Meditation Activities Worldwide
By Jasmine Tham & Ning Qiyuan
Yoga Brings Light to Prisoners
In 2015, Yerwada Central Jail, the high-security Indian prison where Mahatma Gandhi was twice incarcerated, began a pilot project whereby prisoners are eligible for a reduction of their jail sentence by up to three months if they excel in yoga classes.
“Yoga has been proved scientifically to improve the mental and physical condition,” said Bhushankumar Upadhyay, the prison director responsible for the program. “It improves our overall behavior and calms down our violent tendencies.”
He continued, “Remission has been given by the government for good conduct. So as an incentive we are going to give remission to those who excel at yoga.”
The granting of early release also depends on the demonstration of other positive behaviors such as participation in prison employment initiatives.
After six months of participation in the course, prisoners take a practical and written exam. Approximately 1,500 prisoners participated in the pilot project. The hope is that this program will spread throughout Indian prisons and to other countries. Inmates taking part in the yoga course are encouraged to teach yoga to prisoners housed at other jails in the state of Maharashtra.
This is not the first innovative project to come out of Yerwada Central Jail. In 2002, an optional course focusing on the principles of famed peace activist Mahatma Gandhi had a positive impact. It proved popular and officials claimed that violent incidents in the prison were reduced as a consequence of the course. Two-thirds of the inmates who studied Gandhian ideas came to believe that their criminal actions were wrong and wished to atone.
Mindfulness practices have the power to shine light on very dark places. These inspiring initiatives are reminders of the redemption and resilience made possible by higher consciousness.
Luminaries Who Meditate
In early 2015, at a private fundraising event, influential investor Ray Dalio and Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese were invited to share their experiences with meditation, and how its energy further enhances their careers.
Rays of Creativity Shine
Ray Dalio, a legendary figure in U.S. investment circles, founded the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. He has more than 40 years of experience with meditation. He publicly shared that from meditation comes infinite calmness and the feeling of being “a ninja in a fight,” extremely focused.
Meditation is a key element in his success. He took up meditation during his university days. His practice helped foster independence and unlocked many of his innate gifts. Upon graduating, he continued to spend 20 minutes meditating daily, just before starting his workday. He believes that meditation helps him resolve distractions, broaden his thinking, and shine forth unlimited creativity.
Solving Difficulties Through Calmness
Martin Scorsese is regarded as one of the world’s most influential film directors. He is an avid meditator and credits his practice with helping him through the challenges of directing his first 3-D movie, Hugo. He said, “There’s only one thing you can do. Meditate, calm it down, and then, afterwards, deal with the realities.”
While filming Hugo, Scorsese would wake up 45 minutes earlier than usual to practice meditation, which allowed him to achieve calmness, and to accept and face reality. He expressed in a book that meditation gives him countless ideas and expands the capacity of his imagination. Hence he believes that meditation is truly an extraordinary experience.
A Dedicated Meditation Day
Establishing “Bodhi Meditation Day” is a recognition by the city council of Richmond of the many years of compassionate dedication by Bodhi Meditation.
Over a span of 25 years, from 1991 to 2016, Grandmaster JinBodhi has established over 30 meditation centers in many countries. These centers have been helping countless people regain healthy and happy lives through meditation practices.
Vancouver Bodhi Meditation Center, located in Richmond, is one of Bodhi’s main international centers. Since its inception in 2005, the center has embraced Grandmaster JinBodhi’s mission of compassion by actively sharing easy-to-learn meditation techniques with the people of Richmond and beyond.
To encourage more participation, Vancouver Bodhi Meditation Center has been providing free meditation classes, social-welfare activities, and other services to the community and eldercare centers. The people of multiethnic and multicultural Richmond have embraced and benefitted from the activities. Popular events include the Bodhi Meditation 1,000-Person Energy Bagua Day and the Chinese New Year Celebration.
Through the years, Bodhi Meditation has contributed to a healthier, more beautiful and harmonious community, earning praise and support.
This support has now become official. August 3, 2016 is a milestone date for Vancouver Bodhi Meditation Center, as Mayor of the City of Richmond, Malcolm D. Brodie, proclaimed this date “Bodhi Meditation Day.” August 3rd is also an important day to the entire Bodhi Meditation organization, as it commemorates the day that Grandmaster JinBodhi officially commenced his public dharma teaching. The mayor encourages Richmond residents to be mindful of their wellbeing by practicing compassionate love in their community.
Establishing “Bodhi Meditation Day” is a recognition by the city council of Richmond of the many years of compassionate dedication by Bodhi Meditation. The city council hopes that by issuing this recognition, it is able to motivate the public to cultivate a charitable environment. The hope is that more people will become “Bodhi people,” in the sense that they practice Bodhi Meditation’s vision of improving the health and happiness of all through compassion, mutual care and love, so that every citizen may enjoy a blessed life.