From KC Walpole in Florida: Greetings:
Last Friday was the end of the 9th five day retreat and MBSR cycle. Don’t know how much more we can grow. There are times when every mat and cushion is taken and there are about a hundred of them. budget cuts have changed the meals from bag lunches to hot trays. It appears that a bag lunch costs twice as much as a hot tray meal. The prison does not know they will be able to support delivering trays to the retreat because there are just too many trays to deliver and if they have to deliver a hundred or so it will put a strain on food services. The meal count hovered around 82 for this retreat.
One of the points that has never ceased to amaze me in this program is that there are no staff or correction officers supervising us or the inmates during classes or the retreats. Also, we have never had an incident. The warden commented to me during the retreat that he was amazed that in over two years we had been doing the program that not one inmate had complained about the program and not one volunteer had been relieved for cause.
In part, I think that the reason may be is the inmates are self-selected and participation is voluntary. In fact, all the advertising is strictly word of mouth. I find it hard to believe that more places have not tried to replicate the program. Essentially, it costs nothing. All our instructors are volunteers and we pay out of our pocket for most of the work books and other related expenses. But then maybe that is why we have been as successful as we have and that is because we have been able to create a volunteer pool that is committed to the process. It is so easy to be committed when you can so clearly see the fruits of your labor.
We were able to get Dr. Austin, who wrote Zen and the Brain, to visit our two Zen programs in the Main and Annex at Lowell CI. It was amazing. He truly resonated with the inmates and they with him. His perspective of medical research on the brain as impacted by the practice not only awed them but stimulated them to renew their dedication to the practice. Don’t know there is much more to say as the photo says it all. Know I wish you well. Please say hello to Fleet for me. Do good and take care.
Yours in the Dharma K. C. Walpole
Gateless Gate Zen Center 1208 NW 4th Street Gainesville, Fl 32601 Phone: (352) 336-1517 Web: Gatelessgate.org