Peace of Mind: Spirituality from a Cell

Millions of people meditate daily, but can meditative practices really make us ‘better’ people?

| November 2015

An Ashram in a Prison Cell

The Buddha Pill (Watkins, 2015), offers a compelling examination of research on transcendental meditation to recent studies on the effects of mindfulness and yoga. With fascinating contributions from spiritual teachers and therapists, Dr. Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm weave together a unique story about the science and the delusions of personal change. This particular passage deals with one woman’s quest to help inmates connect with and further their spirituality while serving their time, so that their minds may be freed while their bodies wait to be.

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If we forget that in every criminal there is a potential saint, we are dishonouring all of the great spiritual traditions. Saul of Tarsus persecuted and killed Christians before becoming Saint Paul, author of much of the New Testament. Valmiki, the revealer of the Ramayana, was a highwayman, a robber, and a murderer. Milarepa, one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist gurus, killed 37 people before he became a saint … We must remember that even the worst of us can change.’ Bo Lozoff (American prison reform activist and founder of the Prison Ashram Project and the Human Kindness Foundation)

Knocking on the door of a house in a quiet street in Oxfordshire, notepad and pen in hand, I stood and waited on the front step. A minute later the door opened. A smartly dressed, elderly lady smiled at me from inside.