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Letters

photo by Paul Davis

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

I feel joyful when I read the Mindfulness Bell. Some stories are inspiring as a Buddhist. However, as an incarcerated Buddhist, my main thinking about the magazine is that it reminds me I am not alone, and that other people in the world are going through the same difficulties in life that are endured inside the confines of prison. 

Several magazines and issues that float around prisons bring defilements to the mind, and it feels good providing others with a magazine that helps change the perception of each individual who reads it and takes the opportunity to truly learn and understand the teachings. 

With a bow, 

Datra Chevalier Johnson

Texas, United States 

Greetings, 

I am currently incarcerated by the law, though I have recently become the free-est I have ever been in my forty-three years. On November 18, 2019, I was able, due to rules, to switch my presence to Buddhism and catch my first mindfulness group and later that day my first Buddhist group at this Oshkosh Prison. This Sangha meets on the first, third, and fifth Mondays of the month. I was so thrilled when there were offerings of books, pamphlets, and a publication called the Mindfulness Bell. I am not clinging to many belongings, for this is my second time in prison. 

I broke rules and was so easily provoked. Even though I accept this stumble, I am focusing on the here and now. I currently have seven Thich Nhat Hanh books. I absolutely love the Mindfulness Bell, and that is why I write you today. I have felt so good from all I read, and truthfully, this was my being all along. At the end of August, a nice guy handed me a free book a Zen center sent him upon request: The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings. Amazing! 

I admit I did not understand most of it, though what I got was a new appreciation for life. I feel my purpose is practicing every day, any moment I can. I have a twist to “present moment, wonderful moment”: “present moment, beautiful moment.” It is what resonates in me. Again, I appreciate more in my life. I have become anew and end giving away this smile. 

In gratitude, 

Chad M. Linden

Wisconsin, United States 

I am writing to express my heartfelt appreciation for the blessing of the subscription to the Mindfulness Bell. When I received the Summer 2017 issue, I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed reading “Being Peace in Prison.” 

It is really empowering to have confirmation that others in prison are practicing this path. Only through having the knowledge that all are suffering and attempting to find happiness will we be able to find peace within ourselves and the worlds in which we reside. 

I feel a deep connection to the Earth, our Mother, and I am always elated when publications such as yours write articles that support my views. My greatest difficulty is to keep from expressing my views in militant terms. We should all be concerned about the Earth we will leave our children, but so very few of us are. What can we do to help others pay attention to the disaster we are leaving our children and grandchildren? 

I am currently reading the Spring 2020 issue, and I am really enjoying the article about the “Joyful Garden Sangha” in Singapore. I am impressed with their stand in defense of Mother Earth. 

Once again, I wish to thank you for the blessing that this subscription is, and I thank you for all your dedication and service. 

Be well, 

Floyd Dorsey

Arizona, United States 

Mindfulness in Eating 

By Floyd Dorsey 

Mindfulness as a concept and as an idea seems so easy and effortless to embrace, but when I am sitting in a noisy crowded prison hall with people bumping into me as they walk past, it becomes a much more difficult practice. 

I experienced a serendipitous breakthrough recently. During my morning meditation and prayers, an apple was quietly laid on the table I was seated at. Now to begin with, fresh and whole unadulterated fruit is almost unheard of in this prison. Secondly, for someone to give up this apple is quite miraculous. 

I began to eat this apple with great appreciation after several long moments of gazing at it and thinking what a blessing an apple is. I savored the aroma as I took the first bite, and listened to the crunch of the skin being pierced, and the flesh being separated from the body of the apple. 

While eating this apple, I began to truly understand the chain of events and circumstances that made this apple possible. Someone planted and tended the orchard. Rain and/or irrigation watered the trees. Bees pollinated the trees. People picked and packed the apples. People transported the apples. Then they were unloaded and stocked at the store. Someone purchased the apple and took it home. With the miracle of miracles, it quietly appeared at my table. 

This apple, the people, and the circumstances that led it to being eaten by me have made it much easier to practice mindfulness in eating in the noisy crowded prison hall. 

May we all develop an attitude of gratitude. 

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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