More often than not, a hero's most epic battle is the one you never see; it's the battle that goes on within him or herself. ~ Kevin Smith
WFAA Profile: One Woman's Mission to Offer Meditation to Those in Uniform
The sorrows of duty, like the heat of the sun, have scorched your heart. But let stillness fall on you with its sweet and cooling showers, and you will find happiness. ~ Ashtavakra Gita
Brain Science Shows Why It's a Great Idea for First Responders to Meditate
I didn't need a neuroscientist to tell me I was suffering from the effects of chronic stress. I knew that. I lived it. Every. Single. Day. But, I needed a few of them to prove to me that mindfulness meditation could help me do something about it. Considering heart attacks and suicide are the two leading killers of our brothers and sisters in blue, mindfulness meditation offers some pretty great stuff for law enforcement. Here's what the research is saying:
If you are a Public Safety leader, you probably want your first responders to be safer, healthier and happier. Here's what I want:
I want to train first responders in mindfulness meditation and train law enforcement and fire service leaders and decision-makers the value of mindfulness and resilience training in the field of public safety. In retrospect, I realize how much this could have helped me during my own 21-year career as a cross-trained police officer, firefighter, and paramedic. I want to help others integrate mindfulness meditation into their lives so they can have richer, deeper, safer, and more meaningful personal and professional lives. I want them to know they don't have to choose between who they are and what they do for a living; that they can be better at both through the practice of mindfulness meditation.
As an agency or municipal leader, a great way to serve your first responders is to offer professional instruction in mainstream mindfulness practices. I have developed the Resilient Badge Mindfulness Training program specifically for law enforcement and emergency fire services personnel. The skills training provided is practical, non-religious, and can be learned in a single training day. From one first responder to another, these are the powerful tools you need to help mitigate the negative effects of chronic stress and enhance your resilience.
Mindfulness meditation is a collection of tools that, when practiced over time, settle the nervous system and train the brain to be more focused, engaged, and less emotionally reactive. A regular mindfulness meditation practice will create real and lasting changes to the physical structures of the brain, enabling first responders to become more resilient and compassionate, and better able to cope with their stressful occupation.
While there are mindfulness techniques and peace-finder practices I can teach for use in stressful situations, meditation, in and of itself, is NOT an isolated tool for first responders to use on-duty. What I mean is, they DO NOT pull up to a call and close their eyes and focus on their breathing. Nor do they ever pull over, close their eyes and meditate inside their patrol car, fire apparatus or MICU. That would be a HUGE safety issue! We practice regularly, when and where it's safe, so we develop the capacity to show up and be safer later...amidst the chaos.