Last week’s class at the prison was focused on “Change: Inside-Out, Outside-In”. Unfortunately we arrived to discover a one hour delay meaning that our class was cut short by half. That said, we were able to cover most of what’s in the facilitator guide, albeit in a slightly truncated fashion. We had a good discussion about the previous week’s “cell practice”, including this journal entry from one of the participants: “Before my sitting I was kind of upset about some news that I received from home. So I decided to cut my TV off and meditate for a while. Once I was into the meditation, I started feeling a little relaxed. Each time my mind would go out into wonderland, when I would notice it, I could come back to my breathing. This procedure went on for a while. But after I completed my meditation, I felt more relieved. Then I thought about my home situation, and I come to realize how I could solve it with both parties agreeing with my solution. With me taking the time to meditate, it allowed me to calm my thoughts, which allowed me to be able to put things in a more positive perspective. If I had not meditated, I probably would be still upset. I’m glad I acted on the cell practice.”
Another comment that really struck me came up during Fleet’s discussion of obstacles to change. He was talking about how prison can start to become a person’s comfort zone (and how he had seen a lot of this when he was doing time) when an older fellow nodded his head and said, “yeah, you really feel naked out there.”
We were able to sneak in two short meditations, including a body scan and breath counting. I miss doing basic stretching/breathing exercises in this class so hopefully we’ll have more time for this in future classes.
In other news, we started two new programs last week: a class of 20 women in medium security and a class of 40 men in minimum security. In both facilities we spent much of the class explaining and getting through the surveys associated with PDN’s research initiative. This week we will officially begin the Path of Freedom curriculum, starting with Training the Mind. I’m particularly excited by the prospect of covering the same material with the women and men on the same day as the two groups/ environments are quite distinct (!).