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.
Prison Outreach is an on-going, integral part of the Contemplative Outreach family. This important ministry is committed to support volunteers and organizations willing to serve the prison population.
Support consists of consultation, resources and access to a central database of all prison ministry activities nationwide involving Centering Prayer. We hope to encourage and assist those interested in beginning a prison ministry or to provide connections between practitioners already in the ministry who want to share and learn together.
Mary Wyman – CO Chapter Coordinator
San Francisco CA- development of Prison Outreach Conference/Retreat.
Barbara Cook – prison ministry
Hobby Unit- (women) Marlin TX, experiences with conferences and workshops
Douglas La Plant – prison ministry
SCI Rockview, Bellefante PA
Teaching “A Pathway to Freedom” course to men.
Khalilah Bilal – prison ministry
Bexar County Jail- San Antonio TX
Teaching “A Pathway to Freedom” course to women
Description: INSIDE MEDITATION is an umbrella organization to support and inform volunteers who teach meditation, Buddhism, Buddhist psychology, and Yoga in prisons near Austin, Texas. This project started at Austin Zen Center in 2002 but has expanded to include members of other Austin sanghas.
Teachers have come from AZC, the Shambala Center, Plum Blossom Sangha, Appamada (formerly Ordinary Mind), and Dharma Yoga. We maintain an elist and meet on an irregular basis. We also print copies of a meditation booklet called Doing Your Time with Peace of Mind. All volunteers are welcome to distribute copies of this booklet to their inmate students.
Prisons Served: Lockhart Prison (TDCJ), Travis County Correctional Facility at Del Valle, Bastrop Federal Correctional Institution.
Our website: austinzencenter.org
Outside Meditation is a program for ex-offenders living in the Austin, TX area. Outside Meditation is an extension of Inside Meditation, a program for the incarcerated, while in jail or prison in the Austin, TX area. They meet and both start/continue meditation practice on a weekly basis. Visit our website: http://outsidemeditation.org
The Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi, under the direction of Dr. Roger Jahnke, author of The Healer Within and The Healing Promise of Qi, receives requests from inmates primarily in Texas and California for information on starting moving meditation practices of qigong and tai chi. These ancient practices with their basis in Traditional Chinese Medicine can be utilized for mind-body wellness and facilitating inner peace.
In 2004, we were contacted by a inmate from the Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota, TX, seeking a teacher for the growing number of Buddhist practitioners at the unit. Then Shami Myokei Caine-Barrett and other sangha members began to serve the men in Navasota, TX with monthly meetings, creating the first Nichiren Shu sangha behind bars. Within one year, five members had taken refuge and received a small honzon (object of veneration) to continue and develop their Buddhist practice. Over the years, other sangha members have undergone the training to become volunteers and regularly participate in activities at the unit.
The purpose of this sangha is to provide a foundation for individuals seeking to change their lives. We also provide support for understanding the cause of their circumstances and developing a means of taking responsibility for their actions and their lives. Through sharing the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and the writings of Nichiren Shonin, we endeavor to enable the realization within these individuals that they are of value and can create meaningful and productive lives.
We have been very fortunate at Navasota because the chaplain has been very supportive and accommodating of our needs to conduct services. Because of his support, we were able to hold the first all day practice retreat behind bars in the State of Texas. The men were able to participate in intensive chanting practice, repentence service, shakyo and shabutsu and shodaigyo. We have held several retreats so far and have been able to bring in vegetarian meals, allowing us to approximate the monastery experience.
Mark Stiles Unit – Beaumont, TX
Discovering Ethics Class – Wednesday Morning
Meditation Class – Wednesday Afternoon
Ramsey Unit – Rosharon, TX
Meditation Class – Second Tuesday of the month
Terrell Unit – Rosharon, TX
Meditation Class – Second Friday of the month
Lojong Correspondence Course – Lojong: Attitude Transformation in Seven Parts – Palden Atisha
A Study Guide is Available on request –
Individual Correspondence with inmates on practice.
Project Clear Light
2220 Postoffice Street Suite B
Galveston, TX 77550
The sole purpose and intent of Project Clear Light is to bring the peaceful and soothing Dharma teachings into the lives of participating offenders, to guide them in their understanding of these teachings and practices, and to become a bright clear light unto the world.
Project Clear Light is a Dharma based program that is pledged to work with and within the administration, staff, policies and procedures of TDCJ. It is not evangelical or in any way a religious, social or political advocacy agency, supporter or contributor for any individual offender or group.