How Prisoners Practice Mindfulness Amidst Chaos
A maximum security prison isn’t the most supportive place to take up mindfulness practice. The places are always noisy with ambient sounds that include talking, yelling, chains rattling, doors banging…even through the night. In addition, prison schedules don’t adapt to the needs of individual inmates, and cellmates might belittle the practice, making it difficult for an inmate to find 20 undisturbed minutes to sit and follow the breath.
At Folsom Prison in California, I teach a variety of mindfulness practices that have evolved to enable enough flexibility for the men I work with to develop the practice and cultivate what mindful awareness they can.
One of the most successful practices is what I call the Three-Breath Trip. It’s a practice the men can do any time, anywhere, without adopting a meditation posture or even closing the eyes. Here’s how it’s done…