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Retreat Team Spotlight – Jason Smiley

Retreat Team Spotlight – Jason Smiley

Hello.  My name is Jason Lee Smiley.  I was born in 1971 in a town north of Seattle called Everett.  My family moved to Wyoming when I was very young and that is where I grew up.  I have two sisters, a brother in law, two nieces and a nephew, and a grandmother who just turned 100!  I have a cat named Floyd that has been my friend and companion since I spent some time living in Louisiana a few years back.  He listens to me play my guitar.  Audience of one.:)

I am a jack of all trades and master of none.  I have been tattooing professionally for 25 years, and I have spent many years playing music professionally as well.  I have had the honor of playing in many of the famous old dance halls in Texas, as I lived in Austin from 2001-2005 and played guitar in a honky tonk band (Danni Leigh was the name of the band) during my time there.  I am a singer and a songwriter and a guitar picker.  I play the blues.  I have worked all over the United States and I have spent some time living and working overseas as well.  I do a lot of art for the Veterans Yoga Project.  I have named myself their Director of Art and Music!  I appointed myself to the position.:)

Within the context of the Lone Survivor Foundation, I am a yoga teacher.  I have been practicing and studying yoga for the past twelve years.  I received my yoga teaching credentials at the Sivananda ashram in the Bahamas in 2013.    The teaching lineage I am honored to be a part of dates back to the 8th century!  I have also done a lot of training to teach yoga for trauma recovery.  This training I have done through various nonprofit organizations, including but not limited to Veterans Yoga Project and Mindful Yoga Therapy.  These nonprofits serve our veterans and their families with free yoga classes and free online practice resources.  I have been teaching these free yoga classes since 2014.  I was in Colorado Springs from 2014-2017 teaching at Peterson Air Force Base, the VA Clinic, Mount Carmel Transitional Center, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, etc.  All active duty, veterans, and their dependents.  And now I have located to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The Land Of Enchantment.

Most of the yoga I have taught has been yoga for trauma recovery and adaptive yoga for folks with various injuries and permanent mobility impairments.  I am a firm believer that a yoga practice can be adapted to any individual, regardless of physical condition.  The appearance of the yoga we practice physically is always back seat to the internal experience of any posture.  In this way, people of varying skill levels, body types, and abilities can enjoy a similar experience in the same class, even when on the surface the practices appear quite different.  We can all experience the benefits of a yoga practice and the pleasure of sharing community and positive energy with others.  It is for everybody and every body.

I am a US Army veteran.  I served from 1989-1992.  I was a Mandarin Chinese linguist and an interrogator, at least that was my training.  I served during the first Gulf War, but was not deployed overseas, other than to participate in training in South Korea with the ROK Army.  I enjoyed my time in the service, made many friends, had many adventures, and was discharged honorably.

I started working with the Lone Survivor Foundation in 2016.  I have been honored to do so.  I am coming up on 20 retreats so far.  I still enjoy serving our military in what way that I can.  I wish everyone could come and witness the healing that takes place at our retreats.  We have a great, caring staff.  We come together to serve our veterans and their families, and all our staff are dedicated to doing our part to support the retreat in all ways imaginable.  We do our level best to ensure that everyone goes home with some tools to work with and perhaps knowledge of resources available to them in their geographic area.   I hear it over and over.  The guests feel comfortable at our retreats, and almost all return home with some skills and mechanisms for dealing with conditions related to post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.   And thanks to Pat and Denise, staff and guests are kept WELL fed!

My favorite part of the retreats is the closing circle.  It is very encouraging and moving to hear that our hard work and dedication has been helpful, and that our veterans and families have felt cared for.    They do not feel judged when they are here.  We all work to create a safe space for our guests in which the conditions for healing are set in place.  We feel comfort that they are returning home with new hope and resolve to find peace and quality in their daily lives.  This always touches my heart and sends chills up my spine.

Lastly, let me just express my gratitude to the Lone Survivor Foundation for involving me in their good work.  It has helped with my healing and I am very proud to be a part of these retreats.  Thank you to all the guests.  I commend them for summoning the courage to make the trip.  It is not anything easy to face.  And thank you to all my military brothers and sisters, our men and women of service and their families, for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make on the behalf of this country.  From my spirit to yours, Namaste. (using this Sanskrit term is a way to honor those to whom you are speaking).

 

To learn more about Lone Survivor Foundation’s therapeutic retreat program, please visit https://lonesurvivorfoundation.org/service-members/

 

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