By Hugh Finlay
A clinician and researcher with Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Charles Elder, in an editorial in The Permanente Journal, called for greater use of techniques such as Transcendental Meditation in dealing the stress of prisoners. The editorial came with the results of a study, which showed that Transcendental Meditation was very effective at reducing the symptoms of trauma on 22 female prisoners over a 4 month period. Another study previously published in the journal, showed a 47% reduction in trauma symptoms in 181 male prisoners, compared to a control group who were not doing TM.
Dr. Elder pointed out that the use of Transcendental Meditation, because it significantly reduces the problem of recidivism (prisoners re-offending and returning to prison), would reduce the amount of money we have to pay in incarcerating criminals. Furthermore these reformed criminals would then go on to becoming productive members of society. Dr. Elder also pointed out that TM has ongoing effects throughout a person's life: "Once taught the technique, an individual can use the skill for the duration of his or her life, as a stress management tool, providing ongoing benefits across a range of domains....In addition to helping the inmate cope with the stress of incarceration, there is a range of additional 'side benefits', ranging from reduced recidivism to improved cardiovascular health."
A representative for the The Woman's Prison Association ,Rebecca Pak, agreed with Dr. Elder's comments, saying: "The results inside correctional facilities and schools with Transcendental Meditation have been simply astounding. If we shifted our focus from punitive responses to interventions designed to improve mental and physical health, we would have much greater impact."
These 2 recent studies, which took place in 3 Oregon prisons, were led by Sanford Nidich, from Maharishi University of Management Center for Social and Emotional Health. These results are impressive, considering that prisoners are one of the most stressed segments of society. Since 1978, over 12 other studies of TM being introduced into prisons, show the same picture of significant improvements in prisoners behavior and well being.
Transcendental Meditation is a simple, effortless technique, which allows the mind and body to settle down to a state of deep relaxation. It is not a lifestyle or religion, and is easy and enjoyable, as it uses the natural tendency of the mind to move towards greater fields of happiness. It is done for 20 minutes morning and evening, sitting in a comfortable position, with the eyes closed.