”I had no idea what to expect from Green Gulch Farm. I knew it was a Zen retreat and that it was near John Muir beach and that’s all I knew. When I got there we parked next to the farm’s yurt and were greeted by Chris and her husband Bruce and Dyan as well as the other participants who’d already arrived. This was my first time seeing a yurt, and I was greatly impressed by it – it made for an ideal meeting space. And we were blessed with beautiful weather that day – the clearest view of San Fran I’ve seen so far I think.
We sat in a circle in the yurt, 16 or more people, mostly vets. We introduced ourselves and were later led in some Qi Gong technique and in a short walking meditation in the yurt followed by a walk to the beach, stopping along the way to pause and experience the moment several times when signaled by a walking meditation bell.
After a brief stay at the beach we headed back to the farm where we were treated with a fresh organic soup and salad and (heavenly) fresh bread for lunch in the farms kitchen/commissary.
I learned a lot during the conversations and guidance from our hosts and took home still more in literature and in a small framed craft piece we worked on towards the end of the day.
I slept well that night.
My insight on that blissful day has grown a lot over the days since. I reflected on (several) of my own behaviors, mannerisms and attitudes that I want to work on.
I feel strongly that sense of “this is the right place for me right now.” While at the farm store I happened to mention that this was my first time at the farm. A woman there said she thought she knew me, that she’d seen me before, but I didn’t recognize her so I said “well maybe – I have driven by a few times…” and at the time felt awkward with the exchange, but today I feel better about that moment when I see it’s symbolism – like HWY 1 that brought us there, my path has been slowly meandering towards that place, those people and their practices for a long while.
That day I found a group of people that I really liked. We all had so much in common and it was very easy for me to see parts of myself in others. I felt a powerful sense of the group energy while we sat in circle in the yurt. It was a warm and welcoming, positive energy. I really look forward to being with and learning from these people again.
Thank you HPW!”
- Daniel Cardenas, United States Marine Corps [2/24/2013]
“I came to these workshops a year and half ago isolated, dealing with addiction, and spiritually empty. Through participating in these retreats I rediscovered my integrity, recognized a growing awareness, guided compassion and a sense of place.”
- Jeremy B. Lopez, United States Marine Corps
“Coming to the one-day events with other veterans, I feel like I am coming together with my family. As vets we kind of walk with the same rhythm. There is a sense of kinship. You know that other person understands what is essential. You’ve lived on what is essential and you know you can be fine with that. This is why mindfulness and meditation goes so well with veterans. It is about getting down to that essential stuff – breathing, walking in silence. It is like what we learned and were trained in, in order to do our duties. Maybe you are being mindful in a different way, but it is still mindfulness. I have no desire to meet my fellow vets out at a bar. It is the place and quality of being held and cared for that makes these days very appealing and healing.”
- Paige Jenkins, U.S. Navy
“Being a combat soldier during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I found myself experiencing a plethora of negative emotions and energies post-deployment. Like some combat soldiers, I was afraid to be perceived as a weakling if I were to seek help. We are trained to be warriors. When I heard about the mindfulness/meditation event, I was enthusiastic about getting together with other veterans who experienced similar hardships as I had. I was initially nervous and apprehensive about being in a group, but I felt instantly at home. The physical event before the meditation brings us closer together as a team. The experience of the mindfulness/ meditation events afterward have inspired me to practice taking a small respite every day. I encourage any veteran to participate in these events that give a battered mind a place to heal.”
- Mike Smith, US Army, OIF Vet