From Jeffrey Zlotnik, Founder of The Meditation Initiative - With tears in his eyes, he said to me, “Are you proud of me?” “Yes" I replied, "Very proud!” It was as if no one had ever told him they were proud of him. Truth is, for much of his adult life, there are probably not too many things to be proud of. But even as a small child, you could sense that someone telling him they were proud most likely never occurred. I have led meditation in prison for 12 years, but for the first time I sat in their seat while another inmate led the meditation. I watched a man who is accused of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and various other crimes lead 23 men in meditation. They asked him after how he felt leading meditation. Others shared they want to learn to lead so it will help their own meditation. They gave constructive criticism on his job at leading meditation. He followed The Meditation Initiative script and even added lines that I often say but are not in the script. To say I was proud is not even the beginning of how I felt. I sat in a crowded prison in silence with 24 men. This 21 year-old man held the space for meditation perfectly. He said he was a little nervous, but his own meditation practice helped calm his nerves. I truly felt like I was watching a child grow into a man. It was an experience I will never forget. I look forward to training 3 more men to lead meditation in the prison. The weekly class has been so well received that they will now add into the schedule 2 other meditation times, both will be peer led. If we can teach them to find peace inside of prison, they can learn to find peace outside of prison. If they find peace outside of prison, they will stop harming others, stop harming themselves and stop returning to prison. Thanks to Mylene Merlo, Linda Garrison Larsen, Laura Mallgren, Paul Sargent, Gail Braverman, and so many others for supporting this important work with The Meditation Initiative!