The Art of Soulmaking Course


restoring dignity among prison residents

We seek to restore the penitentiary to the spirit of its original intent — to create an environment where a person would contemplate the nature of their actions and come to the conclusion that they desired change. We want to create the penitentiary as a place to contemplate.

We want to reform the idea that you could ever lock someone up and throw away the key, that punishment ever created sustainable change, that justice equals dehumanization, that there is a clear line between us outside of prison and them behind bars.


These women are so strong. Reminds you what it means to be human. There is something that pulls out my own strength about what it means to be alive.

— Rachael, Art of Soulmaking Volunteer Correspondent

components of the course

Our Art of Soulmaking Course offers an inner journey of healing and establishes a foundation for growth for people in custody. This course is designed to thrive within the existing prison regimen keeping its structures and schedule intact. It is adapted for COVID 19 protocols, making it safe to offer within the time of the pandemic. See below for a description of each part of the course.

You can download the book for a suggested donation of $20.

1. An 8-week course that guides a person through a journey of inquiry and healing. The course begins with setting up for contemplative practice of journaling, soul searching exercises, yoga and meditation. After setting this foundation, participants walk through four chapters on healing and restoring dignity. Course participants are guided by a certified Art of Soulmaking volunteer correspondent.

2. A Monastic Life Video Library with lectures from world-class experts, offering instruction in mind-body techniques, healthy eating and creativity. This library features titles from renowned teachers in all subject areas.

3. Mentorship and guidance from graduates of the course, who can elect to provide structured support to new prison resident practitioners. In this way, graduates reintegrate their learnings and forming positive new associations based on their own growth and experience.

Correctional Officer Program

We honor the correctional officers for the courageous service they offer in the prison system. A prison cannot transform to a monastery without providing aid to the corrections officer. Read more about the Corrections Officer Program.

Volunteer Correspondents

As is true with all Unconditional Freedom volunteers, our volunteer correspondents gain as much from the experience as the participants they are writing with. Volunteers receive a three-week training, during which they are guided through the Art of Soulmaking course, themselves, and answering the weekly questions. They are trained in how to write honestly about their experience, opening the channels for an intimate dialogue with a prison resident as a foundation for healing and change.


The voice from my pen pal feels genuine and thoughtful, even more so than most people I know. I was surprised at how warm she felt. I don’t ever get letters like that.

— Jason, Art of Soulmaking Volunteer Correspondent

Where We Work

Central California Women’s Facility

Central California Women’s Facility is a female-only California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation state prison located in Chowchilla, California.

We currently work with 107 prison residents in the Central California Women’s Facility, with an additional 50 on the waiting list. In the coming months, our program is expanding to a women’s prison in New York and jails in the Northern California region.

Get Involved

Volunteer

Sign up for the next letter-writing training and become a certified Art of Soulmaking correspondent who can guide prison residents through their course. Become a volunteer.

Donate

Your gift of $45 will sponsor one prison resident to take the Art of Soulmaking course. Make a gift.

Do Yoga

Through our Love to Give Yoga program, your normal course fee will be contributed towards the yoga mat for a prison resident. Find out more.

A sample monthly volunteer newsletter. 


I expected something so different before writing my pen pal — that there would be this hardness she would have to hold. What I found is every letter I’ve received has been incredibly soft.

— Maya, Art of Soulmaking Volunteer Correspondent