Kiran Bedi, India's first female police officer, has revolutionized the idea of reform in one of Bangladesh's most notorious prisons. Through offering ten-day vipassana meditation courses to prison guards and inmates alike, Bedi has propped open a door leading inward — a door that often remains closed and locked to this demographic.
Seeing Things as They Really Are
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is an ancient form of meditation that focuses on mindfulness, breath and contemplation. Behind bars and beyond, the course is the same: it is ten days of education, silence, practice, and journeying within.
The vipassana prison course is now being offered at correctional facilities worldwide. Witnessing the effect it has had, I wonder if it isn't time to more deeply consider the system of punishment and reform upheld in our society: Is the emphasis truly on reform? Should it be?
An Emphasis on Humanity
Kiran Bedi has already gone a step beyond contemplation and instituted a program that restores humanity to inmates. She reminds us that we are all human beings with the same capacity to create good or evil.
If you are interested in learning more, I would recommend watching the documentary "Doing Time, Doing Vipassana," which takes a closer look at the profound changes that occurred in the Indian jail.