The Quiet Within

An Education Officer from a prison in central Israel shares:

The meditation groups are very important. Most prisoners are exposed to meditation for the first time in prison, and say that they would not have been otherwise exposed to this tool of their own initiative. Experiencing meditation expands their world and the issues that they deal with. Meditation helps them understand the body-mind connection, and practicing meditation reduces stress and helps them cope with their incarceration.

An Education Officer from a prison in the Sharon area shares:

Meditation is important as part of the prisoner rehabilitation program, particularly for addicts, because it enables internal observation, focusing attention, and distancing oneself from distractions. Meditation is mentioned as a therapeutic tool in most addiction rehabilitation programs, as part of the treatment. Addiction treatments, such as meditation, emphasize the development of self-awareness, inward observation, as an initial means of identifying emotional and cognitive patterns and their characteristics.

Meditation can be very helpful for coping with difficult mental situations and the harsh conditions of life in prison. Practicing meditation is not dependent on anything, is performed independently, and is available at all times, and enables coping with both internal and external situations. There is no doubt that practicing meditation can affect impulsive reactions and thus can also have the effect of reducing violence.

I see the considerable impact of meditation on the prisoners. They are very connected to themselves. I have noticed that they are calmer and able to regulate reactions due to stress and irritation. Prisoners report that meditation lets them modify their reactions, stop, breathe, and observe their responses, instead of being overwhelmed by outbursts. The effect of practicing meditation is also evident in rehabilitation groups for drug addiction, domestic violence, and sex offenses.

An Education Officer from a prison in south Israel shares:

Meditation groups are important because they provide inmates space for processing difficult mental states, for processing their treatment experiences, and is also a place to observe complex situations from their prison lives where they live under difficult conditions. The peace created within inmates through practicing meditation enables experiences to surface and allows inmates to deeply understand feelings that arise in them during their daily lives.

An Education Officer from a prison in the Ramla area shares:

“Meditation is an inseparable part of the prisoners’ therapeutic process. It enables connection to one’s inner self, practicing inward listening as well as listening to others. We see that prisoners who take meditation practice seriously and connect to the workshops’ content show some behavioral change. They are more attentive to themselves and others.”

An Education Officer from a prison in north Israel shares:

“Meditation groups teach the prisoner a language that helps him develop awareness and explore many subjects that come up in his life and preoccupy him.

A prisoner who chooses meditation as a way of life, and who practices, can receive great benefit, and it will obviously effect the way he deals with his incarceration and help with his rehabilitation.

Prisoners have told us that meditation is the only “sport” that helps them feel comfortable in their body, and is a key to self-understanding and to understanding the world around them. They say that thanks to meditation they have achieved peace, inner serenity, and concentration”.

An Education Officer from a prison in central Israel shares:

“Meditation is a tool that can help prisoners in difficult mental states. While practicing meditation, the prisoner is solely focuses on himself and his thoughts, attentive to himself, aware of himself, connected to his subconscious and his simplest and innermost desires as a person.

During meditation class, the prisoner has an opportunity to look within himself and find internal peace, enabling him to have insights regarding things that have happened in his prison wing, the therapy group, or within himself.

Thanks to the meditation class and the volunteer who teaches and directs it, inmates create this enabling space for themselves. Prisoners say that they don’t just practice with the volunteer, and that they use the techniques that they have learned in class also during the week, which shows that meditation helps them focus, release tensions, and create a peaceful state within themselves. Meditation is an important, unique tool that differs from other tools inmates are given. It is a positive and special project and should therefore be retained.”

An Education Officer from a prison in the north of Israel shares:

An inmate who was really angry restrained himself, walked to one side and took some breathes… he then read a chapter from the book, I think it was Chapter 9, and really practiced – and it worked! Not many share their experiences, but as far as I’m concerned, even one incident is success. If one can control himself and not hit another, I think we have been successful. Also in regards to awareness: I have sat in the meditation groups and have felt a change in my awareness. I know it takes time and patience, and it just permeates. In my group, as well as in other groups, there was a lot of resistance, and I told them: “It’ll be alright. Eventually you’ll connect.” It’s not immediate, it really is a process, and you need a lot of patience.