I entered the prison waiting area which is very clean, well lit and pleasant that its appearance lulled me, for a moment, into thinking that what was happening at this facility was also pleasant. In large measure, it is not. I was full of hopeful anticipation today to make a deeper connection with the class’ participants. I really want this class to be successful here as it is such a harsh place and meditation could really impact these folks immensely. I was escorted through the security search/scan and taken through the long hallways, multiple security traps and finally to the prison chapel. I had ordered several gomdens (meditation cushions) to sit on but instead another box of zabutons (flat mats) arrived. So I folded over several of the mats and put them on the other mats which is a good approximation of a cushion for sitting meditation practice.
I waited in the chapel for about 30 minutes. Then a corrections officer came in and told me that nobody showed up for the class. I inquired about this and he said that two of the cell blocks were locked earlier in the morning as a disciplinary measure. Three of the guys who signed up for the mediation class come from those cell blocks. And we only have four people signed up now for the class. The corrections officers apologized for the no-show and actually seemed quite genuine and wished me a good day. I back-tracked through the long hallways and security traps and took my personal items from the locker in the waiting room.
I got in my car and headed back home, a 35 minute drive. During my return I went through a series of thought dramas. The prison was is lock-down most of the summer. Our meditation program has really just started although we officially started in June. We just have a toe-hold in this prison and I’m afraid that because of the all the discontinuity of visits we may lose any interest that currently exists. The original organizer and “leader” of this class (the guy who requested it) has been moved. I was panicking that we are losing a grip on our work at this prison. I promised myself that I will redouble my efforts here and succeed regardless of the obstacles. But I’m not sure…
I arrived home and meditated for 30 minutes which allowed me to relax my hopes and fears a bit regarding the supermax prison . I realized that taking my seat in the midst of all of my hopes and fears is the most skillful way for me to move forward and meet both positive and negative circumstances with composure and insight.