From Veterans Retreat to Seasonal Staff | Omega

After attending A Retreat for Male Veterans in May 2019, Johnathon Lang was so inspired by the environment at Omega that he joined the seasonal staff, bringing a balance of structure and playfulness with him.   

Omega: How did you find Omega?

Lang: I came to the veteran’s retreat in May 2019. I am an Iraq War Veteran and have had my challenges in coming back from war, from Iraq and Baghdad. Not just coming back for myself, but also bringing something valuable back from that experience that can help other people to move forward in their life and to help create a world where there is less conflict in the first place.

Omega: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Lang: I wanted to be a Toys “R” Us kid. I wanted to stay playful. I was always a more expressive member of my class, for better or worse. I wasn’t the one who enjoyed just sitting in the chair. If I was answering a question I would often answer not only verbally, but with body language, getting up and acting it out.

Apart from that, I wanted to be a soldier. It sounds diametrically opposite—you want to play and enjoy life, but you want to be a soldier? One life is just enjoying living in the now (a little Eckhart Tolle), and the other is super structured. I really liked the discipline in the military; there was something I respected about it.

In the military, I could have a career where my performance would be measured on moving my body, having camaraderie with a very tight-knit team, working together with them to achieve goals and traveling the world. That was my dream, too. It was both.

Omega: What's something a friend or community member could learn from you?

Lang: You could come to me to explore human movement: playful, practical, expressive movement. I teach three inter-related systems that are part of an integrated approach to evolutionary human movement. One is called Animal Flow. One is called Natural Movement, shortened to MovNat. Those are both grounded within an overarching system called Movement Origins (MovOr), which uses tools from the two systems and incorporates them into a container of self-exploration and connection through play.

Omega: What is your philosophy toward your personal practice?

Lang: In my personal practice, it is about connecting with who I am, with other people, with nature. In my practice of teaching and facilitation, it is about helping the practitioners to connect to themselves, to connect with each other and to connect with nature, and to help them cultivate skills to do that beyond the container that I’ve set and apply those skills in daily life. I want others to know their bodies more, enjoy their movement more, to feel less intimidation when they see nature and want to participate in it—feel it. The aim in my own movement practice, and in the work I do with others, is helping us reconnect to our birthright of natural movement.

Omega: How has Omega helped you in your career and/or personal development?

Lang: The container here is very open, multi-disciplinary, and nested within a beautiful forest landscape. I practice MovNat every day. I do the movement dance classes with other people here. That, for me, is movement research. I have been doing impromptu Animal Flow classes with people here and exploring movement with other like-minded people. I love playing with games, AcroYoga, solving movement riddles, going out into the woods: vaulting, jumping, climbing.

Omega: What is a professional skill you are currently working on?

Lang: I’m looking at how to bring more of my practice to the combat veteran community, to share what I’ve learned and give back. There is a physical component to what I do, and there is very much an emotional/mental component to it too. I believe that there is a lot of unlocked potential in veterans because of the experiences they’ve had of transcending racial, cultural, and ethnic boundaries. There’s something very deep that I believe is lost in modern culture that is at least partially reclaimed in that experience of war. There are many extreme and violent circumstances that cause that insight. I believe that veterans can share the positive sides of that insight with America as a society to help us heal or integrate a lot of these cultural clashes that we see when people can’t understand each other and just demonize one another.

Omega: How would your closest friend describe you?

Lang: Structured, but flowing.

Omega: That reminds me of your first answer.

Lang: Yeah, mediating between order and chaos. Sometimes going a little farther over to one side, but always aiming to walk that balance, or harmony, between yin and yang. Between known and unknown, back and forth.

Omega: What would we most likely find you doing on a day off?

Lang: Moving! You'd catch me exploring consciousness, maybe in movement, maybe in stillness, maybe in a meaningful conversation. Movement is important to me, but I also value meditation and contemplative practices. 

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