Our prison outreach is at the Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility. Our program consists of two components:
Buddhist Services every Sunday for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
We have a group of four leaders from our Temple who rotate doing the services. About eight women prisoners participate regularly. Two have taken the precepts and another is scheduled to take them this summer. Our services consist of meditation, chanting, and walking meditation followed by a half hour discussion of a dharma subject. These discussions are consistently enriching and thoughtful for all involved. In 2011 and 2012 we had one day meditation retreats that were attended by about 20 women.
Two facilitators also teach meditation classes. These are held weekly for 1 1/2 hours.
Around 75 to 100 different women have taken the classes over the last three years.
The class is presented as a secular practice although Buddhism does get a mention quite often. We teach many basic meditation techniques including breath counting, sound, relaxation, focus on emotions and thoughts; loving kindness. We lead guided meditations, give didactic instructions, and discuss meditation topics. Many women have reported that they are able to cope better with some of the stresses of prison with the help of these techniques.
Prison: Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility
Prisoners served: 75-100 women
Ecumenical Buddhist meditation group at G. Robert Cotton Facility in Jackson, MI. Led by Arthur Gabhart twice a month and led by facilities chaplain at other times