Buddhist chaplain, Susan Shannon, joins the show to talk about cultivating compassion and mindfulness with death row inmates at San Quentin Prison.
A Journey from the Head to the Heart (Opening) – Susan Shannon talks about her work as a Buddhist chaplain leading groups at one of America’s most notorious prisons. She and Dale discuss the trauma and suffering that many of the inmates have experienced in their lives and how developing a mindfulness practice allows for the inmates to cultivate compassion and empathy.
“Developing a mindfulness practice really allows for the brain to rewire slowly through regulating the breath and through basically just calming the body down, allowing for a reset on all the different circuits and systems going on in the body. It has been miraculous for me to see how over time, sometimes a short time and sometimes a period of years, suddenly that light goes on. Suddenly the brain is wired up and the switch is flipped.” – Susan Shannon
A New Monastery (13:00) – It has been said that the only difference between a prison and a monastery is that you do not have a choice to leave the prison. Susan reflects on the profound spiritual transformation that is happening with the walls of San Quentin and prison around the world.
On Death Row (20:00) – Susan talks about what it is like leading groups with death row inmates and the ways that she has seen Buddhist practice affects their behavior.
“For a lot of them, Buddhism offers an opportunity to form fit a spiritual practice that is about cultivating a warm compassionate heart.” – Susan Shannon
Bringing Compassion (34:00) – Dale and Susan discuss the deficit of love and compassion in the world at the moment. They offer words of wisdom on how we can put forward our best intention to serve every day.
“I think we all need to focus on our spiritual practice and trust that this will lead us to the fruiting of where we are best suited to serve.” – Susan Shannon