Updated: Apr 21
POF Facilitator Steve Jefferies’s notes on the Path of Freedom, April 2012
Tonight we had 7 guys show up, a few regulars (Chance, Chris, Vinny, and Ordel) and some newer ones (Alejandro, Reif, Travis). I brought a good friend which changed the dynamic from a typical evening. Amma Thanasanti Bhikkhuni is a Theravadan nun I have supported for the last 3 years. We took a few minutes to check in with the guys and see where they were at over the last week or two with a few of them sharing anxiety around their transition out of Lookout Mountain.
The energy was high, so we started with standing and a minute or two of bouncing. Yes, bouncing. It’s incredible what 120 seconds of jumping up and down does for us… moved into a standing meditation, grounding the feeling of the feet on the floor to connect with the earth. After about five minutes of scanning, transitioned into sitting meditation with a focus on the breath to bring some concentration and calm to the room.
Set up a simple shrine in the center of the circle and did a round of “If you only knew me you’d know….” to get the guys to connect with their experience and ground a bit into sharing with the group.
"I am afraid to succeed."
"I am afraid of death, so I try to appreciate everyone I meet whether I like them or not because they teach me to appreciate everyone now."
"I don’t trust myself, and I’m trying to learn how to trust myself now and expand that to others."
"I want freedom more than anything else. Not just in here but outside and everywhere I go."
Thanasanti asked the guys to pick up a small stone and place it on the simple shrine for a quality that they appreciate in themselves. Acknowledge that we could fill pages with what we don’t like about ourselves, but take the time to let everyone know what strengths and talents we have. It was moving to listen to the qualities of kindness and thoughtfulness that came through. From ‘willingness to persevere’, ‘the ability to see the good in others, and ‘knowing the power of the word ‘yet”. It allowed the guys to open themselves more in stating what they are proud of about themselves to balance the vulnerability they opened to in “If you only knew me.”
Used the responses to steer the conversation to Empathy and Communication as the topic for the week but with a really heavy focus on our communication with ourselves inside our heads and the internal judge we listen to that makes us feel sentenced. As the conversation continued, it came back to working to build up our ability to hold what the world throws at us and communicate our needs to others in a way that can be responded to skillfully rather than bursting at the seams to ask for help.
All in all, it was a great night at Lookout. It was great that the group that came had some experience holding the space and was dedicated on some level to meditation. We'd pay to participate if every week could be like this one.