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14.08.2015
As part of jail reforms, Vipassana camps are organized inside the prison walls of Tihar Jail, New Delhi. Recognising the importance of self-development for inmates, several welfare activities were started at Tihar Jail as part of prison reforms.
In 1993, Kiran Bedi, a reformist Inspector General of India's prison learned of the success of using Vipassan? The Vipassana Training course was first introduced at the Delhi Police Training College at Jharoda Kalan in January 1999. Through Vipassana anyone, irrespective of race, caste, or creed, can eliminate those tendencies that have woven so much anger, passion, and fear into our lives. A team of research scholars at the Department of Education [Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi] undertook the present study under the guidance of Dr.
To find out how Vipassana practice helps them deal with life in jail; their emotions and feelings related to the crime committed by them and thoughts about their future life.
The fieldwork was spaced out over 6 months in which four visits were made to the Tihar Jail complex. Experiences of conducting the camps in prisons- problems faced, special moments shared etc.
Since the interviews were semi-structured, the researchers were allowed to modify, delete or add questions. The present section presents an analysis of the field notes recorded on the bases of data collected through in depth interviews of inmates, questionnaire, team meetings with jail officials, informal conversations with them during lunch and tea sessions and on going comments. Majority of the inmates reported that Vipassana helps in attaining peace of mind and in controlling anger.
More than one-third of the inmates interviewed reported that they practice regularly in their wards. The topic of the focus group discussion with the Tihar Jail inmates was the impact of Vipassana on life behind the prison walls. At the beginning of the report, Vipassana has been described as an experiential observation technique.
The first time we went to Tihar Jail, each one of us had his or her own set of images both of the inmates and of the Jail itself.
The statistical analysis of the results has revealed significant improvement in the functioning of inmates following Vipassana on most psychological parameters studied. Based on the present study and the two studies quoted above, it may be concluded that attending Vipassana camps and practicing Vipassana brings a qualitative improvement in the life of the inmates.
Efforts should be made to encourage and increasing number of inmates to attend Vipassana Camps. Vipassana practitioners in every Jail should be provided separate wards to practice Vipassana. Police personnel should also be encouraged to attend Vipassana camps to develop a more humane attitude towards inmates. The present study may be extended to a case wise examination of the benefits of Vipassana on select inmates. TweetAn intensive Vipassana meditation retreat promises to help you “see things as they really are.” But will it be worth ten days of torture? But recently I discovered they run Vipassana courses all over the world, including right here in Victoria. We busy ourselves with unimportant topical issues, gobbling down content until we’re in a frenzied froth, then we blast our heated opinions at anyone who will listen.
I’ve been wanting to do a 10-day meditation retreat for a while but have a huge amount of trepidation around whether my sanity is strong enough to withstand 10 days of abstaining from pretty much everything I love (reading, writing, exercising, connecting with others). On another subject, I really enjoyed your book and several of my friends read it after I told them.
I don’t think the quiet part would be as much of a challenge for me as the sitting in one place would be.
The only thing is that I wouldn’t want to sit in meditation for hours, because I find it so unappealing, but I could handle all the other stuff. I would have no trouble being silent for 10 days but who knows what would be happening inside my monkey mind…quite a scary thought! I once had to sit in silence for two hours during a Buddhist meditation at 4am … and I thought that was near impossible to get through!
I have thought about this experience a number of times and have read or spoken to a few people who have engaged in it. BTW, LOVED your book, bought several more copies for friends, can’t wait to see the movie!
I look forward to hearing about it I too have been wanting to do this but I am just about gathering the strength for a 4 day retreat .you are quite an inspiration Torre!
A Retreat, literally or figuratively, seem to be what our spirit longs for when we come to a time of deep change in our life.
I need a spiritual boot camp too – but one with more food and where reading and writing is allowed.
I am changing my life the slow way, by meditating in between loads of laundry, supermarket runs and fixing meals for my many hungry children. But I did just sneak off to Africa for 10 days with no family which was epic and gave me a big boost.
I’ve always been interested in doing a meditation retreat, but my problem is that I really, really cannot sit cross-legged for hours on end (not an excuse, promise!). About fear, after enlightenment, a problem that is discovered in meditation is offered up to the Presence that is there while one is experiencing the enlightenment phenomenon.
It’s kind of funny how so many people think of it as torture to simply sit and breathe. Which means that for me, the most challenging day was day #2… at 4am in the morning when I realized I had 9 more days of that! However, sitting within yourself creates a much more intense feeling of vulnerability to all stimuli around you. I completed a 10 day retreat in Malaysia in January as part of my fresh start to the year and I was surprised how hard I found it. It wasn’t the not talking for 10 days that got me, in fact this part I actually enjoyed. Yet i would still recommend it to anyone to do one course at least one point in their lives. Not sure I could join you just yet on this, but I have heard wonderful things from other friends and writers who have participated in these kinds of silent retreats. Hello, I’m TorreHopelessly devoted to words, art, travel, and the search for meaning. My Journey: Self-Published To Big Publishing Deal I launched my self-published book in the first week of September. Why You Should Never Trust a Gecko I used to think these lizards were cute, but that was before I got to know them. Being a central jail, Tihar Jail is a host to inmates arrested for crimes ranging from petty theft and robbery to heinous crimes likes rape, murder and the like. It comprises of nine prisons with a total population of around 13,000 prisoners against a sanctioned capacity of 4800 prisoners and one District Jail at Rohini with a total Population of around 1800 prisoners against a sanctioned capacity of 1050 prisoners. These activities include learning carpentry, electrical work, food processing (making namkeen mixtures, biscuits etc,), making folders, photo frames etc. Since the interviews were conversational and thematic in nature, many additional questions were developed spontaneously from the immediate context. Around 19% of those interviewed said that Vipassana teaches how to gain control over one’s mind. Over forty percent reported that it helps them to deal with evil thoughts and not to act on them. About one-tenth of the inmates also said that they faced difficulty in practice because of the noise & disturbances in the jail wards. It may be noted that a good number of inmates reported that Vipassana camps help practitioners establish peace of mind and exercise control over their anger.


He didn't participate in yesterday's Constitution Day event and Delhi Assembly due to bad health. Out of curiosity and an apparent addiction to torturous experiences, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to attend this course in Asia for years. Given that I can’t read, write, socialise, or even exercise during the retreat to keep myself engaged, what will I find in the deepest recesses of my silent mind once everything stops? Perplexed generations of the future will surely look back over our frantic Tweet streams about the twerking habits of Miley Cirus and facepalm in disgrace. I imagine it would be horrendously difficult and a strangely wonderful growth experience at the same time. I know that I couldn’t have done this 5 or 10 years ago, but I think where I am today in this moment, I could attempt it.
I thought about doing it for many years, most recently when I read Sex, Drugs and Meditation by Mary-Lou Stephens (which chronicles in detail her Vipassana experiences). Awhile ago, I looked into becoming a Buddhist nun for several months at a monastery in upstate NY, but one of the conditions was that you couldn’t have any debt. I mean, I go days without talking to people and it wouldn’t be difficult to give up internet and the like.
My 10 days was probably one of the hardest experiences I’ve had, but then again, I was only 20 when I did it.
I hope it will restore some vital part of you and that you’ll feel energized to share the experience with us.
I still can’t figure out how to not allow thoughts to run through my head, I continually got distracted throughout the 2 hours. It seems like a 10 day retreat is a huge challenge – and if nothing else it will hopefully change your perspective on how to be in the moment and mindful, terms that are very a la mode at the moment. I don’t know if I could last that long but would like to give it a go, I look forward to your follow up on how it went no doubt it will be a very interesting experience. But apparently enlightenment is all about being mindful while doing drudgery so I guess I have an advantage although I am currently only just enlightened enough to realise that I will probably never be enlightened.
I don’t even do naps because there’s always something better to do … like read!
From that comes an answer that is always consistent, you meditate and get an answer, you meditate the next day having the same problem and offer it up and get the same answer on how to proceed. It was the sterile loneliness it brought on o and having to sit for god knows how many hours…I ended up having to sit on a chair at the back. The present study was focused upon understanding how experiential meditation in Vipassana helps its heterogeneous group of inmates to attain peace of mind, deal with their emotions related to crime and reconstruct their identities based on hope. One of the purposes of the activities is providing prisoners alternative occupations they might pursue once outside jail.
This program was said to have dramatically changed the behaviour of inmates and jailers alike.
In this 13 day camp (from 1st to 12th January 1999), around 32 (31 male and 1 female) personnel (including 1 HCP, 3 DCPs, 1 ACP, 12 Inspectors, 7 SIs, 2 HCs and 6 CTs) participated. To see through the mode of impermanence means to examine things as to whether they are permanent. The inmates were encouraged to share their experience of Vipassana and life in jail post Vipassana camp.
The analysis also includes excerpts from researchers’ field notes based on observations and conversations with inmates and officials during the four visits. 14% agreed that it teaching control over breathing and 6% said that it helps attain Purity of breath and mind. About a similar percentage reported that Vipassana helped them to better adjust with life in jail and filled them with a sense of optimism towards the future. The researchers found that Vipassana enabled them to strike a balance in life and establish peace with themselves. The present section briefly presents the experiences of some of the inmates interviewed during research. Initially, he was apprehensive thinking that Vipassana was a Hindu dominated religious practice.
Changes post Vipassana that he perceived in himself include becoming less quarrelsome, more patient and tolerant towards people.
He cited attainment of shanti, equanimity, understanding one's own self, and development of insights about life as benefits of Vipassana.
Sun worshipping in Bali? An African safari? How about a donation-funded retreat that involves 4am wake up bells, absolute silence, abstinence from sex, drugs and alcohol, only two meals a day, and a high chance of excruciating pain from 100 hours spent sitting in meditation?
I searched for one while living in Thailand, but found that even in the remote corners of the country they were booked up months in advance.
Much of the time I don’t have any real purpose for disappearing down an internet rabbit hole, but I generally wake some hours later in a slack-jawed stupor, scrolling through Buzzfeed lists of cute cats doing stupid things.
After giving everything to my first book to help it succeed, I’ve come to associate art creation with sheer exhaustion. Escaping technology and discovering real silence would be so refreshing, but maybe for three days to start and make sure my brain doesn’t explode? I should look into retreats in my area instead of waiting until I can make it happen somewhere exotic. However I am fascinated by those able to immerse into this type of experience and I want to know all the deets. Eventually the intellectual mind goes away and the subconscious thoughts come up while doing meditation.
The alternation between sitting and walking helps a lot with the physical challenge of sitting for so long.
A group of research scholars from Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi1 interacted with the jail inmates in order to understand and document the experiences of practicing inmates. These, along with recreational activities like celebrating festivals, games and sports (badminton, football, cricket, chess, ludo etc.), gardening, painting, reading etc. It was actually found that inmates who completed the 10 day course were less violent and had a lower recidivism rate than other inmates. The success of the camp can be estimated by the fact that the second camp followed after merely 3 months (5-16th March 1999). To see through the mode of dissatisfaction means to examine things as to whether they are satisfactory or are imbued with suffering.
Around 17% said that Vipassana is a secular practice; therefore people from any religion can practice it without letting go of their own religion. Inmates also reported that Vipassana helped them to manage stress, deal with thoughts about the crime they had committed and with feelings of homesickness. They no longer felt extreme emotions and were able to maintain an even control over their feelings. Initially when he came to the jail he used to feel very restless and couldn't sleep properly, but post Vipassana he does his sadhana and meditates regularly in the morning and evening which gives him a feeling of shanti and calmness and he helps him sleep better. He realised that nothing in life is permanent, everything is in transition, and even the time in jail is a transitory period. Both the studies used structured questionnaires and statistical techniques to arrive at the conclusion. An idea will pop into my head and for a minute I will think: Oh, that’s a great idea! But the idea of living a deeply spiritual life where all I do is pray, sleep and eat is very appealing to me. There can be a difficulty here if the intellectual part of the mind reestablishes it presence and tries to analyze the problem jumping like a monkey from thought to thought not knowing which to choose, no consistency, for a solution.
It would definitely change you, I guess it depends on the person if he really focus on the program. It’s not just sitting and breathing, it is overcoming incredible internal challenges.
To see through the mode of non-self means to examine the phenomena that are the objects of the meditation to see if they have a permanent, isolated, and enduring entity.


The project fieldwork included group discussions, informal interviews and focus group discussions spaced over the four visits made.
3% of the inmates interviewed found Vipassana to be better than other spiritual practices they had adopted.
The camp helped them develop a new sense of optimism and they started viewing the jail term as an interim phase of their lives. He has attended over 27 Vipassana camps, 13 Art of Living courses and regular listens to tapes of Raja Yoga. Initially worries about his family used to occupy his thoughts but Vipassana has helped him to overcome this as well. The present study on the other hand has focused on the qualitative aspect of the benefits of Vipassana.
If you find you can add numbers in your head, the intellect is back, so start concentrating on your breath again to put the intellect away. Besides these, inmates are encouraged to read in the library and pursue courses through distance learning mode.
Kiran Bedi as part of humanistic jail reforms at the behest of Rajinder Singh, a jail official and Vipassana practitioner. In other words, to see through non-self relates to having a sense of non-doership and a sense of non-possessiveness while examining things. Twenty research scholars from Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi (including Dr.
A group discussion was also conducted in the first meeting at the Tihar Jail complex itself. Inmates also reported that Vipassana helped them to understand themselves better and realize their own potentials at the same time helping them find happiness in themselves. Vipassana, he claims, taught him that if one does good to others, he gets benefited in return. He always feared the stigma attached to being in jail but Vipassana is helping him to deal with his fear. We understood the improvements brought about by the jail reforms but we were also able to develop a sense of the complexities of life of prisoners.
But the burst of energy quickly turns to memories of all-encompassing exhaustion, and the fragile seed of an idea is immediately crushed by defeated thoughts: Too hard. You’re right, some of the stuff we put our energy into paying attention really just suck.
Lets start with adventure, the finding out about yourself by going into the deepest part of who you are, that is your feelings and to know the cause, which can be hidden by the intellect, the rationalizing calculating part of the mind. In fact I have even heard it said that trying to follow that Advice is like dying, or maybe for you, the possibility of drowning. All research scholars discussed the infrastructure of Tihar Jail and the life of inmates at Tihar freely with several Tihar Jail officials. The role played by Vipassana in the lives of the inmates, in the camp and outside, has also been understood from the perspective of the inmates themselves.
These topical pingpong matches are just cheap distractions to keep us from the discomfort of what is there inside us when all the noise stops. After a while you will experience enlightenment while meditating, finding the wisdom about how to proceed and evolve into a better person. If you witness a crew overboard situation, you do not sit and meditate about it, you throw a lifejacket at them, hopefully with a personal locator beacon in it and a strobe light if night time, hit the crew overboard button on the chart plotter to mark the place in the ocean (if you have the chart, one that is on) and go through the procedure for recovering the person. So, there is the fear of changing yourself to something better, your intellect, who you think your are, does not want to change. In the history of Indian police, the first ever Vipassana camp was held in Central Jail, Jaipur in the year 1975. Of course the person overboard should have had the lifejacket on already, and have been tied to a jack lines that runs around the exterior a few feet from the edge, not the edge of the boat, that keeps a person from going over in the first place. Such practices provide inmates another chance to reflect upon and reconstruct their life scripts, reformulate a new sense of identity, accept jail life and gain attain peace within. Working on humanitarian principles, jail officials were changing the way they themselves looked at the inmates. I have nothing against modern technology, even computers; after all I am using one to post here.
Welfare and reformation practices also help prisoners cope with crime, jail and resultant emotional turmoil. People from different regions, age groups and socio-economic status participated in the focus group discussion.
He strongly believes that through Vipassana one can accomplish the impossible and achieve even the most difficult aim in one’s life. Nevertheless, while talking to inmates we were able to grasp that corruption and malpractice were still not entirely wiped out from the face of Tihar. At the same time, it helps them to discover their own potentials, providing hope for the future. It is the highest form of awareness—the total perception of the mind-matter phenomena in its true nature. Several meetings were also conducted by the research scholars to develop tools for research before making the first visit.
The presence of lawyers, stock brokers, taxi drivers and the jobless allowed arriving at an understanding that cut across various class levels. It was collectively decided that semi-structured, informal interviews of each inmate will be taken together by a pair of researchers. With a psychologist, one can sit and talk about a fear and eventually find where the fear originates. I like to be comfortable because I find the lotus position painful after a while and I cannot meditate while in pain. If you are flexible, maybe you can do the lotus position as it does give a person a kind of grounded feeling while watching the breath. Gareeb aadmi ko dikat hoti hai” Another inmate spoke of how cigarettes found their way inside the complex, sometimes even with the help of officials. It’s quick and you do not have to pay someone to listen to you, although in you situation, I think you wrote an interesting book instead. After practicing for a few months, you can just slip into meditation without watching the breath, or whatever you like to concentrate on. At times the researchers felt that the officials were presenting a very rosy picture of their behaviour towards the inmates which was far from reality. As for your fear of sharks, you desensitized yourself by facing your fear by getting on a sailboat and putting yourself into an area where there might be sharks. That’s how a psychologist works with a phobia by placing the client in a situation that evokes some fear, like knowing that sharks do not exist near dolphins so you get your feet wet and eventually you are not that fearful when there are no dolphins about. While some of them expressed unhappiness over the way the judicial and the law and order system of the country worked. Some were so distraught by the quality of food that they undertook Vipassana just to ensure that they get good quality food. Problems of food quantity, food quality, over crowding in barracks, inability to meet family members– all added to the discomfort of life at Tihar. Some of the prisoners however expressed contentment with the way things were; adding that what they were getting was more than they (their deeds) deserved.
A majority of the inmates interviewed expressed the need for prison officials to undertake Vipassana themselves. They even quoted examples of the changes they had observed in the jail officials who had attended Vipassana camps.




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