Veterans’ PTSD helped at Omega lands

Pictures, statues and other works of art often capture the beauty of the soul as people seek peace and love through different spiritual paths. Omega Institute provided all of that for a group of US veterans at a retreat this past Fall. Below are a few photos that may have captured the spirit of meditation, and that is, “being in the moment.”  
Mindfulness Awareness Grows at Omega institute off Hudson River

I have no idea who this couple was, as I shot them resting on a bench looking at two others in the boat sailing past them. Our PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) group, at the Omega Institute for a 5-day workshop of intense meditation, conducted a ceremony on the shore of the lake when I snuck away and saw the Autumn waterway watchers.  

Meditation Quilt, dining room, Omega Institute

This quilt was one of four hanging from rafters in the dining hall. Each “patch” measured 12-by-12 inches and depicted various spiritual symbols.  

“Sanctuary” bell, at top of Omega Institute

I left the group to seek solitude in the “Sanctuary” at the top of the hill overlooking the grounds of the retreat in the Hudson River valley some 100 miles outside of New York City. This bell symbolized the “calling” many of us received and responded to while here. Grateful that some still lingers. 

Balancing Rocks, Omega "Sanctuary"

 A small pond held many wonders if one simply took time to see. Look at this rock formation. What a balance. You and nature. You and the Self within. 

USA Veteran PTSD “Englightenment”

The Rev. Claude AnShin Thomas, an ordained Buddhist monk, sets fire to messages that veterans wrote, hoping to “detach” themselves from an activity that triggers their PTSD.  The group met on the shores of the Omega Institute lake, forming a circle around the former infantryman who years later studied Buddhism in Vietnam, and returned to America to help PTSD sufferers world-wide. 

Buddhist Monk performing ceremony

Letting go. One attachment by another. Step by step. Day by day. All burning away until possibly reaching “Nirvana,” which literally means “extinguishing” or “blowing out” all the fires of desire.   

Buddhist Altar, PTSD Retreat

Meditation started at 7 a.m. and continued through 9 p.m. with silence the entire day, even at meal-time. The silence was most welcome while seated in the hall with 50 veterans, some family members and friends all seeking healing from war and its aftermath.  

Son of Shiva, Ganesha (Hindu)

Idols of all shapes and sizes greeted us at the Omega Institute October 25, 2009.  This one of the Elephant diety was one of my favorites. The more than 3-foot tall statue greeted all to the sauna who were seeking relaxation and a little detoxification.

For more photos, see   Love found ‘idol-ing’ at Omega Institute

For stories on Omega Institute see below: 

For Story on “Idols” see: No American Idols portrayed in my home

5 comments on “Veterans’ PTSD helped at Omega lands

  1. sparrow says:

    Loved see the photos and hear about the healing retreat. . .Michael have you gone to Vipassama, the ten day silent retreat?


    • contoveros says:

      What’s a “Vipassama?” Anything like an “enema?”

      I could get into a 10-day silent retreat, if I was allowed to “cheat” and maybe giggle while conforming to everything else.


  2. JhanaJian says:

    Great post, Michael. Love the pictures, especially the sanctuary bell and the balancing rocks; and my god,what a quilt! What a work of art! And you even made the pictures great big! Thank you.

    I like the monk setting fire to the veterans’ messages. You know the Wiccans have a similar ceremony in which you write a letters by candlelight to someone who has died that you have unfinished stuff with, you write in the letter what you would like to say to the deceased — you pour out your heart in the letter, and then you hold the finished letter to the candle. The smoke of the candle takes the letter to the spirit world to be received by the person you sent it to.

    I think it’s a beautiful thing to do — very healing. I sent a long letter to my sister, who died a couple of years ago of lung cancer. It helped as a closure.


  3. kim says:

    Nice pics. I especially liked the Buddhist altar.


    • contoveros says:

      I was the first in our group to brave the “wrath” of the Budhist monk’s assistant by snapping that picture the second full day of meditation. Others joined in later. I guess we had permission after all! (I photographed the altar when no one was looking,)

      The colors were full of Autumn. The small Buddha figure helped us stay centered. I haven’t eaten meat since then, and i don’t have GERD (acid reflux) like I did. Vegitarianism here I come.


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