Updated: Jan 26
Here in Australia, within correctional facilities in the state of New South Wales, among prisoners and staff, and much like outside, Buddhism is quiet fashionable. People like to quote the Buddha but rarely apply his teachings to their lives.
The teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni, also known as Dharma, are altruistic, loving, compassionate and transformative. However, it also requires an authentic teacher and a serious commitment from the practitioner.
You're the one who has to do the work.
Often when I present the Dharma, inmates are surprised to hear the Buddha is not our saviour.
We often hold the view that someone will save us like a doctor, psychologist or life partner from ourselves and our bad habits. You’re the one who has to get the job done, I explain.
I have been supporting inmates with Minfulness-based Therapy as a prison chaplain for over 5 years and I honestly think I've heard it all. The work I do is to listen, motivate and encourage inmates to recognise their true potential. In a private and confidential space, inmates can speak freely and share their story.
It's only to a chaplain that one can express their deepest trauma or regret and have it heard with an open heart. No condemnation and no shame.
We suffer because we don’t know our ourselves. We don't know our habits, attachments, and desires. We hold the wrong view. We go about our daily lives thinking this is how it's meant to be.
Did you know there is another way to live?
As a therapist and Buddhist chaplain, I advocate for inmates and work to reduce recidivism. Inmates learn the key skills needed for emotional processing, healing and growth.
With deep and positive Dharma teachings, inmates learn about ethics and morality and begin to find purpose.
Then by unpacking the contents of the mind with reflection, contemplation and awareness in the here and now it's possible to heal emotional blocks that can be describe as a feelings of heaviness and stuckness.
When I ask an inmate did you know there is another way to live?, they often say no.
Meditation is how we gain mental stability.
Most of us live our lives stuck in the past and fantasising about the future. Who wants to be in the moment when you're living in prison? Our mind and the quality of our thoughts is the actual prison and not the walls around us.
Bringing about mental stability allows us to think rationally, intelligently and reflect. With a stable mind we can develop a healthy sense of regret and remorse for past negative actions. Only then can we commit to never repeat them again.
Some would argue the Buddha is the world’s best cognitive therapist. Witnessing positive change over and over again, I would absolutely agree!
Daniel Troyak is an Mindfulness-based therapist.
With his support, unpack and discover the contents of the mind.
Learn the tools for emotional processing and healing so you can live a happy, peaceful and peaceful life.