Living in the moment might seem like a strange thing to teach police officers. But mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been the subject of hundreds of studies, showing that it helps decrease stress, pain, anxiety, and depression in medical patients and in other groups.
Goerling is capitalizing on this research to help police officers and other first responders with their performance. He believes that mindfulness training holds the key to many of the goals we as a community have for police—that they learn to treat others with respect and caring, and use restraint when necessary in carrying out their duties.
“Mindfulness opens up the space in which we make decisions—we’re not so linearly focused or so stressed because we are under threat,” he says. “We may still be under threat, but because I’m regulating my stress response and my emotions—anger, fear, and ego, which is a huge problem in our culture—I’m more aware of my options.”