Follow by Email

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Meditation took him from Death Row back to life

Damian Echols spent 18 years in prison for murders he didn't commit and was freed nearly two
years ago. He lived on Death Row, and he suffered physically and mentally, he says. To cope with that, he learned eastern methods of working with the body, such as chi gong, and the mind, ordaining in the Rinzai Zen tradition. By the time he left prison, he was meditating for five to seven hours a day.

Now he teaches meditation.

In a blog post at Salon, Echols says:

I didn’t turn to meditation and energy work out of hope that I’d find nirvana in some distant future. I turned to it because I needed help dealing with the pain and suffering of everyday existence in a living hell. Those techniques I had to learn out of necessity to survive and deal with pain are the same techniques I now teach to other people. It’s my passion in life. It’s what I love doing.

When I teach these methods of meditation, I avoid the pitfalls of religious dogma. Instead, I focus on the science. I explain how our minds communicate with our bodies through chemicals called neuropeptides, and we can program these neuropeptides to speed up the healing process in our body with simple visualization and breathing exercises. I want to make it accessible to people of all belief systems, not only Buddhists.
I've never been to prison, and I don't talk about neuropeptides. But I practice meditation and teach meditation because I know it can bring liberation from suffering -- bit by bit, we raise our baseline happiness level. If it works for an innocent man on Death Row, how much more can it do for you?