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iRest: A new frontier for healing

Meditative practice helps combat PTSD for soldiers and civilians alike

iRest facilitator Sarah Maynard-Murray ensures her clients are comfortable and relaxed during their meditation sessions. Photo credit: Allegra Antwine

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With the number of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases among military personnel on a tragic rise, methods of coping are not only welcome but imperative.

Perhaps there is a silver lining: As stressors of the military lifestyle become more evident, so do the alternative therapeutic treatments available for alleviation. One such method of healing is integrative restoration (iRest), and it's making waves with its deep and profound effect on soldiers and veterans.

Enter Sarah Maynard-Murray, M.Ed., B.S. Corporate Fitness, Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200), and certified iRest® Yoga Nidra teacher instructor, a veteran, former technical sergeant in the Washington Air National Guard, business owner and entrepreneur. With an impressive resumé that includes a history working in fuels, knowledge operations, recruiting and personnel, Murray's track record for serving people during her 13-year military career paved the way for working with civilians.

These days, Murray dedicates herself to the success of her business Uncharted Soul, the sister business to Uncharted Waters, an integrated wellness center co-owned with her husband, Jonathan Murray.

Located in Tacoma, Uncharted Soul was inspired by Murray's own life-changing and ongoing experience with Integrative Restoration (iRest for short) or Yoganidra?. After suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety, and symptoms of PTSD, she sought out the practice as a way to heal holistically from the mental and emotional burdens she carried. Hooked from the first session, Murray began her journey into the realm of iRest initially as a student but eventually as a facilitator. What transpired soon thereafter involved a lengthy certification process, countless trainings, and the development of a profound understanding of the practice and how to guide others.

Conceived in 2006 by Richard Miller, Ph.D., for the Department of Defense as a treatment for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, iRest was endorsed by the U.S. Army Surgeon General and Defense Centers of Excellence as a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in 2010. Since then, various studies have been conducted on the meditation practice and its healing benefits for veterans and individuals with PTSD, including its effect on pain management for combat veterans with traumatic brain injuries.

Prosperous in its host of physical, emotional and mental gains related to PTSD, iRest also helps reduce symptoms of insomnia, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and chemical dependency. By delving into the layered psyche and tapping into embodiments like the breath, feelings, emotions, beliefs and joys, iRest encourages a sense of calm that ultimately allows the individual to connect to themselves on a plethora of levels. A heavy emphasis is placed on the Three Resolutions: intention, heartfelt desire, and inner resource, as these are the foundations of the practice.

The powerful aspect of this restorative practice is its take away -- what is carried within the self beyond the actual hour-long session.

"iRest allows you the opportunity to respond to an emotion, rather than getting involved and reacting to it," explained Murray. "It allows us to respond by making better choices in life."

Whether a veteran suffering from PTSD after a deployment or a new mother with postpartum depression, iRest is considered a therapeutic remedy.

Uncharted Soul, noon-7:30 p.m., Monday, Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, closed Tuesday-Wednesday, 3837 S. 12th St., Tacoma,

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