Organizers of an upcoming conference in Jackson are hoping to inspire people to become more mindful in their lives, and they’re using a case study with their own police department to demonstrate it.
Becoming Jackson Whole was a project that started six weeks before the pandemic. Founder Sara Flitner said the pandemic made the group realize the importance of their mission: to make mindfulness second nature to the community.
She said most people are familiar with physical fitness but this conference, which kicks off Tuesday at The Center for the Arts, is all about mental fitness.
“Every time we focus our attention, whether it’s someone driving in traffic, choosing to focus their attention on their breath, instead of their frustration,” Flitner said. “There’s simple strategies that we use to kind of cultivate our own ability to be emotionally regulated, and less stressed out.”
The three-day conference will include researchers, neuroscientists and other experts discussing community wellness and mental health. The event is bringing Dan Harris, a former ABC news anchor and the founder of the Ten Percent Happier mediation app. It will also feature a discussion with the Jackson Police Department.
Flitner said the department was dealing with high turnover, stress and burnout during the pandemic. So, she ended up speaking to the chief of police about mental fitness and how it could potentially help.
“She [chief of police] sent one of her sergeants to a program that we offered … a training,” Flitner said. “He was heroically involved, very skeptical, and then just embraced it wholeheartedly. [He] went on to become one of our trainers.”
Flitner said they ended up doing a similar program for the whole police department and it had a positive impact.
“The most compelling thing is just hearing them talk about what they are noticing themselves, about the quality of their own lives and how they are less prone to feeling the impacts of stress and burnout,” Flitner said.
She thinks the strategies they’ve worked with the police department on could also be relevant to the average citizen, and the conference hopes to provide tools to community members so they can increase their quality of life.
People can attend the conference on June 13 through 15 in person or virtually. Registration is open. Scholarships are available to help cover the cost of the program.