Recently I had a wonderful opportunity to work with new police recruits. Self-care and resiliency skills are imperative in our world. What better way to serve than to teach yoga, breathing and meditation skills to law enforcement officers? I don’t pretend that it’s THE answer to what has been happening in the United States, yet I do believe that it’s a beginning.
I think of the adrenaline that flows when we feel our life is threatened, that fight-or-flight reaction that has helped humans survive. This happens on a regular basis for law enforcement officers who walk the beat, the ones who each day face angry, upset and traumatized people. They face situations that many of us won’t ever face.
Not surprisingly, it’s getting harder and harder to coax people into taking these often dangerous and rewarding jobs. Though the media would lead us to believe that most law enforcement officers are racist and mean, my experience shows me differently. It may be that I am a white woman, but something inside tells me that it’s more than that.
As I thought about what to teach, I thought many new recruits are fit so they don’t need a lot of asana. Breathing, mindfulness and meditation would be my focus. These are skills that could change the way they felt quickly, skills that are easy to embody and remember, and skills that all of us could use to make handling our own and others’ emotions a bit easier.
- Counting to 10 (of course, only if they’re in a situation where it’s safe to wait)
- Long, deep breaths
- Thinking before reacting
- A personal mantra, such as “peace,” that they repeat before leaving their cars
- A short meditation or visualization in between calls or each morning before they start
This may sound simplistic, and it is. Changing how we feel is simple. It’s just not easy.
What if we could provide this training in schools, at home and in stressful work environments?
I’d love to hear your ideas. I plan on returning to work with police recruits as often as they will have me.