UPDATED: One Week Prison Retreat
UPDATE: from Trime Persinger (posted on the Shambhala Network news)
As a chaplain at Snake River, I lead two weekly meditation groups–a Sunday-morning “Buddhist Service” (open-house format) and a Wednesday-evening class. Two-thirds of the weekthun participants had been participating in one or both of these activities. Of the weekthun participants who had not meditated before, three have signed up for weekly group practice. So the follow-up is definitely available to them if they want it. Regarding the effect of intensive practice, some prison staff and inmates have commented that the Intensive had a positive effect on the prison. There is no plan to measure the long-term effects on the participants, but that could be something to think about for future programs. Exit interviews were conducted with 17 of the participants on the last full day of the Intensive, and these were very positive. The interviews were videotaped for broadcast on the inmate TV channel, and will possibly be made available to staff.
The weekthun at Snake River Correctional Institution June 17-23 was a tremendous success. Of the 50 participants who started the retreat, 40 completed it. Shastri Frank Ryan presented teachings on working with emotions from the perspective of basic goodness, a topic which generated much interest. Other than the talks, discussion, and instruction (which amounted to a total of 1 – 1.5 hours a day), the retreat was conducted in silence for 12 hours a day–including meal times and one hour of recreation in the nearby gym. An article in the Shambhala Times is forthcoming. Many thanks for the good energy sent our way by the Shambhala community.