Inmate meditation group celebrates fourth anniversary

An interesting article from the Cibola County Beacon in New Mexico:

Here are some extracts:

Inmates can practice various forms of meditation and courses are taught in acupressure, writer’s meditation, prayer meditation and Qigong (similar to Tai Chi). Heart Mountain volunteers visit once a month to provide guidance in meditation and yoga.

Frank Marquis, who is an inmate from Santa Fe, has been in the meditation program since its inception. “At first I thought of the program as something that would look good to the parole board, but now I don’t care about that,” he said.

Reportedly the pod resulted from a recommendation from the wife of then-Governor Gary Johnson.

The inmates’ day starts with yoga and a verbal check-in, followed sometime during the day with Tai Chi or Yoga in the pod and two hours of quiet time, when loud televisions and radios are prohibited. Occasionally there is a daylong retreat in the prison library where talking is prohibited.

“This meditation program provides us with patience and piece of mind,” [an inmate] said. “You are surrounded by negativity in the general prison population and meditation helps us deal with people we’re forced to live with,” he concluded.

Reportedly the prison authorities were dead against the idea of a meditation pod and the proposal was forced through by the state governor. In the minds of many prison officials, letting inmates gather on the basis of common interests is a recipe for trouble, and it can be hard for inmates who want to meditate together to gather.

Additionally, the idea of prison as punishment rather than rehabilitation is common amongst prison staff and administrators, and allowing inmates to improve their living circumstances can be seen as going against the punishment ethos.

However, meditation has been shown to reduce inmate aggression and promote cooperation, and hopefully prison administrators will make it easier in future for inmates to take up this valuable and transformative practice.


2 Responses to “Inmate meditation group celebrates fourth anniversary”

  1. Kate says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve recently had the weird/enjoyable experience of getting into medical school, which is what I thought I wanted to do (I wanted to work with addicts).

    LITERALLY out of the blue one day, I’m studying for a science test and it hits me like a ton of bricks that I’m on the wrong path for my life. It wasn’t that medicine was “wrong”, maybe, but that working with inmates, especially through meditation, was my true calling.

    It’s still scary, since my ego wants to cling to the familiar, the known…the “easy” way out, you know? But the way I see it, I’d rather have the fear of the unknown future, rather than the pain of a life lived that is not true to my heart.

    Plus, the system is REactive, not PROactive. Someone needs to take the bull by the horns and get crackin.

  2. bodhipaksa says:

    Hi Kate,

    That’s an interesting change of direction — similar to my own, in fact, since I first trained as a veterinary surgeon. I wish you all the best with your new calling.

    Bodhipaksa


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Published: Feb 23 2006

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Category: Apropos of nothing, Prison Dharma, Religion & Society