The Power of Meditation: Finding the Freedom Within
In prison the body is confined. The spirit and soul need not be. Thousands of incarcerated citizens around the country are using their confinement to trigger an inward journey. They are traveling to a place of greater joy, peace, and freedom. You are invited to join in.
In 2002, hundreds of folks who actively support contemplative work in jails and prisons came together to share our stories at a conference on “Imprisonment and Transformation.” We wanted to find ways to better serve prisoners, their families, victims of crime, and prison staff. We believe that incarceration can be more than just serving time, wasting time, killing time. It can be a precious time for inner change.
Incarcerated men and women joined in by sending letters about their contemplative practices. They describe the freeing effects it has had on their lives. Their stories are as diverse as their spiritual orientations: Buddhist, Christian, Native American, Muslim, Jewish, and atheist. What they all have in common is the dedication to an inward journey. They are seeking to be at peace with themselves and the world around them.
The techniques they have used are simple, and usually involve sitting in silence. Focusing. Relaxing. Listening. Breathing with attention. Resting in prayer. Creating a time and space not to do anything, but to be. Such simple practices have helped those inside and outside of prison to find the freedom within. They describe letting go of what seemed the “big problems in life,” and the anger and self-hate that can tear us apart. They feel in touch with the ultimate Power, however one defines it, that gifts us with life, love and joy.
We hope this will encourage you to experiment personally with sitting in silence. Change begins with you, one moment, one breath at a time. Change always happens in the now, not the past or future.
You might also be able to find or start a contemplative group in your institution. This is an inward journey but it sure helps to have companions.
To assist, we have included some letters from incarcerated citizens and an extensive resource list for those seeking information, help, and support in developing a meditative practice. Don’t hesitate to contact one or more of these groups. This webpage includes a link to a sheet that describes a helpful meditation practice (Freedom Breath) you can use at once to feel more free. You can download our full brochure.
Remember, as you embark on your journey, that love and energy surrounds you!
Letters from Incarcerated Citizens (PDF)
Freedom Breath (PDF)
The Bridge Project Brochure (PDF)