Can TM help fix our prison system?

by Keith Deboer on November 12, 2010

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“The system is broken,” says Kevin Roper, who has been incarcerated for twenty-one years. “You can’t change the system, but you can change the people inside it.”

A growing number of prison inmates and staff are finding that the Transcendental Meditation program is the way to do it. In this video, eight meditating inmates explain how the TM technique has significantly changed their health and well-being, reducing anxiety, depression, anger, and the overall stress of dealing with prison life.

These prison inmates, administrators, and guards say that the Transcendental Meditation technique provides a needed foundation for the rehabilitation offered to new inmates, because “you need to change the brain first” in order to benefit from the counseling and other prison programs.

In his book, The Science of Being and Art of Living, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation program, writes: “Many with potential talent are among those who are shut behind bars because of their misguided behavior.”

In the recent video interview posted above, a meditating inmate in an Oregon prison explains it this way: “Everybody is a good person inside—we just make bad choices.”

The Transcendental Meditation program has been introduced into prison rehabilitation programs in a number of countries, most recently in the prisons of the Caribbean nation of Dominica. Prison studies show improved behavior and reduced stress and recidivism.

A study published in 2003 in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation found that inmates at a maximum security prison in Walpole, Massachusetts, demonstrated that prisoners participating in the TM program were 33% less likely to return to prison. Studies in the Folsom and San Quentin prisons in California also found 35-50% less recidivism after prison release.

But I think one of the prison inmates says it best. The Transcendental Meditation program is “a tool for never coming back to a place like this.”

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  4. Inmates Dive Inward
  5. A meditating inmate is a more compassionate human being
  • Taylor

    This is amazing. After watching this video I am extremely moved. I am interested in learning the transcendental meditation techniques, I don’t know too much yet but consider myself to be a spiritual being and am looking to meditate and continue on in my ascension. I would love to somehow get involved with something like that some day- going to prisons maybe and being a carrier of light, creating things like what I just watched. After spending 3 days in a jail I vowed NEVER to go back to a place like that – the closest things to hell I’ve known. To be able to fight the injustice of the government and the system from the inside out is possible and necessary! SO much love and light

  • http://CB108.blogspot.com Craig B.

    OK. I’m blown away by this video. Now, I vow to contact a department of corrections to ask them to watch this video. I hope that everyone who is moved by this video will do the same.

  • http://adventuresintranscendentalmeditation.blogspot.com/ Keith DeBoer

    Dear Taylor, Thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring comment. The TM technique is an amazing tool for improving a person’s life and this video is one great example. I hope you are able to learn TM soon and fulfill your dream of teaching the TM technique to prisoners and other members of our society who are really in need. Best Wishes, Keith

  • Evolving Entirety

    “It should not be a function of psychology to remind a man that his past was miserable, or that his surroundings and circumstances were unfavorable, or that his associations were depressing and discouraging, or that there was a lack of love and harmony with those near to him. To remind anyone of such things will only result in lowering his consciousness. It should be considered criminal to tell anyone that his individual life is based on the inefficient and degenerate influence of his past environment. The psychological influence of such depressing information is demoralizing, and the inner core of the heart becomes twisted by it.”

    – Maharishi

    – Science of Being and Art of Living

    Caring is human nature. Out of that is born protection, kindness, support, all that is good for everyone.

    – Maharishi

  • http://adventuresintranscendentalmeditation.blogspot.com/ Keith DeBoer

    Beautiful quotes! Thanks for posting them. Keith

  • Tracy

    I am so touched by this video, to the point of tears. These men are so beautiful in their honesty and clarity. What would it take for every correctional facility in the country…in the world to see this and give the inmates the opportunity to learn TM, like right now, today? WOW! The potential here is extraordinary!

    I’ve been doing TM for 7 years and can relate to every one of these men as they describe their experiences, they nail it on the head. So beautiful and so grateful!

  • Jimmy Goodman

    This video truly shows the power of transcending. The change these men are speaking of doesn’t result from just relaxing or watching your breath or doing yoga. It comes from the experience of the Self — unbounded awareness, pure transcendence.

    Maharishi said “A thought of freedom is not freedom.” These men are experiencing the state of inner freedom, beyond thinking.

  • Namrata

    Very profound and well done video. I hope all of you who appreciated this post and commented that you have not yet learned TM will do so soon and then think of becoming a teacher of TM. Visit http://www.TM.org to find a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique in your area. I would like to emphasize that these kind of dramatic results come specifically and uniquely from the TM technique because of its naturalness, simplicity, ease of practice, and personal instruction. Enjoy.

    • http://adventuresintranscendentalmeditation.blogspot.com/ Keith DeBoer

      Thank you everyone for your insightful and uplifting comments! :-)

  • Jim Bray

    Once Being is contacted, nothing else is required. It’s so simple!

  • YesICanCan

    Great article with a very inspiring video. I will use it to show others how this wonderful program of TM could be used to help everyone under severe stress. Thanks.

  • ROGER GURR

    Great!
    It is what our country needs.
    I want our local prison (High Down) Banstaed Surrey UK to see this.
    I am going there next week and will tell them about Transcendental Meditation (TM).
    No all meditating techniques are the same!

  • http://adventuresintranscendentalmeditation.blogspot.com/ Keith DeBoer

    That’s wonderful, Roger!

  • Annette DuQuesnay

    Society tells us that we must live by the golden rule. We have to have the means by which to achieve this moral state. Practicing TM is the solution and it will rehabilitate the prisoners.

  • Orlando

    Minute 6:00 “TM should be one of the first things that they offer (correctional facilitites), and then build on it with these other programs once you’ve been integrated with TM”

    I couldn’t agree any more with him.

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