Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Here’s a link to a recent talk PDN’s Rebecca Foster gave on laughing in prison:
And a note from another prison-meditation volunteer in Oregon:
“The sessions went great! We had about a dozen people in both 90 minute sessions, which worked really well. Most of the men were fully engaged. Thanks for the suggestion to lead activities they did when they were children. I did so for about the first half of the session, and then the second half were exercises I had created about their day to day experiences. I had the great fortune to meet with one of the guards (they call them officers) who works at the prison (he is married to someone I know), prior to the session and he gave me a good overview of what the daily routine is and what some of the stressors are in the prison (other than the obvious). We did things like “cold shower laughter”; and “cafeteria food/can’t find a place to sit laughter”. At the inmates’ suggestions in the second session, we did “property search laughter” (where the guard comes and takes all their personal belongings, including their blanket from the bed and throws it all on the floor). It was very powerful, and for me had a precious kind of quality to it. While I know the laughter sessions I lead in my community have an impact, the magnitude of benefit that this might offer to the inmates was clearly higher in the prison setting, and it was as if I could feel that palpably while leading/laughing. I felt more comfortable leading at the prison than I ever had anywhere else, which was a real surprise to me!
The feedback from the men was amazing. One talked about how he felt the laughter “touch his soul” and another said that he felt an “awakening” of a child-like sense of himself which he hadn’t felt in a long time because he’d been in a “really dark place.”
Thanks also for the suggestion to invite other social service workers to join us. The chaplain joined in, as did a community volunteer who offers once a month yoga session there also. “ “What is it to receive this moment as it’s given, just as it’s given, without all the conditions and agendas and arguments?” — Mukti