Now, Art of Living sessions for Tihar inmates

5 Jun 2007

Among the meditation courses the inmates have been put through are Vipassana, Sahaj Yog and Divya Jyoti

Neeraj Chauhan

New Delhi, June 4: OFFICIALS at Tihar jail are putting prisoners through a 10-day ‘Art of Living’ course in yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises to help them deal with the stress of being in a jail where fights, riots, drug abuse, and suicide are not uncommon.

Among the 67 prisoners in the first batch, which began on May 28, are 27 Pakistani nationals.

“All prisoners have been asked to join the programme so that they may lead a stress-free life,” said Sunil Gupta, PRO for the jail. “Sessions will also being organised for jail staff.” Since IPS officer Kiran Bedi began such programmes in the jail, several courses in meditation and self-improvement have been organised for prisoners in Tihar. Other jails across the country have emulated these programmes.

Among the meditation courses Tihar inmates have been put through are Vipassana, Sahaj Yog, Sahaj Samadhi, and Divya Jyoti. The Art of Living programme of Sri Sri Ravishankar was introduced in the jail in April 1999. Since then, some 2,000 prisoners have been put through it every year.

Most participants say such courses help them deal with the stress, the disrepute, the frustration of being in prison, and even their feelings of guilt.

“We conduct this programme to avoid fisticuffs, riots and suicides. We have a problem of space here,” says Gupta. “We have three times the prisoners we are supposed to have.” Said an undertrial, “My case is on for the last six years. I have to control my rage and frustration. This course helps.

” Another undertrial who has been in prison for two years said the programme had helped relieve his “mind, body, and soul.”