Monday, December 12, 2011

My Prison Pen Pal

One of my regular pen pals is in prison.

Prior to my year of letters, I had started a pen pal friendship with a prisoner. The friendship is facilitated through a meditation program that I participate in called the Winter Feast for the Soul. The program matches meditation practitioners with inmates in the hopes of fostering spiritual mentorship and connection.

Herman* lives in Texas. I don't know why he's in prison. What I do know is that he doesn't have any family, as his parents are dead, and he feels very much alone in this world. He writes about the conditions in the prison, which sound abysmal. He spends a lot of time in solitary confinement, does not have many opportunities for exercise, and has to purchase basic necessities like toothpaste, although he doesn't have any money to make these purchases. He always sends warm wishes to me and my husband.

Our exchange is usually short, but I think we are both getting a lot out of it. We've both made a new friend. I'm learning about the conditions in prison, which seem worse than I'd imagined. Herman knows that someone out there is thinking of him, and I think that might be helpful to him. I hope it makes him feel less alone. I also share some things from yoga and meditation - I told him I am a yoga teacher, and he expressed interest in learning. I'm very much a proponent of using yoga anywhere, and especially in a place like prison where people are in a constant state of stress. Even if he's in his cell, he can do some yoga poses or even just sit and focus on his breath.

If you're interested in participating in a prisoner pen pal program, you can try the Winter Feast for the Soul program.

*his name has been changed to protect his privacy.

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