This is an audio recording of Gary Allen, Education Director for the Mindfulness Peace Project, discussing Buddhist practice in American prisons at the American Theological Librarians Association Conference in Denver, CO, in June 2015.
Inter-generational Trauma Recovery: A Discussion with Dr. Ruby Gibson
1. 4:23-13:50 / Generational inheritance
2. 13:51-16:22 / Epigenetic transmission
3. 16:23-22:07 / An example of intergenerational somatic process; finding the generational source for illness through exploring the body.
4. 22:08-28:02 / Bodies hold experiences of both the genetic and social inheritance of the family system.
5. 28:03-32:07 / Uncovering trauma through feeling; giving the body a voice.
6. 32:08-38:20 / An example of somatic archaeology uncovering ancestral trauma from five generations before.
7. 38:21-45:46 / Spiritual mission, exploring your senses, and transformation.
8. 45:48-51:50 / Our stories are beautiful once illuminated; remembering the place of truth vs. historical amnesia; disconnection with ourselves generates disconnection with the Earth.
9. 51:51-58:45 / The sacred dream of seven generations makes up who we are; your body becomes your ally; your ancestors are your resources.
Like everyone else, I have been pondering the significance and aftermath of the recent mass shooting in San Bernadino, CA. It hits close to home—literally, in my case, as I was born and grew up in Riverside, just 15 miles from San Bernadino. Among the questions that come to my mind is, What is an appropriate or effective response as a Buddhist?
Since such an event evokes strong visceral emotions, including fear, I thought it might be helpful to report some facts about gun violence in America I have gleaned from my recent readings. Some of these are rather counterintuitive. For example, in the last 30 years the overall incidence of gun violence has dropped rather dramatically. Read more…
Jenny Bertram was a graduate student in the Master’s of Divinity program at Naropa University emphasizing in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Meditation instruction. She originally intended to be a Hospice Chaplain but was strongly pulled into prison ministry when she met Gary Allen at an internship fair on campus. As a volunteer with Ratna Peace Initiative, she began assisting with meditation and dharma classes in correctional facilities, as well as correcting coursework through correspondence for Ratna. Jenny has a Masters in Chinese Medicine and is a Nationally Certified Diplomate of Oriental Medicine. She devoted herself to prison work and teaching dharma as she transitioned from clinical practitioner to teacher. Jenny was thrilled to share her unfolding experience with teaching meditation as a newcomer to the prison community, and wrote the following entries as she made visits as a volunteer to a private prison in Hudson, Colorado.
My Gift for the Evening
Originally posted on January 15, 2013
My latest visit to prison was a notable one. Particularly, it was a time to say good-bye to the regular students and the chaplain for a short while; this was my last visit until the upcoming semester ends. My teacher, Lama Tenpa, recently requested that I harness my mind at this time and temporarily pull back from all my volunteer work and my private acupuncture practice to focus on my own meditation practice, as well as my graduate studies. On my last night in prison, I wondered who was going to attend the class and what conversation would transpire. Driving down the prison road, Gary asked me if I was prepared to teach the guys about the twelve links of interdependence, describing the process of karma. With an adamant “No,” I replied that I felt too vulnerable and spacious. “Let’s see what arises, Gary,” and there it was, the theme of the evening, space. [Read more…]
This inmate is in solitary confinement. He was sent to prison at 17 years old and is now 28. He’s been told by doctors that he’s likely dying, and probably has AIDS from a dirty needle. He is, nevertheless, now a serious dharma practitioner at this point facing what could be the end of his days.
“Thank you for your thoughts and guidance at this uncertain time for me. It is a breath of fresh air because honestly I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do. I’m scared but not of death itself, more so afraid of not realizing the deathless and being subjected to this terrible cycle over again. I have created so much bad karma in this very short time I’ve been here, and I’m afraid of what it may imply for the future lives I may have to live through.
I mean I look at this life and all the pain and suffering I’ve seen and had to go through. My karma was so bad I lasted 17 years in society, and those 17 years were not that great either. I came to prison a kid and immediately became the target for nightmarish kinds of thoughts and plots of really sick and overly violent adult men. Guys were intensely lusting and plotting to rape me, extort me, hurt me/kill me or take any advantage of me if they could. I was so scared I became really hardened; I had to become an apex predator my first 5 minutes in prison or I’d never survive what lay ahead.
Shambhala Publications has just published a new collection of Chogyam Trungpa’s talks, edited by Carolyn Rose Gimian.
Mindfulness in Action: Making Friends with Yourself Through Friendliness and Everyday Awareness
One example that sticks out, from a chapter discussing the skandhas, the construction of our egos or our self-identity, Trungpa Rinpoche says, “Our individuality is really a heap or a pile of disappointment, hope, fear, and millions and billions and trillions of other things. All these little fragments put together are what we call our self and our life. Our pride of self-existence or sense of being is by no means one entity. It is a heap, a pile of stuff. It has some similarities to a pile of garbage. When we refer to something as garbage, we are speaking not about one thing but about a collection of many different things that make up the garbage-ness. All these elements are collected and mixes with one another. As they decay, they become extremely smelly. What we call our selves or our ego is similarly an amalgam of many things put together.” (p. 131)
There is a beautiful emphasis in the beginning of the book on gentleness and friendliness. The first section is really beautiful, and has a strong emphasis on being kind, while at the same time being genuine and honest with ourselves. During the entire meditation process, from when we even sit down to the end, there is a sense of appreciation for our world and our environment. This entire process starts with a genuine cultivation of a positive attitude towards ourselves.
What this book really excels in is expressing Chogyam Trungpa’s care and love for all of us. This is apparent on every page—he’s got nothing to gain in this, there’s no advertising, it’s almost as if he’s pleading with us not to rush and to be less aggressive. He can’t do it; only we can. Slow down, relax, and enjoy life and all its precious moments.