Winter Feast for the Soul Prison In-Reach Program (www.winterfeastforthesoul.com) is dedicated to creating a global community through a shared 40-day commitment to a daily spiritual practice of meditation or prayer. The 40-day period runs from Jan. 15 – Feb 23.
2013 is the sixth year we have engaged in this practice.
The Prison In-Reach program began in 2009 and has grown to serve approximately 65 men, about 50 of whom are in Ad Seg. We support them via a correspondence program in which they are paired with someone who has an established meditation practice; about half of them have a mentor; we are always looking for more people to help with this project.
I support the men who participate in the Winter Feast by sending materials on meditation, yoga, kindness, gratitude, journal writing, and creative expression. I have been looking for ways to help them extend the 40-day period so they get support all year long. We have about 35 men who seem pretty dedicated to growing and transforming themselves.
The Path of Freedom course will be done entirely by correspondence. Each man will have the workbook, and I will send them a copy of the chapter on the Empowerment Triangle. I will send them worksheets to go along with each section, so they have a chance to engage in “conversation” with someone. I will ask them to send in their responses to one section before we send them the next set. I expect it will take about 6 months for us to do this course; our focus will be on helping them to slow down and really engage with one section at a time, having a chance to practice and integrate the material before going on to the next practice.
Prisoners are offered a free copy of the Bhagavad-Gita and accompanying correspondence course, with personal help and guidance from Dr. Ramanand Prasad, director of the American Gita Society. The hard-cover edition of the Gita is available free to prison libraries.
A small group of volunteers who serve as Buddhist Chaplains in the Los Angeles County Jails and the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo.
In 2001, the Arcata Zen Group was contacted by an inmate incarcerated in Pelican Bay State Prison, near Crescent City, for help in establishing a Taoist/Buddhist Study Group. AZG members travel to Pelican Bay every Saturday to sit with this sangha. Locally, AZG members lead meditation in both the men’s and women’s
sections of the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on Thursday
Prisons Served: Pelican Bay State Prison, Humboldt County CF
Started in 2002, our Restorative Justice program promotes healing, and supports skill-building by offering ongoing, weekly NVC trainings in San Quentin State Prison, and in jails in Sonoma, Mendocino, and Santa Cruz counties. We have wanted an active Restorative Justice Program since we first began, and were delighted when San Quentin Prison approached Diana Lion of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship about being part of a new program at San Quentin, the Success Program. Diana contacted us asking if there were trainers available, we in turn asked the members of our first Leadership Program year if they would be willing to provide trainings inside the prison; six people volunteered.
Since 1997, Buddhist Pathways Prison Project (BP3) – formerly known as Folsom Pathways Sangha – volunteers have been dedicated to bringing Buddhist philosophy, religious services, mindful movement and meditation instruction into Northern California prisons. Buddhist philosophy emphasizes ethical behavior and a regular meditation practice which allows insight to arise. Insight for many inmates takes the form of understanding one’s own suffering and the suffering inflicted on others. Our program provides prisoners with the tools, resources and daily life skills necessary to create durable life changes both while incarcerated and when released. The California prison system, the second largest prison in the world, does not provide inmates Buddhist services or meditation instruction through a state-sponsored chaplaincy program. BP3 volunteers — along with other dedicated volunteers throughout our state — fill that void.
Serves 5 prisons in northern California: CSP-Folsom (Men’s and Women’s facilities), CSP-Sacramento, CSP-Mule Creek, CSP-Jamestown, and CSP-Deuel Vocational Institution.
Buddhist Pathways is a California nonprofit corporation whose mission is to bring the core teachings of the historical Buddha of non-harming, meditation, and wisdom into prisons and jails as well as federal penal institutions.
Through mindful awareness, incarcerated sangha members gain the wisdom that fosters durable self-transformation and insight into the inner conditions that led to incarceration.
The Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK) (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism) was founded by the Reverend Dr. Yehan Numata in December 1965, one year after the Mitutoyo Manufacturing Company celebrated its 30th anniversary. With the worldwide success of his company, Dr. Numata decided that the time had come to realize his dream of making the Buddhist teachings more widely available. Working with a community of like-minded people, including leaders of each Buddhist sect in Japan and eminent Buddhist scholars, Dr. Numata established the BDK in order to “to transmit the Buddhist religion to as many people in the world as possible, without expounding the doctrines of any particular sect or denomination.” To achieve this goal, the BDK promotes a wide range of activities and projects in the hope of contributing to world peace and mutual understanding among humanity.
Currently there are two other major publication projects handled by the BDK America Berkeley Office. The first is distribution of the popular introductory Buddhist book entitled “The Teaching of Buddha” which has more than 8 million copies in circulation throughout the world, in more than 42 languages. Secondly, BDK has published a Buddhist anthology called Buddha Dharma, which is an expanded version of “The Teaching of Buddha,” and comes with a detailed index and accounting of the Buddhist teaching presented with each story.
California Prison Mindfulness Network (CPMN) is a new initiative that organizes and supports mindfulness-based meditation and yoga groups in California’s prisons and jails. “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally (~John Kabat-Zinn).” Mindfulness is taught as a secular tool to help shift practitioners from having a blind reaction to cultivating a skillful response. Our goal is to make it available to people from religious or non-religious persuasions in support of each persons unique spiritual development.
The purpose of this network is to…
Support and make mindfulness-based teachings available to a multi-ethnic, undeserved population.
Provide advocacy and facilitate greater and easier access for volunteers to enter prisons and jails.
Offer training and support around instruction and facilitation of classes.
Facilitate access to prisons and jails by well-known meditation teachers.
Assist in providing easier access to the needed materials (zafus, malas, yoga mats, spiritual literature).
Support your efforts to organize daylong and multi-day retreats in prisons and jails.
Raise funds to support the network.
Organize a state-wide conference and prison mindfulness publication.
Part of Insight-Out.
A major purpose of Centering Meditation (CM) is to facilitate meditation groups that are held in California prisons as well as those groups outside of prisons, for family and friends.