The Chaplain's Notebook


Would you like to reduce your stress, be happier and think better? We all know the basic drill is to eat well, work out and get enough sleep. But what about mind and spirit? Research shows that meditation (or prayer, if you prefer) improves your ability to slow your mind down, let go of distractions and revitalize. Here are a few good resources and techniques for deputies:

Mindfulness (e.g.,
Movement (e.g., tai chi or yoga)
Visualization (e.g.,

What is the simplest way to get started? Find a quiet place or a comfortable chair. Take a moment to allow your body to settle into a comfortable position. Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so (you can leave them open if you are not comfortable). Begin by taking a breath, in and out. You may repeat a word like “calm,” “God” or “now” with each breath out. Feel the sensation of air moving in and out of your body. If you notice your mind is wandering, just notice it; do not push it away. Gently bring your attention back to the breath. Allow yourself to let go of noises, thoughts, feelings and distractions as they appear. The key is to practice repeatedly bringing your focus back to your breathing, without any judgment regarding thoughts or feelings that will inevitably arise.

If following your breath is difficult for you, there are many other ways to meditate — you can light a candle and stare at the flame, take a relaxing bath or daydream while staring at the waving leaves of a tree. It is impossible to meditate “wrong,” but in order to master it, you will need to practice. The most important part of the practice is continuously returning your attention to whatever you are focusing on (breath, the feel of the warm water, the flickering of the flame, etc.).

What are the benefits of implementing these techniques?

• Less stress
• More happiness or an elevated mood
• Less anger and reactivity, on or off the job
• Better focus and concentration
• Improved cardiovascular performance and immunity, slower aging and better health
• Self-awareness
• Understanding personal strengths and weaknesses (think the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”)
• Improved coping skills
• Better judgment

Wondering where to start? Here are a couple of apps to guide you:

Stop, Breathe & Think: Downloaded over 2 million times and highly rated. It takes only a few weeks to create your personal place of calm through the app.
Headspace: Walks you through various levels to enhance meditation. The first is basic meditation in easy 10-minute sessions.

It does not take a huge investment to experience the benefits of meditation. I like to meditate before breakfast to start my day with a clear mind and a feeling of peace, but you can do it anytime, even on the fly! I like to meditate for about 15 minutes, but even five or three minutes is good. To improve your skills, you have to continue to practice, and you should expect that it will be difficult to master. If you can commit to practicing even for a few weeks, you will notice an improvement in your technique. More importantly, you will begin to notice some of the benefits described above.

I am happy to lend further guidance or support in meditation and/or prayer; contact me at God love you!
(Hat tip:

How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their units of assignment, or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500.