The effects of COVID-19 have left a lot of us in desperate need of evidence that kindness is not under quarantine. And to our surprise, we recently received just that from a very unlikely source: a release from the Colorado Springs Police Department that offers not details about a horrific crime or another affront to humanity, but step-by-step instructions on how to relieve stress through breathing exercises.
The missive, penned by CSPD Community Relations Sergeant Jason Newton, is directed to reporters, a group that's not often a favorite with law enforcement officials. And Newton's sentiments, which begin with the greeting "Hello media friends," could hardly be kinder.
"I have been thinking about all of you and wanted to say thank you for all that you do every day and for all of your hard work in the last few weeks," Newton writes. "The news media is such an important part of our daily lives and we are thankful for the sacrifices you all make to bring the news into our homes. I have talked with many of you and know that you are all working hard to help keep everyone safe and informed. I have also heard some upsetting stories about how some of you have been verbally attacked, which is disappointing. Please know that we in the Colorado Springs Police Department love and support all of you."
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The rest of the message, however, is universal, complete with references to Western poetry and Eastern philosophy. If anything will make you feel better, it's the following.
Thanks, Sergeant Newton. We love you, too.
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These are uncertain and stressful times. I know that some of you are aware that I teach mindfulness to our officers and the question that comes up is, "What do we do now?" It's a question many of us may be asking ourselves, so I thought I would share this with all of you.
First, it's okay to hurt or feel anxious, take time to experience your emotions. It may be fear, anger, deep sadness, pain, or even loss of control. These feelings will not just go away, so we acknowledge and accept these feelings. This is a critical step in the healing process. The danger comes when we try to "power through." The more power we use to push the pain away, the more power the pain has to come back at us. As poet Robert Frost put it: "The best way out is always through."
As the Tao Te Ching states in Verse 23: "If you open yourself to loss, you are at one with loss and you can accept it completely." This could be the loss of a life, which sadly we have experienced locally. It could also be a loss of control, which will likely continue for some time. There are no easy answers, but I do want to encourage this simple breathing exercise to help us stay focused.
• Breathe in through your nose for a 4 count.
• Hold the breath for a 4 count.
• Exhale out through your mouth for a 4 count.
• Pause for a 4 count
• Inhale 2, 3, 4.
• Hold 2, 3, 4.
• Exhale 2, 3, 4.
• Hold 2, 3, 4.
If you feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. Use your BREATH as an ANCHOR, and come back to it as much as you need. Don't expect a blissful trance of no thought, but rather, try to tune into the here and now. If a thought or emotion comes, that's okay. Simply acknowledge the thought or emotion and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Please take care of yourselves.... Remember we are in this together and Together we are Stronger.