Warrior and Rescuer Wellbeing and Spirituality:

A Retreat on Living Well for Active Military, Veterans and First Responders

October 11-14, 2018

Indralaya Retreat Center

Orcas Island, San Juan Islands, Washington State

RETREAT IS Full - No longer accepting applications



The life-long destiny of military veterans and first responders should be to live rich, deep and meaningful lives. Though this destiny may be difficult in today’s world, it is still possible. This pioneering retreat will bring together active duty military, veterans, first responders (police officers, firefighters and medics), engaged civilians, scholars and healing practitioners to explore how to live well as a first responder or military veteran.


For thousands of years societies have supported warriors and rescuers in developing a unique maturity to serve as a counter balance to the skills, mindset, attitudes and experiences needed for battle and responding to dangerous and dark events. This “warrior spirituality” is a deep internal maturity that opens the way for the warrior/rescuer to not only come home and live well, but continue to serve others through the insights and wisdom gained from the warrior/rescuer experience.  


Modern society has lost touch with warrior spirituality. First responder and military service is viewed as simply “a job.” The wounding experience, with its vast psychological, spiritual and social impact, is viewed through the lens of psychopathology. The individual solider, police officer, firefighter or medic receives little guidance in how to: come home and not be on duty; create satisfying relationships outside of the brother-sisterhood; and live in non-threat or non-emergency mode in everyday life. Much of the valuable insight and wisdom warriors and rescuers have for society is lost. The warrior rescuer is only minimally valued in a society that appears to be growing increasingly immature and bereft of a spirituality grounding.   


We seek to revive the knowledge and practices of warrior/rescuer spirituality within military veteran and first responder groups. This retreat will tap into the wisdom, literature and practices of worldwide warrior/rescuer spirituality with an eye toward reviving and strengthening warrior/rescuer spirituality for our time.  This gathering will be one of learning, practicing, exploring, discovering and sharing wisdom. 


This pioneering retreat will:

  • Bring together military, veterans and first responders. Military personnel and first responders are part of a small and select group of people who defend, protect and rescue society in times of threat, danger, disaster and emergency.  Both groups are willing to sacrifice themselves for the protection of society and their colleagues. Both groups are profoundly changed by their experiences. Both groups have much to teach each other and learn from each other about living well. Both groups have much to teach society about the true nature of reality and what really matters.

  • Consider the opportunities inherent in the warrior rescuer experience. The warrior/rescuer experience is a deep initiation into life’s mysteries and what is really real in human consciousness and experience.  While honoring the wounds, we will move beyond their healing and homecoming to consider the profound insights and wisdom that come from work that: regularly interacts with death; confronts extreme paradox; fosters intense focus; demands a reliance on the person next to you for survival; rekindles primitive tribal connections; provides encounters with good and evil and demands utmost morality; and provides a deep sense of meaning.

  • Examine the elements, practices and literature of warrior spirituality.  Drawing on many cultures, traditions and sages past and present, we will demonstrate, discuss and practice what is needed to develop the mature warrior/rescuer.

  • Explore possibilities for creating warrior/rescuer societies within the large society. Together we will explore how we might create environments, settings and organizational cultures where veterans and first responders can receive the needed preparation, guidance, support and eldership to live rich, deep and meaningful lives.


This retreat will be led and facilitated by John Becknell, PhD and Edward Tick, PhD. 


Setting:  Indralaya retreat center located on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Indralaya is a beautiful, serene setting far from the noise and busyness of everyday life.  Accommodations are simple and rustic.  Indralaya is a non-smoking and vegetarian facility.


Participation at this retreat will be limited to 30. Participants will be carefully selected. We are seeking the following:

  • Active duty military, veterans and first responders who are interested and have done work in the area of personal growth, warrior/rescuer spirituality and eldership.

  • Scholars, thought leaders, therapists, chaplains and other healers who are interested in personal growth, warrior/rescuer spirituality and eldership.


Please complete the application for the retreat and we will contact you once decisions have been made. If you have any questions, please contact John Becknell at jmbecknell@gmail.com.  Thank you.  

Soldiers Heart is a registered 501 (c) (3)