Eddie LeShure told Dr. Sid Jordan a bit about what I do and Sid gave me a call and we had a long talk. At least that’s how I remember it. You may remember, Eddie is in Asheville, bringing Holistic into drug treatment and elsewhere, a vision I was blessed to enact and now witness growing here and elsewhere. Eddie is one of those guys bringing a lifetime of lived-experience, capable of a healing vision at this point.

Sid is a long-time Psychologist with many years of interesting work in mental health/drug treatment-particularly in the Community Mental health system, who retired and now is a Yoga teacher-including at the Prama Institute outside Asheville.

Actually, “Sid has combined a career as a licensed clinical psychologist and yoga teacher since 1971. As a clinical psychologist, he taught psychotherapy and community psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and served as director of the Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Services in a community center at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC over a period of 25 years. Since 1994, he has been developing a green intentional community north of Asheville on 140 acres of land.”

Sid introduced me to Dr. Steve Landau which led me to today’s topic. Like Sid, Dr. Landau’s retired from his primary career and has been teaching yoga and meditation to inmates in the NC prison system for about 15 years, and published a paper showing low re-incarceration rates for participants who took the class more than 4 times!

He coordinates a group of volunteers to teach in different locations and reached out to me for suggestions where he might find some monies to continue & grow these efforts. He is also looking for even more experienced, volunteer yoga instructors.

So let’s re-cap; a very well-trained leader, as an act of service, brings himself and other workers into prisons where it has been shown, with evidence, to reduce negative outcomes of incarceration. These classes have been established, at various times, in 7 or so prisons across the state, from Raleigh’s North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women to Franklin’s Correctional Center in Bunn. This to me is the perfect snapshot.

We have plenty of resources. All that’s needed is money for salaries/expenses (say mileage/materials). And the will, the desire, to improve people’s lives. Which, let’s not forget, actually saves society (i. e. us!) money!!

The need is deeply established, the data is collected, the willing workers are there, the skill levels are high, it just needs some navigation. Someone to liaison so it can be shepherded toward effective growth. Navigators, Liaisons, Coordinators, Peer Supports, Case managers, call it what you want.

NOT a lot of money for a big, important payoff. Low financial requests, which if effectively run as these experienced people are capable of doing, can bring money (and life)-saving results back to our state. The reward of lives regained.

My research for this article led me to this – a non-profit supplying free books to prisoners. They say, “To spread more kindness in the world.  The primary work of Human Kindness Foundation is the Prison-Ashram Project, which encourages inmates to use their time for focused spiritual growth. We send free books about interfaith spirituality to prison and jail inmates. HKF has books in English and Spanish that teach classic spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation and yoga.”

No tax dollars spent. Donations and sales of items in their store account for virtually all funding.

We have tons of resources. Three things are needed:

  1.  A comprehensive snapshot- a user-friendly website of all our resources.
  2. From this, a concise list of additions to the state system that create a continuum of recovery supports throughout life. Not piles of money but laser-like applications to “putty-up” the cracks in our siloed system.
  3. Large, coordinated promotion, of all our resources-throughout the media across the state-led by high profile leaders, to bring elevated awareness among the citizens while simultaneously breaking stigma.

Oh wait. And a yoga mat.

We have the money-it’s there. Three things (plus a mat) are all we need. As a final kicker, check out – rootsofloveyogafestival.com – with a Recovery base, rocking on the NC coast.

I’ll leave you with this, a different form of yoga practiced in Philippine prisons.