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Reservists learn meditation techniques

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Heather Rose Skinkle
  • 940th Wing Public Affairs

Emily Hain added a colleague’s stress-reduction techniques to her regular yoga routine after experiencing several personal and professional upheavals that affected her health.


"We live in a culture that stresses us to strive more and more," said Hain, a military spouse and resource provider for the Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.


She felt out of balance from juggling an out-of-state move, switching jobs and dealing with family issues, she said, and she realized she needed to deal with her hectic lifestyle.


“Eventually though, I had to deal with my issues because they kept piling up,” she said.


Already a yoga devotee, Hain turned to a program called Integrative Restoration developed by clinical psychologist and yoga teacher Dr. Richard Miller and his colleague, Robyn Carns.  iRest is a series of guided meditation sessions, meant to relax people on several different levels: physically, mentally, and emotionally.


In 2005, Miller led a Department of Defense study on returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans using the program at Walter Reed Medical Facility. Over a 5-year period he observed decreases in patients’ post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia symptoms. The Department of Veterans Affairs ultimately established iRest in nine states.

Hain benefitted so much from the program that she decided to become an instructor in 2008. She went through three levels of certification and has been giving information on stress-reduction techniques to military families attending Yellow Ribbon training weekends ever since, including Saturday at a conference in Florida.


Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists' and their families by connecting them with multiple resources to enhance their resiliency before and after deployments.


Through the meditation techniques, Haines said she “learned to be receptive to what my mind and body was telling me.”


Staff Sgt. Karen Alvarez, said she was unsure of it at first before trying it at a Yellow Ribbon event.


"At first I was skeptical, but now I often practice the techniques," said Staff Sgt. Karen Alvarez, avionics technician from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. "Now I can feel completely rested."


Alvarez needed stress management tips after completing her two deployments. She experienced physical effects from stress and was starting to get frequent back spasms. Once she began regularly practicing iRest she noticed her spasms lessened until they finally stopped altogether.


Dorecia Waisome, wife of Senior Airman Marco Waisome, a reservist from Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, loved the meditation techniques.


"I recommend that everyone experience it," Waisome said. “It’s so cool that you can really get out of yourself and experience a deeper level of relaxation.”


Hain said she enjoys sharing her experience with veteran’s and their loved ones.


“In lieu of practicing unhealthy alternatives, the program teaches us to find a ‘happy place,’” Haines said. “It helps you respond to any situation and try to manage negative reactions and emotions.”


Hain recommends meditators attend at least six 20-minute sessions with an instructor before they replicate the techniques alone.