Freedom Behind Bars: Meditation in Prisons
The David Lynch Foundation has brought Transcendental Meditation to Oregon State Correctional Institution. Watch this video to learn about the reality of prison-life and the effects of meditation behind bars.
Ladarrius Tidmore, Inmate: “I’m Ladarrius Tidmore. I’m twenty one years old, I’m from Portland Oregon. Well I’m here on a robbery 2, they gave me sixty months with good time, I took a deal to get out with measure eleven. I’ve been here – I’ve been down in prison for four years and about eight months, nine months now. I’ve been here at OSEI for about nine months.”
Randy Geer, Inmate Services Administrator, Oregon Dept. of Corrections: “Most people’s understanding about prison and prison life is so framed by what we see put out by the entertainment industry, but the fact of the matter is, they are terrible pressure cookers. Even good prisons are terrible pressure cookers, and it’s almost like you take normal social life, and you somehow distill it to its very essence. And that’s what it’s like to be in a prison. Staff have to walk into that everyday and inmates have to live with it everyday. I can tell you that many of my friends that I’ve worked with in corrections over the years, they’ve retired, and they’re dead. They’re dead within three to five years.”
Ladarrius Tidmore: “When I meditate, it’s like a free feeling. It takes me away from the prison completely. I zone everybody out, everything out, and I’m not even here for those twenty, thirty minutes that I meditate. When I come back to reality, I’m still here but when I do meditate, I’m relaxed, free, I’m back on the streets. Nothing can touch me, it’s a great feeling.”
Sisi Faupau, Inmate: “Spending time with myself, that’s really what it is you know, getting in touch with your inner self. And everybody inside’s a good person you know, we just make bad choices. Spending time with myself on the inside makes me feel good you know, see, I actually know who I am. I’m starting to know who I am now.
Michael Puerini, M.D., Medical Director: “I think that TM can really help people to broaden their focus. I think you can’t teach compassion to a person, but there’s something about TM that brings out compassion. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know how it works, but it does. And I think that a compassionate person is a healthier person and as a doctor that’s what I’m here about. Really I’d like to see my patients be healthier. If they can do that, they can stay out of here too.”
Gary Kilmer, Superintendent: “I think really it’s mostly been a general feeling. People seem to feel better about the effects of Transcendental Meditation. They’re healthier, they seem more calm. Some of the folks who have learned TM, if you look at their personalities prior to this, some are a little sparky, and I’ve noticed a sort of leveling off, not quite so reactive to situations.”
Randy Geer: “We need to break down this wall that separates staff from inmate. And I think that TM really does get to what’s common between us all. And to the degree that we can do that (and still maintain all the safe and secure institutions), and recognize that most men under our charge also want to grow as human beings, I think that makes us grow as human beings.
Tom O’Connor, Director of Research: “We’re about public safety. I am passionate about creating public safety and making sure there are no more victims in the community. The way to do that is to reach the strengths and goodness inside of everybody in the prison system. If we don’t do that, they will go out and do it again. If we just create an environment of healing, one that allows the goodness to ripple up, I think the sky’s the limit. I think the public could save a great deal of money and really we could create a better society; a much more humane system, and a much more effective prison.”
To learn more about DLF: http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org
To learn more about the DLF Prison Program: http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/prisons.html
The help support the DLF: http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/donate.html