From School Library Journal
Adult/High School—Vipissana is an ancient nondenominational meditation technique that was revived by Gotama the Buddha 2600 years ago. These letters are a testament to the power that this practice has had on the lives of a handful of men in a high-security prison in Alabama. Many of them are serving life sentences, and all of them have struggled to find peace with themselves. The course has worked wonders for prisoners in India, where it was developed. For 10 days, the men meditated with three teachers, isolated from the rest of the prison population. They began by focusing on their own breath as a way of breaking down the barrier between mind and body. Out of the silence of meditation came an awareness that was transformative for these troubled men and that has lasted for years, even in the midst of the anguish of daily prison life. Teens in trouble or at risk would certainly find this book illuminating. So, too, would those trying to fathom how to lead a sane and peaceful life in a world that can be hard to comprehend. This book offers a chance to develop an understanding of how we can share a commonality with something as simple and as vital as a breath.—Will Marston, Berkeley Public Library, CA
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"[An] extraordinarily telling and inspiring book, its contents a witness to the human connection achieved. . . . Jenny Phillips manages to enable the far off, the imprisoned, to become the reader's informants and teachers." Robert Coles, from the book's foreword
"An absolutely compelling story of an astonishing treatment program with prison inmates that, against all odds, actually worked. . . . Should reshape the ideas of all of us, policy makers and citizens alike." Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian, Pulitzer Prize winner, and author, No Ordinary Time
"The stories ring with the truth and power of their experiences and offers hope for renewal and rehabilitation within a dismal punishment-oriented correctional system. Sister Helen Prejean, author, Dead Man Walking