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.
In 2009 a small Buddhist Sangha in Boise, Idaho brought Winter Feast brochures to the local men‘s incarceration center, where they were teaching meditation. 10 prisoners signed up for the Winter Feast that year. This started us thinking about how we could support incarcerated individuals with finding inner peace by developing a spiritual practice. Since then, we have expanded our outreach through a journal for prisoners known as Freedom Inside and individual coaching. Our outreach program now includes about 50 volunteer spiritual practitioners or coaches who correspond regularly with prisoners who would like support with their spiritual practices during the Feast and year-round.
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.
Ratna Peace Initiative (RPI) works with incarcerated men and women nationwide. It offers a study of Buddhist texts integrated with mindfulness meditation. The program and practice are first taught either in an onsite visit, by using a text, or by video. A dialog through correspondence with an MPP educator follows. In 2014 we corresponded with over 360 inmates in 48 states, conducting on-going guidance for their spiritual practice and course work. Meditation is taught and practiced as a discipline for those interested in Buddhism and also is a useful secular way for anyone to develop peacefulness and understanding, regardless of their background or religious affiliation.
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.