The Search for Resiliency

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

"We believe an Airman's personal and professional successes depend on this resiliency, and feel it is our responsibility to provide the education and resources to help them and their families build it.”

 - Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody (Ret.)

The Air Force has been focusing on the concept of resilient Airmen for quite some time but what does it truly mean to be resilient?

Does it mean to continually “tough it out” and push through those difficult moments in our life or does it mean something else.  Most of us know that putting too much stress on our mind, body and life can result in catastrophic consequences, yet many of us do it because we believe that we are strong enough to cope with the stress.

The question we should ask ourselves is, will our mind and body maintain a positive level of health if we do not properly manage our mental, physical, social and spiritual needs.

The mental, physical, social and spiritual domains, are the four areas of focus that make up a resilient Airman. TSgt Martin Harrie, the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for Chapel Operations, 501 Combat Support Wing (CSW), and his chapel team have taken a slightly abstract approach towards fulfilling some of those needs.

They have organized a monthly retreat to the Global Retreat Centre in Oxford, England in hopes of revitalizing the 501st CSW personnel and creating more resilient Airmen by helping them find a positive way of managing stress.

In order to get a better understanding of what the Global Retreat Centre has to offer, I decided to attend the one day retreat and experience it for myself.

After a 0615 departure time from Royal Air Force Alconbury, a several hours drive listening to people discuss the worst internet services in England and watching the driver strategically maneuver through traffic, we finally arrive to the Nuneham House, a historic 1750’s villa revival home, with lush greenery spread across the grounds. The bus doors open and our welcoming hosts, dressed in mostly beige and white clothing, greet each of us as we enter the front doors of Global Retreat Centre. We are guided up an elaborate Italian ironwork staircase which leads us to a joyful kitchen staff, where they prepared a lite breakfast for us to eat. Once our appetite was filled, we walked to a large soft carpeted room where we were asked to remove our shoes. This is where the true search for internal resiliency through spiritual reflections begins.

Over the next several hours, basic Raja Yogi Meditation was introduced along with some internal reflection techniques. I do not want to spoil the experience for anyone that maybe attending the retreat in the future, so this is where I stop with my personal experience and let you find out more for yourselves.

Other Pathfinders had this to say about their own experience post-retreat.

“Overall, a great experience for anyone coping with an immense amount of stress in their life.”

“I was really happy afterwards, and it is a very uplifting place. I recommend all to attend. I am an atheist, and 99.9% of it was spiritual free. Self-reflection is a much better term for this seminar.”

“This retreat was amazing and helped me greatly to relax and destress. Just being able to get out of the office and go relax was well worth it. I would recommend this trip for anyone.”           

The retreat is offered through the base chapel services to DoD card holders ages 18 years old and up. If you are looking for personal resiliency, spiritual connection or just a break from work, please contact your First Sergeant or local base chapel services to attend the Global Retreat Center’s one day retreat