By Tommy M, prisoner I first tried meditation in July 1996, while reading Bo Lozoff’s, We Are All Doing Time. I was in Attica’s long-term keeplock unit known as “The Snakepit.” Between keeplock and the S.H.U. (secure housing unit), I did over two years in lock-up. At the time I was 21 years old, and had 21 additional years to serve before being eligible for parole on my 25-to-life sentence.
My companion was rage. I had rage for those who crossed me, toward the cops, the DA, other prisoners, the prison system, but mostly toward myself. That rage was destroying me. It destroyed the lives of others as well. But that same rage drove me to the path of meditation.
For the last five years I’ve wandered on and off the path. More off than on. In fact, I’m once again off the path. But from the brief periods that I did consistently meditate, I gained a greater understanding of myself, and my rage. I discovered the rage stemmed from pain.
That pain and rage is still there. But the more that I begin to understand it, the more I can begin to let go of it. That letting go of pain, rage and fear has allowed me to be a little more at peace with myself, and to understand others. And with that understanding comes compassion.
Being able to feel compassion has helped me to realize that my life-the life of a prisoner, is not so bad. Now, I won’t go so far to say that it is good, but it’s really not as bad as I sometimes tend to make it. It was only by trying to quiet my mind in meditation, that I found some clarity to see things for what they are, and to begin waking up. I know I have a long way to go, but through meditation, the seeds of awakening have been planted.