How the art of stillness can benefit officers
Everyone who owns a phone knows the importance of charging it. Well, why not practice charging yourself daily with the gift of stillness!
I frequently listen to author and speaker Eckhart Tolle on the internet. Over the past few years, he’s had a lot of open sessions on spirituality and how to attain peace. In his book titled, “Stillness Speaks,” he gives his thoughts on why stillness is the best weapon in the fight against aimlessness, depression and despair.
There is depression and despair right now in police departments across the country. For me, when the noise of life gets overwhelming, I practice what Tolle preaches, which is stillness, the art of being still.
Quieting the mind and body
Now more than ever officers need calm in their lives. All over the country, officers are overworked, just trying to just get through the day without the worry of a complaint from a citizen or a zealous boss. All the stress “noises” officers must deal with throughout their day are exhausting. For the average citizen, simply listening to a police radio would be draining, let alone driving the squad car, answering every call and observing behaviors all around you every day. One way to achieve calm is to practice quieting the mind and body.
Tolle preaches the humble practice of stillness. He speaks about eliminating the “commotions” in one’s life and replacing that noise with silence. Tolle explains that “Sometimes we become trapped in a stream of thought, we are anchored in the past or dreaming or worrying about the future, and we miss the now!”
Tolle lectures on the truth and that true intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.
Tolle’s words make me think of all the wise mentors I had at the Chicago Police Department. The wise officers were not loud or aggressive and these fine people could handle any situation. "Why?" you ask. Because they were always in the present mindset.
I realized then as I do now, these officers commanded respect because of their ability to be present. This is a current practice that I am teaching my children now. Basically, be present with what you are doing. Too many officers juggle too many plates in life and wonder why they come crashing down. Slow down and clear your mental and physical zip drive clean. Everyone who owns a phone knows the importance of charging it or else? Well, why not practice charging yourself daily with the gift of stillness!
Here are some easy tips to unwind and practice stillness:
- Breathe. Taking slow, deep breaths induces the parasympathetic system and slows your heart rate.
- Practice when you need it. You can practice this at roll call daily.
- Find a favorite spot to be still. Try to make it outdoors, such as a park bench, or in the yard.
- Listen to soft music. Every mentor I had on the job would unwind with classical music.
- Learn to enjoy being alone. People are often afraid of being alone with their thoughts.
- Turn the TV for a night. This is one way of turning the noise literally off.
- Get off social media. Try it out, you will soon find out, it’s consuming your life.
- Learn to say no. Don’t give yourself out to everyone; it’s not sustainable.
- Take a walk. Going on a walk without my phone or talking can be the most beneficial thing I can do.
- Reading a book. Getting lost in a great read is incredibly relaxing for many officers.
- Stop thinking negatively. This small behavior is critical in mentally rebooting.
Tolle's profound yet simple teachings have helped countless people experience inner peace. His videos that focus on the power of presence and the awakened state of consciousness, which transcends ego, could help all officers.
Finally, just because the world around us is in full-blown chaos, doesn’t mean we always need to join.
About the author
Brian Mc Vey, MAP, is a former Chicago police officer injured in the line of duty in 2012. Brian has a master’s degree in police psychology from Adler University in Chicago IL. Brian likes to talk, you can email him at email@example.com.