Alex Wright

Terminal Island

September 15, 2006

My friend and meditation teacher Jeanie Kerins writes about her experience teaching meditation to prisoners in Terminal Island, an essay for the Prison Dharma Network:

I asked them to tell me a little bit about prison life so that I could make realistic suggestions for their practice in their situation. I asked them to introduce themselves to me as they spoke. Rusty said, “Noise. It’s constant noise. No matter what time of day, there’s always noise. If you have a free hour and you want to meditate in your bunk, you have to listen to some guy talking or their radio or the TV in the hall. It never stops. Then, there’s always the count.” As Rusty spoke, the other guys would grumble in agreement, or nod their heads in assent. What the hell was I going to say to this? Rusty continued, “Yeah man, when I get out of here, I’m going to Katmandu where you can really get into this stuff. Not like this shit hole.”
Then I told them a story about a friend who went to Katmandu to practice meditation. He saved for years for the trip and rented a meditation hut through some contact in the sangha. When he finally got there, his dream meditation hut was on a cow road. Villagers would take their cows up and down the road all day long, cow bells ringing. The dirt road was paved with cow dung which would turn to dust and the dung-dust would fill his little hut each day. “That was his Katmandu experience.”
Jean Kerins, Terminal Island

File under: Dharma

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