Prisoners suffer from higher rates of lifetime trauma than almost any other population. Health conditions like anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease are associated with trauma, as are higher rates of recidivism. An innovative trial study in two Oregon prisons for men asked whether the Transcendental Meditation® technique could diminish the damaging effects of trauma for moderate- and high-risk inmates.
The newsworthy results, published in The Permanente Journal online, have been reported by Reuters, FOX News, Yahoo News, Medical News Today, PsychCentral, and Corrections.com, among many others.
Greater Freedom from Depression and Anxiety
After just four months of practicing the TM technique, 90 inmates showed greater reduction in their symptoms of trauma, including depression, anxiety, dissociation (detachment from physical and emotional experience), and sleep disturbance, when compared to 91 non-meditating prisoners. The TM group also experienced significant decreases in perceived stress.
“TM helps to awaken, deepen, and solidify the kind of transformational process that we so badly need in our overburdened and costly correctional system.” —Dr. Tom O’Connor, study co-author
“To date this is the largest randomized, controlled trial with the Transcendental Meditation technique on trauma symptoms,” said Dr. Sanford Nidich, lead author of the study and director of Maharishi University of Management Center for Social and Emotional Health.
Becoming More Human Again
“I have watched inmates learn the Transcendental Meditation technique and become more human, after a long and isolating period of becoming less human,” observed Dr. Tom O’Connor, study co-author and assistant professor of criminal justice at Western Oregon University. “TM® helps to awaken, deepen, and solidify the kind of transformational process that we so badly need in our overburdened and costly correctional system.”
One study participant described TM’s effects as deeply transformative: “As I entered the 24th year behind bars, I had come to grips with most of the demons of the past but still felt fragmented. Recently I was given the chance to learn TM… As the weeks passed, that sense of fragmentation started to flow into something deeper and new. A quiet that feels so natural and restful that I feel like I’ve finally come home, to a place where things make sense and I’m just happy. The pains of my life haven’t gone away… just feels like I’ve grown beyond them.”