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Monday, May 8, 2023

Discover the Path to Inner Peace and Resilience with Armordown: A Message for Veterans

Greetings, fellow veterans!

As many of you know, transitioning back to civilian life after serving in the military can be challenging, both mentally and physically. We've all faced our unique set of obstacles and experienced the lingering effects of our time in service. One practice that can help us navigate this journey is Armordown, a mindful approach to well-being that focuses on physical, mental, and emotional resilience.

To inspire and encourage you, I'd like to share two powerful stanzas from the Art of Peace that can serve as a foundation for our Armordown practice:

53. The totally awakened warrior can freely utilize all elements contained in heaven and earth. The true warrior learns how to correctly perceive the activity of the universe and how to transform martial techniques into vehicles of purity, goodness, and beauty. A warrior's mind and body must be permeated with enlightened wisdom and deep calm.

74. Be grateful even for hardship, setbacks, and bad people. Dealing with such obstacles is an essential part of training in the Art of Peace.

These stanzas emphasize the importance of self-awareness, mental clarity, and gratitude in our lives as veterans. By regularly practicing Armordown, we can develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us, transforming our past experiences and acquired skills into tools for personal growth and inner peace.

Armordown encourages us to embrace the following principles:

  1. Mindfulness: Cultivate awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. This practice allows us to recognize our triggers and respond to stressors in healthier ways.

  2. Physical Fitness: Engage in regular exercise and movement to build strength, flexibility, and endurance. This not only improves our physical well-being but also supports mental and emotional health.

  3. Connection: Foster supportive relationships with fellow veterans and our community. By connecting with others, we can share our experiences, learn from one another, and build a network of understanding and compassion.

  4. Gratitude: Focus on the positive aspects of our lives and appreciate the lessons we've learned, even from the most challenging situations. This mindset helps us cultivate resilience and find meaning in our experiences.

By integrating these principles into our daily lives, we can create a solid foundation for personal growth, inner peace, and overall well-being. Armordown is not just about finding solace in the present moment but also about envisioning a brighter future for ourselves and our loved ones.

So, to all my fellow veterans, I encourage you to embark on this journey of self-discovery and healing with Armordown. Together, we can transform our challenges into opportunities for growth and create a more peaceful, fulfilling life.

Friday, May 5, 2023

A Veteran's Playful Guide to Armor Down and Open Your Heart without Lady Alcohol 🍺💂🏼‍♂️❤️

My wine is calling | Wine quotes, Funny quotes, Alcohol humorGreetings, fellow readers! As a seasoned veteran with multiple tours behind me, I'm here to share my tale how I learned to armor down, let go of my relationship with Lady Alcohol, and open my heart to healthier ways of managing stress.

Picture this: you've had a long day of dodging bullets, making life-or-death decisions, and trying to stay alive while keeping your comrades safe. You come back to base and are tempted by the embrace of Lady Alcohol, who seems to offer a way to armor down and escape from the chaos. But she's a fickle mistress who leaves you feeling more lost and confused in the long run.

I've had many a rendezvous with Lady Alcohol, but eventually, I realized the importance of finding and cultivating other ways to armor down and open my heart. You see, it could be one thing or a whole bunch of other things that work for you. But the goal is to find what helps you not only armor down but to continue armoring down and opening your heart because that's really where the good stuff is, not with that sweet poison.

So, after parting ways with Lady Alcohol, I set out on a journey to discover alternative methods for armoring down and opening my heart. Here are some of my top picks that have helped me:

  1. Meditation: A wonderful way to armor down, meditation teaches you to let go, quiet your mind, and open your heart. It's an everyday practice that can bring long-term benefits. 🧘

  2. Exercise: Physical activity can help you armor down by releasing endorphins and providing an outlet for pent-up stress. Plus, it's a fantastic way to stay fit and ready for your next mission. 💪

  3. Creative outlets: Engaging in artistic endeavors is an excellent way to armor down and express your emotions. Whether it's painting, playing an instrument, or writing, find a creative outlet that resonates with you. 🎨🎸📝

  4. Talk it out: Sometimes, the best way to armor down is to share your worries with someone you trust. Opening up to a friend or a professional can help you process your feelings and find solutions. 👥

  5. Practice self-care: Prioritizing self-care allows you to armor down and recharge your batteries. Make time for relaxation, hobbies, and activities that bring you joy. 🛀🍵

In conclusion, while Lady Alcohol might seem like a tempting way to armor down, it's essential to find healthier alternatives that help you let go of stress, open your heart, and ultimately lead a more fulfilling life.

Stay safe, fellow heroes, and remember: armoring down and opening your heart is the key to a happier, healthier life. Cheers to discovering and cultivating what truly works for you! 🥂✌️❤️

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Armor Down donates 10 Meditation Cushions to Warrior Surf

Every time Armor Down sells a military grade meditation cushion, we donate a cushion to be given away to Veterans. Today 10 cushions are on their way to Warrior Surf in South Carolina.

The donated cushions were assembled during community building workshops between civilians and veterans. Each workshop included mindfulness training and the importance of honoring our fallen heroes.  The heroes we honored during these workshops were Civil War Heroes from the battle of New Market Heights. 

For 155 years the heroes of NMH, to include 14 Medal of Honor recipients were left out of the history of the Civil War because they were black. Learn more about how these heroes are being remembered by the former Capitol of the Confederacy; Richmond Va)

Inspired by story of these American Heroes and knowing that these cushions were going to Veterans, workshop participants created artistic expressions and words of gratitude and respect inside the inner shell of the cushion. 

Warrior Surf, the cushions you are receiving have been created from the hearts of your fellow Americans. We honor you and thank you for all that you have done in service to the Nation and in service to our Veterans. 

Please consider adding names and unique expressions to the inside of your cushions. Always remembering that our heroes need us to remember and honor them just as much as we need them to remind us that freedom is not free. Their sacrifice is our responsibility. 

Reach out to to purchase a military grade meditation cushion and support our Nation’s Veterans.  

Monday, June 3, 2019

A Bridge Project

They say The Battle of Nasiriyah  fought between the US 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Iraqi forces from 23 March to 2 April 2003 was the largest Marines battle since the War in Vietnam.  The battle led to the deaths of over 25 Marines. 

The viciousness of the battle can be glimpsed through these images and videos taken by the Marines themselves.

In the fall of 2018, I met one of those Marines through a Veterans Outreach Program.  Jeff served as a Scout Sniper during the battle.  The stories he has to tell are both amazing and sad. Jeff truly experienced combat at the tip of the spear. 

Jeff was honorably discharched from the Marines after his service. He, like many, found ways to cope with the traumas of war and for the most part integrated back into society with honor and dignity. Over the past year and a half however things took a turn for the worst when family relationships turned toxic and all his attempts to remedy the situation where hindered by a legal system that assumes combat veterans are broken and dangerous. 

To talk with Jeff is to talk with a guy who is proud of his life and heart broken at the same time. So much of his suffering stems from a sense of being betrayed by both God and Country. 

As a complement to the support I and others were providing Jeff, I recommended he create a Bridge Project. BPs are patriotic projects meant to unite Veterans and Civilians around the act of honoring the fallen and shared loved for the country. I recommended Jeff create a BP as something positive to do and think about but also because BPs create a framework for goodwill to show up in surprising ways. 

Jeff began his BP last winter.  He got a big American Flag and started taking it to different places and asking people to sign it.  All Bridge projects start in the fall/winter and culminate at Arlington National Cemetery during Mindful Memorial Day in the spring. 

During the winter months leading up to May I’d hear from Jeff about his BP.  The stories where all positive and uplifting. The Mayor of NYC even signed the flag.   When Jeff showed up at MMD on the second day we made his flag part of the Mindful Memorial Day experience. 

Here is Jeff’s flag at Mindful Memorial Day.  Many more people signed it with expressions of gratitude. 

The larger mission of  Mindful Memorial Day is to honor the almost 7000 Fallen service members who have died since 9/11.   Each name is given away on a lanyard in an exchange called a mindful moment of gratitude.  

Most people’s favorite part about honoring names is the meaningful connection made during the mindful moment.  This is especially true of the younger generations.  Seeing the way young Americans stand up straighter, focus, and make eye contact during the honoring of a name warms the heart and lifts the spirit.  Everyone feels it.  Even Combat Veterans. 

When we invited Jeff to honor names he was definitely unsure. But as timing would have it a huge group of several hundred kids showed up to honor names and as any good Marine Jeff stepped in to help out. 

Below you can see Jeff giving away one of the lanyards. This was just one of dozens and dozens of lanyards Jeff helped give away. 

Towards the end of the day Jeff asked me if I would accept his flag. Jeff still remembers all his drill and ceremony training so we followed all the rules during the transfer. 

Over the rest of the Mindful Memorial Day weekend I took the flag wherever I went. This includes honor visits to different gravesites to pay my respects on behalf of family members and friends of the fallen who could not be at Arlington over Memorial Day. 

Here is a picture of Jeff’s flag with some of the different people that came to Mindful Memorial Day to Honor the Fallen. 

Even after Mindful Memorial Day was over I continued to use the flag to bring people together and reinforce the basic message that we are all responsible for our freedoms. 

At Mindful Memorial Day we say they their sacrifice is our Responsibility.  We stand together to honor the fallen and support veterans because we have something inside us that calls out to be used in dark places.  Call it whatever you like, the soul, the spirit the atman, but know it’s there. Also know that it must be nurtured. If it is not, if the spark of goodwill is left to wallow in suffering it doesn’t just die, it turn into the darkness itself.   In other words we can easily become the darkness we are fighting against. Love and patience can easily become bitterness and vengeance. 

Jeff’s situation is by no means solved. He is still in the thick of it.  Jeff’s BP didn’t fix the challenges he faces but just maybe it fortifed his spirit enough to keep him moving forward. 

Semper Fi, Marine. 

If you are someone you know would like to create a Bridge Project for Mindful Memorial Day 2020 contact and we’ll get you started.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Are you Mindful of the Dad you want to be?

Are you mindful of the dad you want to be?  When my partner at the Dadvocacy Consulting Group, Allan, asked me that question I didn’t have a clear answer because I had never thought about it.  

To answer the question for myself I decided to break the question down into two parts.  

1.  What does it mean to be mindful of the dad I want to be?
2.  What kind of dad do I want to be?

First what does it mean to be mindful of something.  According to the father of Mindfulness John Kabot-Zin   Mindfulness is the ability to be fully focused on the present moment without judgement.  For further context think undivided attention, front sight focus, fully dialed in.  

To be mindful of the dad I want to be is to know exactly what I want without any doubt.  In other words when I think about the dad I want to be I have no doubts about the authenticity of my answer.

I know without a doubt that I want to be a dad who raises his kids to honor the fallen.  I’ve raised my daughters this way but I have never articulated this as a foundation of my being a dad.

These images are from 2015 during Mindful Memorial Day which takes place at Arlington National Cemetery every Memorial Day.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is the kind of dad I want to be.

So my question to you is, are you mindful of the dad you want to be?  What are ways you can be a dad for your kids that you don’t question or doubt as important?

The reason I ask is because Armor Down has partnered with the The Daddy Wishes Fund to help other dads become more mindful of the dads they want to be.  The DADDY Wishes Fund was created to reward dads who answer the question “What kind of Dad do I want to be” and go out and do it.

Our first dad was awarded $200 to take his daughter on a trip to the aquarium.  A Veteran of the Global War on Terror this dad used his award to be the dad he wants to be!

So dads, can you answer the question, “Am I Mindful of the dad I want to be?”  If you can answer that question in the comments below then we’ve got $200 dollars to help you show your kids!  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

114 Weeks of The Art of Peace

This blog represents a complete Art of Peace, Practice.

For the last 114 weeks I have studied each of the stanzas by making it and a picture the wallpaper of my iPad. Reading and re-reading each stanza influenced my thoughts and each Thursday I wrote whatever showed up.

I choose not to plan, outline, fret over, or worry about any format or proper presentation. That does not mean I wasn't respectful of sharper topics, it just means that I didn't worry about perfect grammatical presentation. For me this was a big deal.

I encourage you to create your own 114 week practice. Do it however you want. Create 114 poems, words, phrases, whatever.

My life has fundamentally evolved in ways that were unimaginable to me 114 weeks ago.

Here is the PDF of the ART OF PEACE.

Thank you, O'Sensei.

Thank You, Reader.

Ben King,