Bringing the Dharma to Prison: An introduction to offering meditation, chaplaincy and Buddhist practice in prisons and jail with Paul Haller and Jacques Verduin

Friday, January 29, 2010 9:30am to 4:30pm

What does it mean to ‘leave prison before you get out’? What are the greater implications of teaching the experience of freedom not just as the other side of the gate but rather as a state of mind? This day-long training features two dedicated professionals that aim to share many years of service in the trenches of our prison system. The teaching will address both specific questions related to Buddhist practice as well as how the dharma can be languaged and applied in practical ways to honor everyone’s religious understanding. There will be sharing of what language is conducive to teach meditation in prison, examples of exercises and discussion of prison related hindrances to practice. There will be opportunity to assemble a toolkit of useful applications of how the dharma informs violence prevention, skillful communication and conflict resolution.

Paul Haller is a Zen Priest Co-Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center.  He was the head of Zen Center’s outreach program and has spent many years teaching meditation in prisons.  He is on faculty at the Zen Hospice Project and at the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies.

Jacques Verduin is the founder and director of the Insight Prison Project, a non-profit that works in San Quentin State Prison. The project focuses on assisting prisoners in healing the pain that they lash out from by transforming the negative habit patterns that trip them up. IPP teaches 20 classes that serve 300 prisoners every week. Through its ‘Insight Out Initiative’ trained former prisoners work in the East Bay School system to teach the skills that help prevent crime.