For lifers at Oregon’s maximum security facilities, the real prison isn’t the cell-walls and barbed-wire. It’s the psychological anguish, the stress, anxiety, and depression. But unlike the penitentiary, there is an escape from this psychological prison. And Transcendental Meditation might be the way.
Mental suffering is a part of life at Oregon state prison, as it has long been for many of the men and women here. Most vividly remember how depressed, desperate, anxious, or stressed they were when they committed their crimes. Many say that psychological pain was what first motivated their felonies. Continued suffering in jail is not likely to help them.
Recently, however, moods at the prison have been improving. Four months ago, a group of researchers from Maharishi University of Management visited the prison and gave meditation lessons to 90 male inmates. “Meditation will cure the prisoners mental suffering”, they claimed, and curing that suffering will lower the chances of criminal relapse.
It was for this reason that the inmates, who had never meditated before, started being given lessons in one of the more advanced techniques, Transcendental Meditation.
The inmates practiced Transcendental Meditation for twenty minutes twice a day for four months. They were then tested and compared against inmates who had not meditated. The results were clear. The men who had meditated showed significant improvements over those who had not. Their anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, and dissociation were all reduced.
These meditation sessions have been an absolute godsend for the inmates at Oregon State Penitentiary. And for criminal science the research constitutes a breakthrough. “This is the first study to confirm that Transcendental Meditation can substantially decrease trauma symptoms,” said study author Sandford Nidich.
Nidich is optimistic that Transcendental Meditation will improve the overall well-being of prisoners. “Trauma exposure is associated with adverse mental and physical health conditions,” says Nidich. “[These include] cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.” By reducing trauma symptoms, Nidich believes Transcendental Meditation will reduce the risk of both health complications and criminal relapse.
The question now is whether transcendental meditation is more effective than conventional treatment. Further research is needed to confirm this. What is clear, however, is that psychological suffering is one of the primary causes of criminal behaviour, and that Transcendental Meditation can relieve that psychological suffering and thereby provide a tool for rehabilitation.
The Maharishi Foundation is continuing to lead the way in spiritual health practices. And you are invited to join in with their exciting new studies and developments. Be sure to visit the Maharishi Foundation today.