Sep 28, 2010
In a sense we all live in a prison, but a life of literal confinement can force us to confront our existential situation — and our need for change — with unflinching honesty.
As the subtitle indicates, this is a collection of writings; of the nine chapters comprising the body of this text five appear to be written while the author was still in prison. A sixth chapter appears to have been composed within two weeks of his release. The remaining three chapters recount the nature and experience of the author in relation to practicing the Buddha’s path.
Chapter one carries the book’s title and also expands on the theme with the subheading …
Wildmind Meditation News
Jun 13, 2010
Laura Sygrove teaches downward dogs to downtrodden kids. The 33-year-old yoga instructor, certified in 2005 for clocking 800-plus hours of pretzelled enlightenment, is executive director of the New Leaf Yoga Foundation, which brings yoga and meditation to youth detention centres throughout southern Ontario. Ms. Sygrove spoke to the Post’s Nick Aveling about teaching young offenders to take a deep breath.
Q So you go to prison and teach kids yoga?
A Yeah, New Leaf goes into youth custody facilities. We also run a couple projects for youth outside of custody who have been identified as at-risk. It was founded by a group of us who are all yoga practitioners and teachers …
Jun 08, 2010
For six years, I’ve been traveling up to the state prison for men in Concord New Hampshire, where I help, with other volunteers, to run a meditation and Buddhist study group. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and every visitor from outside the walls who has ever visited the group has come away feeling inspired. Our inmate practitioners live in very challenging circumstances, and meditation is their lifeline to sanity — therefore they practice with an intensity that puts many Buddhists “on the outside” to shame.
One of our inmates, Bob, makes malas — the Buddhist rosaries that people use when chanting mantras — and we’ve …
Wildmind Meditation News
May 20, 2010
The qigong meditative class begins with instructor David Ezra asking the participants if they have any worries this week.
A burly man with tattoos running down his arms speaks up.
“Any little thing will set me off,” Sonny Mitchell says.
Ezra tells Mitchell to control his emotions and then instructs all the men in orange jumpsuits to stand in two rows of five or six. He turns on a portable CD player, which plays soothing melodies.
Several feet away, Deputy Frank Oathout, a guard at County Jail in Martinez, watches to ensure the inmates behave while they’re performing their slow movements and controlled breathing techniques.
Mitchell was arrested on suspicion of stealing a car and leading …
Wildmind Meditation News
Apr 19, 2010
Participants in the popular weekly course at L.A. County’s Men’s Central facility say the techniques they learn for relaxation and self-control couldn’t be more useful in their environs.
“Eyes closed, heads down. Focus on your breathing.”
The men in the sanctuary obediently followed their Buddhist chaplain’s command, bowing their cleanly shaven heads and beginning their meditation exercises. A bell chime hung in the air before melting into silence.
Most of the men were new to the relaxation technique, seeking to add a little Zen to their lives. But the venue for this course was not a posh studio in Silver Lake or Santa Monica.
These men were trying to get in touch with their chi at Men’s Central Jail.
The downtown L.A. correctional facility, which …
May 11, 2009
Over the years that Bodhipaksa has worked in prisons he’s observed that some of the inmates he works with are among the freest people he knows. So if freedom can be attained even in prison, what is freedom, and how can we find it?
Just about every week for the last six years I’ve met with inmates at the state prison for men in New Hampshire. I enjoy going there. In fact it’s the highlight of my week.
I’m used to the peculiarities of the place now. Sometimes the guards there can be unwelcoming, but mostly they’re now accepting. The room we meet in can be rescheduled at a moment’s notice, but you …
May 06, 2009
What makes a prisoner? Sarvananda, a prison Buddhist chaplain, has an inside view of life in jail; and he reflects that we are all prisoners of our mental states
Twice a week for the past seven years I have visited Norwich Prison in eastern England, in my capacity as a Buddhist chaplain. Recently I have been wondering why I am drawn to this work. Apart from the desire to spread the Dharma and the fact that my teacher Sangharakshita has encouraged his disciples to undertake such work, a certain fascination has drawn me to prison visiting — a fascination with prison life itself and with the people I meet.
I was brought up in …
May 05, 2009
People behind bars are often open to change, as Suvarnaprabha discovers when teaching prisoners to meditate.
There is a series of rituals you learn when you start going into prisons. Of course they aren’t meant to be rituals –- they’re for security, but they end up feeling like rituals, in the same way that some of us automatically bow when we enter a meditation room. You walk up to the door, push the button, turn your back to the door, the door buzzes, and you turn around, open the door and go inside. Every time you go through a door, even on the inside, you do the same thing: you push …
May 04, 2009
For some inmates imprisonment offers an opportunity to reflect on the causes and conditions that have shaped their lives, and a powerful incentive to bring about personal change. Calvin Malone’s first book, Razor Wire Dharma, elegantly and powerfully outlines the challenges and rewards of practicing behind bars.
Calvin Malone began practicing meditation and Buddhism soon after he entered prison — about twenty years ago. In “Razor Wire Dharma,” he gives an account of time served, of fellow prisoners, and of his attempts to practice the Buddha’s teaching in this most challenging of environments.
And challenges Calvin Malone has encountered in plenty. In a series of short and …
Mar 02, 2009
Prison can be a tough environment for those who work there as well as for inmates. Psychotherapist Steve Bell reflects on a few tough months spent in Rikers Island and realizes how much he learned.
For four months last year I worked with women detainees on Rikers Island in the Intense Treatment Unit, or ITU. Those four months were an adventure, but I won’t easily forget the trauma and abuse the women reported, and eventually the need to live a simpler life led me to give up working there.
The idea of the ITU was to try and apply the work of Marsha Linehan — who created Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) for people with …