Bringing Peace in a World of Trauma

“Cheri, we were very happy when you came to us with the idea to bring the mindfulness practice to law enforcement. We encourage you to bring all you have learned about the practice of mindfulness and peace into the field of criminal justice. We all must have a spiritual practice so as not to burn out in our service to others. This Lamp is a token of the love and trust we have in you. Through your practice and efforts, this Lamp will shine for a long time”
Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master, author, poet, human-rights activist.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen master, whom Martin Luther King nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, is a voice of power and wisdom in this time of tumult in the world. With the challenges before peace officers today, his teaching is both relevant and practical.

Krista Tippettt, host of “On Being,” visited him at a retreat attended by police officers and other members of the criminal justice system; they offer stark gentle wisdom for finding buoyancy and “being peace” in a world of conflict, anger, and violence.

Cheri in the '90's
Capt. Maples in the ’90’s

I had the privilege of closely working with Cheri Maples, one of Hanh’s disciples, she was a very close colleague and advisor of mine during the last decade of my career. She went on to retire as a captain in charge of recruitment and training, then as a Buddhist dharma teacher.

She has been an active community organizer, working in neighborhood centers, deferred prosecution programs, and as the first Director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

As Past President of the Dane County Timebank, Cheri was instrumental in creating its justice projects – the Youth Court, which is based on a prevention and restorative justice model; and the Prison Project, a prison education and reintegration initiative supported by multiple community groups.

She also served as head of Probation and Parole in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and as Assistant State Attorney General.

Unknown-7She now serves as an ordained dharma teacher in the zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.

What she has to say about her police experience and zen practice is important for all of us to hear. CLICK HERE.

There will be another mindfulness retreat led by Cheri and Richard Goerling for law enforcement professionals on October 7-9 in Virginia. Why might you want to attend?

“The occupational stressors for public safety professionals are immense. The work is often demanding and exhausting as we expose ourselves daily, repetitively, and cumulatively to human suffering in our communities that manifests in the form of racism, poverty, violence and exploitation. As the atrocities become familiar and repetitive, suffering becomes routine as does our, often mal-adaptive, response to it.

“Whether we recognize it or not, the nature of the work changes us. How we are affected varies from person to person, but the effects of unmanaged stress and trauma happen incrementally over time in a way we often do not recognize. These effects can be pervasive and show up in the form of burnout, irritation, anger, cynicism, a numbing of the heart, and countless medical problems” — Cheri Maples

For further information CLICK HERE.

Cheri Maples and Thicht Nhat Hanh at her ordination.
Cheri Maples and Thich Nhat Hanh at her ordination in 2008.


  1. Cheri sounds like a very interesting person. It appears as if she is doing much more good in this world unlike another community organizer that we all know.
    I wish her the best and much success.


  2. While it sounds like granola and kumbaya the literature tells us that mindfulness training has great value in reducing the effects of stress and helps improve cognitive and physical performance. I recommend reading In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets by Richard Strozzi-Heckler.


    1. Yes. I learned in both policing and ministry that if I did not take care of myself I was not able to effectively care for others. Though the term is a little out-dated, I believed in the idea of a “warrior-poet.”


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