When Greg Hopkinson walked into one of the most violent prisons in Mexico – a jail where 44 inmates died in a battle between rival drug cartels – the experience was mind-blowing.
“It was just unbelievable – the peace, contentment, and stillness in the place was palpable.
“Effectively we walked into this massive meditation retreat.”
What changed? How did Apodaca prison in Monterrey, Mexico, go from the scene of a violent uprising in 2012 when members of the Zetas drug gang slaughtered rival Gulf cartel inmates to a place of peace and stillness?
It was through a practice known as Ascension meditation.
Today, a quarter of the 2000 prisoners, guards and management in the overcrowded prison regularly practise meditation – and it has transformed life in the prison. Suicides are down 40 per cent; there have been no reports of violence since 2012; solitary confinements are down 50 per cent.