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County Jail Reflections

Updated: May 26, 2020

I am reading a book entitled “Broken Open” by Elizabeth Lesser co-founder of the Omega Institute. I borrow a quote she uses from Albert Einstein that captures for me the possible effectiveness of the Path of Freedom curriculum.

“No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”

I am part of a team of three women who offer the Path of Freedom teachings to a pod of about 60 inmates every week on Monday afternoons.

I often gaze at their faces when not speaking and see in them bewilderment, numbness, preoccupation, agitation, expectation, fatigue, desperation, interest, worry, boredom, confusion, discouragement, resignation and on and on. They are in a tough place, in a county jail with all their freedoms curtailed, away from family and friends. Their incarcerations have broken them open so there exists the opportunity to seed this fertile ground.

I continue in this weekly offering of information and interaction because I believe that the Path Of Freedom can help an inmate change his consciousness especially if he will try the practices of meditation and mindfulness. Some only engage in the concepts and discussion and I feel it is hard to get across to them the body practice of meditation and mindfulness since we cannot physically touch them to correct body posture, etc.

They are encouraged to talk and interact. Sometimes they get carried away with passion when speaking about their experiences. I ask for their help to get through my part of the session and this last week two inmates actually read sections of the POF chapter on “holding your seat” as they explained the concept to each other.

We have a physical exercise break of qi qong or “tense and relax” body exercise. Often, one the inmates will come to the front of the room and will lead the qi gong exercises of “opening and closing the window with offering the energy.” (I am sure this has a formal name, but I do know it. ) They really like it when one of them comes to the front to talk about something or to lead the exercises.

We feel this is their time and make effort to get them to speak of their experiences and to be involved as much as possible.

We scatter seeds each week and there is a response. Some come up to us after we are finished and thank us for coming. Sometimes they applaud at the end of the class. Here is one inmate’s comment, “I was really into my head thinking about myself. This stuff helps me to see and just helps me to feel better about my situation.” Last week, two inmates told us that they meditated before going to bed and they were sleeping better.

All of us feel we get more from this than the inmates.

With bows,

Debra Callahan

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