Meditation Gaining Popularity in Prisons to Transform the Lives of Inmates
The Manhattan County District Attorney’s Office in New York City will be one of many correctional institution to introduce meditation as a means of stress-reduction for their inmates, as well as for others who’ve been the victims of violence suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Our office is exploring ways in which it may be used to assist incarcerated individuals, domestic-violence and human-trafficking survivors, trauma-service providers and other people who may benefit from this unique therapeutic tool.” – District Attorney spokeswoman, Joan Vollero
Of all the many modalities of meditation available for practice, Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a specific method introduced to the world in the 1960’s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Today, many famous and very successful people swear by it as a powerful tool for personal transformation.
Director and producer David Lynch has been the most outspoken proponent of TM for use in institutions, and has pioneered programs for students, introducing the technique to California’s public education system.
Dr. Michael Puerini, Oregon State Correctional Institution’s Medical Director, says: “I think that TM can really help people broaden their focus. There’s something about TM that brings out compassion. I don’t know how it works, but it does. And a compassionate person is a healthier person.”
In 2015, the David Lynch Foundation brought TM to 900 inmates in the Oregon State Correctional Institution. It was part of a personal development program to help prisoners more easily integrate back into society after time served. The results were impressive, with participants remarking on an improved quality of life, improved focus, and most importantly a feeling of peace. This led to less stress and more peace in an ordinarily difficult-to-manage environment.
“When I meditate it’s like a free feeling, it takes me away from the prison completely, I zone everybody out, everything out, like I’m not even here for those 20-30 minutes that I meditate. The bad part about it is when I come back to reality I’m still here, but when I do meditate I’m relaxed, free, I’m back on the streets, out of it, nothing can touch me. It’s a great feeling” says Ladarrius Tidmore, a 21-year-old prisoner.
Meditation has an amazing range of health benefits, positively affecting the brain and overall physiology. It is evermore gaining renown as a means of solving many personal problems and even addressing social issues. It is powerfully transformative when conducted with routine dedication.
Recently, Robert W. Coleman Elementary, in West Baltimore, MD, experimented with mindful meditation as a disciplinary alternative to detention with wonderful results. The school saw a drastic reduction in the need for disciplinary measures including suspensions and detentions. Researchers looking into alternatives to prescription pharmaceuticals as a treatment for childhood ADHD have found that a regular meditation practice can completely prevent the need for pills in many children.
“It’s working its improving their lives, it’s improving their sense of self, it’s empowering them… I really do see it making a big difference, and I think their futures are going to be so much brighter because of it” says Linda Handy, Ph.D.
While this is great news for people in stressful situations, such as schools and prisons, the truth is that we are really only re-discovering what human beings has known for thousands of years. The human body is equipped with spiritual anatomy that is activated when we turn within and intentionally silence the mind, opening ourselves the vast depths of the inner worlds of human consciousness.
Seeing TM gain momentum as an institutional tool for peace is another signal that the world needs to be meditating.
The following presentation from the David Lynch Foundation offers more insight into the benefits of meditation in U.S. correctional institutions.
December 9, 2017