County veterans program focuses on all things relaxation

McHENRY – It was all about relaxation Thursday night at the McHenry County Veterans Resource Center.

McHenry County TLS Veterans hosted an introduction to iRest meditation for a group of veterans, their spouses and other residents wanting to learn more about the alternative form of post-traumatic stress disorder treatment.

“Trauma can trigger symptoms in the nervous system that gives off a fight-or-flight response that is hard to turn off,” said Jacqui Neurauter, certified iRest meditation instructor. “We can rewire and create a harmonious situation in the brain. [iRest meditation] takes you to a deep level of relaxation and calms the nervous system.”

The goal of iRest is to offer military personnel a tool for dealing with the symptoms and issues they face while actively serving or after being discharged from service.

The meditation practice is used at more than 30 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and military facilities across the country.

It focuses on recovery efforts for active-duty military personnel, veterans and families of service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Neurauter is one of three women who formed the Veterans Restorative Project, which teaches iRest meditation at local veteran centers.

The practice zeros in on finding a more centered mental state with a better sense of well being for everyday experiences by using Yoga Nidra, or “sleep yoga.”

“It’s a place we all know is there somewhere, where you are whole and complete,” Neurauter said. “[The mediation] works with different levels of awareness again and again in various different ways.”

Research has shown that iRest relieves symptoms of anxiety, chronic pain, chemical dependency, depression, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is a modern adaptation of the ancient yoga mediation practice, and is done while lying down or sitting, with the lights dimmed and music playing in the background while the instructor speaks.

Therapist Ed Groenendal attending the introductory session to find news ways to work with the veterans and abused adults and teens he works with out of his Arlington Heights and Woodstock locations.

“I thought it went real well,” he said. “I like the idea of holding trauma and a place of peace side by side. I am going to try and integrate that.”

For information about iRest or the Veterans Restorative Project, visit www.irest.us or www.veteransrestorativeproject.org.