It’s been gaining traction as one of those images that gets reposted to popular pages. Most of them caption it the same, saying something about how the image shows Canadian police meditating before work. Since we live in an era of hoaxes and fake news, it’s always worth it to do a little Googling before buying into whatever it is these fan pages and photos are selling.
That photo is the top result and even though it has now appeared on dozens of viral aggregating sites, there is no conclusive evidence — yet! — that those are really police, Canadian or otherwise.
However, there is a trove of resources related to initiatives meant to encourage police officers to meditate. With the tensions between police and the people at an alarming high following many well-publicized instances of discriminatory brutality, it can’t hurt.
According to a variety of sources, including Yoga Anonymous and The Atlantic, it not only can’t hurt, but can definitely help. There are even police officers on board who take classes from monks like Thich Nhat Hanh to strengthen their mindfulness and implement Buddhist teachings in their work. Policing is hard work. There is danger, violence, sadness, and anger inherent to the job. Overcoming it through meditation and mindfulness exercises has been suggested by a number of experts.
Most interestingly, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have started doing “Mindfulness Based Resilience Training,” though the original picture that sparked all this interest was absent from the RCMP’s webpage on the topic. Under subheadings like “Training ahead can help police recover later” and “Fitness of mind, body and spirit,” Lieutenant Richard Goerling explained the purpose of meditation within police departments.
Ultimately, we can’t confirm that the original photo depicts Canadian police meditating before work, but we can confirm that there is a growing movement spearheaded by activists who hope that one day, that scene will be commonplace.
As former police officer and founder of The Mindfulness and Justice Center Cheri Maples put it when writing about her experiences studying Buddhism under Hanh, “Who else would we want to carry a gun besides somebody who will do it mindfully?”