Teaching Buddhism Inside Prison – Part III: Truthfulness


Mr. B captured my attention from the first class. Rather than set ‘rules of conduct’ or ‘guidelines’ for the classroom, I utilized the Buddha’s recommended precepts for lay people, which include not harming another living being, not taking what is not rightfully given, not creating harm through sexuality, the practice of Right Speech, and not using intoxicants. The practice of Right Speech involves asking yourself before speaking, ‘is this kind? Is it true? It is necessary?’ Furthermore, it’s suggested to abstain from harsh speech, idle chatter, slander, and false speech. Read more…

Teaching Buddhism Inside Prison – Part II: Wisdom


I shared three articles in the month of July about my work teaching Buddhism inside prisons in New York. You can read Part I here, and then go on to read Part II below…

The Wisdom of Buddhism

“If everyone followed the Dharma, our crime rates would decrease. Most crimes would become extinct; feelings of greed, hatred, anger, and envy would be recognized, embraced, and allowed to pass before acting on them. Our streets could become safe again, allowing our children to be safe while out playing or at school. Domestic violence would be unheard of, keeping families together and happy. Overall, compassion would grow and destroy the violence that plagues our society and threatens humankind’s tranquility.” Thus writes my Buddhist student at the prison, seeing the transformative potential of these practicing Buddhism. Read more…

Teaching Buddhism Inside Prison – Part I: Compassion


Approaching the Classroom with Compassion

“I think that if I’m not right internally with my own suffering, then I can’t genuinely share compassionate and empathetic relationship with others, without furthering pain in their life,” my student at a maximum security prison wrote. The honesty, transparency, and vulnerability are an honor to behold, and not only kept me returning to class, but excited me to read their papers, to engage discussion on topics of compassion, forgiveness, virtue, and others. Read more…

Home for the Holidays: Doing the Right Thing

If a coconut falls to the ground the moment that the crow lands on the palm tree, did the crow cause the coconut to fall, or was the coconut going to fall anyway, and the crow just happened to land at that moment? This is the question the sage Vasistha poses to Lord Rama in the Yoga Vasistha, a text in yoga philosophy and mythology, which points to the practice of Right Action. This outlook is posed throughout yogic scriptures, such as in the Bhagavad Gita: we are entitled to our actions, but not to the fruits of our actions.  We show up with as much kindness or honesty in our actions as we can, and accept that our actions may be perceived in any number of ways. What matters is that we continue to apply our actions-thoughts, words, deeds- so that we can influence more coconuts to fall. This practice also evacuates the ego-that we act in a kind, patient, compassionate way because it is the right thing to do, not because it reaps any rewards or because anything specific will happen from it.

Read more…

Panel Conversation at the 2014 Yoga Journal Estes Park Conference

I was part of a panel conversation at the Yoga Journal Estes Park Conference in September 2014. You can listen to a recording of the conversation below:

The Practice of Leadership: Power, Privilege & Practice

Yoga Journal Conference 2014Join us for *The Practice of Leadership Series, conversations about conscious and compassionate leadership in the modern world. Together with community leaders, this session will explore issues of race, equality, and oppression with courage and mindfulness. An open and honest dialogue that gets at the heart of our practice, our role as conscious leaders and how to enable a community that is inclusive and accessible to all.


  • Jacoby Ballard, E-RYT 500, cofounder of Third Root Community Health Center
  • Tyrone Beverly, founder & executive director of Im’Unique
  • Lezlie Frye, RYT-200, Yoga Teacher, Anti-Oppression trainer
  • Chelsea Jackson, PhD, E-RYT, Chelsea Loves Yoga


  • Hala Khouri, MA, E-RYT, cofounder of Off the Mat, Into the World
  • Kerrie J. Kauer, PhD, visiting scholar (University of Pittsburgh), 200 RYT

*Presented by Yoga Journal LIVE!, Off the Mat, Into the World, and lululemon athletica.