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Training the Mind Beyond Bars and Freedom

Well, we’re off an running! And really running, like sprinting kind of running — on your toes now!

Autumn has officially began here at PMI with our Path of Freedom program kicking into high gear. We are now going into three facilities (both men’s minimum & medium and women’s medium – with our fingers are crossed to start a program up at women’s minimum) – So YES! In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been busy around these parts.

We ran an advanced class over the summer (which continues) so in total, we now have 4 up-and-running, fully functional (well attended – with a waiting list in tow!) PoF classes running at the RI Department of Corrections.

It’s exciting – and interesting for me on a personal level, being from RI and all. Meditation and mindfulness programs are not usually all that easy to come across in life – let alone in a Rhode Island prison! Sure, these kinds of mind trainings are becoming more and more mainstream.. ans yet at the same times it’s not only happening but also offering us a sneak peak as to what is coming.

So last night we had 32 new comers to the Dharma – Mindfulness Based Emotional Intelligence, Meditation, “Getting in the Zone” – call it what you will – and all I could think of was how incredible it is that this is being stumbled upon here, by those living inside a prison. I mean really, what are the chances? And in RI to boot?! Maybe this is something I could easily expect in San Francisco County Jail or even a Vermont State Prison, but RI? Meditation? It’s some kind of amazing – to me anyway (as a native Rhode Islander).

Sharing that home ground with most of the folks in the room seems to create a sort of empathic understanding I have whenever I walk in there. When I left Rhode Island at 17 I never thought I’d look back – yet there are these moments where I wake up in an instant and am kind of floored with what has manifested. There I’ll be, sitting in a room with folks who are in prison – folks in prison who share this history of RI with me all-the-while meditating and learning about betters ways to manage impulses and habitual patterns. We’re really not that different beyond bars and freedom – we all share the desire to be happy, healthy and met.

Which reminds me of one of the guys in our class. Last night, as he was leaving I said “it was good to see you again” with a wave goodbye to which he replied “It’s really good to be seen” with the biggest smile and authentic eyes one could possibly have. It really touched my heart to see his appreciation. I can still see the glimmer in his eyes.

And that’s just it. Being seen. Being heard – by ourselves and by others. What more could one ask for?

So, as a way to contribute to that greater vision, I will continue to share my experiences (hopefully with skill and a written voice of authenticity) to bring some of those voices from the inside to the outside world.

It’s quite extraordinary. As our semester progresses, I hope to carry those voices with the genuine and raw heart many of them come to class with. I’ll do my best, and look forward to sharing the many highlights of our times together. Until next time,

Madrone Phoenix

~~ PMI Staff

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