For five days last month, hundreds of police officers in Mexico City gathered at a vacant high school early in the morning for a training session—in the art of meditation.
Over 600 members of the capital’s School Security Units were participating in the first event of its kind in the city: a one-hour session to learn the Chinese meditation practice of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa.
Spread widely throughout China during the 1990s, Falun Gong is a qigong practice incorporating five slow-moving meditation exercises and moral discipline according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Laura Martínez Coca, a police officer in charge of training, said that while it is typically difficult to carry out activities involving hundreds of officers, the morning exercises had made them calmer and more patient for the rest of the day, as recounted by one of the volunteers who led the meditation.
The event was led by 10 to 15 local Mexican Falun Gong practitioners, from July 18 to July 22. They had been invited by the units’ director, Adalberta Peláez, at the recommendation of a subordinate who had seen a Falun Gong demonstration in Mexico City’s Historical Center and was impressed by the “peaceful energy.”
Officers of the School Security Units work with thousands of public and private schools throughout Mexico City to combat not just drugs and gang activity, but also to support students who are being bullied or harassed.
The practitioners were invited to teach Falun Gong to the police during their summer training so that they in turn would be able to reinforce its values among the students they are responsible for protecting, according to Mayra Jaime, a practitioner of Falun Gong in Mexico City and a volunteer who taught the officers.
During the five-day event, the officers reported feeling more relaxed and energetic, a common phenomenon among those who start practicing Falun Gong and which contributed to its rise in China.
Policeman Adrián García happily reported feeling lighter, “as if something had gone.”
Prior to Falun Gong’s sudden banning by the Chinese communist regime in 1999, the practice was readily accepted by people and state institutions for bettering society and public health. In 1999, one government body estimated that 70 million people were practicing Falun Gong in China.
In Mexico City, where there are just a few dozen practitioners, this is the first time an event of this scale has been held. According to Jaime and fellow volunteer Illona Ilea, the police are looking to continue similar activities in the future, this time among other units and in schools.
“It was really impressive and emotional to see that gathering of policemen, all of them quiet and ready to start the practice,” Jaime said.
One policewoman reported feeling extremely lethargic at the beginning of the sessions, but in the next few days her body began to lighten, “as if she were about to fly.”
“On Friday, the last day of the exercises, she said she didn’t want us to leave,” Jaime recalled.
Peláez, the units’ director, was pleased with the officers’ change in demeanor and commended the event.
“I don’t know what you gave them, but they went very quietly to their classes,” Jaime remembers her saying. “Usually they’re very noisy, but this time it was very peaceful and quiet.”
Reported in Spanish by Antonio Domínguez.