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The Empowerment Triangle

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

From March 22

Alan facilitated Radical Responsibility, while Gary and I attended Fleet’s talk, also entitled Radical Responsibility, along with Madrone our other prison volunteer. Fleet’s talk to the assembly was well attended and received by a very appreciative audience. Fleet is due to visit that prison on May 10. That group is currently reading “Dharma in Hell.” 


Empowerment Triangle

The guys said they had a great session with Alan the week before. This week's check-in was chock full of candor on the part of the guys and teaching moments for us about their meditation practice. The men are all understandably in different places in regard to meditation. We spoke to each individual journey with some nudging, some letting be, some clarifying, some reinforcing, and some congratulating. One of the men asked for clarification about some things that were coming up for him regarding his gaze during med. Between the three of us, I think our instruction helped him and anyone else who might have had questions along the same lines.


Alan ended a Basic Mindfulness Meditation with a loud clap and a wake-up prompt for all. These nighttime classes require some ingenuity to keep all of us alert. After pretty thoroughly introducing the Empowerment Triangle and tying it in with what had been taught about Above the Line/Below the Line and the Drama Triangle, I made a point of focusing on choice and change and living our lives (no matter where we are) in ways that will create the best possible outcomes for us and others. I wrote the word Reflection in large letters below the diagram and Choice and Change above the heading.  


I used the example of a situation that could conceivably happen inside to illustrate how to move to an accountable, responsible position. The examples were also meant to segue into the exercise I’d planned. We handed out copies of the Empowerment Triangle diagram and the Above the Line/Below the Line diagram for the men to keep and refer to for the next exercise.


We then broke into 2’s, speaking and listening, one at a time, in about 5-minute intervals and about the material from whatever angle we felt moved to, i.e., personally, intellectually, or creating a scenario from imagination. Everyone was asked to continue exploring something they experienced or might experience inside. What worked about this? Everyone talked, we all stayed on topic, and everyone was engaged. Some men discussed not taking turns, which was fine. Some jumped right in before the timekeeping began, again fine. Lots of energy! 

Only a few men wanted to share with the group afterward. One young man was a hard act to follow. He offered to share his experience. He walked up to the board in the front of the classroom and drew a triangle on a basketball court with a hoop at each corner and took us through the negotiations that took place over time to make it work so everyone got to play and not destroy everyone else’s game. In his story, he described the position of the victim, the challenger, the persecutor, the co-creator, and the coach in finding the best possible outcome. We applauded.


 Gary skillfully pointed out at key moments during the class that the very awareness that you are below the line automatically moves you above the line, maybe not firmly landing you in an empowered position yet but headed in that direction. This amplified a message I wanted to convey that we all have to work on this; it’s not an overnight process that requires concerted effort and contemplation over time. The night was a good collaborative effort.

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