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.
We are what our name says that we are – Association of Happiness for All Mankind. In other words: “Our Name is our Purpose.” Introduces the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and A. Ramana, AHAM’s founder and spiritual director, to prisoners. Prisoner Correspondence Program, book donations (The Handbook to Perpetual Happiness, Living Free While Incarcerated), Power of Awareness training. AHAM’s teaching is primarily disseminated through its literature, prison visitations, written correspondence and implementation of programs.
We have volunteers at Monroe Correctional Complex of the WA state prison system, and at King County Jail in Seattle. In addition a number of our members correspond with inmates around the country.
The Interfaith Coalition of Advocates for Reentry and Employment (ICARE) “Circles of Care” ministry program assists communities of faith in developing supportive relationships with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women.
In collaboration with chaplains of New York State Correctional Facilities, ICARE connects people in prison with a “Circle of Care”: three or four members of a congregation who commit to encouraging an individual through letter writing, and to supporting him/her upon release from prison.
Mindful Buddha Outreach Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping inmates deepen their understanding and experience of Buddhism. Through our prison outreach project, we offer pen-pal correspondence, books, pamphlets, CD’s, and audio tapes to assist inmates with questions on Buddhism and meditation. Through our support we encourage Buddhist meditation as a path of individual transformation, teaching us to look within ourselves for the inner peace and happiness we seek. Through developing our wisdom and compassion, we can improve our quality of life and the lives of those around us. Whether a prisoner of the mind, or of the body, freedom is within ourselves.
Naljor Prison Dharma Service offers The Heart of Dharma Collection: ten precious dharma teachings. These accurate, concise teachings are perfect for daily study, contemplative meditation, and inspiration. Practitioners of all lineages will greatly benefit from these essential teachings. This entire collection is available free of charge from our website. We also offer an excellent 29-page Resource Directory for Prisoners. This directory presents an open horizon of possibility and potential for personal support and psychological/spiritual transformation. We encourage individuals and outreach organizations serving those on the inside to freely download and distribute these teachings as well as our resource directory. You are welcome to put your own information at the top of this directory to customize it for your organization. For those on the inside, if you have a chaplain, friend or family member with access to the internet, this directory and the collection of dharma teachings mentioned above can be printed out free of charge from our website.
We provide meditation instruction through correspondence and in person to prisoners throughout the United States. Meditation is taught and practiced as a spiritual discipline, depending on the needs of the inmates requesting our services. It is taught as a means of deepening one’s understanding of any spiritual path he or she chooses to walk, or as a secular path to increase understanding of one’s emotional patterns. Many inmates fear the mental states which resulted in their present circumstances, and they are extremely appreciative of tools that allow them to tame their minds and increase stability and tranquility in prison.
We write to prisoners nationwide – we have volunteers visiting 5 or 6 prisons in Colorado, and have visited 5 or 6 in Florida
Many prison inmates write to San Francisco Zen Center seeking support in beginning or maintaining their Buddhist studies and practice. We offer free Buddhist literature and find pen-pals for inmates interested in regular correspondence about Buddhist practice.