The Quiet Within

The Benefits of Meditation Practice

Many of the incarcerated inmates and released prisoners live in poverty and inequality, the main causes leading to violent, addictive, and delinquent behaviour. Many suffer from traumas of abandonment, family violence, sexual abuse, and neglect. In prison, loneliness, depression, and fears – and often loss of contact with one’s family and friends, are added to these challanges.

After being released from prison, prisoners often deal with financial hardship, great debt, and accommodation problems. They deal with the stigma of being a released offender and feel the disappointment and lack of trust that people feel towards them. At the same time, they are required to mend their relationship with their family, find and diligently keep regular employment.

Studies show that inmates who practice meditation regularly are able to change harmful behavior patterns into beneficial ones, reduce stress and violent responses, and develop compassion. During  the 17 years that the project has been running, thousands of prisoners have participated in meditation groups – and we have seen that the practice has a great influence on their rehabilitation process, inside and outside of prison.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a mental practice that allows one to develop a peaceful state of mind, clarity of thought, and mental balance. Practicing meditation helps:

  • reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • alleviate physical and psychological distress.
  • decrease violent impulses.
  • cope with ADD and ADHD.
  • support addiction recovery processes.
  • The practice helps to know oneself, one’s thinking patterns, interpretations, behavior, and automatic reactions that keep one returning again and again to destructive places.
  • Practitioners learn to stop, to recognize the automatic response, not to react in that habitual way, and instead, as a result, choose differently. Meditation practitioners create within themselves the freedom to choose a response that is benevolent and non-destructive.
  • Practitioners learn new ways to deal with violent behavior, that often stems from past suffering and trauma, and begin to accept responsibility for their actions.
  • The practice strengthens the participants’ sense of capability, connects them to their strengths, and makes them believe in themselves.
  • Through the practice of meditation, they are able to feel frustration, despair from past failures, disappointment, and anger at themselves and others – without breaking down. This way they are able to better deal with the difficulties, and their chances of rehabilitation increase.
  • Practicing meditation has also been shown to have a positive effects on those dealing with drug addiction.

We aim to see participants implementing meditation practice in their daily life and making it relevant to dealing with their everyday problems. The practice serves as an inner anchor through times of difficulty and anguish, and also as a support in their rehabilitation process.