If you’re like me, you want to do something to help the most heroic among us, but really don’t know what to do.
If you are a first responder, or have one of these amazing people in your life, you know first hand how trauma impacts daily life. One of the most powerful tools that help first responders…
...reduce cumulative stress and its consequences is meditation.
New York Fire Commissioner and 40-year firefighting veteran, Salvatore Cassano, says he learned how to meditate after 9-11. “I liked the results,” he said. “It’s a stressful job with little sleep. Right away, I noticed a big difference. I slept better at night and I felt better during the day.”
“I look at this as a tool in the toolbox to handle stress.”
The benefits of meditation have been documented in countless scientific studies, but nowhere are the effects more powerful than in firefighters, police officers, and combat veterans.
Ed Schloeman, co-chair of Operation Warrior Wellness, says that meditation provides first responders with a simple, powerful tool to relieve stress and develop resilience to the unexpected onslaught of traumas and emergencies which are a regular feature of a firefighter’s life.
Common symptoms suffered by first responders include alcohol abuse, high-startle response, emotional numbness and anxiety. Annette T. Hill, clinical director at Warriors Heart, says those symptoms…
...decreased in those who used Transcendental Meditation to treat PTSD.
The Science Behind Meditation
At Centerpointe, we know a little something about the science–and the power–of meditation. Our founder, Bill Harris, studied brainwaves and neuro-audio technology for over 30 years.
His groundbreaking research led him to create a technology (using a powerful form of brainwave entrainment) that allows people to “meditate like a Zen monk at the touch of a button.”
Bill named his proprietary brainwave technology Holosync®, which gives you all the benefits of long-time meditation…
...8 times faster than traditional meditation.
Technically speaking, Holosync calms the limbic system (fight or flight response) and strengthens the prefrontal cortex (executive function). By adding strength to the good parts and melting away the bad ones...
...Holosync is like bootcamp for your brain.
In the line of fire, the limbic system of first responders is on RED ALERT. The “fight or flight” response saves their lives by telling them when to hold the line, when to change strategies, and when to retreat.
Firefighters in California pushed themselves to their limits in grueling 24-hour shifts. They were exhausted, hungry, and physically drained in the face danger. Their heightened limbic systems were further exposed to trauma every time they encountered casualties.
This cumulative stress often leads first responders down a dark path of alienation, despair, and even suicide.
When too much cortisol is pumped through the limbic system, the brain stays in “fight or flight” even when the danger is over.
Note: This happens to all of us, in fact, and we often respond in “flight or flight” mode when we are triggered by old memories...even though the danger (the hurt) is long since gone.
Too much stress of any kind, for any anyone, is dangerous not only to your emotional states, but to your health and longevity as well. It impacts your relationships, your ability to focus, and your overall level of happiness.
In Comes the Cavalry: The Prefrontal Cortex
The area of our brain called the prefrontal cortex is the hero’s hero.
It is the seat of our executive control, and home to our willpower, creativity, and focus. It also controls our threshold for stress (the higher the threshold, the less stress you feel).
When you raise your threshold, little things simply don’t bother you. Even big things can be taken in stride. If your stress threshold is low, you’ll often overreact, have knee-jerk responses, and say and do things you later regret.
You may even live in a frequent state of resentment and anxiety.
You can see why it’s so important to balance these parts of the brain.
This is exactly what Holosync seems to do. Simply by listening to soothing nature sounds, with your headphones on, the proprietary sound technology, embedded beneath the nature sounds, strengthens your executive function and calms your fight or flight response.
In other words, Holosync boosts your willpower, creativity, and ability to handle stress, while it calms your anxiety, fears, and impulsive behaviors…
...just by listening.
Cumulative Stress: Sigmas & Solutions
First responders are often reluctant to talk about the stress and trauma they feel, for fear of being perceived as incompetent or not up to the job. This fear, combined with the desire for camaraderie and the approval of their peers…
...often makes them hesitant to admit they need help.
This spills into family life, which is profoundly affected by husbands and wife, sons and daughters, who are suffering from cumulative stress or PTSD.
In a KQED news article, California firefighter Lucas Boek says he felt like he was letting down his kids. He was used to being able to handle anything — he kind of felt like Superman. Now he found himself crying in the kitchen for no apparent reason.
“I don’t want my kids to think that I’m hurt or broken,” said Boek. “Even though maybe I am a little hurt and broken.”
Annette Hill, clinical director at Warriors Heart, says, “The practice of meditation calms the individual and restores a sense of control.” Meditation, she says, “helps put distance between the symptoms and the person…
...giving them a sense of mastery and containment.”
Everyone, no matter their occupation, gender or age, needs help through the inevitable rough spots in life. When our strongest, most brave and reliable population reaches out for help...
...they should never, ever have to feel alone.
Twenty years ago, a dear friend of mine, suffering from PTSD, took his own life and forever altered the course of mine. I wish I’d known then what I now know about the power of meditation.
Alienation, anxiety, and depression can be a never-ending loop for those suffering from cumulative stress or PTSD. Meditation can help build a bridge toward the path of healing.