Power of Peace In Prison: Meditation Works. ~ Carolyn Gilligan

Via elephant journal
on Aug 1, 2012
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One out of every 100 Americans is currently behind bars.

That statistic sits heavy with me, on my heart, on my shoulders, on my mind. When I look into the eyes of the men in this video I see humans. Fathers. Sons. Uncles. Cousins. Friends.

I see and feel that the weight of their shame and remorse for what they did sits a million times heavier on their hearts, shoulders and minds than a statistic could ever sit on mine.

The contour of their faces, the curve of their features, they are living, breathing human beings.

Human beings who have made mistakes. As we all have made mistakes. Human beings who are living with those mistakes 24 hours a day, seven days a week in an 8′ by 12′ cell.

The majority of U.S. prisoners—certainly not all of them—are humans on the wrong side of the color line, in the wrong income tax bracket, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Roberta Richman of the Rhode Island Department of Correction poses the question, “Do we want to save those lives or do we want to discard them?”

How is it come to this, over half the world’s prisoners being locked up in US prisons?

The combination of the media portrayal of prisoners beings monsters, mandatory minimum sentencing, “tough on drug and crime” legislation and lack of humanity has created an atmosphere of apathy and ignorance that has birthed an out of sight, out of mind mentality.

“People in prison are us. They are not monsters and more importantly, whether we want them to or not they are getting out. Do you want them to come out angrier, meaner and more dangerous or do you want to do whatever you can to change their behavior while they are here.” ~ Roberta Richman

So, what do we want?

Instead of having our prisons be a breeding ground for creating savvier, harder criminals, what if we worked to rehabilitate and educate?

What if prisoners were given the opportunity to learn how to change their reality? What if they were taught to see a possibility for a shift, a change, a transformation? Anyone who meditates knows the power of the practice and knows that transformation is possible.

What if we were softer?

“People don’t understand the value of what they call the soft stuff and I sometimes think without the soft stuff, no matter how much hard stuff, you are bound to fail.” ~ Roberta Richman

What if?


To learn more about The Path to Freedom, the Prison Mindfulness Institute, the Prison Dharma Network or for more current research click here.


Carolyn Gilligan is a daughter, sister, best friend, listener, lover, ice cream eater, sometimes writer, easily excitable, embarrassingly gullible yoga teacher in training who drinks too much coffee, makes a lot of mistakes and has too much fun for her own good.



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17 Responses to “Power of Peace In Prison: Meditation Works. ~ Carolyn Gilligan”

  1. Craig says:

    Great article, great video, and great timing. At a time where horrendous acts breed the belief of "monsters" and people incapable of rehabilitation and change, it is wonderful to see people taking steps to address our human shadow. "These people are us. They are not monsters…" What a courageous statement

  2. Edward Staskus says:

    What is remarkable is that the USA incarcerates more people than Communist China, which has a population 4 times that of our "Home of the Free".

  3. edieyoga says:

    Am posting to FB main page if it is not there already. Great job!!! Truly.

    Loved the video. The truth is amazing and needs to be told…I learned a lot.

  4. Fleet Maull says:

    Thanks for this article Carolyn!
    Fleet Maull
    Prison Mindfulness Institute

  5. Megan says:

    Another great article, Carolyn! I always look forward to your mom passing these along and sharing. Keep it up!!

  6. CarolynGilligan says:

    Thanks for reading Craig! The video did 99% of the work. I just threw in my two cents. So glad to an outlet like elephant to share this video on!

  7. CarolynGilligan says:

    Indeed it is Edward. Thanks for watching and reading!

  8. CarolynGilligan says:

    Thanks for reading and watching! I am glad you took as much from it as I did! xoxo

  9. CarolynGilligan says:

    Fleet, it was a pleasure. Keep up the good work! The video was astounding. I will continue to spread the work any way I can! Thanks for reading.

  10. CarolynGilligan says:

    Thanks Megan!! That means so much to me. My mom is really something special! xoxo

  11. Natalie Baginski says:


    this link takes you to another video about meditation being taught to prisoners in Oregon. very important stuff! great article.

  12. CarolynGilligan says:

    Thanks for sharing that video with me and for reading. Very important indeed!

  13. edieyoga says:

    Oh, it was great. Glad I got to share it…good job!

  14. Robert Sturman says:

    This is so incredibly moving. These men are now role models in a world where our experience is a struggle whether behind bars or not. I am inspired not only to ask myself what I can do to awaken – but also to support these programs being offered. The fact that 700,000 prisoners will be integrated back into society this year says it all. Tools for healing. These are our streets we will be sharing together.

  15. […] country where inmates raise dogs to work with the blind and disabled. There are programs offering yoga, meditation and the arts, as well as farms and greenhouses that all promote education, therapy and job skills. But, as much […]

  16. CarolynGilligan says:

    My thoughts exactly Robert. I too was very inspired by the video, the same way I am always am by your beautiful photos. Thanks for watching, reading and sharing your thoughts!

  17. […] Power of Peace In Prison: Meditation Works. ~ Carolyn Gilligan […]