Bringing Meditation Instruction Into The Juvenile Justice System
This year, Khyentse Foundation awarded a special grant to the Mind Body Awareness Project (MBA), which provides yoga, meditation, and other awareness-based practice training to incarcerated and at-risk youth. The program, founded in 2000, is based partly on founder Noah Levine’s own experience in Santa Cruz Juvenile Hall, and is actively positioned to become a new national model for the rehabilitation of incarcerated youth.
MBA’s unique training program consists of mindfulness meditation and emotional intelligence exercises designed to strengthen minds, relieve toxic stress, and enhance the ability to make better decisions. MBA classes are offered on a voluntary basis. A typical one-hour class includes open discussion, mindfulness meditation instruction, and a form of movement meditation such as hatha yoga or tai chi. Teachers use simple awareness exercises as alternatives to self-destructive patterns of addiction, crime, and violence. These practices can begin to unlock the courage, confidence, and self-discipline needed to make healthier choices. Participants learn how opportunities for real change arise every moment throughout their lives. In an environment of trust and respect, participants are directly empowered to stop and reflect before acting them out.
Even those of us still blessed with our liberty can gain so much by employing MBA techniques—learning to slow down, step out of habitual patterns, and respond to challenges with clarity and focus.