The Expedition Balance Path
Starting the expedition.
The expeditions take veterans far from the war, the daily stresses and the clinicians to a state park, national park or private wilderness. Each includes a group of ten veteran peers and a complement of highly trained counselors. Apart from their world, but together with their brothers and sisters, combat veterans experience a curriculum of practices and principles that build physical, spiritual and emotional health. They get the tools and training they need in order to continue the healing process when they return home. They get the opportunity to make it all the way back home from the war.
A Week in Nature
It’s hard to escape the stress of trying to live in the present when you’re anchored to the horrors of the past. But six days in the woods can help you break away. Hiking the trails. Smelling the flowers. Seeing the wildlife. Breathing deeply. Reconnecting to what’s real. It’s the perfect place heal.
Non-clinical Peer Group Interaction
Nobody understands except other veterans who’ve been through it. People who are open and know how to be there for each other.
Being with them in a non-clinical environment where it’s easy to talk about feelings and thoughts promotes reconnection with society and clearly reminds participants that they are not alone. There’s a lot of power in brothers and sisters helping each other get back.
Meditation and Yoga
Meditation, yoga and the immersion in the natural environment help to quiet the mind, allowing positive thoughts to replace destructive ones.
At Walter Reed, in a study of soldiers who practiced Yoga Nidra, the subjects reported positive results in their ability to sleep, cope and enjoy life.
We’ll be practicing this technique for a week and providing training and resources so participants can continue when they go home. Frequent practice actually trains the mind to permanently realign neural pathways so long term benefits can be achieved.
Recreational activities including team sports, hiking, swimming, fishing and biking provide positive distraction to replace negative memories and feelings. They can also engage the mind in creative expression. The promotion of teamwork and joyful endeavors, commonly known as having fun, are powerful tools in battling depression and affirming life.
Exercise and Physical Fitness
Also a positive distraction, exercise is known to alter brain chemistry, relieve stress, and improve sleep patterns while building confidence and a sense of self-control. Aside from building physical fitness, there are many psychological benefits to good exercise whether done individually or as a group.
Expedition Balance actively partners with local and national organizations to participate in projects and activities that benefit the communities where we work and live. Engaging in these volunteer efforts can be a powerful experience, reconnecting to the community and reigniting feelings of worth, positive contribution, and meaningfulness.
Writing, drawing and painting enable people to access and communicate thoughts and feelings that otherwise would not be expressed. Keeping a journal is often an effective way to express feelings and allows self-coping mechanisms to grow. Similarly, art therapy is a useful method for self-expression, alleviating stress and enhancing self esteem, while providing distraction activity.
Food is the simplest, most natural way to alter brain and body chemistry. And poor eating can contribute to chemical imbalances that lead to psychological problems. Expeditions will demonstrate the benefits of nutritious meals. Ongoing education will empower participants to select and prepare healthful foods and supplements that can help them keep balance and perform better physically and mentally.
Alcohol and Drug Abstinence
The expedition is a week free of the influences of alcohol and drugs. It provides participants the opportunity to regain full sobriety in a safe, clean environment. It also allows them time to develop support and coping mechanisms that will help them after they return home.