Training in Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique (IAM) continues to reach more of Tamil Nadu’s central prisons. It is the state’s largest program to teach these ancient practices of wellbeing to inmates, with more than 5,500 having taken part.
On June 13th in Pudhukottai Borstal School, the inauguration of a one-week training session in IAM took place. Smt. K. Jeya Bharathi, DIG of Trichy Range presided over the function. Other officers, including Smt. M. Aandal, Superintendent and Dr. Saravanan, Medical Officer were also present. Swami Yogamritananda Puri represented the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, and Dr. Manoharan and Dr. Thilagavathi attended on behalf of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
On the same day, the Trichy Central Prison & Special Prison for Women inaugurated a one-week training session of IAM. Smt. K. Jeya Bharathi, DIG of Trichy Range led the event and among the officers in attendance were Sri Senthil Kumar, Superintendent; Smt. Rukmini Devi, Superintendent for the women’s prison; and Sri Samsath Khan, welfare officer. Sri Kameshwaran, Smt. Shanthi Mohan, and Sri Rao Anandan represented Amrita.
The events were the fourth and fifth in a series of IAM Training planned for all central prisons across Tamil Nadu. Most participants share that the initiative brings them both mental and physical health, alongside a new connection to peace of mind.
Trained Amrita volunteers teach techniques such as breathing with awareness, self-analysis, and emotional control. Many inmates explain they come from troubled backgrounds that led to wrong choices in life ending in crime. An opportunity to take part in yoga and meditation is a pathway that supports healing and, if they commit to the practice, reform.
The program also assists in establishing a better living environment while serving time, both for the prisoners and the prison officials, as it instills positive mindsets and decreases negative reactions. Any inmate can participate, irrespective of race, religion, caste, creed, or gender. All kinds of people have benefitted, including those convicted of violent crimes such as attempted murder, rape, assault, and robbery.
Often those who commit crime, especially violent crime, have lost their sense of purpose in life. Their peace of mind has disappeared, and they don’t know how to align themselves with the greater good. Still, many prisoners when given a chance, feel inspired to achieve mental and physical rehabilitation. It was Amma’s resolve to try to uplift such people.
Even a year after the first session, many prisoners have maintained a daily practice and gained health benefits. The inmates are taught the 20-minute version of the IAM Technique to reduce their stress levels. The training sessions include an invocation, philosophical discussions, and chanting of universal prayers for world peace and happiness.
The Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s largest initiative for teaching yoga and meditation in prisons is in Kerala. Instructors have reached more than 21,000 inmates in 50 institutions, including central prisons, district prisons, sub-jails and special sub-jails spread across the state.