Homeless Vets Finding Peace, Comfort, Community Through Mindfulness Project
Charitable Words Scholar Lindsey Rudd and volunteer advisor Stacy Sims have collaborated on a documentary video about connecting homeless veterans in Cincinnati with “mindfulness and meditation” practices as therapies for addiction recovery, anxiety and pain.
It sounds like an unlikely alliance – Stacy Sims, a novelist, playwright and Pilates educator and a roomful of streetwise homeless vets at Joseph House For Homeless Veterans in Over-The-Rhine.
But in Stacy’s first visit to The Joseph House, veterans of various ages and eras willingly shared their experiences – poverty, pain and post traumatic stress syndrome. And then, they engaged with her in exercises to slow their breathing, ease their pains and clear their minds, at least for an hour. It was the start of a journey in search of a lasting peace.
Since, the veterans have awaited her visits – asking for reading materials and resources. And this summer, they will join her and others interested in “City Silence” mindfulness events at Washington Park and other venues throughout the community. Teachers and learners in the mind-and-body community – and anyone – will be invited to personal yet communal moments of peace. Sims is bringing City Silence to area parks and community centers as she celebrates 10 years of her “True Body Project,” in which she has advocated on a local and global plane for the health and safety of girls and women.
Now everyone is invited, including these homeless veterans. Welcome them, welcome them home when you see them. But please do it quietly.
“City Silence intended to allow individuals to come sit in silence for as long as they wish, as often as they wish,” Sims said. “As a recovering alcoholic, I came to understand that I couldn’t trust my own thoughts to be in my best interest, so I became fascinated by how they are cultivated in the first place,” Sims said. “My work trauma and the body has taught me that we are multi-sensory beings trying to make sense of the embodied, habituated noise of the past while navigating an increasingly complex world in the present. Slow, purposeful movement and guided stillness – aka mindfulness or meditation – is strong medicine for those of us who need to rewire our nervous systems from addiction, everyday stress and/or trauma.
Joseph House associate clinical director Mark Levine holds a Masters Degree in Addiction Studies from the University of Cincinnati and is also a writer, musician and marathon runner.
“A few years ago I discovered the benefits of mindfulness in my own personal life, realizing the benefits of slowing the world down and becoming more aware of my thoughts and feelings,” Levine said. “Further research revealed that the cornerstone of what Joseph House has advocated for years, “awareness is the key”, was really another way of saying, “be mindful!”
“Today we incorporate Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention and Mindful Yoga Therapy as integral components of our recovery program. Stacy’s work in educating our clients on how trauma affects the body and the brain, combined with simple expressions of movement to release that negative energy has given many Joseph House veterans another powerful tool to support their recovery.”
Sims will continue visiting the Joseph House regularly for morning and evening sessions, but the veterans are looking forward to joining the City Silence community gatherings at Washington Park and other venues throughout the summer.
Charitable Words Scholar Lindsey Rudd, a photography student at Northern Kentucky University, produced the documentary video about the work – the relationships built and the progess made. The video will help raise awareness and support for The Joseph House’s work.
Thanks for Rick Green, publisher of The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Gannett Foundation for supporting The Charitable Words Scholars Fund and this important story.
For more information, here are links to partner web sites.
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“Service To Those Who Served”
“Service To Those Who Served” is among Charitable Words’ fields of focus.
Here are other videos of projects and partnerships with nonprofits serving veterans of all eras and ages:
Thank you to sponsoring producers of these stories – The Enquirer and Gannett Foundation, The George & Margaret McLane Foundation and Palo Alto Veterans Research Institute, as all of our sponsors and supporters.
About Charitable Words Scholars
Charitable Words has connected more than 30 nonprofits with 70 students and recent graduates and hundreds of hours of pro bono engagement by our network of volunteer advisors. Their impact has been evident. Yet to be measured: The lifelong impact of purposeful scholarship, internship and special assignment experiences on their personal growth, and how much they will give back to their communities over time.
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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 16th, 2015 at 1:17 pm
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