Hello fellow volunteers,
So, yea, wow…talk about a completely, wholly different, experience. It’s as if I had to go into the womens prison to really get just how different men and women really are. I mean we’re different, though it can be subtle at times. We’re socialized differently, we express ourselves differently, we procreate differently, we hold and lose our seats differently. Oh yea. It’s extraordinary really, and at the same time, deeply awakening to be in a room with 27 other women while simply bearing witness to their lives in prison. There were no moments of sitting in that room when I felt a waning of my energy, in fact, it is just the opposite. The energy in that space brings me to a place of deep attunement. Perhaps it is because there is so much going on. Perhaps it is because I can see myself in each of them in ways that I don’t see on a daily basis. Who knows really. But for now, one thing I’d like to commit to going forward, is sticking as closely to the “Not Knowing” tenant, as possible.
So lets begin with the actual physical setting.
There is a whole lot more light and contact with the world outside – as the room is FULL of windows. The building is newer, and our decently sized room is in the basement. Concrete blocks, yes, but for whatever reason, they are painted this very subtle mint green. When the women walk into the room in their hunter green uniforms, I felt like I was back in Jr High School..lots of laughter, talking, snipping, cliqueing – it was a burst of energy that filled the room from start to end.
There is so much I want to convey, I want to compare and contrast the world I’ve experienced by going into both the mens’ and womens’ prisons now. I want to talk about how the entire metaphor seems to play out differently for both populations. I want to talk about how much I see myself reflected in those womens’ behaviors and triggers. I want to talk about how I get them. I want to share with you the depth of her shaking and tears, that I saw fall from her eyes, when she left the room and shared with me that she was up for parole next week. I want to show you a still frame of look in the females guards eyes when she approached us as asked why we were out of that mint green room. I want to share what my experience was when I brought 7 of the new-comers into the next room to fill out the consent form and questionnaire we are using for the research project. I want you to see how she responded when she was told to submit by that same female guard, and refused.
The feeling of distrust is so pervasive, that had you been there, like me, I bet you would have seen their lack of trust juxtaposed against the the deep commitment to being “real,” almost as much as you saw those mint green walls.
I mean, there is just so much. It is a whole ‘nother world in there, thats for sure. But for now, I’ll leave you with this:
During the two brief times I’ve been in the women’s prison, I noticed something. I noticed just how much we all want to be heard and respected. I noticed that women question things a whole lot and that we woman, probably do so because of all the ways we’ve been violated. (Of course men are violated daily, and they certainly have their way of showing their own distrust, no doubt, it just seems to surface in different ways)
One thing that really touched me, was just how much the women question reality.
And that, I think is going to make them extraordinary meditatators.
Now, we just have to find a way to build trust…
Happy International Women’s Day!
Until next time,