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Mindfulness for Security Operatives

November 22, 2016

Published By Tony O' Brien

I’ve thought long and hard about writing this article. There’s probably a large proportion of people who will read the subject line and not read any further. To those of you who have gotten this far please stick with me.

Mindfulness was a subject that I scoffed at when I was introduced to it many years ago. I like many of you had visions of Buddhist monks and endless hours of chanting. I was first introduced to mindfulness by an old martial arts instructor about 18 years ago. It was taught to me as a method to control breathing and relax during sparring sessions. At first I thought it was absolute craziness but I saw my instructor roll and spar numerous opponents without wheezing while I was gasping after a few rounds. Once I started taking it a little more serious I found myself improving not just in my martial arts but in everyday life as well.

So, what is mindfulness? For me, mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, your emotions and your physical conditions. Being aware of these things not only helps you focus and relax but gives you much more control over them in a subtle way.

A few myths and a reality

Myth 1: Mindfulness is a Zen like calm only achieved by monks.

Reality: Mindfulness can be practiced by anybody. It isn’t about being ultra-calm (although calmness is a by product). It is simply about being aware of your emotions and having control over your emotional state.

Myth 2: You need to sit and chant for hours to meditate

Reality: What’s being described here is meditation as a practice of mindfulness. This can be done in as little time as you wish and you can sit in absolute silence to do it. It can be done in 30 seconds or 30 minutes. I recommend 10 minutes to start. (Surely you have 10 minutes to sit in silence)

Myth 3: You need to sit cross legged on a carpet while being mindful.

Reality: You can sit, stand, walk, run, lift weights while being mindful. It can be practiced on any couch, chair, car or floor you want. I’ve meditated on buses, trains, gym changing rooms and cars. 

Myth 4: It doesn’t work anyway so waste your time.

Reality: I believe it works. And so, do some of the most successful people in the world. It was practiced by Shaolin warrior monks, Chinese king Fu masters, and samurai warriors. In more modern times breathing control is practised by people such as Horion and Rickson Gracie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Special forces soldiers, the Russian art of Systema and many others.

So, what has this got to do with working in security you might ask. Well nothing and plenty to be honest. There are countless security operatives out there who get by just fine without it. There are also countless of us out there who would like to be better able to focus, to relax or to control our emotions or our physical responses. If you could spend 10 minutes before work making yourself feel more energised, more alert, more focussed and less likely to get stressed would you think it was worthwhile?

Practical applications

It doesn’t need to be the stereotypical cross legged chanting monk-like image you have in your head. Sit down for 10 minutes before work in a quiet place. Take some deep breaths. Close your eyes and relax. If you struggle to sit still for 10 minutes there are amazing free apps out there like Headspace which talk you through the whole process. Don’t worry if you find your mind straying for most of the time. It gets easier. I used to do this most nights for 10 minutes in the car before going into work. I can honestly say it made a huge difference to me. It made me much calmer, more relaxed and more alert. I used to consider it getting my work mindset in place and leaving all the emotional and physical baggage of the day behind.

Even on those nights where it was wet, miserable and violent I found myself better able to manage my mood, my temper and my concentration (most of the time). During violent encounters, it helped me to detach from the fear and anger of the encounter and respond more effectively and controlled which I have no doubt kept me and my team safer.

The main benefit I got from it though wasn’t in these difficult moments I’ve described above. The main benefit I found was in dealing with the aftermath of these difficult moments. The stress and adrenaline you feel after a conflict or a difficult situation. Being relaxed and mindful helped me rationalise the stressful after effects of violence and the sometimes difficult moments of personal abuse or threats. This is now more commonly known as resilience (I’ll do another full article on this topic) but it is just another positive by product of mindfulness. If any of you have ever come home from work feeling down, second guessing your words or your actions in a conflict situation or worrying about the consequences of a violent encounter then this will help. It helped me manage that horrible feeling after conflict of adrenaline being dumped through the system.

One of the most common questions asked by people new to mindfulness is “how will I know it’s working”?

The truthful answer is that generally you won’t. Usually the positive control, awareness and behaviours associated with mindfulness will be noticed by other people around you before you notice them yourself. Others notice that your calmer under stress, more controlled, more aware and when they begin to comment on it you realise it personally the benefits are already obvious to others.

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I usually finish off these articles with a summary and one of two action points for the people who have taken the time to read the entire article. On this occasion that approach is incredibly difficult as mindfulness is a very subjective area. If I could suggest 2 things for you to try out over the next week:

  1. Take 10 minutes before work each day to sit down by yourself. Close your eyes, sit in silence and just breathe in and out. It’s isn’t going to hurt and it may help. (I highly recommend the free Headspace app for this.)
  2. After you finish work. Sit down for 5 minutes and do the same. Look forward to getting home to your family, your gym, your friends or your bed and leave all the stress of work behind you.

If you have stuck with me to the end I thank you and I ask you to try these things. If it helps you in any way to become better at your job or personally then that’s great. If it’s not for you then thank you for trying at least. By simply trying you have shown your dedication to improving yourself as a person and a professional and for that I commend you.

I’ll leave you with the words of George S Patton below. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.


For more information on the Heapspace app I mentioned go to: 

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European Locksmith Federation Convention (ELF) 2015

Northwood Technology

Park100 Hosts FAAC Factory Tour and EU Directive Safety awareness day for OPW

Pro Express centre opens in Dublin

Traka Joins Forces With Irish Distributor

SSAIB returns to ExCeL with new CEO



Safety and Security award for Croke Park

The New Threat to Alarm Signalling

Sodexo Ireland


UTC Fire & Security





Facilities Management Awards 2015

Fit Out Conference



Why specify an integrated security system?

Southwest Microwave agree distribution partnership with Sigcom of Dublin

Hikvision is pleased to introduce their exclusive Valued Added Solution Partner (VASP) program in Ireland


Fighting Fire With Fire

ACT to hold CPD accredited course


IC Realtime

Milestone Launches New Blog Site

Dahua has landed!

BFT Academy Presents: Gate safety compliance training

Southwest Microwave Awarded CPNI Certification

Hikvision Customer Day in Association with Osec

Open Day with OSEC & Pyronix

WebWay are bringing the security industry together at a series of events in September & October

MOBOTIX Training Day

Visualint is pleased to announce that its range of Intelligent CCTV Cameras are now integrated with the Sentinel Plus central station software package by Monitor Computer Systems.

Dahua UK & Ireland Roadshows

AccurA Training Day

Security JLC/ERO and Contract Cleaning JLC/ERO to be Re-Introduced in Coming Weeks

2015 Security Networking Event

How to significantly reduce bandwidth and storage requirements in IP-based video surveillance systems

Manguard Plus Announces 40 New Jobs at Launch of €1M Command and Control Centre

HID Global Secures New Headquarters With Genetec Security Center Unified Platform

Retailers want covert CCTV and mobile access to footage, according to new report

Tyco to Acquire ShopperTrak, a Leading Global Provider of Retail Analytics and Intelligence

Videnda and Dahua Announce a Series of Roadshows in Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Galway

Usee Becomes an Accredited Supplier of Irisys People Counting Technology

ACT delivers modern access control system for new DIT campus

Videofied Open Day

New anti-burglary law now in effect

Smyths Contract Is a Successful Toy Story For Mercury

GJD Manufacturing launches its new website

CPD Technical Session: Fire Damper under BCAR

90% of shop owners have been the victims of Retail Crime in the last year

Pharmacies Across Country Under Attack From Criminals

Honeywell Acquires Xtralis, A Leader of Early Fire and Intrusion Detection Technologies

Regulatory Impact Analysis - Licensing the Locksmith Sector of the Private Security Industry - February 2016

GSD announces integration of its Access Control system with HikVision DVRs and NVRs

NEW VMS MxMc One-Day Training Free-Of-Charge

Effectively securing critical infrastructure with a combination of thermal and low light surveillance cameras

Alarms and CCTV hold no fear for burglars

Securefast are pleased to announce the opening of Securefast Ireland

Brink’s to exit cash-in-transit market in Ireland

Lenel Demonstrate Integrations With FST Biometrics at United Technologies HQ Dublin

Samsung Techwin Europe launches multi-platform website

Honeywell Acquires RSI Video Technologies, A Leading Provider Of Intrusion Detection With Video Verification

Delta Communications are very pleased to announce the launch of Ireland's first and only Private Sector Safety Network

Security Companies Join Forces To Help Lone Workers ‘Keep Safe’

Crime Prevention Day of Action March 14th

Carbon Monoxide (CO) What is it? Why is it so Dangerous?

Executive Alarms has installed ACT access control equipment at All Souls College, University of Oxford.

SuperValu CCTV – Increase safety, security and business revenue

Revader Security makes CCTV debut in Ireland

The ez Management team win the 2016 'Best Innovative Business' Award

Xtralis VESDA-E smoke detectors and PRO E-PIR detectors win MTP Gold Medals

Panasonic launches European Solutions Company

Industry Leader Continues Growth and Innovation under New Name

Axis cameras capture ground-breaking elephant sleep study at Dublin Zoo

Avigilon Case Study: Kilmore Hotel Cavan

SSAIB’s BT Tower Installer Forum proves a sellout success…

GVD Joins Dell OEM Partner Program

Wood Communications announce upcoming 1 Day Practical IP CCTV Course

Meath County Council, serving a population of over 185,000 people have implemented 125 MicroGuard alarms to safeguard Lone Workers

Drone strike incident highlights aviation security risk

Security Buyers Association meeting with the CEO of Private Security Authority

Tavcom centre stage at IFSEC International 2016

G4S FM wins major FM contract with Northern Ireland Civil Service Estate

Osec Ireland and GSD have announced that they have entered into a distribution agreement

Plane Sailing...Create Security win their most bizarre contract to-date!

Wavestore's Technical Training Day

Hikvision to Acquire Pyronix

Bookings for ISEC 2017 have now commenced

Axis acquires 2N, the number one company in IP intercom

Secure Data Destruction - Guidance Document Launch

ACT365 Roadshow

Axis acquires Cognimatics to strengthen retail offering

Case Study: 360 Vision Technology secures Dublin’s 1916 commemorations

Uniview Open Day

Google opens €150m data centre in West Dublin

WccTv and 360 Vision Technology Announce Technical Partnership

The role of the Modern Door Supervisor

Retailers call on Government to review Data Protection Law

Castlecourt and Mercury Security Win Top UK Award

Unlicensed Installer Receives 8 Months Sentence

Security Institute of Ireland Announcement

New CEN appointment gives Ireland a voice on European Standards for safes and vaults

Facilities Management Awards 2016

How to reduce Fraud Risk - Part 1

Revival of The North – South Challenge Golf Tournament

Just in time for Brexit - New Safe And Vault Rating Recommendations For The Republic Of Ireland

New Partner Program & New Innovative Technical / Product launch

False arrest, ego and the perils of temptation

Board of Governors for Academic Standards

Stanley Security the official partner of Synel Industries UK in Ireland and Northern Ireland

Biometric Access Control For ISO 27001 Accreditation

Lenel announce their new live demonstration facilities in United Technologies Fire & Security HQ in CityWest

Tavcom reports global interest in CCTV over IP Networking eLearning course

CSL Management Team Re-Invests With Norland, ICONIQ and RIT Capital Partners.

Employee vetting – it’s not just criminal history you need to check

CEM Systems announces winners of EMEA Business Partner of the Year Awards 2016

Vodafone UK Signs New 10-Year Deal With CSL To Provide IoT Platform For Critical Connectivity

Tech Show 2016

Safeguarding: A new era in nightclub security

Ireland's National IP Experience Conference 2016

How to Reduce Fraud Risk Part 2...

Wavestore Certification Technical Training Course

Pulse Join Forces with Gardaí

Vanderbilt to Acquire Dublin-based Access Control Technology (ACT) Ltd.

Mercury on the Rise with Housing Executive Contract

The North South Golf Challenge Tournament

RSPL Technology Day 2016

SSAIB unveils new series of Regional Forum events

Manguard Plus Ltd puts customers first and is awarded WorldHost Recognised Business status

The ‘need to know’ of safe deposit boxes

85 new jobs at Netwatch announced by An Taoiseach

How to Reduce Fraud Risk - Part 3....Consequences

Network security excellence recognised at Axis Partner Conference with Irish partner award wins

The Undesigned Fire

Visual Management Systems and Veracity help Shannon Airport benefit from ultra-reliable CCTV capture with COLDSTORE™ technology

Lux Intelligent shortlisted for Lux Awards 2016

Dahua Announces Integration with Ivideon

ACT CPD Seminar at the AVIVA Stadium in Dublin

Vanderbilt Finalizes Acquisition of Access Control Technology Ltd.

ISEC 2017

How Automatic Number Plate Recognition is Helping Irish Business Owners

Tyco Case Study

Abloy UK Take Over the Aviva Stadium in Ireland

Through the Eyes of the Installer - The Dahua ANPR Camera

French Fire Brigade Secured by ACT

The ISIA Awards Ceremony 2016

Hikvision Inaugural VASP Partner Day

Net2 Provides a Secure Integrated Solution with Student Enrolment for Marino

Top 10 Christmas gifts for the Security Operative in your life

Wireless Fire Detection – More popular than ever

HID Global Predicts Top Trends for 2017 in the Identity Technology Industry

Campus Security

Visualint Appoints Aldous Systems as UK & Ireland Security Distributor

AES Open Day

Using the Cloud to Build Business

Case Study: Luxury Retailer Brown Thomas Selects best-in-class security software from TDS

84% of small businesses call for intelligent video surveillance as existing systems fail to protect premises

Crime Against Pharmacies Reaching Crisis Levels

Irish Distribution Partnership For ievo

The licensing of contractors providing locksmith services becomes mandatory today February 1st

GSD Open Day...February 9th

Clay by SALTO is now SALTO KS

ADI Global Distribution and Hanwha Techwin form strategic alliance

Fire Commissioning Certificates and Levels of Fire Alarm Systems for Irish business explained

Public Consultation on the Requirements for Training Providers

EQA leading the way in ARC Certification

Biometric Scans Comply With Impending Privacy Legislation

Irish Fire Extinguisher Regulations and what you need to know!

Visonic named Supplier of the Year

Hanwha Techwin announce enhanced warranty program at Wisenet conference

Advanced showing its fire systems at ISEC Ireland

Abloy UK hosts Access Control Seminar at ISEC 2017

Using the Cloud to Build Business

SAR Group co-develop training programme specific to healthcare security services to be developed

Turn up the heat with thermal cameras

TD's and Senators told retail crime is on the increase

How network video can support suicide prevention on the rail network

Case Study: ievo Products Provide Biometric Access Solution For Interior Developers

Wireless CCTV Security for Hospital Car Parks

National Automation (Faac Ireland) at ISEC 2017

Current and Future Trends in Retail Crime

Fire rated and Escape doors...Are you sure you're fulfilling your legal requirements?

McElwaine Security Services Ltd announced today it has merged with Dublin-based company R.A.S Group

RWL Security Division and OSEC Ireland announce merger to form Ireland’s largest distributor of security products.

ISEC Organiser Ann Daly has just been awarded Fellowship of the Security Institute

ISEC 2017...Another successful show!!

Harvey Norman's security chief: 'I've caught nuns, priests and neighbours shoplifting'

People & Technology - Our New Leadership Mix

Education Security Advisory Programme launched to tackle crime & enhance compliance in schools and FE

PSA Requirements for Electronic Security – Access Control

Summer Security – Ensuring Your Home is Protected

Security Industry to Increase Pay

Show me the money – The impact of the new security ERO

Abloy UK Launches Telecom Security White Paper

Merrion Vaults invests €1.17m in Newcastle facility

Surviving the downturn made us leaner

Through The Eyes of The Installer - CCTV and Access Control Systems

Genie & Midwich announce their premier partnership

Stab vests, crash helmets and other things that might get you hurt

The Security Institute of Ireland is pleased to announce the election of Larry Quinn as its 13th President

Siklu Expands UK and Ireland Security Market Reach with Norbain Distribution Agreement

Noonan has been acquired by publicly-listed South African group Bidvest

Mercury toasts success with new Harvey Norman contract

Security Operatives Legal Powers – Know your Limits

Fire Safety in an Apartment

Cybersecurity and the need for converged security principles

Access rights at transport hubs essential for safety

Back to School – Protecting the next generation of students

Beltronics announce 2 breakfast mornings

Case Study: Gorey Fire Station have their say!

GSD Announce Open Day

RWL Roadshow 2017

True integration of electronic security systems

Northwood Technology CPD Accreditation Breakfast Seminar

European Safe Ratings And Risk Assessment Lectures

Perimeter Defence Seminar in Dublin

Stress in the Security Sector

Hyundai Roadshow 2017

NSAI Fire Safety Standards Seminar

Citywest scenes highlight need for specialised training

By Demes Ireland successfully celebrates the HYUNDAI roadshow in the cities of Dublin and Cork

Wood Communications Announces Strategic Partnership with ProLabs

Leadership in the security industry

Case Study: Consolidating several alarm and alert systems into one - affordably

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D. announces the incoming Board of the Private Security Authority

Consider the future of PSTN

New CSL Connected Partner Announced - Eaton

The ISIA Awards 2017

Case Study: One monitoring and alerting system for multiple sites with varied device and user requirements

GSD Training Academy

Letterkenny Town CCTV System Upgrade by Orbit Security

GSD...A Year in Review

The 10 technology trends that will shape 2018

Examining the threat posed by cyberattacks against critical infrastructure