Improve Prisoners’ Self-Directedness with Yoga

Improve Prisoners’ Self-Directedness with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga has changed my life in a lot of ways. I’m so glad I’m doing this, for the confidence-building and the physical aspects. I have mad anxiety—I’d give my life for a Xanax right now—but I don’t need it as much with yoga.” – Keri (Prisoner)

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners. Yoga practice, because of its mindfulness plus physical exercise characteristics, would seem to be ideal for the needs of an incarcerated population. Indeed, it has been shown to be beneficial for prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Imprisoning Yoga: Yoga Practice May Increase the Character Maturity of Male Prison Inmates.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6584840/), Kerekes and colleagues recruited male adult prisoners and randomly assigned them to 10 weeks, once a week, for 90 minutes of either yoga training or physical activity. They were measured before and after training for temperament (novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence) and character self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence).

 

They found that both groups showed significant improvements in novelty seeking, harm avoidance, and self-directedness. The prisoners that practiced yoga had a significantly greater improvement in self-directedness than the physical exercise group. Hence it appears that engaging in exercise in general reduces novelty seeking and harm avoidance and increases self-directedness, but yoga practice produces greater improvements in self-directedness.

 

Engaging in exercise appears to be beneficial for male prisoners. Novelty seeking tends to drive impulsiveness that is a problem for prisoners. Thus, reducing novelty seeking should improve their behavior. Exercise also appears to increase the prisoner’s ability to control their behavior by increasing self-directedness. Yoga is a disciplined practice. So, it is no surprise that it would produce greater self-discipline in the practitioner. This should assist the prisoner in having greater control of their behavior, which should, in turn, improve their ability to function effectively in prison and in society when they are released.

 

So, improve prisoners’ self-directedness with yoga.

 

“[Prisoners] said that it’s improved their mental health and self-awareness. It’s allowed them to better handle the daily difficulties of life in prison. It’s taught them to “respond, not react.” It’s bolstered their relationships with other inmates and with their families outside the prison walls. It’s introduced them to mindfulness. It’s strengthened them mentally and physically. It’s given them a sense of inner peace. Yoga has radically changed these men’s lives for the better.” – Taylor O’Sullivan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kerekes, N., Brändström, S., & Nilsson, T. (2019). Imprisoning Yoga: Yoga Practice May Increase the Character Maturity of Male Prison Inmates. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 406. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00406

 

Abstract

Background: A specific personality profile, characterized by low character maturity (low scores on the self-directedness and cooperativeness character dimensions) and high scores on the novelty seeking temperament dimension of the temperament and character inventory (TCI), has been associated with aggressive antisocial behavior in male prison inmates. It has also been shown that yoga practiced in Swedish correctional facilities has positive effects on the inmates’ well-being and on risk factors associated with criminal recidivism (e.g., antisocial behavior). In this study, we aimed to investigate whether the positive effect of yoga practice on inmates’ behaviors could be extended to include eventual changes in their personality profile.

Methods: Male prison inmates (N = 111) in Sweden participated in a randomized controlled 10-week long yoga intervention trial. Participants were randomly assigned to either a yoga group (one class a week; n = 57) or a control group (free of choice weekly physical activity; n = 54). All the inmates completed the TCI questionnaire before and after the intervention period as part of an assessment battery.

Results: After the 10-week-long intervention period male inmates scored significantly lower on the novelty seeking and the harm avoidance and significantly higher on the self-directedness dimensions of the TCI. There was a significant medium strong interaction effect between time and group belonging for the self-directedness dimension of character favoring the yoga group.

Conclusion: A 10-week-long yoga practice intervention among male inmates in Swedish correctional facilities increased the inmates’ character maturity, improving such abilities as their capability to take responsibility, feel more purposeful, and being more self-acceptant—features that previously were found to be associated with decreased aggressive antisocial behavior.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6584840/

 

Improve Prisoner Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Prisoner Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It is truly within the reach of anyone to create an environment in which kindness and resilience can flourish. Even the most powerless among us—prisoners—have the ability to live mindfully and treat others with kindness and respect. In doing so, they are able to improve life and build resilience not just for themselves, but for other inmates, guards, and in fact everyone in their community.” – Doug Carnine

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mindfulness Training on Emotional Health in Chinese Long-Term Male Prison Inmates.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345534/ ), Xu and colleagues recruited healthy prisoners and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 6-week program of a modified version of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). It was modified by replacing depression discussions with yoga practice. MBCT training occurred once a week for 2.5 hours and included practice on the prisoners own time. The mindfulness training involved sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that is designed to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. The prisoners were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, mindfulness, and mood.

 

They found that at the time of pretest the higher the prisoner’s level of mindfulness the lower their levels of anxiety, depression, tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment, and total mood disturbance. They also found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group the mindfulness training group had significant improvements in mindfulness, anxiety, depression, tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment, or total mood disturbance.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) significantly improve the mental health of prisoners. This is important as better mental health may lead to better adjustment to life in prison and to life after release. This may lead to lower recidivism.

 

So, improve prisoner mental health with mindfulness.

 

“By working with both prisoners and correctional facilities professionals, mindfulness programs systematically transform the impact of our criminal justice system. Through cultivating greater awareness and compassion, mindfulness “encourages a shift away from fear-based and often anti-social or criminal strategies for meeting needs” – Prison Mindfulness Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Xu, W., Jia, K., Liu, X., & Hofmann, S. G. (2016). The Effects of Mindfulness Training on Emotional Health in Chinese Long-Term Male Prison Inmates. Mindfulness, 7(5), 1044-1051.

 

Abstract

Long-term imprisonment can cause severe emotional problems, which in turn can trigger behavioral problems, self-harm, and suicide. Mindfulness-based intervention can enhance emotional health. This study investigated the effects of a 6-week mindfulness training program on the emotional health of long-term male Chinese prison inmates. Forty long-term male prisoners completed a pretest and posttest, with 19 in the mindfulness training group and 21 in the waitlist control group. The treatment group showed a significant improvement in mindfulness level, anxiety, depression, tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment, and total mood disturbance. Implications and limitations of this study were discussed. These results support the use of a mindfulness-based intervention to enhance the emotional health of long-term male prison inmates.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345534/

 

Reduce Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates with Yoga

Reduce Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Ninety percent of the prison population will be released, and if we provide people with skills to reinforce the deeper good in their nature and their stronger, better selves while they are in prison, they will take that with them.” – Kath Meadows

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

Yoga practice, because of its mindfulness plus physical exercise characteristics, would seem to be ideal for the needs of an incarcerated population. Indeed, it has been shown to be beneficial for prisoners. In today’s Research News article “Yoga Practice Reduces the Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129942/ ), Sfendla and colleagues recruited adult male and female prison inmates and randomly assigned them to either engage in 10 weeks, once a week for 90 minutes, of hatha yoga practice or free choice exercise, including gym, walking, basketball, or football. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, interpersonal sensitivity, hostility, obsessive-compulsive, psychoticism, paranoid ideation, phobic anxiety, and somatization.

 

They report that the yoga group significantly improved in global psychological symptoms and on each of the symptom dimensions. The exercise group also improved in global severity and all symptom dimensions except obsessive-compulsive, phobic anxiety, and somatization. In all cases the degree of improvement was greater in the yoga practice group and in the cases of obsessive-compulsive, phobic anxiety, and somatization the differences were statistically significant.

 

Hence, exercise in general and especially yoga practice significantly improved psychological distress levels in prison inmates. These results are particularly important as the yoga practice effects were compared to an appropriate active control condition. The results suggest that practicing yoga while in prison may improve the mental health of the prisoners and better prepare them for returning to society. It remains for future research to determine is the benefits are lasting or only occur in the immediate aftermath of training.

 

So, reduce psychological distress levels of prison inmates with yoga.

 

“We’ve got two and a quarter million people who are incarcerated and a 60 percent recidivism rate. That’s a dismal failure. So while we’ve got them, I think we should be allocating resources to give them the tools so that they don’t come back to prison.” – Jessica Rizzo

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Sfendla, A., Malmström, P., Torstensson, S., & Kerekes, N. (2018). Yoga Practice Reduces the Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 407. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00407

Abstract

Background: Psychiatric ill-health is prevalent among prison inmates and often hampers their rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is crucial for reducing recidivistic offending. A few studies have presented evidence of the positive effect of yoga on the well-being of prison inmates. The conclusion of those previous studies that yoga is an effective method in the rehabilitation process of inmates, and deserves and requires further attention.

Aims: The current study aimed to evaluate the effect of 10 weeks of yoga practice on the mental health profile, operationalized in the form of psychological distress, of inmates.

Methods: One hundred and fifty-two volunteer participants (133 men; 19 women) were randomly placed in either of two groups: to participate in weekly 90-min yoga class (yoga group) or a weekly 90-min free-choice physical exercise (control group). The study period lasted for 10 weeks. Prior to and at the end of the study period the participants completed a battery of self-reported inventories, including the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI).

Results: Physical activity (including yoga) significantly reduced the inmates’ levels of psychological distress. Yoga practice improved all primary symptom dimensions and its positive effect on the obsessive-compulsive, paranoid ideation, and somatization symptom dimensions of the BSI stayed significant even when comparing with the control group.

Conclusions: Yoga as a form of physical activity is effective for reducing psychological distress levels in prison inmates, with specific effect on symptoms such as suspicious and fearful thoughts about losing autonomy, memory problems, difficulty in making decisions, trouble concentrating, obsessive thought, and perception of bodily dysfunction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129942/

Improve Psychological Health of Youthful Criminal Offenders with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health of Youthful Criminal Offenders with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“strengthening attention through mindfulness training may be a key route for reducing recidivism among young offenders, and highlight the need to teach detained youth strategies to improve cognitive and emotional control in the stressful detainment environment.” – Christopher James

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

Most of the research to date involves adult offenders. Mindfulness training for juvenile offenders, though, has the potential to change the course of young lives. But, little is known about the effects of mindfulness training on juvenile offenders. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Young Offenders: a Scoping Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153893/ ), Simpson and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for youths involved with the criminal justice system. They found 13 articles, 11 peer reviewed and 2 not, of the effects of mindfulness training on incarcerated youths.

 

They report that the literature found mixed results with some showing significant effects while others failing to reach statistical significance. But, in general, they report that mindfulness training significantly improves emotion regulation, quality of life, and mental well-being, including reductions in stress and anxiety, and significant reductions in criminal propensity in the youths.

 

Self reports by the participants suggested that they feel more relaxed, better able to manage stress, better self-regulatory skills, improved self-awareness and more optimism about future prospects. They also reported improved relationships, valuing kindness shown by the teacher and being part of a supportive environment in which they felt respected and valued. In addition, they reported that the training helped them develop more positive relationships with staff, peers and family; feel more in control; and were better able to cope with difficult feelings and impulses. They especially appreciated being treated with care, respect and humaneness.

 

Hence, although the evidence is mixed the literature in the main suggests that mindfulness training is of great benefit to incarcerated youths, improving mental health and their abilities to cope with their environment and situation, and some suggestion that they would be less likely to commit a future crime. Obviously, more controlled research is needed with larger samples, but the current findings are encouraging and suggest that mindfulness training might contribute to helping turn these youths around in more productive directions.

 

So, improve psychological health of youthful criminal offenders with Mindfulness.

 

“Although we don’t have direct evidence for this yet, we hypothesize that this repeated practice can translate into maintaining a focus on pro-social or non-violent goals in the course of youths’ daily lives, amidst the harsh conditions of incarceration or in the context of anti-social peers” – Noelle Leonard

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Simpson, S., Mercer, S., Simpson, R., Lawrence, M., & Wyke, S. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Young Offenders: a Scoping Review. Mindfulness, 9(5), 1330–1343. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0892-5

 

Abstract

Youth offending is a problem worldwide. Young people in the criminal justice system have frequently experienced adverse childhood circumstances, mental health problems, difficulties regulating emotions and poor quality of life. Mindfulness-based interventions can help people manage problems resulting from these experiences, but their usefulness for youth offending populations is not clear. This review evaluated existing evidence for mindfulness-based interventions among such populations. To be included, each study used an intervention with at least one of the three core components of mindfulness-based stress reduction (breath awareness, body awareness, mindful movement) that was delivered to young people in prison or community rehabilitation programs. No restrictions were placed on methods used. Thirteen studies were included: three randomized controlled trials, one controlled trial, three pre-post study designs, three mixed-methods approaches and three qualitative studies. Pooled numbers (n = 842) comprised 99% males aged between 14 and 23. Interventions varied so it was not possible to identify an optimal approach in terms of content, dose or intensity. Studies found some improvement in various measures of mental health, self-regulation, problematic behaviour, substance use, quality of life and criminal propensity. In those studies measuring mindfulness, changes did not reach statistical significance. Qualitative studies reported participants feeling less stressed, better able to concentrate, manage emotions and behaviour, improved social skills and that the interventions were acceptable. Generally low study quality limits the generalizability of these findings. Greater clarity on intervention components and robust mixed-methods evaluation would improve clarity of reporting and better guide future youth offending prevention programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153893/

 

Yoga Practice Can Improve Prisoner Well-Being and Improve Rehabilitation

Yoga Practice Can Improve Prisoner Well-Being and Improve Rehabilitation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Inmates are more likely to be dealing with negative emotions—anxiety, fear, despair, anger, depression, and trauma—than a practitioner not behind bars. With a present reality that hinges on past events, as well as an environment of hostility and potential danger, yoga presents an opportunity to break through from the cycles of negative thoughts and emotions that further imprison the self. Yoga presents an opportunity for a form of freedom.” – Pauline Busson

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

Yoga practice, because of its mindfulness plus physical exercise characteristics, would seem to be ideal for the needs of an incarcerated population. Indeed, it has been shown to be beneficial for prisoners. In today’s Research News article “Yoga in Correctional Settings: A Randomized Controlled Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650609/ ), Kerekes and colleagues recruited male and female prisoners in Sweden and randomly assigned them to either 10-weeks of yoga practice or a wait-list control. Yoga training occurred for 90 minutes once a week for 10 weeks. Control participants were encouraged to engage in another physical activity for 90 minutes once a week. At the end of the 10 weeks, the control participants practiced yoga for ten weeks. The prisoners were measured before and after training for perceived stress, prison aggression, positive and negative emotions, sleep quality, and psychiatric symptoms. They were also asked to perform a continuous performance task that measures attention, impulsivity, and vigilance.

 

They found that the group that practiced yoga had less perceived stress, better sleep quality, an increased psychological and emotional well-being, less aggressive, antisocial, and self-harm behaviors. Compared to the control group, the yoga group showed increased positive emotions, impulse control and attention, and decreased negative affect. Importantly, there was a significant decrease in anti-social behaviors of the prisoners practicing yoga.

 

Yoga practice was associated with significant improvements in the prisoners’ mental health and well-being. This is not surprising as yoga practice has been repeatedly shown to provide similar benefits to other, non-prisoner, participants. But the impact of these benefits are heightened in the high-stress prison environment. The results suggest that yoga practice not only makes prison life more tolerable and constructive, but also decreases the types of behaviors, anti-social behaviors, that resulted in their incarcerations in the first place. So, yoga practice while in prison may help to prepare the prisoners for successfully reengaging in life after prison and reduce recidivism.

 

So, improve improve prisoner well-being and rehabilitation with yoga.

 

“These boys came from neglectful and abusive backgrounds, most of them [were] on medication, a real mess. That was where I got it. I realized that working with their bodies was so much more effective than just working cognitively. I started to see yoga as complementary therapy. For healing to take place, the body has to be involved. The counselors were saying, “Wow, the boys are feeling more self-confidence and self-esteem after having done yoga for two or three months.” They were actually seeing changes in them.” – James Fox

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kerekes, N., Fielding, C., & Apelqvist, S. (2017). Yoga in Correctional Settings: A Randomized Controlled Study. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8, 204. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00204

 

Abstract

Background

The effect of yoga in the reduction of depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress, anger as well as in the increased ability of behavioral control has been shown. These effects of yoga are highly relevant for prison inmates who often have poor mental health and low impulse control. While it has been shown that yoga and meditation can be effective in improving subjective well-being, mental health, and executive functioning within prison populations, only a limited number of studies have proved this, using randomized controlled settings.

Methods

A total of 152 participants from nine Swedish correctional facilities were randomly assigned to a 10-week yoga group (one class a week; N = 77) or a control group (N = 75). Before and after the intervention period, participants answered questionnaires measuring stress, aggression, affective states, sleep quality, and psychological well-being and completed a computerized test measuring attention and impulsivity.

Results

After the intervention period, significant improvements were found on 13 of the 16 variables within the yoga group (e.g., less perceived stress, better sleep quality, an increased psychological and emotional well-being, less aggressive, and antisocial behavior) and on two within the control group. Compared to the control group, yoga class participants reported significantly improved emotional well-being and less antisocial behavior after 10 weeks of yoga. They also showed improved performance on the computerized test that measures attention and impulse control.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that the yoga practiced in Swedish correctional facilities has positive effects on inmates’ well-being and on considerable risk factors associated with recidivism, such as impulsivity and antisocial behavior. Accordingly, the results show that yoga practice can play an important part in the rehabilitation of prison inmates.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650609/

Reduce Drug Addiction and Prison Recidivism with Mindfulness

Reduce Drug Addiction and Prison Recidivism with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being in prison presents tremendous obstacles to cultivating a peaceful mind, the environment is conducive to negativity and can result in further harm. On every level, the basic antidote to inner and outer obstacles is mindfulness practice.” – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche,

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Many are serving time for drug related offenses. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Prison provides a great deal of time for reflection and self-exploration. This provides an opportunity for growth and development. Contemplative practices are well suited to this environment. Meditation teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, meditation has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In addition, mindfulness can help to treat drug addictions that often underlie incarceration and promote recidivism after release. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Narcotics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers relapse and return to substance abuse. Hence, it is important to find an effective method to not only produce abstinence but also prevent relapses. Mindfulness training has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for reducing addiction relapse. So, mindfulness training can be helpful in preventing recidivism.

 

In today’s Research News article “Prison Meditation Movements and Mass Incarceration.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4633398/, Lyons and Cantrell review the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness trainings on reducing drug addiction and prisoner recidivism. They report that the research supports the effectiveness of mindfulness in combating drug addiction and its effects may last longer than other forms of addiction therapy even in prison populations. Importantly, improvements have been shown to be maintained after release from prison. Additionally, meditation programs in prison have been shown to produce significant reductions in prisoner hostility and increases in self-esteem and mood.

 

Hence, meditation training can be effective in the treatment of addictions and the psychological issues of prisoners and can have effects that continue post-release. Lyons and Cantrell postulate that the presence of a meditation group (Sangha) in prison creates a social context that is very important for success. They also suggest that linking the prisoners to meditation groups outside of prison can be helpful in maintaining benefits after release. They also suggest that focusing on experiences in meditation and empowering prisoners to lead their own groups may be help to potentiate effectiveness. So, meditation training in prison appears to be a promising practice to assist prisoners in coping with addiction and improving their psychological state while in prison and continuing after release. This is likely to help prisoners adjust to the outside world and reduce the likelihood that they will be arrested again and returned to prison.

 

So, reduce drug addiction and prison recidivism with mindfulness.

 

How do we bring sanity into one of the most hostile environments of our society ­- our prisons? . . . Mindfulness creates mental discipline and stability. This provides the inmates with the tools they need to cultivate a sense of ease, decency and compassion. Isn’t that the point of rehabilitation?” – Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lyons, T., & Cantrell, W. D. (2016). Prison Meditation Movements and Mass Incarceration. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 60(12), 1363–1375. http://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X15583807

 

Abstract

By some estimates more than half of inmates held in jails and prisons in the United States have a substance use disorder. Treatments involving the teaching of meditation and other contemplative practices have been developed for a variety of physical and mental disorders including drug and alcohol addiction. At the same time, an expanding volunteer movement across the country has been bringing meditation and yoga into jails and prisons. This review first examines the experimental research on one such approach – mindfulness meditation as a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, as well as the research on mindfulness in incarcerated settings. We argue that in order to make a substantial impact on recidivism, such programs must mirror volunteer programs which emphasize interdependency and non-duality between the “helper” and the “helped,” and the building of meditation communities both inside and outside of prison.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4633398/

Improve Prisoner Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Prisoner Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Through meditation, prisoners come to recognize their conditioning as their own and take responsibility for it, and ultimately step outside of it so their thoughts and actions can come from a space of freedom. For some it’s like a light bulb going off, for others it takes time. But they all get it eventually. You see, most of them have been in and out of jail many times. They know through personal experience that just because the jail door opens, it doesn’t mean their life is going to change. They understand that this issue of real freedom is not about being locked up or not.” – Fleet Maull

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

About half of the prison population have diagnosed mental health problems, most of which are untreated. Hence, there is a need for therapeutic programs to treat these problems in prisoners. Contemplative practices are well suited to this environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Outcomes of Psychological Therapies for Prisoners With Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5518650/, Yoon and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of various therapies for the treatment of mental health problems in prisoners. They included randomized controlled trials that employed a variety of different therapies, including “Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, Mindfulness-based Therapy, and other group treatments such as Music Therapy and Art Therapy,” but excluded trials which solely used drug treatments. The trials examined depressed mood, anxiety, trauma symptoms, overall psychopathology, somatization, and hostility/anger.

 

They found 37 published reports of randomized controlled trials. These trials reported positive improvements in the prisoners’ mental health with moderate effect sizes. These included improvements in depression anxiety, trauma symptoms, overall psychopathology, and hostility/anger. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-based Therapies were the most effective therapies. It did not matter if they were administered in a group or individual format. Unfortunately, the small number of studies, 6, that reported 3 and 6-month follow up data reported that the effects did not last and were no longer significant at follow-up.

 

These are important findings that clearly support the application of cognitive and mindfulness-based therapies for the treatment of prisoner mental health problems. The lack of lasting effectiveness, though, is a problem. This may suggest that the practices learned in the treatments are not continued after the formal sessions end. There is clearly a need for more study and experimentation to develop more long-lasting protocols. Regardless, mindfulness training would appear to be a potentially safe and effective treatment for the mental health problems of prisoners. It has to be kept in mind that mindfulness training not only helps the prisoners while incarcerated, it also helps after release, and this reduces recidivism. This by itself means that mindfulness treatments are not only a humane use of prison resources, but are also cost-effective.

 

So, improve prisoner mental health with mindfulness.

 

“The data demonstrate a stark change in the prisoners themselves and their interactions with others. Before the training most prisoners felt hopeless. They engaged in aggressive behaviour and exhibited a strong sense of “us” versus “them”. Following the training, prisoners reported that they could lead their lives more mindfully, had found fresh purpose and that their lives now had meaning – even for those who expected to spend the rest of their days behind bars.” – Inmaculada Adarves-Yorno

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Yoon, I. A., Slade, K., & Fazel, S. (2017). Outcomes of Psychological Therapies for Prisoners With Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(8), 783–802. http://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000214

 

Abstract

Objective: Prisoners worldwide have substantial mental health needs, but the efficacy of psychological therapy in prisons is unknown. We aimed to systematically review psychological therapies with mental health outcomes in prisoners and qualitatively summarize difficulties in conducting randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Method: We systematically identified RCTs of psychological therapies with mental health outcomes in prisoners (37 studies). Effect sizes were calculated and meta-analyzed. Eligible studies were assessed for quality. Subgroup and metaregression analyses were conducted to examine sources of between-study heterogeneity. Thematic analysis reviewed difficulties in conducting prison RCTs. Results:In 37 identified studies, psychological therapies showed a medium effect size (0.50, 95% CI [0.34, 0.66]) with high levels of heterogeneity with the most evidence for CBT and mindfulness-based trials. Studies that used no treatment (0.77, 95% CI [0.50, 1.03]) or waitlist controls (0.71, 95% CI [0.43, 1.00]) had larger effect sizes than those that had treatment-as-usual or other psychological therapies as controls (0.21, 95% CI [0.01, 0.41]). Effects were not sustained on follow-up at 3 and 6 months. No differences were found between group and individual therapy, or different treatment types. The use of a fidelity measure was associated with lower effect sizes. Qualitative analysis identified difficulties with follow-up and institutional constraints on scheduling and implementation of trials. Conclusions: CBT and mindfulness-based therapies are modestly effective in prisoners for depression and anxiety outcomes. In prisons with existing psychological therapies, more evidence is required before additional therapies can be recommended.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5518650/

Reduce Prison Recidivism with Mindfulness

Reduce Prison Recidivism with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness training helps youth consider more adaptive alternatives. It creates a gap between triggers for offending behavior and their responses. They learn to not immediately act out on impulse, but to pause and consider the consequences of a potential offending and high risk behavior.” – Bethany Casarjian

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Prison provides a great deal of time for reflection and self-exploration. This provides an opportunity for growth and development. Contemplative practices are well suited to this environment. Meditation teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, meditation has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Pilot RCT of a Values-Based Mindfulness Group Intervention with Jail Inmates: Evidence for Reduction in Post-Release Risk Behavior.” (See summary below). Malouf and colleagues recruited 40 adult male prisoners who were approaching time for their release. They were randomly assigned to receive either the usual pre-release treatment or a mindfulness-based pre-release program called Re-entry Values and Mindfulness Program (REVAMP). REVAMP utilizes a variety of exercises to reduce experiential avoidance and alleviate psychological suffering including metaphors, distress tolerance skills, and mindfulness meditation practices They were measured before and after treatment, 3 months and 3 years after release for mindfulness, emotion regulation, self-control, impulsivity, shame-proneness, guilt-proneness, personality, and substance abuse. Follow-up measure included criminal records and recidivism.

 

They found that in comparison to the treatment as usual group, the REVAMP group had significantly increases in the mindfulness facets of non-judging, and willingness/acceptance and increases in shame. Importantly, the REVAMP program reduced criminal behavior and re-arrests and recidivism. In particular, 80% of the control group were rearrested by the three-year post-release point, while only 62% of the REVAMP group were rearrested.

 

These are important results produced by a small pilot study. They suggest that mindfulness-based therapy provided pre-release improves the mindfulness and psychological condition of the prisoners and then post-release reduces criminal activity and re-arrests. Hence, mindfulness training may be of significant help to prisoners in reintegrating back into society.

 

So, reduce prison recidivism with mindfulness.

 

“Yoga and meditation are continuously proven among the most effective therapies for those living with complex residual trauma, and prisons are home to what may be the most concentrated population of individuals plagued by trauma. Meditation and yoga can positively impact those who are suffering from complex trauma, as they begin to confront how it is they got where they are.” – Amy Osborne

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Malouf, E.T., Youman, K., Stuewig, J., Witt, E.A., & Tangney, J.P. A Pilot RCT of a Values-Based Mindfulness Group Intervention with Jail Inmates: Evidence for Reduction in Post-Release Risk Behavior. Mindfulness (2017) 8: 603. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0636-3

 

Abstract

This study pilot-tested a values and mindfulness-based intervention (Re-Entry Values and Mindfulness Program: REVAMP) in a sample of male jail inmates. REVAMP aimed to reduce post-release risky behavior by targeting dimensions of mindfulness (e.g., willingness/acceptance) and associated proximal outcomes/ mechanisms of action (emotion regulation, self-control, shame/guilt). Inmates were randomly assigned to REVAMP (n = 21) or treatment as usual (TAU, n = 19). Attendance and feedback supported REVAMP’s feasibility and acceptability. At post-treatment, ANCOVAs showed that the REVAMP group increased more on willingness/acceptance, self-judgment, and shame relative to TAU. Relative increases in willingness/acceptance persisted at 3-month post-release. Criminal activity was assessed by self-report at 3 months post-release and official criminal records at 3 years post-release. At both time points, there was a marginally statistically significant trend of medium effect size for lower criminal recidivism in the REVAMP group compared to TAU. There were no statistically significant differences in self-reported post-release substance misuse. This pilot RCT indicated mindfulness-based interventions may hold promise for reducing inmates’ post-release risky behavior and encourages future research in this area.

Relieve Trauma Symptoms in Female Prisoners with Meditation

Relieve Trauma Symptoms in Female Prisoners with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Through providing a profound state of rest and relaxation, the TM technique allows inmates to relieve symptoms of deeply rooted trauma that form the basis of criminal behavior. As the grip of past traumas is loosened, inmates naturally calm down and become less violent and begin to take greater responsibility for their actions.” – David Lynch Foundation

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years.The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Prison time is meted out as a punishment and it is, as prison is a very stressful and difficult environment. This is compounded by the fact that most prisoners do not have well developed coping skills. In addition, many, especially female prisoners, have suffered from trauma, often experienced early in life such as abandonment, hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, and witnessing crime – including murder. In addition, prisoners frequently suffer from attention deficit disorder. Hence there is a great need for better prison programs that can not only help the prisoner adjust to prison life but also to life after release

 

Prison provides a great deal of time for reflection and self-exploration. This provides an opportunity for growth and development. Contemplative practices are well suited to this environment. Meditation teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, meditation has been shown to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

So, meditation would appear to be well suited to addressing the issues of male prisoners. But, women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population. It has yet to be documented that meditation practice can be similarly useful for female prisoners. In today’s Research News article “Transcendental Meditation and Reduced Trauma Symptoms in Female Inmates: A Randomized Controlled Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363900/

Nidich and colleagues recruited female prisoners and randomly assigned them to either meditation or no treatment wait-list control groups. Transcendental meditation was taught in 30-minute sessions twice a week for 4 months in a group format and the prisoners were encouraged to practice for an additional 20 minutes twice per day. The prisoners were measured before training and 4 months later for trauma symptoms and perceived stress. They were measured before training and 4-months later for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms including total trauma scale, intrusions, avoidance, and hyperarousal.

 

It was reported that at baseline most of the women had clinically significant levels of PTSD. Following treatment PTSD scores declined significantly, by 45%, with medium to large effect sizes in the treatment but not the control group. There were also significant improvements in PTSD symptoms of intrusions, and hyperarousal. There was excellent, 81%, compliance with the program demands. These are impressive results for a relatively small pilot study. They suggest that meditation is an effective treatment for PTSD in women prisoners.

 

A large proportion of the prison population have experienced trauma and it is thought that the effects of these experiences have profoundly affected these individuals and their behavior. The ability of meditation to mitigate the effects of trauma and reduce stress make it ideal for the treatment of prisoners. It remains for future research to determine the long-term effects of meditation practice on these prisoners, their behavior in prison and after release, and their likelihood of committing new offenses.

 

So, relieve trauma symptoms in female prisoners with meditation.

 

“I’ve known inmates who have, as a result of their meditation practice, move from being violent streetfighters to gentle protectors of weaker prisoners. I’ve seen inmates develop an extraordinary amount of patience with exceedingly trying circumstances. I’ve seen seemingly macho men show a tender concern for others. In short, I’ve seen people who have committed some of the most serious crimes possible — people that some might describe as “animals” or “beyond hope” — becoming better people.” – Bodhipaksa

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Nidich, S., Seng, A., Compton, B., O’Connor, T., Salerno, J. W., & Nidich, R. (2017). Transcendental Meditation and Reduced Trauma Symptoms in Female Inmates: A Randomized Controlled Study. The Permanente Journal, 21, 16–008. http://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/16-008

 

Abstract

Context:

Compared with the general population, trauma experiences are higher among incarcerated women.

Objective:

To evaluate the effects of Transcendental Meditation (TM) on trauma symptoms in female offenders.

Design:

Twenty-two inmates at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, OR, with at least 4 months left of incarceration were enrolled in this randomized controlled pilot study. Subjects were randomly assigned to either the TM group (n = 11) or a wait-list control group (n = 11).

Main Outcome Measures:

Subjects were measured at baseline and 4-month posttest using the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian version (PCL-C; primary outcome) with intrusive thoughts, avoidance, and hyperarousal subscales (secondary outcomes). Twenty of the subjects (10 in each group) took part in their treatment assignment and completed posttesting.

Results:

Significant reductions were found on total trauma (p < 0.036), intrusive thoughts (p < 0.026), and hyperarousal (p < 0.043) on the PCL-C. Effect sizes ranged from 0.65 to 0.99 for all variables. Eighty-one percent of the TM subjects were compliant with their program.

Conclusion:

The results of this study indicate feasibility of the TM program in a female prison population and suggest that TM may be an effective tool for decreasing trauma symptoms. Future large-scale research is warranted.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363900/

Relieve Trauma Symptoms and Stress in Prisoners with Meditation

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Relieve Trauma Symptoms and Stress in Prisoners with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Ever since a kid, I’ve just been miserable being myself. After just one month of meditating, I’ve felt so much energy, it’s amazing how good I feel.” – Geoff, prison inmate serving life sentence

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Prison is a very stressful and difficult environment for most prisoners. This is compounded by the fact that most do not have well developed coping skills. In addition, many have suffered from trauma, often experienced early in life such as abandonment, hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, and witnessing crime – including murder. In addition, prisoners frequently suffer from attention deficit disorder.

 

Prisoners are often ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. Hence there is a great need for better prison programs that can not only help the prisoner adjust to prison life but also to life after release

 

Prison provides a great deal of time for reflection and self-exploration. This provides an opportunity for growth and development. Contemplative practices are well suited to this environment. Meditation teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, meditation has been shown to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and anger.

 

So, meditation would appear to be well suited to addressing the issues of prisoners. In today’s Research News article “). Reduced Trauma Symptoms and Perceived Stress in Male Prison Inmates through the Transcendental Meditation Program: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1465085253515396/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5101089/

Nidich and colleagues recruited prisoners and randomly assigned them to either meditation or no treatment groups. Transcendental meditation was taught in 5 1-hour sessions in a group format and the prisoners were encouraged to practice for an additional 20 minutes per day. The prisoners were measured before training and 4 months later for trauma symptoms and perceived stress.

 

It was reported that compared to the no-treatment control group, the meditation group had moderate to large significant improvements in perceived stress and in total trauma symptoms, including the anxiety, depression, dissociation, and sleep disturbance resulting from trauma. In interpreting these results, it should be noted that there was not an active or placebo control group. So, the effects cannot be conclusively attributed to meditation as any active treatment might have produced similar improvements. In addition, since prisoners are isolated and restricted, any attention provided them may have had powerful effects. This being said, the findings are exciting and suggest the meditation training is a powerful treatment for the trauma symptoms and stress evident in prison populations.

 

A large proportion of the prison population have experienced trauma and it is thought that the effects of these experiences have profoundly affected these individuals and their behavior. The ability of meditation to mitigate the effects of trauma and reduce stress make it ideal for the treatment of prisoners. It remains for future research to determine the long-term effects of meditation practice on these prisoners, their behavior in prison and after release, and their likelihood of committing new offenses.

 

So, relieve trauma symptoms and stress in prisoners with meditation.

 

“I’ve known inmates who have, as a result of their meditation practice, move from being violent streetfighters to gentle protectors of weaker prisoners. I’ve seen inmates develop an extraordinary amount of patience with exceedingly trying circumstances. I’ve seen seemingly macho men show a tender concern for others. In short, I’ve seen people who have committed some of the most serious crimes possible — people that some might describe as “animals” or “beyond hope” — becoming better people.” – Bodhipaksa

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Nidich, S., O’Connor, T., Rutledge, T., Duncan, J., Compton, B., Seng, A., & Nidich, R. (2016). Reduced Trauma Symptoms and Perceived Stress in Male Prison Inmates through the Transcendental Meditation Program: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Permanente Journal, 20(4), 43–47. http://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/16-007

 

Abstract

Context: Trauma events are four times more prevalent in inmates than in the general public and are associated with increased recidivism and other mental and physical health issues.

Objective: To evaluate the effects of Transcendental Meditationa (TM) on trauma symptoms in male inmates.

Design: One hundred eighty-one inmates with a moderate- to high-risk criminal profile were randomly assigned to either the TM program or to a usual care control group.

Main Outcome Measures

The Trauma Symptom Checklist and the Perceived Stress Scale were administered at baseline and four-month posttest.

Results: Significant reductions in total trauma symptoms, anxiety, depression, dissociation, and sleep disturbance subscales, and perceived stress in the TM group were found compared with controls (all p values < 0.001). The high-trauma subgroup analysis further showed a higher magnitude of effects in the TM group compared with controls on all outcomes, with Cohen effect sizes ranging from 0.67 to 0.89.

Conclusion: Results are consistent with those of prior studies of the TM program in other populations and its effects on trauma symptoms and perceived stress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5101089/