from KC Walpole: Greetings:
Hope all is well in the west. It is hard to believe that we are on our tenth retreat and that the institution was delivering over a hundred noon meals a day to be eaten as a part of the noon retreat. I included a photo of the first retreat with 27 inmates. At that one we only had cushions and were using those thin rubber yoga mats as cushions on a tile floor. We now have about one hundred sets of mats and cushions and at times we had inmates sitting on chairs as there was no place else to put them.
One of the big surprises this retreat was the number of youthful offenders (yellow shirts). They are in a very rigorous program of their own and it goes well into the night. Almost like a boot camp. It is hard for them to sit still for any number of reasons but the one thing I have got to say is they are making an effort.
Not for sure but it appears that Lowell CI is going to get two transition dorms and the people putting it together have approached me to find a way to incorporate MBSR into the program. They will be yearlong programs with admission to be on a voluntary basis. I am told there will be about 160 inmates total in the program. If it goes as is suspect, then we will have four MBSR programs open to the general population and another two programs in the transition programs. It could mean we will be doing our quarterly retreats with about 250 inmates. At the moment, I cannot even envision how we would pull it off.
To complicate matters more, I am going to try to implement two ten day retreats in the last 2 retreat cycles of the transition dorms instead of a five day retreat. I think we can pull it off because we will simply hold the retreats in the dorms so there will be no demands for space the prison does not have to support such an effort. Also, putting the retreats in the dorms means we can get three or four extra hours of sitting in the evening. Then they will simply move to their bunks instead of going back to a noisy dorm. The down side is it will be ten days of bag lunches for lunch and dinner and I will try to get them in on an early breakfast. Lots of peanut butter and who knows what sandwiches.
if I can pull this off, I will be coming back with a begging bowl for mats, cushions as etc. hope to pull it off because there will be some stats generated on recidivism that we have never had before. Don’t know there is a whole lot more to say for now. Know I do wish you well. Do good and take care.
Yours in the Dharma K. C. Walpole
Gateless Gate Zen Center Gainesville, Fl Web: Gatelessgate.org