The Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team
For almost ten years, Ananda Marga volunteer Steven Landau has run a weekly yoga program at Wake Correctional Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. This voluntary two hour class includes Ananda Marga instruction on yoga postures, philosophy, kirtan, and meditation. Once a month, the prisoners are even treated to a vegetarian meal. Many participants have responded positively to the classes, reporting less aggression and higher levels of relaxation and physical well being.
In 2008, Landau reported findings in a study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy correlating regular attendance of prison yoga classes with a much lower rate of re-incarceration. 190 inmates of varying race and religious beliefs attended at least one class, and 54 of those returned several times, attending at least four classes. Of the released men who frequented classes, only four (8%) were subsequently re-incarcerated, compared to the 28 men (25%) of the non-frequenting group who found themselves back in prison within 2-3 years.
Joined a growing number of volunteers, the program has expanded to six jails and prisons for both men and women across the state of North Carolina, with plans to expand even further and reach inmates at every correctional facility in the state.
These findings suggest that yoga can be taught safely in correctional facilities, and that offenders can use these classes to better themselves physically and seek out a more peaceful and relaxed life. Those who utilize this program lessen their chances of falling victim to what is often a cycle of repeat offending and multiple visits to prison.
A small group of volunteers who serve as Buddhist Chaplains in the Los Angeles County Jails and the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo.
Our group at Attica is a non-sectarian meditation group, meeting every Thursday night for about 2 hours of meditation and a little period for Questions & Discussion afterward. The group was originally started years ago, then languished after a few years. Recently there had been much interest in some of the inmates to re-establish the group, and the Attica Chaplains were considering doing so and leading it themselves, even though they were untrained in meditation (to show how powerful inmates’ were becoming!). Just at that juncture, I was given a contact to the former leader, who then directed me to the Chaplain been the original Volunteer Advisor for him. I called her immediately, and was joyously received! The inmates, the Advisor, and of course, I too, were all overjoyed to have found one another just at the right moment!
I have been a member of the Rochester Zen Center for some 40 years, and sitting with the inmates has challenged and deepened my own practice, as well as giving me an opportunity to give something back to the Dharma after so many years of receiving the teaching freely given.
Weekly meditation classes are taught by volunteers at the Suffolk County House of Corrections (the Boston county jail). Drawing from the meditation traditions of Buddhism, mindfulness, yoga, and the martial arts, the program has been successful. Richard Geller has taught since 1996, and Janine Marra since 2010.
Tampa Bay prison meditation projects affiliated with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (There is no BBF prison work, but the Tampa Bay BPF website does have a recently updated prison information page:
Prisons Served: Hardee Correctional Inst, Bowling Green FL – Sponsored by Southern Palm Zen Group, Boca Raton FL (http://floridazen.com/prison/). Three other volunteers also regularly visit with this group – usually one volunteer each week.
Avon Park Correctional Institution, Avon Park FL, Sponsored by Hokori Zen Center, Lakeland (http://www.hokorizencenter.org/). One other volunteer also visits. One or both of us visit monthly.
Buddhist Pathways is a California nonprofit corporation whose mission is to bring the core teachings of the historical Buddha of non-harming, meditation, and wisdom into prisons and jails as well as federal penal institutions.
Through mindful awareness, incarcerated sangha members gain the wisdom that fosters durable self-transformation and insight into the inner conditions that led to incarceration.
Comienzos is an educational, therapeutic program serving men and women who are incarcerated at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center. We teach the skills and cultivate the awareness that is needed for men and women to live in freedom.
Our classes include:
* Learning and Practice in Nonviolent Communication, as developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg;
* Meditative practices, including seated meditation, T’ai Chi Chih, and yoga; and,
* 12 Step Recovery
For the past twenty years, Heart Mountain Prison Project (HMPP), a qualified 501(c)(3), has provided non-denominational meditation and Qi Gong in several prisons in New Mexico.
We also have a Native American Arts Program in the Santa Fe juvenile detention facility.
Lalitamba Mandiram offers outreach programs in places where people are in transition, searching for a way back to the heart. Our workshops have served thousands in hospitals, shelters, prisons, and spiritual centers of various faiths. Yoga, meditation, and sacred music are universal ways to rediscover ourselves.
The temple is affiliated with the URI-UN Council and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Our offerings are inspired by the selfless example and unconditional love of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.
We are a non-demonitational group at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago. We meet once a week for an hour. We practice Mindfulness Meditation (Vipassana) and follow some of the protocol of MBSR, and Prison Mindfulness Institute. I am most interested in being in contact with other groups which are trying to introduce meditation into Correctional facilities, without the mantle of Buddhism.