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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 81 bardacke feels confident that longitu- dinal studies of mindfulness applied to the childbirth process will show a range of benefits to the mother, the child, and the couple. she feels it is time for this meth- odology to become more widespread, and has started a professional development and training program for mbcP. “most people having children take childbirth ed- ucation,” bardacke says. “what a wonder- ful opportunity to teach skills that can last a lifetime. this is bigger than just focusing on mindful birth. through practice, we can interrupt intergenerational patterns of dysfunction. this is violence preven- tion, shaken-baby prevention, family- breakup prevention. it’s another means of helping create a more peaceful society.” another presentation at the center for mindfulness’ annual conference focused on training U.S. Forest Service firefighters in “mindfulness-based situational awareness.” James saveland, program manager for Hu- man Factors and Risk management at the Rocky mountain Research station in Fort collins, colorado, talked about the train- ing in simple mindfulness techniques that he and ted Putnam, a retired forest service employee who does accident investigations, have been doing with fire crews. saveland told me that Putnam had been a key inves- tigator into colorado’s south canyon fire in 1994 that killed fourteen firefighters. Fol- lowing the investigation, Putnam organized a human factors conference and has been pushing ever since for greater attention to the role of situational awareness—a term used largely in military con- texts that refers essentially to the intimate awareness of one’s surroundings on a moment-to- moment basis as a precursor to decision-making under stress. saveland had begun to take an interest in work done at a human performance labora- tory at the university of mon- tana that suggested there were many similarities between firefighters and elite endur- ance athletes. He then started to research endurance athletic training that employed mindfulness train- ing, and was impressed with how appli- cable this approach might be to firefighter training. last year, he and Putnam piloted a half-day course that introduced firefight- ers to situational awareness and recent research on the benefits of enhancing it. they taught mindful breathing, walking, and body-scanning, and suggested how mindfulness could be applied to any kind of physical activity. “we used Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness as ‘paying attention, on pur- pose, in the present moment, as if your life depended on it, nonjudgmentally,’” saveland said, “which resonated well with this group. we also taught andrew weil’s 4-7 -8 breath- ing exercise as a way of pausing, taking a moment, and collecting thoughts. we sug- gested they might use that before a morning briefing, for example.” based on the success of doing the half-day course with a number of crews, this year saveland and Putnam are doing more in-depth training with two crews in the field, looking at how mindful- ness techniques could be incorporated into daily operations. “we’re trying to encourage the crews to see this as part of mind-body fitness,” saveland said. He’s written a guide to bringing mindfulness into a daily physical fitness routine, something common to all firefighters. “we’re trying to break down the stereotype of mindfulness as esoteric. ted and i are both meditators and we were smoke jumpers, so we have some credibil- ity in the community. they know we are motivated by a desire to save lives.” ♦ SubScriber ServiceS Subscribe • Renew Pay an invoice • Give a Gift Purchase back issues Change your address Inquire about a subscription Replace a missing issue Online easy, quick, and secure Visit Subscriber Services at www.shambhalasun.com or www.thebuddhadharma.com Call toll-fRee 11:30 am – 8 pm et weekdays 1-877-786-1950 overseas: 01-760-317-2362 fax: 1-760-738-4805 email: