After the Webinar: Mindfulness for Law Enforcement. Q&A with Terry Clark

Webinar presenter Terry Clark answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Mindfulness for Law Enforcement: Surviving and Thriving in Life and on the Job. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: Can you repeat the last words of the affirmation? And I believe she’s referring to the affirmation that may be healthy, may be safe, and so on. 

Terry Clark: So, that’s known as the metta. It’s May I be safe? May I be happy? May I be healthy? And, may I live with ease?

Host: Perfect. And I think you said that you can say those in whatever order you would like to. Did I get that right?

Terry Clark: Yeah, The order isn’t critical. Although, I find that from my experience ending with “May I live with ease” actually makes me feel more at ease at the end of it. They tell you that last words, being on the last phrase, makes me actually kind of release some of my stuff. The progression is you start with yourself, and that’s sort of the same kind of thinking when you’re on an airplane, where you get an oxygen mask on you first. You can’t help anybody if you’re not alive and you’re not well, right? So, we start with ourselves. We go to someone we love dearly. We go out to our circle to somebody that we know. Then, if we have the energy for it, we go all the way out to somebody we’re having a tough time with. Somebody we actually dislike. That could be some public figure that you disagree with very vociferously. What they found is that this practice actually increases empathy and compassion in people, and it makes them feel better about being around other people in themselves.


Audience Question: Often, officers express a fear that increased empathy and compassion can cause deadly delays, and respond to a threat. How would you respond to the statement?

Terry Clark: Well, I think that that’s a legitimate fear. I think the officers experience today, as they have for, you know, ever since there been police, The world can be a dangerous place. And oftentimes, we experience it that way, because we’re out there, we respond to where the danger is. So, I always want to say that we have to take care of our own safety first, and the safety of the victims, and the innocent people around us, and that has to be a priority. And the good thing about meditation and mindfulness, though, is that it doesn’t just make you passive. It just makes you more aware of yourself and what you’re feeling at any given moment, and it gives you more options about how to deal with what’s going on around you. It won’t necessarily dull your reaction to somebody with a gun or knife or some other weapon. It shouldn’t slow you down in that moment. It actually will make you a keener in terms of your thinking because it makes your thinking more clear and you’re less distracted by things over time which ought to actually make you make your decisions better about what is a threat and what isn’t a threat. And when things aren’t a threat, it can make you able to deal with the public better.


Audience Question: Can I ask you to go to your last slide, just in case people want to be able to get ahold of you and find out your e-mail and your Facebook page, and so on?

Terry Clark: The hyperlinks on my slide? Is there a way for you to get those out to folks?

Host: Yes. We can, We’ll put those on the resource page for the webinar and people will be able to find them right on that. You don’t have to be a member or anything like that.

Terry Clark: So folks, as you’re looking at this slide I have up. There are a couple of free apps called Calm and Headspace that really people swear by them. There’s a paid aspect of it, too, if you want the extra stuff. But I find that for folks that are just learning to meditate or be mindful, it’s really helpful to have a resource like on their smartphone, and many of these have different various timelines perspectives. So, you can do it for like three minutes, unit for five minutes, 10 minutes, 20, 40, an hour. They have these different based on what you have available. So, what I would suggest to people is not to be afraid to start meditating, because they can’t spare an hour. You wish you could be able to meditate for a minute at a time if you want to. You can be mindful in any given moment, and so anytime you have a space that’s safe, what I would recommend for the police officers here that are actually out on the street. when you have a safe space between when you leave your home, and when you begin your day, you spend a little time getting mindful. Then, like, after you’ve left a scene, that was really difficult, like when you’re doing a report writing, find a moment to work on your breath and calmed down and be clear about what you’re writing, about what happened. It will help with your clarity of what you saw and what you did. Then you want to find time between when you leave for the day, or from your work, and before you re-engage with your loved ones. You want to kind of like see that the stress of the day and the violence, and the discord that you experienced, kind of picture smoke leaving the back of your neck, and leaving your body. So that when you come in and you give your wife, your husband, your partner, your kid a hug, that you’re fully present with them and you’re not carrying that stuff that day with you. Like the detritus that we see on the street, okay? Then, so coming back to what’s here on this page is resources. You can go to the internet, and you can look up MBSR if you want to take the class at the University of Mass or Brown University. Then there Officer Safety and Wellness Resources at Justice on this link that cover things more than mindfulness, but mindfulness is an aspect of it. There are guided meditations that are free at UCLA Health at an app that you can download for free. There are guided audio and video meditations at the Centers for Integrative Health. So, all these resources are available to you if you want to go explore further. And I suggest that before this phase you take some steps today or tomorrow and follow up and get access to something on your phone. So, it’s always with you, and you can try it when you have time.


Audience Question: Mark wants to know, where can we find your book? 

Terry Clark: Right now, it’s being finished. And, Mark I have to ask you if my wife planted that one. I am writing a book. It’s on the Flow State. And the title is going to be Flow into Your Best Life. And so, I’ll do other webinars here, through the Justice Clearinghouse on mindfulness, but I’m also going to cover wellness in the flow state in upcoming versions, for free, because I want to help you all access these things that I haven’t spent a lot of time studying.


Audience Question: If mindfulness is no longer working at one’s current job, is it time to find a new job? 

Terry Clark:  There are things about every career field that are difficult. And I wouldn’t, without knowing a lot more about somebody, I would never recommend that they leave their job, based on mindfulness. But I would suggest that you know if your workplace is toxic and it’s actually harming your health, but you find the support you need to survive that job if you needed to pay the bills. And hopefully that if you have the resources that make you somebody that’s good to law enforcement. I got to say most folks I know that are good at law enforcement would be pretty good at some other things too. And uh, most of us, unfortunately, have buried some friends. We’ve dealt with suicides. We’ve seen the worst-case scenarios and I wouldn’t want anybody to keep working in this career field if it wasn’t safe for them anymore. So get the help you need. Talk to somebody that you can trust then listen to your heart.


Audience Question: Would it be helpful at all to offer a mindfulness meditation space within our offices?

Terry Clark: I’d recommend that highly. I think that if there are any chiefs listening today or an advisor to the chief to go in and say, “We need space.” There needs to be some room in the department that’s safe when they come off the street where people can detox a little bit. Where they can spend some time, just quietly, working on their breathing, doing a body scan, and listening to a guided meditation. Because this job is hard on your health. And it can be hard on the relationships in your life, and it can actually shorten your lifespan. Mindfulness can actually help you overcome some of those negative impacts as we solve those research studies. So I would suggest to any department that doesn’t have a space for meditation or mindfulness, they create it.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Mindfulness for Law Enforcement: Surviving and Thriving in Life and on the Job.  

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