Welcome to my blog---an eyes-open, no-holds-barred exploration of Western and Eastern spirituality, mindfulness, philosophy and literature. A member of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association, I lectured at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry to mental health workers for 14 years and also lectured for 16 years at the University of Technology, Sydney. My interests include the psychology of religion, transformative ritual, mythology and addiction recovery.
One result of the program has been a dramatic reduction in problems in the prison, which has been one of the most problematic in the state of Alabamba. The warden has recommended that prison staff take the 10-day course to dispel misconceptions about meditation.
"Vipassanāmeans seeing things as they are,” says inmate Johnny Mack Young (pictured below), who is a convicted murderer.“You'll start feeling little stuff moving all around on your body. Some guys can't handle this; some guys scream."
To date some 430 inmates have gone through the Donaldson vipassanā meditation program, which is the only one of its kind in North America. There's a waiting list for the quarterly sessions, and the State wants to expand the offering to its women's prison.
Filmmaker Jenny Phillips has made a documentary called The Dhamma Brothers about the Alabama program and its unlikely marriage of an ancient meditation practice and an end-of-the-line prison.