The Contemplative Practices Program has four component parts:
- Meditation training
- Discovering Ethics: A Path to Virtue class
- Houses of Healing, class on emotional intelligence
- Group and individual sessions on the theme of Restorative Justice
Traditional Buddhist meditation practices are extremely skillful in allowing us to recognize the nature of conditioned thoughts and attitudes and the effect they have on our personal well-being and our ability to sustain meaningful and caring relationships with others. These practices are frequently taught in a non-sectarian setting that is fully respectful of all religious and faith beliefs, and in fact can lead to a deeper understanding of those beliefs. The class will be structured around the Lojong Study Guide published by Clear Light Books.
Discovering Ethics: A Path to Virtue
The Discovering Ethics: A Path to Virtue class is based on the book Ethics for the New Millennium by HH the Dalai Lama. His Holiness develops the thesis that compassion, as an expression of our basic human virtue, is the basis for ethical behavior. The course takes sixteen class sessions to complete using the Discovering Ethics Study Guide, a workbook written by inmates on the Mark Stiles Unit. Classes are facilitated by inmate peer educators.
Houses of Healing – A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom
Houses of Healing is a course in emotional awareness and emotional healing that teaches participants emotional literacy skills that are base on a belief in the intrinsic potential, dignity, and worth of each person. The course is designed to promote deeper understanding of emotional issues and spiritual growth: and to encourage responsibility and accountability in oneself and toward others.
Participants learn a variety of stress-management techniques such as meditation, relaxation and visualization and places a strong emphasis on the daily practice of meditation. Inmates that have taken the course report that they are less anxious and less prone to violent behavior while experiencing greater choice and control in how they respond to potentially stressful situations.
Although restorative justice was initially an effort for offender and victim or victims’ family to have some form of reconciliation, today this term refers more to the ability of the offender to make a successful reentry to the social community and not reengage in criminal activity.