Coping with incarceration: The role of yoga, meditation, and spirituality

K. Suneetha

“Through yoga and meditation, I am now able to relax in the ‘eye of the hurricane.’ I have found a place within myself that I never had before, though I’d looked for it all of my life in things like drugs and material possessions. All I got from those things is a life behind bars.”

Fred Reinhart


For Mahatma Gandhi prison was a place for inner reflection; for Jawaharlal Nehru it was a place for literary activity; for Sri Aurobindo it was a place for self-realization. For the ordinary prisoner languishing behind bars for crimes committed or allegedly committed, who had succumbed to the fury of emotional passions, life in prison could be a place for a guilt-ridden or revengeful existence losing their worth in their own eyes as much as that in their family’s and society’s eyes.

According to John Boone (1975), former Director of Corrections, State of Massachusetts, “Prisons have been used to limit the movement of persons labeled as ‘dangerous’, ‘psychotic’ or ‘disturbed’, a labeling process which began in the community, in the bad schools and continued through each stage of the criminal justice system. The result has been the destruction of thousands of lives. We have been so concerned with containment, with limiting movement, that we haven't looked for the real troubles in people, in communities, in our social and economic system.”

According to Mauer (1994) in the report The International Use of Incarceration, India stands at the 21st place in the rate of incarceration with 23 per 100,000 population; Russia stands at the top, to become the world leader in its rate of incarceration, with 558 citizens per 100,000 population in its prison system. The rise of organized crime, political instability, and the transition to an uncertain economic future has all played a factor in increased crime rates and the use of imprisonment as a penal method. With 1.3 million Americans behind bars, the U.S. rate of incarceration is 519 per 100,000, second in the world among the 52 nations covered in this survey. The U.S. rate has increased by 22 percent since 1989, and is generally 5-8 times higher than most industrialized nations.

Incarceration for the convicted criminal cannot be either avoided or escaped; it has to be coped with. Prison is a taboo place that even most hardcore criminals dread to go. The environment is very oppressive and depressive. Being caged, reminds one of dogs or other pet animals that are kept chained. It is very different from the world outside, the world in which the prisoners are born and brought up. In one day, they are alienated from their family, friends, and the society. The shame of being ‘caged’, the worry regarding their family’s welfare and their ability to cope with this change (sometimes, permanent for life term sentence), the dreadful loneliness and ghostly silence of being alone with minimal stimulation, depression, and boredom, all add to the stresses of incarceration. Life in prison leads to many problems. Most of the prisoners are ill equipped to cope with the intense stress of prison life. Research has revealed that apart from the criminal aspect, many inmates manifest mental disorders in prison as a result of the stress of incarceration. Krishna (1993) reports the presence of neuroticism, anxiety, extraversion, and morality guilt among adolescents who are high on delinquent behavior. Osofsky (1996) reveals the presence of certain psychological or personality factors exhibited by prisoners and the influence of these in creating greater stress within the prison. These factors are neuroticism, anxiety, aggression, hostility, and guilt.

Other stresses behind the bars include separation from family, overcrowding, sensory deprivation, exposure to a high-density of hard-core offenders, and a variety of uncertainties, fears, and frustrations. The period of trial is of great stress to the individual. Loss of social status, uncertainty of outcome of the trial, fear of punishment, staying in an unusual place like police station or jail and the financial upsets, harass the individual. If the trial period is prolonged for months or years, which is very common, then the under-trial's mental condition deteriorates. The hard life in prison further aggravates the situation. Psychological factors such as frustration, hostility, and feelings of helplessness might be the cause or the consequence of criminal behavior, and in some cases, both. There is all danger that in such an environment prisoners become worse than before.

Religion has long been considered by some to be a deterrent to crime because it promotes social control, encourages the development of moral character, and the acceptance of societal norms and values (Davis, 1948; Erikson, 1966; Fitzpatrick, 1967). However, this notion was disputed by Hirshi and Stark (1969), who reported that church attendance and belief in supernatural sanctions were unrelated to self-reported delinquency; that religiosity and delinquency were virtually unrelated. More recently, analyzing the results of a study by Evans et al. (1995), it was summarized that involvement in religious activities may significantly decrease the risk of adult criminality, as it may for adolescent delinquency (cf. Koenig et al, 2001, p. 183-184). Koenig. McCulllough, and Larson further surmise that “there is growing evidence that religion can be used as a tool to help prevent high-risk urban youths particularly from engaging in delinquent behavior. Religious involvement may help adolescents learn “prosocial behavior” that emphasizes concern for others’ welfare. Such prosocial skills may give adolescents a greater sense of empathy toward others, which makes them less likely to commit acts that harm others. Similarly, once individuals become involved in deviant behavior, it is possible that participation in specific kinds of religious activities can help steer them back to a course of less deviant behavior and, more important, away from lives as career criminals” (ibid, p. 190). However, this correlation does not answer questions raised by increased inter-religious crimes that are the order of the day. The crucial factor here may be the difference between religiosity and spirituality.

As a coping mechanism, Koenig, (1995) reported that religion was the most important coping method while in prison for 32% of older men in prison. Inmates with strong belief in God were more likely to be serving their first prison term (56% vs. 29%), but were more likely to have multiple criminal charges (42% vs. 17%). Those inmates who engaged in daily prayer/Bible study were more likely to be a low security risk (90% vs. 74%), less likely to be on drug charges (39% vs. 77%), had shorter sentences (80 vs. 121 months). Prisoners with no religious affiliation and those whose parents had no religious affiliation had the highest depression scores. Panton, (1979) reported that high religious identification scores separated adjusted from maladjusted prisoners.

The influence of spirituality

Spirituality today is considered one of the most powerful tools for personal transformation. It has the power to transform and maintain enormous changes in one's perceptions, values, and behaviors. It can be a personal source of strength in coping with physical, emotional, or environmental stress. The numerous benefits of being ‘spiritual’ and the miraculous changes that spirituality may bring about in people, has baffled science.

Koenig et al. (2001) define spirituality as “the personal quest for understanding the answers to ultimate questions about life, about meaning, and about relationship to the sacred or transcendent, which may (or may not) lead to or arise from the development of religious rituals and the formation of community” (p. 18). According to Larson, Sawyers, and McCullough, (1997) spirituality has a “sacred core” that consists of “feelings, thoughts, experiences, and behaviors that arise from a search for the sacred that involves attempts to identify, to articulate, to maintain or to transform. Burkhardt (1989) conceptualizes spirituality as “harmonious interconnectedness with self, with others, a higher power, and environment.” Spirituality is a function of beliefs, values, behaviors, and experiences. It is a circular relationship in which beliefs give rise to values, which reform our behaviors, resulting in an experiential impact upon the spiritual belief system. A spiritual person is on a quest for meaning and purpose, and emerges with confidence that life is deeply meaningful and that his own existence has purpose (Elkins et al., 1988).

Spirituality and religious involvement may promote certain behaviors or attitudes that increase happiness, satisfaction, and general well-being (Koenig, McCullough, and Larson, 2001). Studies have shown that religious persons are less likely to divorce or separate and are more likely to have intact and stable families (e.g., Wilson and Filsinger, 1986). Those high on spirituality have greater satisfaction with support and have more social contacts (Elllison and George, 1994), are more positive in thinking (Peale, 1952), and are more hopeful (Sethi and Seligman, 1994). Multi-item measures of religious involvement are found to be consistently negatively correlated with measures of depressive symptoms and affect (Brown and Gray, 1994; Ferraro, 1998).

Spirituality has a positive role in coping with anxiety disorders (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1992), and is found to be beneficial in the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychoses. Verghese et al. (1989) have conducted a two-year prospective study of schizophrenics who were attending the psychiatric outpatient clinics in India. They found that health outcomes deteriorated for those who reported a decrease in religious activity. After reviewing several studies in the area of spirituality and personality, Koenig and his colleagues (2001) reported that people who are high in spiritual involvement tend to have low levels of hostility, and high levels of hope and optimism. Fehring, Brennan, and Keller (1987) studied the relationship between spirituality and psychological mood states in response to life change. Spiritual well-being, existential well-being, and spiritual outlook showed a strong inverse relationship with negative moods, suggesting that spiritual values may influence psychological well-being. Corrington (1989) conducted a study of the relationships between the level of spirituality and level of contentment with life. He found a direct, positive correlation between these two characteristics. A qualitative study by Sullivan (1993) examined the relationship between spirituality as associated with relapse and recidivism rates among individuals with severe mental illnesses.

Spirituality in prisons

In present times, all over the world, there is a major shift from viewing the criminal as a dangerous, hardcore, and to-be-alienated person, to that of an individual requiring reformation and transformation. Prison is no longer to be perceived as a place for punishment but a place for training, inner growth, and improvement. It is a sanctuary for reform. Reformation of the offender is being regarded as the ultimate aim of the prison sentence. Rehabilitation of criminals has become one of the most important objectives of the jail authorities. The Department of Jails has now come to be designated as the Department of Correction in the US. As a result, the prisoners are increasingly provided with state-of-the-art educational, vocational, recreational, and spiritual training.

The situation in India, too, is positive with many reformative measures all over the country. The Department of Prison,Tamil Nadu Government in their website article ‘Reformation of Prisoners’ states that, “the administration of prisons is accorded utmost priority by the Government. Concerted efforts are taken to improve the all round welfare measures of prisoners and basic infrastructure facilities. While strengthening the safety and security of prisons, administrative changes are being made in prisons. The principles of correctional administration are imbibed by the prison department so as to provide for reformation and rehabilitation in the system.” Dr. Kiran Bedi, better known as the architect of reforms in Tihar Jail, feels that a holistic approach is needed for prison reforms and that isolated programmes for development of jail inmates as was in practice in jails not only in the country, but throughout the world, would not deliver the desired results. She has suggested the “3 Cs model”' for prison management - collective, corrective, and community-based prison management, which is simple and effective.

Prison reform measures should lead to some reduction in inmate's feelings of hostility, helplessness, and other negative emotions. They should be constructive and restorative. The reforms should enable the prisoner to become a better individual. The purpose is to make prison life better, to add a humanistic dimension to it, to help the inmates introspect and examine themselves and possibly understand the purpose of life better. The reform should be at the physical, psychological, social, moral, and spiritual level. This can be achieved by training in spirituality that involves various techniques aimed at all round development of the individual. Alexander (1982), a development psychologist who conducted research on prison population, has shown that normal psychological development is prematurely stunted in the prison inmates, and that using certain spiritual techniques can reverse it.

As prisons are a high stress environment facilitating depression, aggression, and sexual offences, it is an ideal place to introduce spirituality as a coping strategy. Prison schedules are structured in their setting and functioning, with limited time pressures. The incarcerated have lot of free time which most of them find the hardest to cope with. Most spiritual practices are best done in isolation. To practice spirituality no prior conditions need to be fulfilled. It involves techniques such as practicing religion, yoga, and meditation. While the practice of religion can be encouraged, yoga and meditation can be taught and practiced en mass. Both yoga and meditation have been used as a reformative tool in prisons all over the world. It is termed as ‘Prison Yoga’, to bring about all round transformation in the incarcerated person. Few studies have recorded the changes brought about by these techniques. Meditative techniques such as vipassana meditation and transcendental meditation have been used with the prison population.


Yoga has been defined by Swami Satyananda Saraswati as “a complete science of consciousness. It provides mastery over all stages of consciousness.” Yoga is referred to in the Rig Veda, and particularly in the Atharva Veda where there is an elaborate discussion of the individual’s psyche and well-being. However, the most systematic presentation on yoga was made by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. From the beginning of the 20th century, medical scientists and therapists of other fields, including psychology, began verifying yogic principles and using its techniques for promoting health and human adjustment. The practices of yoga, particularly raja yoga and hatha yoga, have withstood scientific scrutiny and have been found useful in the treatment of many chronic disorders (Bhushan, 1998)

The influence of yoga on both physical and psychological effects has been well researched (Sengupta and Banerjee, 1994). Yoga has been found to have positive effects on health problems, such as bronchial asthma (Behera and Jindal, 1990; Nagarathna, Nagendra, and Seethalakhsmi, 1991), back pain (Nespor, 1989), hypertension (Brownstein and Dembert, 1989), migraine and tension headaches (Latha and Kaliappan, 1987), chronic tinnitus (Kroner, Hebing, and Van Rijn, 1995). A large body of research suggests the influence of yoga on improving the condition of the mentally challenged (Uma, Nagendra, Nagarathna, et al., 1989), anxiety (Singh and Madhu, 1987; Sahasi, Mohan, and Kacker, 1989) and depression (Khumar, Kaur, and Kaur, 1993).

Bhushan (1998) in his article Yoga: An Instrument of Psychological Transformation, writes: “Disease originates from mental stress causing imbalance in the neurophysiological and endocrinal systems, resulting in psychosomatic disorders. These disorders again cause anxiety and other psychological symptoms popularly known as DIAFS (Disease Induced Anxiety and Fear Syndrome). Thus the mind-body interaction serves as a chain of cause-effect relationships to produce psychosomatic and somatopsychic symptoms. For their proper treatment, therefore, somatic or psychological management alone is not sufficient. The practices of yoga is effective because its approach is psycho-somato-spiritual.”

According to Aminabhai (1996), yoga training leads to highly significant improvement in subject's mental health. A series of research investigations have revealed that there are many beneficial effects of yoga, which would help in stress management (Selvamurthy, 1993). Yoga and meditation can contribute positively to various cognitive processes, including perception and in turn, on subjective well-being, quality of life and criminal propensity. Venkatesh, Pal, Negi, Verma, Sapru, and Verma (1994) have observed that yoga group showed significantly higher scores on social desirability. It was also found that the life event scores (past one year) were significantly less in yoga practitioners.

In 1995, a pilot study was undertaken on a group of prisoners lodged in the Munger district jail. The participants were given one hour of yoga training, consisting of selected asanas and pranayamas in the morning, about 45 minutes of yoga nidra in the afternoon, and about one hour of kirtan, prayers, and satsang in the evening led by sannyasins of the BYB Yoga Institute. After a fortnight the participating prisoners reported themselves to be physically and mentally stronger and less likely to fight amongst themselves or with jail authorities. The jail authorities also reported that the yoga program had been conducive to creating cordiality among the prisoners. It had also reduced the jail’s expenditure on medicines and the jail environment had become friendlier (Bhushan, 1998).

Bunk (1979) evaluated the effects of hatha yoga and mantra meditation on the psychological health and behavior of incarcerated males. Results suggest that yoga, meditation, and a combination of the two may be effective strategies for lowering anxiety and for facilitating an internal locus of control reinforcement in incarcerated males.

Studies on the effects of yoga on prisoners have been sporadic, lacking in clearly articulated and unambiguous hypothesis testing. Thus there is a need for a comprehensive theoretical base and programmatic research to test the implications of the theories. The spiritual reformative methods to be used on the prisoners need to consist of clearly defined modules. The modules could involve spiritual counseling, asanas, pranayama, kriyas, meditation, and relaxation techniques. Such a module was recently given to 60 life-timers of the Central Prison at Visakhapatnam, in a 15-day camp that involved all the above techniques of spiritual counseling. The participant prisoners and the staff experienced improvement in the mood and perception. Most of the participants who were scared of the isolation that they were subjected to said that after the yoga camp, they sought the isolation as they were now they were trained to utilize it effectively. However, no scientific study was conducted.


Odanjnyk (1988) writes that meditation teaches a “focused attention that leads to increased self-awareness of mental and emotional states, mastery over instinctive, compulsive reactions, insight into one's true nature and into reality, exploration of religious themes, images, and feelings, and expansion of ego consciousness into a more universal consciousness.” Meditation leads to physiological, behavioral, and cognitive changes that have potential therapeutic benefits, as well as suggesting ways in which meditation is more than just a relaxation, behavioral, or cognitive technique (Bogart, 1991).

Many involve some form of withdrawal of attention from the outer world and from customary patterns of perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and motor activity, performed in a state of inner and outer stillness (Bogart, 1991). There are, however, forms of meditation that utilize music, movement, visual or auditory contemplation of physical objects or processes like, staring at a candle flame, watching or listening to a stream of water or ocean waves. Meditative techniques heighten awareness of the observing self and change customary patterns of perception and thinking (Deikman, 1982) and thus initiate change. Meditation is a means not merely of seeking comfort and stability, but of working with inner turmoil and undergoing a profound transformation (Kornfield, Dass, and Miyuki, 1983).

Many studies have suggested that meditation could be a promising preventive or rehabilitative strategy in treatment of hypertension, asthma, addictions, fears, phobias, insomnia, and stress (Bogart, 1991). Brooks and Scarano (1985) reported the efficacy of meditation in combating posttraumatic stress disorder. Research has also suggested that subjects using meditation change more than control groups in the direction of positive mental health, positive personality change, self-actualization, increased spontaneity, self-regard, inner directedness, and self-perceived increase in the capacity for intimate contact (Seeman, Nidich, and Banta, 1972; Hjelle, 1974; Otis, 1974). Delmonte (1984) discussed the relationship between meditation and personality scores, focusing on self-esteem and self-concept, depression, psychosomatic symptomatology, self-actualization, locus of control, and introversion/extroversion. He found no compelling evidence to suugest that meditation changes psychometric scores, but found that meditation does seem to be associated with increases in self-actualization and decreases in depression. Childs (1976) found that use of TM with juvenile offenders was associated with self-actualization, decreased anxiety and drug use, and improvements in behavior and interpersonal relationships.

The positive role of meditative techniques on prison population has been documented by researchers (Alexander, 1982; Khurana and Dhar, 2000). Meditation requires the individual to shut away unnecessary thoughts from immediate awareness and concentrate on a single aspect (like a dot, mantra, image etc). Being able to meditate presupposes at least normal condition of the meditator if not a higher state of consciousness. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, meditation or dhyana is the seventh step. Though the eight-fold path is not a hierarchy, the states of dhyana cannot be accomplished without other prior factors being satisfied. Moral conduct (yama and niyamas) is very essential for entering into the state of meditation. Further internal and external purification (by way of pranayama, kriyas or surrender to God) is necessary. This becomes possible when the individual develops the spiritual outlook.

Alexander (1982) explored the effects of introducing TM to a prison population of violent offenders. As a developmental psychologist, he questioned the assumption that normal psychological development—prematurely stunted in these inmates—was permanently arrested. His study at Walpole prison in Massachusetts compared the effects of learning and practicing TM with individual/group counseling and other prison programs. The results showed that those in the TM group completed two full stages of standard developmental measures during the three years of the study; in the non-meditation control groups, such changes were not seen. Follow-up studies at Folsom and San Quentin prisons showed similar beneficial effects. In practical terms, this meant that the members of the group practicing TM were less angry, anxious, and had fewer psychotic symptoms. They often reported feelings of unity and refinement of perception. The recidivism rate in this group went down by 40 percent; and the overall in-prison murder rate dropped to zero during this period.

Some researchers used TM as a rehabilitation method (Anklesaria, 1992), and as a therapy with juvenile offenders. Childs (1976) and Bleick and Abrams (1987) showed that the TM program has resulted in criminal recidivism in California. However using only meditation with prisoners may not be very effective since most of them will be in a state of depression and negative feelings. The first step in the process would be to life the depression by using other techniques such as yoga and spiritual counseling. Several studies have documented different results than the ones sponsored by the TM movement. For example, Desiraju (1990), in a ten-year study of TM subjects, found that they were drowsier than subjects using other forms of meditation; their EEG's showed weaker alpha and theta waves than other meditation techniques; physiological correlates were consistently unpredictable with TM showing great variability from session to session.

Vipassana meditation

Vipassana is an ancient meditation technique that is currently being taught in India and several other countries under the guidance of Shri S. N. Goenka, the guru of vipassana. Vipassana means "insight" - seeing things as they really are. To learn this technique one is required to take a ten-day residential course under a qualified teacher. To begin with, one has to take a vow of observing certain rules of moral conduct (sila). These are: abstention from killing any sentient being, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking any intoxicant. The second component of this training is called anapana, i.e., awareness of respiration. This involves continuous "observation" of the natural flow of incoming and outgoing breath. The third step called development of panna or wisdom, which involves purification of mind through enhanced awareness. The individual engages himself in choiceless and effortless observation of body sensations and tries to develop an attitude of non-judgment and non- reaction (Khurana and Dhar, 2000).

For the duration of the retreat, students remain within the course site, having no contact with the outside world. They refrain from reading and writing. They follow a rigorous daily schedule, which includes about ten hours of sitting meditation. They also observe silence, not communicating with fellow students. Students receive systematic meditation instructions several times a day, and each day's progress is explained during a video taped evening discourse by Shri Goenka. Complete silence is observed for the first nine days. On the tenth day, students resume speaking, making the transition back to a more extroverted way of life. The course concludes on the morning of the eleventh day.

Vipassana meditation has been used as the most popular reformative tool in several prisons in India. In 1975, Goenkaji conducted a course for 120 inmates at the Central Jail in Jaipur, the first such experiment in Indian penal history. In 1977, a second course was held at the Jaipur Central Jail. These courses were the subject of several sociological studies conducted by the University of Rajasthan. In 1990, another course was organized in Jaipur Central Jail in which forty life-term convicts and ten jail officials participated with positive results. No systematic research was conducted on these early courses. The Department of Sociology, University of Rajasthan, was involved in evaluating the prisoners before and after the course, most of whom were life convicts or had committed serious offences. According to Dr. Chokhani, Director of Research at Igatpuri Vipassana Meditation Center, in an interview published in Yoga Magazine (1975), “unfortunately there was no long term follow-up because of the transient political leadership.”

In 1991, a course for life-sentence prisoners was held at the Sabaramati Central Jail, Ahmedabad, and was the subject of a research project by the Department of Education, Gujarat Vidyapeeth. The Rajasthan and Gujarat studies indicated definite positive changes in the attitude and behavior of the participants, and showed that vipassana is a positive reform measure enabling criminals to become wholesome members of society (Khurana and Dhar, 2000). Due to a lack of proper scientific methodologies, the studies on vipassana meditation have raised many questions.

Vipassana was introduced in Tihar Jail in 1993, and two studies were carried out in 1994 by AIIMS. The first study was carried out on 120 subjects in 1994. The dimensions studied were well-being, hostility, hope, helplessness, personality, psychopathy, and in the case of psychiatric disorders, anxiety and depression. It was followed by another study on 150 subjects. The sample consisted of two groups: one group of 85 subjects who attended a 10-day vipassna course and a control group of 65 subjects. The dimensions studied were anomie, attitude to law, personality, and psychiatric illness. Immediately after the course, the subjects were found to be less hostile towards their environment and felt less helpless (Vipassana Research Institute, 1990).

The main objective of another study on Tihar Jail inmates was to quantitatively assess the beneficial effects of vipassana on the inmates. A structured questionnaire was designed with the help of two experts: Prof. Purnima Mathur of IIT and Dr. Adarsh Sharma of NIPCID. The questionnaire was administered a week before the camp to ascertain their personal and family background, nature of crime, attitude towards others, influence of imprisonment, spiritual inclination etc. Another questionnaire designed to assess the influence of the meditation was administered after the camp. Out of ninety-six inmates, seventy-four filled both the questionnaires and the analysis given below is based on their responses. As expected, most of the prisoners suffer from tension; 73% indicated that they were excessively worried about the future; 39% said that they were very often thinking about the past; and 47% mentioned that their mind did not remain peaceful at all. In fact, 16% confessed that they were constantly thinking about taking revenge against the people who were responsible for their imprisonment. Family was the most missed area (61%). In this study no standard questionnaires were used and a rigorous scientific methodology was not adopted. Moreover the data was collected by volunteers, mostly vipassana trainees.

Khurana and Dhar (2000) investigated the effect of vipassana meditation (VM) on quality of life (QOL), subjective well-being (SWB), and criminal propensity (CP) among inmates of Tihar Jail, Delhi. A series of 5 studies were conducted on 262 inmates (males=232, female =30), using both pre and post as well as control group experimental designs. The independent variable was vipassana meditation. The dependent variables were: quality of life (QOL), subjective well-being (SWB), and criminal propensity (CP). Life Satisfaction Scale, Subjective Well-Being Scale (Nagpal and Sell, 1985), and Criminal Propensity Scale (Sanyal and Kathpalia, 1999) were used to mesure the variables. Results indicated that vipassana meditation significantly improved subjective well-being, and reduced criminal propensity. There are many shortcomings in these studies due to improper methodology. Moreover practicing only vipassana meditation might have many adverse effects on the prisoners because most of the prisoners lack the integrity in their personalities to withstand the rigorous procedures of vipassana meditation.

Bogart (1991) in his review article writes that, “vipassana meditation is an uncovering technique, characterized by neutrality, removal of censorship, observation and abstinence from gratification of wishes, impulses, or desires”. All these elements presuppose a normal level of functioning. In Engler's view, those with poorly defined and weakly integrated representations of self and others cannot tolerate uncovering techniques or the painful affects which emerge. The vipassana guidelines of attention to all thoughts, feelings, and sensations, without selection or discrimination, create an unstructured situation intrapsychically. This becomes evident when the technique of vipassana meditation is elaborated.

The techniques of spirituality, yoga and meditation, are a part of the native wisdom of the Indian subcontinent. They form the core of Indian philosophical systems. Its beneficial effects are well documented in the ancient treatises. Although the evidence so far appears to be promising in its beneficial effects, its efficacy as a reformative tool has to be established.. The project underway at the Institute for Human Science & Service envisages exploring the role of religion on coping with the stresses of incarceration by the prison inmates, and in bringing about a sense of well-being and happiness in their dismal existence. The study further explores the efficacy of yoga, meditation, and spiritual counseling as life transforming tools with the potential to bring about attitudinal and behavioral changes that render them less likely to return to the prison later. Increased systematic research in this area is essential as it plays a crucial role in the science-spirituality dialogue


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