Manzanar is located in the Owens Valley in California. It lies at the western side of the Great Basin, the northern edge of the Mojave Desert, and the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is widely known for being one of the American concentration camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II in the mid-forties.

Bodhi Casa went to Manzanar for an early Spring adventure, but first we were able to explore the camp to learn what happens when ‘race prejudice and a failure of political leadership’ overshadow our constitution. The National Park Service preserves this space to remind visitors of the intangible realities of what happens when hate versus love, and what the ultimate cost of freedom can mean. With the Sierras as the back drop, we visited a shrine dedicated to the 150 people who lost their lives during that time, causing the men to reflect on their own freedom.

Afterwards, the men headed into the nearby Sierras where we encountered a late season snow storm and had to set up shelters. When some of the men got anxious, Stefan used this as an opportunity to facilitate breath work so the men could down-regulate through pranayama breathing. To quote Stefan who says, “Weather, like life, cannot be controlled.”

Like all the adventures at Bodhi Casa, it was used as a learning experience, to show the men through mindfulness you can forge through any fear. By the time the storm had passed the men felt empowered to the point where some of them even dared to jump into the icy lakes nearby.

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