New Tools for Healing: Bringing Mindfulness Practice into New Places

Capital murder, armed robbery, aiding and abetting . . .

Often, the people who commit such crimes are fueled by years of anger and rage, and feel they have no other outlet for it than through violence.

But for 20 inmates at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama, a groundbreaking mindfulness program introduced them to Vipassana mediation, and gave them the tools that could finally help them change that.

During the program, the inmates were required to maintain complete silence and follow a strict daily schedule centered on meditation and mindfulness.

Although the program was only 10 days, it gave the inmates the resources they needed to look within themselves and deal with emotions and experiences they had buried for years.

Even after the initial program ended, many of the men continued to use mindfulness techniques to control their emotions.

Here’s an excerpt from The Dhamma Brothers (produced by Jenny Phillips) featuring Ricky Alexander, one of the original 20 Vipassana meditation participants.

Check it out, it’s just over three minutes:

Ricky is one example of how mindfulness can transform even those we might initially classify as “unreachable.” But mindfulness can truly benefit many different groups of people.

To find out other techniques for bringing mindfulness into your life and work, check out our Making Mindfulness Work webinar series. It’s free to watch the webinars when they’re broadcast – you just have to sign up.

And to find out more about The Dhamma Brothers, click here.

Have you ever used mindfulness in an “unexpected” way? Please leave your comments below.


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11 Comments

  1. Dr. Jay English chiropractor Sausalito, Calif. USA says:

    Excellent I do recomend it for my patients when they are having emotional issues. emotional issues definitely contribute to back pain.

  2. Elba Ramos, Teacher, GA says:

    Namaste, Since ancient times mankind is struggling with life. You start learning since you are born about falling, walking, running, studying, etc. But, once you are out in the real world there is no such thing as a book of how to survive in life! I have been attending a Buddhist temple for over 3 years, I am not Buddhist but, I love the monk’s talk on Sunday! Life is about love and compassion. I recommend meditation at least 3 times a day, 10 minutes each time! It’s not about quantity, but quality. Meditation should become part of a curriculum in class in our schools, starting with small children’s. Meditation has nothing to do with religion! people should learn the benefits of meditation. In all religions the great figures as Jesus, Buddha, Krishna and others took their time to meditate. Sometimes, we even meditate without knowing that we do it! It’s in our nature! These days there are lots of things going on at the same time, people talk about multi task, we are not “supermen or wonder women” not having enough time to communicate or share time with our love ones. What makes us think that technology is better than meditation? We should take a look and immerse in ourselves, before humankind loses their mind! we see it everyday in TV how much anger , violence there is… We can change the course of our lives with meditation. Good !uck!

  3. Judith Schachter Psychologist London Ontario Canada says:

    It would be valuable to find out for whom this tool is effective and for whom it is not effective.

  4. Larry Anderson says:

    I a whm a retired university professor My key to meditation is staying in the “here and now” whether is going to sleep at night or walking on my daily trip. I know more about my self than before. Instead of getting attached to “other thoughts” as they arise. What is interesting to me is that as thought emerge during the process, some were central to previous meditation. They were ME But are now distarctions. One feeling that stays with me in the here and now is Love. I love my life, my wife and have learned to avoid strife. As I type these words I listen to my heartbeat in the here and now, I have tinitus.. Good luck to you all
    Larry

  5. Edith Runner, retired nurse from Europe says:

    Balance is the key to lasting Success for everything.
    Progress is good.
    The Resources the Planet provides are there for us to use them.
    Let’s find a Middle-way to make this work.

  6. Julie says:

    What struck viewing this clip me was the wisdom emanating from these individuals.

  7. S. L. Kadiri, Equestrian Coach and Trainer, Victoria, Canada says:

    I am deeply moved…something as simple as vipasanna could have such profound positive and healing affect for people in incarceration. Can we afford in any way to turn our backs on a truly wonderful and economical way to reahabilitate people so that they may be able to go back to society and really begin a new. Sadly this in itself seems like a crime.

  8. Kitty Baker says:

    Could be no more compelling testimonials for the uses of mindfulness. Choice examples. Thanks.

  9. Daniel, Casework Manager (Parole Officer), Canada says:

    I’ve done about a handful of these retreats. While I like to think of myself as a relatively healthy and well-balanced person doing these retreats I am always reminded of how wound-up I am. How unneccessarily miserable I am. I walk away feeling like joy itself. Of course… the benefits are largely discarded without continued manintenance (2 hours / day of practice).

    A ten day retreat feels like 1 year of psychoanalysis.

  10. Patricia, bodyworker, Vancouver says:

    I have seen this film, it is truly wonderful, and inspiring.. If only those in charge were not so short-sighted, the program could have continued, and possibly touched (and changed for the better?) the lives of many more people. That there were such changes in those in the program, in such a short time, is cause for hope..

  11. Robyn, counsellor, Canada says:

    All I can say is “wow” and how eloquently these men spoke about their own brokenness and their search for healing.

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