The Prison Mindfulness Institute is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 with the mission of supporting prisoners and prison volunteers in transformation through meditation and contemplative spirituality in prisons. The organization provides books and resources through their "Books Behind Bars" program, publishes books on prison dharma through their Prison Dharma Press, organizes a pen pal program between prisoners and meditation volunteers, and offers an apprenticeship program for prison volunteers called "Path of Freedom". The organization supports prisoners in the study and practice of contemplative traditions as well as mindfulness awareness practices. It is an affiliate of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship as well as the Peacemaker Community USA.
Mindfulness is gaining a growing popularity as a practice in daily life, apart from Buddhist insight meditation and its application in clinical psychology.
Definition of the Movement
In this context mindfulness is defined as moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, characterized mainly by "acceptance"—attention to thoughts and feelings without judging whether they are right or wrong.
Mindfulness focuses the human brain on what is being sensed at each moment, instead of on its .
Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward liberation from defilements (kleshas) and clinging and craving (upādāna), also called awakening, which results in the attainment of Nirvana, and includes a variety of meditation techniques such as:
- asubha bhavana ("reflections on repulsiveness")
- reflection on pratityasamutpada (dependent origination)
- sati (mindfulness) and anussati (recollections), including anapanasati (breath meditation)
- dhyana (developing an alert and luminous mind)
- the Brahma-viharas (loving-kindness and compassion)
These techniques aim to develop equanimity .