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Yoga and Restorative Justice in Prison: An Experience of “Response-Ability to Harms”.

Rucker, Lila
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Contemporary Justice Review. 8(1): 107-120.

Self-mastery is a 4000-year-old Vedic concept referring to growth in one’s capacity to discover the various dimensions of one’s own personhood–physical, mental, and spiritual–and to use those dimensions in a conscious, skillful way. Seven men who had been convicted of violent offenses and incarcerated in a U.S. mid-western maximum security prison volunteered to embark on a journey toward self-mastery by participating in yoga and meditation classes for three months as part of an exploratory research project. This paper draws on their journal entries and interviews. Content analysis reveals a continuum of desires and reported benefits from yoga and meditation. As the range of desires broadened, so did the benefits, including the emergence of certain individuals’ “own truths” and a sense of “meaningfulness rooted in a higher purpose.” It was in the spacious openness of disciplined self-awareness wherein some men found “response ability” and, thus, themselves, as well as others. Author’s abstract.


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