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Colombia: Transcendental Meditation provides new drug rehabilitation approach, alternative to prison
by Global Good News staff writer
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4 December 2012
'We know that there is something basic missing in the field of addictions and rehabilitation,' a Transcendental Meditation teacher in Latin America said recently.
The context for his remarks is the success of Fundacion Hogares Claret, a network of rehabilitation centres in Colombia caring for thousands of troubled youth, many of whom are at risk for drug involvement or are former drug users. Ten years ago the founder of Hogares Claret, Father Gabriel Mejia, introduced Transcendental Meditation into its rehabilitation programmes as a way to improve traditional therapeutic approaches.
The meditation technique has been shown through scientific research to promote integrated brain functioning and reduce drug dependency, among many other documented mental and physical health benefits, and its incorporation in Hogares Claret programmes has yielded very good results for the young people.
Now the programme has a new angle: teaching drug addicts Transcendental Meditation instead of their being sent directly to jail. 'One of the activities we have developed in Colombia,' the teacher explained, 'is a new activity where the young offenders that would probably have to spend a few years in prison, instead go to an alternative programme.'
This alternative programme includes Transcendental Meditation and a stay at Hogares Claret for four or five years. This gives an opportunity for participants to make maximum progress, and for others who want to evaluate if the programme is more effective than jail.
'We know that what is missing from normal rehabilitation programmes is the experience of the self within as a basis of self-transformation,' the teacher said. This is an experience that Transcendental Meditation provides, of the field of pure inner silence and wholeness, transcendental consciousness.
In Colombia they have had the experience of teaching Transcendental Meditation to prisoners, drug addicts, and other highly stressed people, he said. Due to the long-term nature of the treatment programme at Hogares Claret, teachers there are able to see the effects of Transcendental Meditation in the participant's psychology, physiology, sociology, and environment.
A new development is that more participants are going on to learn the advanced Transcendental Meditation Sidhi programme. About 100 recently learned.
Describing these young people, the teacher said, 'They are bright, they are happy, and it is an example for all the rehabilitation institutions in the world to have some very effective tools.'
Self-esteem and self-motivation are crucial, he said. 'What makes people change is not what someone tells them . . . but [they change] from within when the self experiences something that is so rewarding.'
See related article: Transcendental Meditation decreases addiction, increases sense of security
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