Shambhala Prison program


Shambhala Prison program, sponsored by the Portland Shambhala Center, is now in its eighth year of providing mindfulness-based meditation programs for the inmates at Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.  During that time we have offered full weekend programs, including Shambhala Training levels. We are currently offering six full-day retreats a year, combining meditation with teachings from the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, Shambhala yoga, and group discussions.  Two Tuesday evenings a month we conduct a meditation/study session at the prison. These programs are staffed by qualified volunteers from the Shambhala communities of Seattle, Eugene and Corvallis in addition to Portland.  Over the last few years we have been collaborating with the Dharma Rain Zen Center of Portland by alternating to offer the full day retreats every month and the Tuesday evenings every week.

If you are interested in learning more about this program or would like to support it, please contact Doug McCanne through the Portland Shambhala Center.  You can donate to a Shambhala Center has a fund specifically designated to support this program.

Here is a testimonial from David L. Michael, an inmate at the Oregon State Penitentiary:

I have been practicing meditation with the Shambhala group at Oregon State Penitentiary for about five years.  I attend the Tuesday evening services each week and the all day retreats monthly (Shambhala every other month). I have been meditating and studying Buddhism and eastern metaphysics since 1965.

The practical in the world approach of Shambhala is very appealing to me and very helpful in the prison environment. I have found the discussions during both the Tuesday evening meetings and the retreats to be stimulating and inspiring.  Meditation in any group format is usually more powerful than sitting alone and the guidance of the Shambhala tradition helps to both keep the participant on task and direct the experience to the most meaningful result. The skill of synchronizing mind and body and facing the world with openness and fearlessness is precisely what is needed to maintain equanimity in prison.

The transition to productive life after prison will no doubt be easier for all of the truly participating inmates in the Shambhala events here at OSP. Thank you all for support and participation in this effort.