One out of one hundred Americans is currently behind bars. At our April 2018 meeting, the Sweeping Heart Zen Board voted unanimously to send ongoing financial support to the Prison Mindfulness Institute. Support for PMI and its programs to relieve suffering is now part of Sweeping Heart Zen’s ongoing community service work. At the present time then we’ve added our support for PMI to the monthly support we provide to The Grace Center and Action, Inc. in Gloucester.
“The Buddha said, walk over the earth for the blessing of many. For the happiness of many, out of compassion for the world.”
One reason we’ve decided to support the Prison Mindfulness Institute is because we agree with Roberta Richman. We believe that our world will never enjoy the full fruits of peace, fairness, and enlightenment until each one of us sees ourself in each prison inmate.
“The people in prison are us.” ~Roberta Richman, Rhode Island Department of Corrections
Another reason we decided to add PMI to our community service work is PMI’s list of spiritual advisors.
This list is like a Who’s Who of contemporary American Buddhist leaders. And, the list includes luminaries from other contemplative faith traditions as well.
For example, PMI’s spiritual advisors include Pema Chodron, Thupten Chodron, Rabbi David Cooper, Joseph Goldstein, Roshi Joan Halifax, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Father Thomas Keating, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg.
The willingness of these spiritual giants to be associated with the PMI’s community service work suggests that the work PMI does is of the highest quality imaginable.
Here’s the full list of PMI advisors: prisonmindfulness.org/about-us/sa/
One of the most significant things that the Prison Mindfulness Institute does is train volunteers to share its Path of Freedom program with inmates.
PATH OF FREEDOM
Here’s how the PMI website describes this program:
Path of Freedom ® is a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence (MBEI) model for at-risk and incarcerated youth and adult prisoners developed by Kate Crisp and Fleet Maull.
The curriculum we use in prisons includes training in: mindfulness meditation, emotional intelligence, communication, conflict resolution, and various resourcing and resiliency building skills.
Participants develop greater self-awareness, improved impulse control, and greater social awareness which will give them a new positive vision for their lives.
The program is presented in a non-sectarian manner. It is open to participants of any faith and/or those who do not identify with a particular faith tradition. The curriculum has received very positive reviews from experts in the corrections field.
Books Behind Bars
Moreover, PMI’s community service work includes Books Behind Bars. In this program PMI collects donations of books on Dharma, yoga, contemplative spirituality, and on Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Next, PMI puts these books in the hands of interested inmates. To date, PMI has distributed 57,000 books to inmates in prisons across the United States.
Consequently, SHZ Board also voted unanimously to connect with the PMI Books Behind Bars program. We hope to do an annual or bi-annual book drive on behalf of the Books Behind Bars program. Please stay tuned for details.
Please watch this documentary video (9 minutes and 41 seconds) on the Prison Mindfulness Institute’s work inside prisons in Rhode Island. It’s quite moving and powerful. The video highlights what inmates have to say about why PMI’s work is so important: prisonmindfulness.org/projects/ri-doc/
Please check out PMI and if your heart is moved. please get involved in this work. Here’s a link to a full list of Prison Mindfulness Institute programs: prisonmindfulness.org/projects/ri-doc/
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Please visit a Sweeping Heart Zen event. We’re in historic Gloucester on Boston’s North Shore. Here’s a link to our calendar: sweepingheartzen.org/events/
I hope you have a wonderful week!