Amerikanska polisen får lära sig Mindfulness

Mindfulness introduceras hos amerikanska polisen för att reducera stress och minska övervåld. Undersökningar visar att polisyrket har bland de högsta stressnivåerna och nu introduceras Mindfulness på stationerna i Seattle, Washington och Madison Wisconsin.

Tanken är att poliserna ska få lära sig hantera stress, känslor och reaktioner för att kunna reagera genomtänkt och avsiktligt, inte bara per automatik. Syftet är dubbelt; att hjälpa poliserna att hantera trauman lättare samt att minska våldet.

"The “Mindful Badge” program, whose creator Richard Goerling is among those leading the Dallas training, describes on its website the benefits as a win for both departments and their communities: “Mindfulness skills training cultivates and sustains resilience and fosters civility among police officers and professional staff within a police agency.”

Meditation has become a near-ubiquitous self-help trend, and research suggests departments shouldn’t discount it as a fad. Siegel says it’s proven to have positive effects on the body and the mind, from improving the immune system and cardiovascular function, to changing the structure of the brain.

It helps with attention, memory, behavior, and regulating one’s emotions. In terms of reducing violence, it could lessen impulsivity, widen the options for officers’ actions, and increase empathy and compassion. Researchers even argue mindfulness training could reduce racial bias.

In a stressful situation, it is tougher for the mind to respond and not simply react, explains Matthew Hunsinger, an associate professor of social psychology at Pacific University who studies the effects of mindfulness practice on police officers. “We can think of our mind as kind of muscle in that we can fatigue it,” he says.

Our muscles have a finite amount of energy, which is why you probably shouldn’t attempt a hike after a leg workout. The same applies to the brain, which doesn’t have unlimited energy for the mental activity of self-control or deliberation.

“Because it takes mental energy to observe our thoughts and feelings and not respond to these thoughts and feelings the moment they arise,” Hunsinger says, “being stressed out means our mental energy reserves are smaller and there is less energy to engage in that process.”

Practicing mindfulness could be compared to building muscle strength at the gym, since it increases your mental resources, he says.

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