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The Empowerment Triangle

From March 22

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

Empowerment Triangle

The guys said they had a great session with Alan the week before. The check-in this  week 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 Med with a loud clap, a little wakeup 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 to refer to for the next exercise.

We then broke into 2’s to speak, then listen, one at a time in about 5 minute intervals  about the material from whatever angle we felt moved to i.e., personally, intellectually, or creating a scenario from imagination. Everyone was asked to stick with 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 spent the time discussing, not taking turns, which was fine. Some jumped right in before the time keeping 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. He described the position of the victim, the challenger, the persecutor, the co-creator and the coach in the story he told about finding the best possible outcome. We applauded.

 Gary skillfully pointed out at key moments during in 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 get across that we all have to work on this, it’s not an over night process, but one that requires a concerted effort and contemplation over time.  The night was a good collaborative effort.

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