Blue Courage Webinar
April 3, 2020
Blue Courage Master Trainers, Chisa Miller, Daniel Schmer, and Howard Powers, help to ignite Present Moment Awareness for you, your families, and co-workers during these trying times of physical distancing! Learn about the Spirit of Ubuntu (Sawa Bona) and bringing people into existence, and being aware of the present moment.
In these trying times of uncertainty and constant change, remember to just breathe! Everyone is going through challenges and we need to take a step back to practice Sawa Bona. Take this opportunity to spend time with the people that matter to you. Watch the video below and let is serve as a reminder to us all.
The Spirit of Ubuntu
If we were in the Northern Natal of South Africa, instead of greeting each other by saying “hello” or “good morning,” we would greet each other by saying “sawa bona.” Sawa bona is the English equivalent of saying hello but it translates into, “I see you.” You would respond by saying, “sikhona.” Sikhona translates to, “I am here.” Essentially, until you see me, I am not here. When you see me, that is when you bring me into existence. Until you bring me into existence, I am invisible! There are far too many people around us who feel invisible day in and day out. Imagine the impact we can make on anther human being by simply acknowledging their existence. Especially right now.
We are in this existence together. We are ALL dealing with the affects of COVID-19, directly or indirectly, and we have a responsibility to each other – to take care of one another. Ubuntu is about respect, human dignity, and compassion for others.
We should never allow people to be invisible! So take a deep breath and know that you are not alone!
To learn more about Sawa Bona (“I See You”), watch Chisa’s video on Sawa Bona at https://youtu.be/u5UAEjGUL8k.
Do you have an Ubuntu moment you’d like to share? Send us an email, video or tag us!
Below is an article from Blue Courage that was featured in the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators online publication.
By Blue Courage, LLC
“Sometimes in this job we are involved in things that can take over our emotions and our thoughts. Tonight was one of those nights. I have shed a tear, this is something that some don’t understand about us, we are people like everyone else and things affect us!” read a recent tweet from a police officer.
Our first responders often place themselves in harm’s way during the course of just one shift. Regular training and education to maintain readiness and enhance officer knowledge and skills are essential to minimize risk and increase the odds that our public safety personnel will not simply survive in this career, but thrive in it.
While current officer preparation provides necessary training and education, it is too often incomplete. A holistic approach to training and education is necessary. Statistically, officers are more likely to suffer from the mental and emotional dangers and risks associated with the profession than physical injury. It is imperative that public safety training include resilience, health and wellness, mission and purpose, and moral courage.
A study done by CareerCast ranked police officer as one of the top ten most stressful jobs. In the short-term, stress can be helpful in getting things done and rising to a specific challenge; however, the long-term effects of chronic stress can and will often result in many physical and mental health manifestations.
With greater scientific understanding of the impact of stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), organizations are increasingly focused on combatting this challenge, though often with very limited or insufficient resources.
The trauma that officers face increases stress levels, which increases the toxic neurochemicals that are released into the body. In addition, the heightened vigilance that officers experience constantly is linked to an increased risk of PTSD, which could affect officer decision-making in fast-moving, high-pressure situations. According to Blue H.E.L.P., an estimated 150,000 officers show up to work with symptoms of PTSD. Blue H.E.L.P. also reported that in 2019 alone there were 225+ known suicides.
Not enough is being done within and for policing to educate those who serve. Not only is there effective treatment for those times of crisis, but there are proven and effective ways to prevent and reduce those moments, as well. Prevention must be the highest priority, not just the intervention when an officer is in crisis. Every agency should intentionally strengthen our men and women so that they are better prepared for the traumatic incidents or the chronic slow drip of corrosion that too often destroy the soul.
Science and research now reveal that resilience is something that can be learned and developed. For example, mindful breathing techniques help to quiet the mind and regulate emotional responses and, when practiced on a regular basis, assist the body’s reaction with reflex regulation when encountering a stressful or high-anxiety situation, allowing one to maintain a clear train of thought and remain calm for a longer period of time.
Our first responders deserve the best education to learn about the importance of taking care of their well-being: physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Officers must be taught to recognize what they are experiencing and respond in a healthy way. They must be provided the best practices and tools that can amplify their readiness — to be taught how to more effectively respond to the world that the profession thrusts at them and regulate the biological response to trauma that all humans have. Our people need to recognize when they are on auto-pilot and begin embracing intentional awareness. Understanding the power of mindfulness vs. mindlessness and behaving reflectively vs. reflexively is critical to this profession. When our public safety professionals neglect the nurturing of the mind, body, emotions, and spirit, they deplete their capacity for optimal performance.
Blue Courage, LLC is dedicated to providing educational services to our first responders. While partnering with several thought leaders, we are committed to providing the most impactful, sustainable educational experiences possible. We are passionate about elevating our public safety professionals and strengthening their capacity to embrace the high calling of the nobility of the profession.
This decade is almost over. Watch this video and ask yourself, are you willing to be the courageous hero that this moment needs?
When the witches and zombies ascend in the night,
The gravestones and pumpkins glow a ghastly light,
When the sounds of tricksters demand a treat,
And laughter squeals through their little teeth,
Our heroes stand guard on this night with care,
So that we can safely frolic without despair.
Have a safe and fangtastic Halloween!
October 24, 2019
It has been four weeks since the team returned from our Dhri Crusade in India. The transition back has been far from simple for most. As minds and hearts race with various thoughts and mixed emotions over these past few weeks, the learning from the Dhri Crusade continues. Michael, Mia, Rebecca, Daniel, Howard, David, Jill, Ian, Jack, and Jocelyn reconvened last week to reflect on the journey.
Michael had experienced everything that the team experienced on his last trip to India. However, this trip was more meaningful being with and experiencing with his team — seeing everyones reactions, shared experiences, joys, struggles, and taking care of one another. His last journey was with people who started off as complete strangers to him. This time, he was with people he already had relationships with, cared deeply about, and had a great deal of history with. What he experienced with his team was his biggest takeaway. And he misses being in the moment, physically, with each person.
This was a common feeling amongst everyone on the team — we sincerely enjoyed spending quality time with each other and getting to know everyone just a little bit more each day. We may talk to each other over the phone, or text and email each other on a daily basis — but there is something magical about being in the physical presence of each other. We fed off of each other’s love and energy that lifted us through the journey. We supported one another, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. Someone asked Rebecca once, toward the end, if people began to get annoyed with each other — and were surprised when her response was that we ended the India portion of the journey stronger than ever. One has to wonder, why is that a shock? What am I emitting into the universe that eventually gets to people in a negative way? Something to ponder!
Other feelings were of a struggle, emotionally and spiritually, seeing the inhumanity everywhere, the filth, the people and kids with their limbs cut off to beg better — the loss of innocence and helpless feeling that there’s nothing that can be done to change that. Many will never see life or the world the same way again — but in the form of growth. Yet others felt that, while these sad things were seen and experienced, they returned with a more positive focus on life, family, purpose, work — there was a reenergizing feeling with being with everyone and connecting more with one’s self.
While talking through these struggling and opposite feelings from post-India emotions, as Jack stated, “The whole trip was an intense paradox of fierce opposites meeting at one place. It was deep, dense urban crunched together in a tiny alley with the bulls, the crap and the motorcycles and then the airy Himalayas. It was the opulent wealth crashed in between absolute poverty. It’s the ultimate test of interdependence. It was the ultimate test of humility, collaboration and surrender. It was those three things that were tested on this trip because if you look at it through any other lens, you became very dependent, barely independent or forced into dependence if you brought in your own ego, your own competition, your own victimization, your own sense of being able to control those circumstances that you were under.” While there was suffering and injustice there, the paradox was that there were also the best darn popcorn makers on the side of the street — this was who they were. While there was begging, there weren’t people feeling like you had something they didn’t, so they had to stab you or rob you because they deserved what you had. There was a level of contentment there. “Where there is choice, there is suffering.” People in America have 47 choices to buy one object on Amazon, and yet they are miserable. People in India are living a life of no choice yet there was some assemblance of clarity for who they are, where they are, what their life is. And while it can appear that there is no choice and they are giving up, there is a difference between acceptance and throwing ones hands up and saying there’s nothing that can be done. There’s still a choice in not having a choice — contentment, acceptance, surrender vs. being frustrated and miserable for what you don’t have. The choice is in the faithfulness of who you are and what you believe in.
Jill added that there was a sense of vulnerability that she had never had before and struggled with. Even when she was working in the police department, no matter what dangerous position she was in, all she needed to do was hit that radio, make a certain sound and she had a small army coming to support her. Even with cell phones today, there is a sense of security being just a click away. In India, walking through the rubble, walking through the extremely crowded alleyways, other than each other on our team, there was no one to call. The level of vulnerability in India brought light to the false sense of control that we sometimes have, which was stripped away there. We do not always have control so we need to stop living like we do. Tony Robbins says that control is an illusion. The more we try to control the more miserable we are. The trip exposed things within ourself that aren’t always authentic. Instead of trying to control outcomes, if we spend that time and energy focusing on our own being, who we are as a person, the rest will work itself out. Yog Sundari had stated on the trip, “A lighthouse doesn’t go down to the ships and try to convince them not to go up against the rocks. It just stands there and radiates light.” By incorporating this lighthouse challenge into our lives, it allows us to let go of the things we cannot control and live with acceptance, humility, and peace.
We were stunned by the traffic, the cows, the pedestrians, the busses and the cars, everything in a given space with no traffic control devices. We American’s were saying, this is absolute chaos, but they have a rhythm. There were pedestrians where a bus or truck would come within a foot of them and they wouldn’t even flinch because they knew that they were going to be respected, they knew they were not going to be hit. Our whole issue of space, and who are we to think that we are entitled to it. Where does that show up in our life, from promotions to how competitive we are with one another, like it’s our “space” that we have an entitlement to but in reality we don’t. In India, they don’t suffer; they embrace what it is and act.
Another common questions was whether we found enlightenment in India. Lao Tsu said, “Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.” Nothing changes. We don’t attain enlightenment — enlightenment is a realization. For many, the realization is that the experience in India on our Dhri Crusade has changed our perspective in many ways. Many of us are still working through and figuring out the changes that have happened, what needs to change, and how to apply our learning into our daily lives. We are figuring out how to re-focus on what’s important in our life and re-prioritize. We are finding ourselves more grateful for what we do have in our lives and especially the people who are a part of our lives — realizing what we have taken for granted in the past. We are continuing to practice the learning we gained as we move forward on our journey. Each of us have different reflections, reactions, and aspects that came out of the journey through India. And we continue to learn from each other, support each other, and work through these challenges and emotions.
There’s no question that this trip was hard. It took sacrifice for everyone to be away from their families, their homes, and other people had to step up in their lives to make this trip a reality. Everyone had to sacrifice to do it; it wasn’t easy, it was a struggle. But we persevered through that. There’s no question that every one of us is different for it and better for it. We can’t be one and done. We have to keep this going. We have to make India a process and that it was just a step in the journey.
The Dhri Crusade lives on, and there is more to come!
A great read. While it was written with correction officers in mind, there’s very good advice for all first responders, not just corrections. It speaks to the lack of training using your “emotional tools”.
September 30, 2019
Our team has now made their way home from our pilgrimage through India, with the last of our team arriving on Saturday.
As we slowly get back into our normal routine and daily lives, we can’t help but reflect on our time spent in India, on our Dhri Crusade. The lessons learned and discussed, the building of stronger relationships with each other and those we work closest with, the experiences of the journey, the emotions felt. There is so much to take away from our time spent in India, and we want to keep the fire going — keep the momentum of what this journey has provided, and continue the Dhri Crusade beyond our time in India…continue it in our daily practices, influence, and actions.
Our team has committed to a 21 Day Challenge to enforce the teachings of the journey into our day-to-day lives. By committing to at least 2 daily practices starting tomorrow (October 1st), we keep fanning the flames of the energy from our journey. We invite you to join in the challenge as well! Below are some suggested daily practices that can help us to become the best person we can be, the best vision of ourselves.
While the official Dhri Crusade in India has come to and end, the Dhri Crusade lives on inside each of us!
Suggested daily practices:
September 23, 2019
The Throat VISUDDHA
Colour Blue, 16 Lotus Petals, Element Ether, Sense of Hearing
Expression: voice, communication, permission, empowerment, expansion, development
Affirmation I SPEAK
Day 8 theme: Amplification
Today the Dhri Crusade team started our morning with meditation and yoga with the Himalayan foothills set as our backdrop. We then visited the ashram that the Beatles stayed at. It was a very interesting and beautiful visit inside a spiritual environment. Butterflies fluttered everywhere as monkeys played in the treetops above. One couldn’t help but fade in and out of history as we walked through the halls of the unkept, overgrown structure.
David met a police officer from this region and presented him a challenge coin from his department, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
Upon leaving the ashram, we walked back into Rishikesh along the Ganges river, stopping along the way to dip our feet in the cold water.
Below is some of the learning we gained today.
You have to discover the true self. If you’re in denial you will never become the person you want to be – you can’t self actualize and evolve. Science proves the only nourishing things to do is to start the day in nature and mediation in the first 30 minutes of the day. Not on your phone or watching the news.
States of Consciousness