planning, this end to my blogging commit comes 1 week before this years Mindful Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery.
The ups and down of planning this event has facilitated the creation of a community around a shared purpose. Watching how the pieces have fallen together has humbled me.
There is an ancient understanding of the Path of a Warrior.
In the beginning a warrior is just strength and courage. In the middle the warrior is a student. After that, the Warrior becomes a teacher.
I have been a student of the AOP for 114 weeks. I now understand my responsibility to share my knowledge with others.
I accept this responsibility with humility and honor. I understand that learning never stops, but that my learning now comes with a new emphasis on teaching.
It has been my great honor to write this blog. Thank you to everyone who has put up with my poor grammar and terrible spelling. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting. Thank you for helping me understand that I am a valuable member of our global community.
With my Deepest Gratitude.