Teaching meditation in the prison system

Steven Vannoy gave this talk at the Mid-America Buddhist Association in Augusta, Missouri on March 2, 2002.

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  • Introduction

    • Meeting Venerable Thubten Chodron in Seattle
    • Early volunteer work with prisoners


    Demographics of the American prison system

    • There are six million people under supervision: incarcerated, on probation, or on parole
    • There are two million in prison
    • The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, except possibly for China
    • Most of the people there are average people, and are good to work with


    Specifics of working with prisoners

    • Teaching meditation to women as a stress management technique
    • Using a subset of Lam Rim meditations (attachment and aversion, etc.), and some purification (the Four Opponent Powers) to advance the meditations
    • Working with men in a course called “Anger Management”


    Experience in the county jail

    • A stressful environment for the prisoners


    The prison guards

    • The training and demographics of the guards


    Graduate work in counseling psychology

    • The search for credentials to support the meditation work
    • A masters thesis on evaluating anger management techniques
    • Measuring anger, empathy, narcissism


    Buddhist techniques

    • Anger management tips derived from the teachings of Venerable Thubten Chodron


    Working with the prisoners

    • People who self-select for the program are just the sort of people you want to sit and talk with
    • How to talk about love


    Masters thesis

    • Results of the study


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