Chaplain's Column: Alone by Yourself

"An isometric exercise is one that involves no movement" (Erin O'Driscoll, R.N. in The Complete Book of Isometrics). Isometric exercises were popularized in the 1950s as muscle training that could be done in a limited space with little or no equipment. For example: shoulder flexion can be done by holding our clipboard straight out until our muscles are contracted. Many advocate significant health benefits from these "no movement" activities.

Since our muscles can be trained and strengthened by "no movement," it seems reasonable to suggest that our minds may benefit by mental isometrics. Mental isometrics would be exercises or activities that could strengthen our mental processes without having to do research or extensive reading. In other words mental isometrics are training activities that can be done without having to be in an academic setting--they can be done alone by ourselves.

Regardless of the portrayal on the television shows that the life of law enforcement officers is one of constant action and activity, most of the time spent on duty is readiness for action if and when it occurs. Most of the time, we are alone by ourselves. How can mental isometrics be done? The following "no movement" exercises are suggested:

  1. Cultivate awareness; be alert to life as it is happening. Recognize our advantages, and do not dwell on calamities. "If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come" (Chinese Proverb).
  2. Accept the inevitable. Engineer ways to adapt to changing circumstances. "God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference." (unknown)
  3. Develop your sense of humor. "He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast." (Proverbs 15:15)
  4. Practice patience. Being on a mountain peak requires some hiking.
  5. Discover a better way of doing it. "Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work." (Thomas A. Edison)
  6. Think kind thoughts as a training method to say kind words. "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." (Author Unknown)
  7. Pray. "Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays." (Søren Kierkegaard)