Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, your body, and surrounding environment.
Mindfulness is the opposite of multi-tasking.
A person who is mindful focuses on what he or she is sensing and feeling in the moment.
Mindfulness is truly listening, fully tasting, and the undoing of mental and physical knots and tensions.
It can increase our sense of personal confidence, and gives us more options and strength to face the numerous daily challenges. It is deeply appreciating every experience, taking our feelings in the now, and not concealing them or pushing them away.
Officers need to practice mindfulness even more with the recent spate of officer murders and suicides across the country.
Recently, studies have shown numerous benefits of mindfulness including stress reduction, improved focus and easing of aches and pains. Neuroscientists using technology called functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) found that mindfulness produces positive changes in the brain that make us healthier and more productive.
Mindfulness is noticing an old woman waiting at a bus stop on a cold, twenty-degree day and offering to taxi her home in your squad car. Abraham Lincoln famously stated, “When I do good, I feel good!” If you have ever waited for a bus and a friend or family member gave you a ride home, it made you feel great, right?
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Mindfulness is generous, noticing a child short fifty cents at the counter and paying his tab. We are mindful when we use our discretion daily and give someone a break on a traffic stop.
Cynical officers may think it’s ‘soft’ to use the mindfulness approach, but another way to look at this would be using ‘Officer Discretion.’ What the local media, the general public and politicians do not understand is this: officers give people breaks! If we locked up every guilty person we encountered during our tour of duty, prisons would have to be as tall as the Trump Tower!
Every time police officers are called to a scene, we are trained to mentally prepare ourselves for the worst-case scenario. We see the most terrible images of people, real-time. It’s hard for us to get out of that habit of hyper-responsiveness when we take the uniform off.
That’s why mindfulness can be so helpful for us. One enormous benefit of practicing mindfulness is having a clear and calm mind during and after your shift.
How many officers do you see at roll call who appear tired and stressed?
I read an article that said stress is, “The Black Plague of the 21st century.” I couldn’t help but think of many officers in Law Enforcement who do not know how to cope with stress.
Science has established that stress can lead to weight gain. Further, prolonged stress can damage brain cells and diminish the capacity to remember things. It disrupts your immune system and appears to trigger a degenerative process in your brain that can result in Alzheimer’s disease.
A well-known comedian who knows how to successfully deal with stress is Jerry Seinfeld. He’s been practicing mindfulness meditation for over 40 years, and recently said, ”You know how your phone has a charger? Practicing mindfulness meditation is like having a charger for your mind and body.”
Seinfeld stated that his twice-daily meditations give him “effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within.” It’s often said sports are 90% mental and only 10% physical. I believe this is true with Law Enforcement, as well.
Officers need to re-charge their bodies and minds daily because of the continued attack on police officers across the country. It is no surprise that some of the best professional athletes have turned to mindfulness. Those in Law Enforcement need to make that healthy leap as well!
Help yourself. All that is required for mindfulness is breathing – which is free to everyone.
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When you arrive at the station you can easily be swept away by unfolding drama and forget to be mindful of what you’re doing.
Whatever your shift involves, your attention is sure to be sucked up. If mindfulness is practiced regularly and properly, you will see the benefits almost immediately.
At the bottom line, it all comes down to saving just ONE life.
Brian really enjoys talking with his readers. He can be reached here: EMAIL.
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