Dhamma Brothers & Mindfulness Practices at Society’s Margins

Dhamma Brothers & Mindfulness Practices at Society’s Margins

For the second time this year, we merged the topics of mindfulness practice and social justice. This time, we looked at meditation within the confines of a state prison, through the film The Dhamma Brothers. In the film, two teachers within the Vipassana (Insight) meditation tradition led a 10-day silent meditation retreat within a maximum security Alabama state prison with male inmates. The program was eventually discontinued, but they were able to do a follow up about four years later and ran a second retreat.

We invited two speakers, Enrique Collazo and Devon Cresci, of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, both in recovery and both with their own stories of direct experience of loss of a loved one due to gun violence and with loved ones serving time in our criminal justice system. We asked the speakers to share their experiences of transforming pain into teaching for various communities; both teachers now work with young people in a range of settings, sharing social-emotional learning and mindfulness practices through a secular lens of Buddhism.

After hearing the powerful stories of transformation of the two speakers as well as those in the Dhamma Brothers film, the audience shared their thoughts and reflections. I personally was struck by the commonality of experiences of turning toward meditation practice through our pain, although the causes of that pain were vastly different across our various experiences. We closed the evening by talking about how meditation and mindfulness practices can be a point of connection and unity during a time of extreme divisiveness nationally and internationally, and we walked away with a message of hope and inspiration to carry us into the holiday season and new year.

We plan to host monthly events on the second Friday of each month, with our next event on January 12th. We would love to hear from you about what kind of topics, speakers, and/or events you would be interested in attending. 

Thank you for building community with us here at Mangalam Center, we look forward to seeing you at some of our upcoming events in the New Year.


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