Veterans’ Nature Process Workshop

FOR QUESTIONS OR TO REGISTER: Please email us at (Alline) or (Lucas). You can also call the Mercantile at 660-883-5522.

The Nature Process Workshop for Veterans @Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

Thursday, October 20 – Sunday, October 23  for Women


Thursday,  October 27 – Sunday, October 31  for Men


     Imagine spending three days (2 full days, 2 half days) in quiet relaxation, connecting with nature, learning new skills, eating delicious food, helping to construct a labyrinth*, and getting to know other veterans.

It’s possible, and it’s happening this summer!

    Welcome to The Nature Process Workshop for Veterans, presented by the Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and guided by yoga teacher, Master Nature Process Facilitator and Level 1 Instructor in Mindful Resilience for Trauma Recovery with the Veterans Yoga Project, Sami Aaron.

     Tucked into a quiet corner of Northeastern Missouri. Dancing Rabbit features gently rolling hills, an abundance of trees, and seasonal creeks. Each night you’ll be astounded by the rural night sky, which is filled with more stars than you’ve seen in years. You’ll awaken to birdsong – robins, sparrows, finches, phoebes, cardinals, blackbirds. Flowers and vegetable gardens abound, as does quiet and peacefulness.


The entrance to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, Missouri.

The Nature Process Workshop for Veterans features instruction on self-care and healing techniques. The Nature Process® is an easy-to-follow meditation practice that uses immersion in nature to help still your mind and release grief and limiting beliefs. The Nature Process teachings will be combined with Yoga Nidra, which provides relaxation, healing, and rejuvenation. Not based on yoga asanas (postures), these practices help you release toxic emotions and thought patterns, calm your nervous system, and develop positive skills for meeting challenging life circumstances. It may sound a bit “woo woo” to some, but it really works –  please see “Why Vets” and “Why Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage” below.


The Milkweed Mercantile (Campgrounds to the right)

   Gentle yoga, meditation and breathing practices along with physical work on our labyrinth will be woven into these workshops. Sessions will be a combination of discussion and guided meditations – indoors and outdoors; some seated and some lying down on yoga mats with blankets & pillows for comfort.

Everything will be clearly explained, there will be no surprises, all participation is optional, and no yoga or meditation experience is necessary.   Click here to view the tentative Weekend Schedule(Dates may not be accurate).

Participants take home relaxation tools that are especially useful for:

  • overcoming periods of insomnia,

  • coping with chronic pain,

  • calming the mind during periods of anxiety, and

  • easing the grip of deep grief.

Why Veterans? Why Yoga?

     If you’ve served in the armed forces, you know what it’s like to be a part of a tight community. You know the satisfaction that comes from a shared purpose, the sense of camaraderie that comes from being a part of something bigger than yourself. You are all working toward the same goals, you support one another and the whole. It’s just what you do.

     You are trained to be constantly aware, alert, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice. This kind of vigilance is exactly what you and your cohorts needed to be safe and to do what was required of you.  After awhile, being vigilant becomes second nature. But what happens when you are no longer deployed and come home? That vigilance is no longer necessary, and is not at all useful in a civilian/peace-time context. How do you power down all of that energy? Where is your support system? How do you re-train yourself to be able to move calmly and thoughtfully through a complicated world, to relax, to be a caring and supportive partner?

     Many veterans have found yoga to be an effective way to deal with the disparity between military and civilian life. Nidra yoga, which we are offering as part of our weekend, is especially useful. For another unique perspective on veterans and yoga, take a look at this article by former Marine CJ Keller on the Veterans Yoga Project website.

 Why Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage?

     Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community – what this means is that the people who live here choose to live here. They purposely choose a cooperative lifestyle – they want to know their neighbors, have an occasional meal together, help each other out, in good times and bad. Dancing Rabbit is not a cult – it’s more like an ecologically based-condominium association. There is no leader (decisions are made by consensus), no common religion (all religions are accepted here, as is having no religion at all), and all improvements (homes, gardens, etc.) are individually owned. The land was purchased in a legal structure called a Community Land Trust – the members share 260 acres, far more land than any could afford individually. For more on Dancing Rabbit, click here.

     We feel that Dancing Rabbit is an ideal place for these Veteran’s Workshops. Our community is supportive without being intrusive, empathetic without being patronizing. And we realize that every person is on his/her own path. We believe that community can help heal the traumas of war, and the traumas of the planet.

      On a more personal note: When Lucas Berard, a combat veteran (more info below) moved to Dancing Rabbit in 2014, he and Alline Anderson (more info below) had many conversations about how to bring veterans and community together. When Sami Aaron came to stay for a week at the Milkweed Mercantile, everything fell into place. Sami’s true passion – teaching yoga, particularly Yoga Nidra, which had helped her deal with the immense grief around the death of her son – seemed to be right in alignment with our goals.

      Sami recently completed Mindful Resilience for Recovery and Resilience Yoga Teacher training through the non-profit organization Veterans Yoga Project. Mindful Resilience is an evidence-informed, clinically-tested yoga program that was developed specifically for veterans recovering from posttraumatic stress and other psychological difficulties, which provides tools to help vets bounce back from life’s inevitable challenges.

What about that Labyrinth?


We’ll be building a Labyrinth similar to this one!

    In addition to meditation classes, yoga classes, and one-on-one sessions with the instructor (Sami Aaron), we will be getting out of our heads and really into our bodies by building a 22′ permanent labyrinth here at Dancing Rabbit. Participation in construction is optional, but we suspect that most folks will enjoy being outside under the great big sky! More details on the exact labyrinth that we are building (materials, etc.) coming soon. For more information on why we’re building a labyrinth here at Dancing Rabbit, click here.

What is included in the cost of the workshop?

  • All meals and snacks – beginning with dinner on Thursday through lunch on Sunday (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners). Please note: This weekend is alcohol and substance free – please do not bring alcohol or illegal drugs.

  • All materials – Each participant will be given a copy of The Nature Process by Tabith Jayne and materials from the Veterans Yoga Project.

  • All instruction, including a one-on-one session with the instructor during the weekend.

  • A comfortable gathering/relaxing place at the Milkweed Mercantile

  • Showers and toilets

  • Accommodations  – Accommodations range from camping to a room in the Milkweed Mercantile. Information on accommodations will be sent after you register.

What is not included?

  • Optional massage or acupuncture sessions – more information on scheduling these sessions will be sent after you register.

Who should attend?

     These workshops are open to anyone age 21 and older who is a veteran of active-duty military service and who would like to learn easy techniques that will extend the intuitive awareness you already have. Our workshop for veterans who are men is being held June 23 – 26, 2016 (Thursday – Sunday), our workshop for veterans who are women is being held August 18 – 21, 2016 (Thursday – Sunday).

     Whether you’re a long-time mediator or you’ve not sat still more more than 3 minutes, as long as you come with the intention of deepening your connection to the natural world and garnering an understanding of how that connection can heal your mind and heart, you’ll fit right in.

Each workshop is limited to 12 participants so that everyone will receive abundant personalized attention. 

Please register early!

UPDATE: Because of contributions received thru May 15th, this fee has been reduced to $370 (+ travel expenses) per participant (down from $500)! $50 deposit is required to save your space. The final cost will be determined as additional funding is received. We are currently soliciting funding to reduce this amount so Vets can attend at minimal expense- if you would like to donate, please visit this site, and thank you!

      If you cannot afford this and want to participate, please contact us and register.  We are currently seeking corporate sponsorship, and hope to be able to provide scholarships.  It is our hope that no one who wants to participate will be turned away for lack of funds!

 NOTE: All participants will be asked for a $50 deposit to hold his/her place. Deposit will be refunded after you have attended the weekend.

 FOR QUESTIONS OR TO REGISTER: Please email us at (Alline) or (Lucas). You can also call the Mercantile at 660-883-5522.

The Milkweed Mercantile is an accessible building.


Your instructor:

    Sami 3 crop Sami Aaron is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance.  She specializes in Meditation, Pranayama (yoga breathing) and Yoga Nidra (yoga sleep). She is a Certified Facilitator of The Nature Process. She is a Kansas Master Naturalist. Her teachings touch the heart of our inner nature and allow it to shine, even during times of stress, anxiety and the deepest grief. Sami’s study of these healing practices began after her older son’s suicide in 2003. Her workshops help others find the peace and centeredness that has gently nestled its way into her heart, as her grief has blossomed into a deep understanding of our intimate connection to everything.

Your Hosts:

Alline     Alline Anderson and her husband Kurt Kessner moved to Dancing Rabbit in 1999, when the 280 acres had just a machine shed, a pole barn and a bunch of scrubby little trees. Seventeen years later Alline and Kurt are still here, delighted by the growth and progress of the village. In 2010 they opened the Milkweed Mercantile Eco Inn, which serves as an unofficial DR welcome center.

      Impressed with Lucas’s passion and integrity, and wanting to support Veterans For Peace and veterans in general, Alline is excited to help bring these workshops to fruition. Meeting Sami in 2014 tied all of our plans and dreams into one unified vision, which we are presenting as the Nature Process Workshops at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

      When not working in the Mercantile or making jam, Alline volunteers for the Sierra Club, leading and cooking on trips around the world. She never met a book she didn’t like, and enjoys hanging out with Kurt, their dog Virgil W. Milkweed, and textile arts. Email her at

Close up VFP shirt     Lucas Berard moved to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in 2014, after working as a Program Support Assistant for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He brings a unique flavor of experience to the table as a two time combat veteran, serving in 13 countries and two branches of service (Marine Corps and Army). As a veteran of Fallujah, one of the major battles of the Iraq war, Lucas’ focus is on creating peace by speaking to the true cost of war, and by addressing the sources of conflict itself; environmental destruction, discrimination, income inequality, and interpersonal conflict resolution.

Lucas also volunteers with Veterans For Peace, a national organization of veterans working toward similar goals, and has a vision of developing an ongoing veterans workshop to bring together veterans and intentional communities. “They are perfect for one another, they just haven’t quite figured it out yet.”

Lucas can be reached through this blog page, and via e-mail at