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Buddhism in Prisons: Unpacking the Mind and Finding Freedom

Updated: Jun 11


Australia's correctional facilities in New South Wales have a surprising trend: Buddhism is on the rise. Despite this, many quote the Buddha's teachings without applying them to their own lives. As a Buddhist chaplain and therapist, I have seen first-hand the transformative power of the Buddha's teachings, known as Dharma. However, it requires a genuine teacher and a dedicated commitment from the practitioner.

The path to true change lies within oneself. I often find that inmates are surprised to learn that the Buddha is not a saviour figure who will rescue them from their own destructive habits. Instead, it's up to them to put in the work.

In my role as a chaplain, I offer a safe and confidential space where inmates can share their stories and be heard without fear of judgement or shame. Through mindfulness-based therapy, inmates can begin to develop emotional processing skills that promote growth and healing.

The Dharma's positive teachings on ethics and morality help to instil a sense of purpose in inmates. By reflecting and becoming aware of their own minds in the present moment, they can work through emotional blocks and feelings of stagnation.

Meditation plays a key role in gaining mental stability, allowing for rational thinking and reflection. This stability also allows for healthy regret and a commitment to never repeat past negative actions. With the Buddha's teachings, positive change is not only possible, but it's also a reality that I have witnessed time and time again. Some might even say that the Buddha is the world's greatest cognitive therapist, and I couldn't agree more.

When working with inmates, it's important to remember that they have emotions, hopes, dreams, and fears. They have made mistakes, just like everyone else, and they deserve a chance to learn from those mistakes and grow as individuals.

As a chaplain and therapist, my role is to help them do just that. By providing a safe and non-judgmental space for them to express themselves, I am able to help them explore their emotions and thought patterns, and work towards a more positive future.

In many cases, these individuals have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect in their pasts. By addressing these issues and providing them with the tools they need to heal, I am able to help them break the cycle of negative behaviour that led them to incarceration in the first place.

Through the teachings of Buddhism and mindfulness-based therapy, I have seen remarkable transformations in the inmates I work with. They become more self-aware, more compassionate, and more resilient. They learn to take responsibility for their actions and make positive changes in their lives.

Ultimately, my goal is to help these individuals find meaning and purpose in their lives and to help them create a future that is full of hope and possibility. With the right tools and the right support, I believe that anyone can achieve this.

Daniel Troyak is a 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.

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