Updated: Apr 20
By Tommy M, a 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 keep lock unit, "The Snakepit.” Between keep lock 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 raged for those who crossed me, toward the cops, the DA, other prisoners, and 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.
I’ve wandered on and off the path for the last five years. More off than on. I’m once again off the path. But I gained a greater understanding of myself and my rage from the brief periods I consistently meditated. I discovered the rage stemmed from pain.
That pain and rage are still there. But the more I understand it, the more I can begin to let go of it. 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 as a prisoner is not so bad. Now, I won’t go so far as to say it is good, but it’s not as bad as I sometimes 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 the seeds of awakening have been planted through meditation.