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Goal of Life in Maximum Security: meet your new teacher

By Anneke Lucas for elephantjournal.com, Feb. 9, 2012


(reggae style)

Verse 1:

Updog, downdog, locust, cobra I am doing Hatha Yoga Move over Ignorance and fear Camel, bow, headstand I’m nurturing the inner man I’m no fan Of homemade violence

Climb:

I’m not trying to lose weight Just craving peace like hell for heaven’s sake!

Chorus/refr:

The goal is not to be remembered Our self-image must be surrendered The goal is to reunite With all creation, with all of life.

Gino Sevacos, prisoner #K61708 at San Quentin State Prison, composed the song: ‘Goal of Life,’ the first half of which is printed above (and the second below).

Gino is a Bhakti yogi. He knows how to live in the present, and generates powerful positivity. Our talks and his letters leave me feeling uplifted and inspired. His unequivocal cheerfulness and sense of humor are rooted in gravitas.

I met Gino at the weekly advanced yoga class in the Maximum Security wing at San Quentin, which I visited as the writer of this and other stories about the prison. Gino’s mat was in the middle, between two opposing rows. His breathing and concentration were deep; his presence unmistakable. The class ended with a resounding Om. I asked if anyone wanted to share about what the yoga practice meant for them. Gino raised his hand:

“For me it is a refuge. There is peace and fellowship here. If I feel tense when I come in, [being here] just kills it. I leave feeling peace and joy and a general sense of well-being. So I have a lot of gratitude for this place. A lot of gratitude.”

Gino’s gratitude, as I learned in our consequent conversations, is as boundless as it is pure. I found myself asking questions not so much as interviewer to interviewee, but student to teacher.

Anneke: “There seems to be a high degree of concentration that seems to be with you all the time. Do you feel that there is some greater purpose for you being in prison?”

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