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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: firstname.lastname@example.org or thebuddhadharma.com Mail: Po Box 469095, escondido, Ca 92046–9095 Privacy notice: Subscribers may receive offers from organizations we believe may be of interest to our readers. Contact us if you wish to be excluded from such mailings. Shambhala Sun Foundation An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly.