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Vets turn to yoga and meditation for healing

Sunday - 5/25/2014, 5:41am  ET

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Ben King leads a session of yoga and meditation at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
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WASHINGTON -- Ben King is a yoga and meditation teacher. He's also an Iraq War veteran, and it's the second year he's promoting Mindful Memorial Day, an event filled with classes, talks and overall awareness about the benefits of meditation in the spirit of healing.

But this year he says he's bringing mindfulness and yoga to the gates of Arlington National Cemetery.

"Mindful Memorial Day is simply an event to be mindful of the fallen and mindful of those still burdened by the trauma of war," said King, who served in the Iraq War as a Psychological Operations Sergeant in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was chief of a three-man Tactical PSYOPS Team, and returned from the war in 2007. He says he founded Armor Down, a forum for alternative healing for veterans, after he came home and was struggling with sleepless nights.

He told WTOP the Army taught him how to "up armor my mind and body for war." Once home, "I taught myself how to armor down to thrive as a civilian." He's not the only one. In fact, King is part of a growing movement of veterans who are seeking alternative health solutions for their stress, chronic pain and other war injuries.

On Saturday, King led a Mindful Memorial event in which veterans and others practiced yoga and meditation at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at the entrance of Arlington Cemetery. "There's an open mat if anyone wants to join us," he announced.

He said the sessions were not only about their own peace of mind, but honoring the fallen and promoting wellness among those returning home.

"Just take a mindful moment of gratitude and remembrance."

WTOP reporter Kathy Stewart contributed to this report

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