Women in Jail
Open Heart Meditation for Women in Jail
The Open Heart Oneness Meditation Project was organized by Moyo’s CEO and held for residents in the Elmwood Correctional Center for Women. The purpose was to give women tools to self-soothe, and to learn how to access an inner space beyond the mind, so they could begin witnessing their thoughts and make choices to respond, rather than react. By focusing on the breath, the women who meditated could experience greater awareness and management of their emotions. It also allowed them to experience peace and solace, both much needed in a confined environment.
After the first class, without any prompting, the women circulated and signed a petition requesting that the meditation program be continued. The women were surveyed at the end of the first eight-week session. Some of their comments are highlighted:
“During meditation, my mother came to me and said she was sorry for not wanting me when she found out she was pregnant. All I felt was love for her.”
“Ever since we did that self-forgiveness exercise, everyone has been talking about it. You can’t help but think about it.”
“I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got here. I want to change my life. I have children outside.”
“I'm always hard. I'm a bully. But tonight I felt my softer side, my feminine side.” A 51-year old woman whose 28-year old daughter is also in the same cell block said she “felt shame because her daughter is in jail too.”
“There's so much chaos in our lives. At least in my life, that when I first felt the quietness, it scared me. But then I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of. I didn't have to think about anything. I felt so good just not to have to worry about anything for a little while.”
“I'm really proud of my dormitory. This is the first time that I've seen us sit and act proper this way. We're known as the block that put the "fun" in dysfunction. Usually there's so much negativity going on around here.”
“I felt something lift off of me – like a burden.”
“One woman tried to start an argument with me, I just took a breath and walked away. Later she apologized.”
“I had forgotten about the beauty… About the goodness of people. Tonight I felt the beauty. Thank you, thank you for coming and sharing this with us.”
After the pilot project ended, approval was granted to continue the meditation course.