by Robert Wilkinson
Once in a while I find stories I think show the way to a better world. Today we have 2, one about the success of meditation in US prisons and the other about Andean villages embracing solar technology.
The first story, From incarceration to meditation in Missouri, outlines a project implemented by TM that seems to indicate a significant shift in inmate behavior as they learn to meditate. Not that this is news to those who have a meditational discipline, but at least it's still happening to the benefit and enlightenment of those caught in the meat grinder of the US prison system. Welcome to the Dharma Seva of Farrokh Anklesaria, a disciple of the Maharishi:
From the story:
Numerous studies point to the health benefits of Transcendental Meditation, including one by the National Institutes of Health that indicates regular meditation decreases high blood pressure and depression. Other studies find merits in meditation programs done in prisons -- places that Anklesaria calls "areas of concentrated stress." But no one has formally studied Anklesaria's program. He's calculated that of the hundreds who have completed the program, just 6 percent have returned to crime....
Meditation works, he said, because it makes no attempt to counsel the offenders.
"This is the magic," he said. "No matter how much he or she has sunk down in the mud and dust of his environment, once he has started on this path, the process itself will cleanse him of his stress." One of his clients, Clark Moore, was facing seven years in prison for domestic assault because he blew the terms of his sentencing for fighting. He said St. Louis Circuit Judge Philip Heagney gave him a choice: probation with meditation or go to jail. Moore said he had no self-control. But meditation is changing that.
When a relative recently stole money from him, he said he kept his temper.
"I just called it a loss," he said minutes after he and 16 other participants sat so still in their chairs meditating the room filled with the hushed whoosh of lungs inhaling and exhaling.
Graduate Mark Edwards -- a man who said he had kidnapped his child in a raging custody dispute -- said he now meditates twice daily and three times on nights when he works as a disc jockey at local clubs. It rids him of his anger and chronic headaches, he said.
"With me being so mad, I was either going to get killed or get sent to jail," he said.
The residents of the Puna, the dry Andean highlands in northern Argentina, are cut off from everything - except the sun. Living on arid land thousands of metres above sea level, they are on their way to becoming "solar villages.
In the north and northwest of Jujuy province, people are finding that solar energy, a clean and inexhaustible source, can replace firewood, which is increasingly scarce. The EcoAndina Foundation is showing the way through a series of projects....
EcoAndina's goal is to improve living conditions for local residents by sustainably harnessing the abundant sunshine and wind, while maintaining the cultural and historic identity of local indigenous communities.
Since it began its efforts two decades ago, some 400 solar energy units - which power family and community kitchens, bread ovens, heaters and hot-water tanks - have been installed in 30 towns in the region.
In addition to cooking in solar stoves and ovens, which have proven as effective as gas stoves, the families now have heat and hot water in their homes. In the schools, solar panels warm the classrooms, and photovoltaic panels produce electricity.
One of the projects involves developing technology to verify reductions of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from using solar ovens. Certification of emissions reductions will help gain access to carbon credits, which can be sold on the market, and the revenue would be invested in new sustainable energy devices in the Puna.
(More on Ecoandina's solar villages at the link.)
By all means check out either or both stories. They show how our world is in fact changing for the better, even though we'd never know it from our mainstream media with its constant "police beat" focus along with featuring an endless supply of bloviating politicians emitting noxious gasses here and abroad.
Maybe, just maybe, more meditation and solar energy might make for a better world. Just maybe.....
© Copyright 2009 Robert Wilkinson