Updated: Apr 22
Yesterday was my second time in the women’s prison, so this field remains new.
The first group had over twenty women; yesterday, we had twelve, and the difference felt dramatic!
Rebecca informed me she planned to address the coming and going, the note passing, and the sleeping on the desks. We discussed framing this as a question of resonance, and she delivered a clear and strong reckoning for the group… She would have to drop those who were there solely for a “good time” if their behaviors degraded the group's integrity. It was a bit of a moot point with such a small group, not so much because everyone they're intended to get the most out of it, but because there were enough people there who were truly focused, and this held the rest of the group in place. What a powerful example of resonance… ((especially with a definition i love of as “a sympathetic vibration!”))
It was a beautiful thing.
Even fidgeting was held in the light of an effort not to fidget… all becoming part of the learning instead of a departure from it. I was so touched and happy to be a part of the group. The women also expressed their appreciation of the small group size, admitting they felt the less present behavior was almost “contagious” in, the larger group. We all agreed such distractions create many opportunities to hold our seats amidst it all. And yet, I imagine they have enough “practice” with that dimension day in and day out, so what a rich opportunity to have a space and time that felt so different and offered some refuge from their “normal.”
The amount of volunteer discussion struck me… every woman spoke out in the group. It was more of a dialog and felt like one long conversation. Even our seated time was part of the continuum of the experience!
We reviewed the drama triangle and presented the empowerment triangle, and Rebecca wove the question of “What else can I do?” into almost every question or commented they shared. I noticed a lot of head nodding (and not from sleepiness!) as the weight of this change of perspective sunk in.
Rebecca presented the notion that we could view the “persecutor” or “challenger” roles as “petty tyrants” who call us to practice with each encounter. One woman worried that it seemed too challenging and likened it to running a marathon right away instead of running a lap around the block to start to train. We were getting ready to sit, so I mentioned how meditation for me is just that of training; each ten-minute sit is a lap around the block. We are training our minds to be less reactionary; we are learning how to hold our seats in a safe and steady container to have more strength to do so when triggered and not held at all. This seemed to resonate, and the whole morning’s discussion on intention and integrity created a powerful starting point. We sat, we wavered, and we returned, again and again, like we do each time, I imagine. But the space between us felt steeped in the right effort, and the group itself took on the role of the coach… silently cheering: “You can do it! You can do it!”
I was honored to be there and look forward to the return.