Mindfulness Meditation for High Stress Jobs
Many of us turn to mindfulness meditation as a release from our stressful work and activity-packed daily lives.
Regardless of whether we work at home, in a quiet office, in a busy restaurant or store, or just with people of all ages and from all walks of life, a regular meditation practice simply makes it easier to do our jobs and to do them well.
And while virtually any work environment can lead to stress and anxiety, recent news articles and studies have focused on the correlation between meditation and some of the most stressful professions in the country – aka, jobs where people’s lives are continually at stake.
It takes a certain caliber of hero and human being to tackle this sort of profession.
- Police officer
- Emergency room doctor
Because these people recognize that if they don’t do their jobs correctly, lives are lost, which is a heavy burden that can linger well after the work day is over.
And while meditation has been embraced by companies and working professionals all over the world, in recent years, it’s starting to be recommended for these highly dangerous and challenging positions as well.
Local police departments and firefighting companies are embracing the practice, while scientific publications and papers are recommending the practice for a far-reaching range of high stakes positions.
Here’s a closer look at how meditation can make these professionals’ lives easier – which is great news for both these heroes, and for all of us who benefit from their hard work.
Chief Sylvia Moir, the head of the Tempe, Arizona Police Department and an officer with more than 30 years of experience under her belt, recently made headlines when she publically shared her belief that teaching and practicing meditation should be a key component of police officer development.
“Without a doubt I think the practice shows promise, [by] getting us to be present, not take triggers, not take the bait that makes us react, and if the practice can get us to see the perspective of another to enhance our compassion, then I think it does lend itself to broader application in policing,” she told ABC News’ Dan Harris in a recent interview.
Moir herself regularly practices meditation, and so do a lot of other officers through individual self-sought programs, or through police force initiatives.
And the benefits, according to Moir, helps officers in the field make smarter decisions, and have the ability to see tough situations from different perspectives, besides their own.
“It takes courage because there’s this narrative around police officers that we are hard and tough and cynical,” she said during the interview. “[But] I have found police officers to be incredible people, and we view our responsibility, our duty, and this call that we are guardians always, and warriors when we need to be.”
Firefighters and EMTs
Studies are starting to come to the surface on how meditation can help professionals deal with PTSD – a somewhat common occurrence for firefighters and EMT operatives whose workday consists of life and death situations.
One of the most prominent studies to come to the surface in recent years was an article that was featured in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and examined the benefits of meditation for urban firefighters.
Using a group of 124 firefighters, the study essentially found that mindfulness meditation was “associated with fewer PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, physical symptoms, and alcohol problems […].”
It was an unsurprising correlation for many personnel who had embraced the practice, as meditation helps with judgment, stress reduction, and anxiety.
All of these conditions can be detrimental to firefighters and EMT professionals both on and off the job.
This is why some prominent fire departments across the country offer free mindfulness meditation sessions for their team members. And why meditation is popping up at hospitals for both patients and staff alike.
Several fire chiefs have even talked at national meditation conferences in years’ past about how the practice allowed them to do their jobs better across the board.
Granted, one of the main reasons why mindfulness meditation is so wonderful is because it’s for everyone.
Regardless of profession, age, and stage of life, we can all reap great rewards and benefits from the practice.
But for many of us, it’s good to know that the heroes in the country’s most dangerous positions – including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs – are embracing the practice as well.
Suffice it to say, as a result of this uptick in interest, their lives – and our lives – will be much safer in the long run.
Having a professional teacher on your side will go a long way in getting you started. Once you’re on the path, you’ll be amazed at how far meditation will take you.