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Trauma-Informed Engagement with Rev. Michael Christie

Updated: Mar 28

In this episode, Rev. Dr. Michael Christie speaks with cohost John MacAdams on his experiences starting as a volunteer and then as an employed chaplain and supervisor working for the Connecticut Department of Corrections.

  • Moving from volunteer to full-time professional in prison

  • How each volunteer’s self-awareness is essential to being impactful in prison

  • The power of mindfulness to heal and the boundaries we need to hold


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Rev. Dr. Michael Christie is Chaplain Supervisor with the CT DOC. He offers Faith and spiritual coaching to the men and teaches trauma informed Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication, Path of Freedom and inner healing work.


Podcast Transcript


John MacAdams: 

Hello, and welcome to another session on the Prison Mindfulness Summit. My name is John MacAdams, and I'll be your co-host for this session. I'm very happy to be here today with Dr. Michael Christie. Welcome, Michael. 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Thank you. Good to be here, John. 


John MacAdams: 

Yeah. Well, thank you so much for being part of our summit. I'm looking forward to this conversation. We've been preparing for this, so I'm really excited. I'm going to read from your bio to familiarize our audience with you and your work, and then we'll jump right into the conversation. How does that sound? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Perfect. 


John MacAdams: 

Okay. Well, today with us is Reverend Dr. Michael Christie, based in Connecticut. He is a full-time Chaplain supervisor with the Connecticut Department of Corrections. He is an Engaged Mindfulness Institute Certified Mindfulness Teacher and Mindfulness-Based Wellness and Resiliency Trainer in training. 


Dr. Christie teaches mindfulness to the incarcerated and the correctional staff. He has been working with trauma-informed approaches to mindfulness interventions with addictive populations and other trauma-impacted groups, as well. Dr. Christie works with kids and at-risk youth, coaching mindfulness in youth sports programs. Michael has a passion for teaching mindfulness and meditation to Christians and has created a curriculum for faith-based meditation. 


Okay. Again, Michael, thanks so much for joining us. Let's jump right in. Let me start. You've been working with incarcerated people for a long time. Originally, as a volunteer, you told me for over 18 years. And now, for a number of years as a full-time employed Christian chaplain with the US State Department of Corrections. So, first of all, I'm just going to ask you to share, if you would, a little bit about what drew you in, what drew you into working with these people, in these populations, and these particular environments. 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Good question. I don't know if there's one particular thing that drew me in. I have volunteered for a number of years. I worked in the corporate world for equally as long. There was a downsizing that happened back in 2011. When I look back over it, it was really a calling because I transitioned from that work, thinking I was going to pause that work and return to it. I got an invitation to do full-time chaplaincy and fell in love with it, and it just has not left since. I just enjoyed working. 


I work mostly with men and just enjoy really making a difference and contributing in a way. And interestingly enough, when I first went there, I had my doctorate, and I'm an educated person. So, I had an arrogance going in, thinking I was going to teach them everything, but it was cool for both of us. They were learning from me, and I was learning a lot from them as well about myself, the system, urban communities, and the trauma they are in. Even though I grew up in an urban community myself, it wasn't until I got to prison that I really was able to unpack that in a deeper, more meaningful way. 


John MacAdams: 

Okay. Well, so you worked as a volunteer for these many years. And then you came into this full-time work. Can you talk about your understanding? This is kind of a two-part question. So, your understanding of what it's really like to live in prison to be in custody, being in custody like this, having prison as your home address, what have you started to understand about that? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

If I heard you correctly, you're talking about what it is like for inmates from their perspective. 


John MacAdams: 

Yeah.


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Well, yes. So, the sense that your freedom is gone and disconnection from the family, the isolation just of the building and the way that buildings are structured, or the nature of power over from the system is designed that there are officers and their rules, and you have to obey the rules. So, you are essentially told when to have breakfast, told when to have lunch, told when to have dinner, just so the facility can run with some kind of order. 


And so, all of that takes away a lot of choice from inmates. Some, unfortunately, work high recidivism and have been in and out of the system for a host of reasons. They become comfortable with that, not that they are comfortable being there. They quickly assemble and assimilate themselves there to survive. And so, you have a place that is essentially a trauma hospital, full of men with all sorts of trauma backgrounds, with anger issues, with substance abuse issues. And all of them are already in the environment that will stimulate one's survival instincts and nervous system. And so, the potential for discomfort and arguments are really high. 


If you're not really grounded or have a grounded practice, you could easily find yourself in trouble. When I say trouble, the facilities, particularly here in Connecticut, you don't have folks running around with shank-stabbing folks or doing any of that kind of stuff. The best of what we have is a fight, fist fight for the most part. But still, even for you to engage in the tension of a verbal argument can cause stress, not only for those who participated but for others that are around in the housing unit. 


John MacAdams: 

This really kind of leads us to my next question. I've spent some time as a volunteer. If I spend half a day or a full day, I have some understanding. But for you going from that transition of being a volunteer to all of a sudden being this is your life, this is your career, in terms of the way you worked with, interacted with, particularly with the inmates, but also with the staff and you probably have a whole lot more administrative hoops now to jump through and understanding of the system, how it works and how you can be effective. 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

There was a lot of ignorance on my part when I was a volunteer. Of course, as a volunteer, I have a plethora of empathy for the inmates, but I had less so for the staff. As a volunteer, you only heard the voice of the inmates. They are usually telling me how horrible things are and how everyone is treating them badly. They never really account for their contribution to anything. 


One of the main differences that I've discovered going from a volunteer to inside is that it's a system, and everybody's involved. Everyone is affected. The inmates affect the staff, and the staff affects the inmates. All of the stories I hear are not always true. Everyone presents the best light for themselves. And if I'm really honest with you, not all but many that are incarcerated have learned for their own survival to become a master at getting what they need, what they want. Oftentimes to manipulate. And so, that skill is very strong. And so, as that shift, I've noticed many volunteers getting manipulated because of the rules. 


Sometimes what I'm calling manipulation in the real world might not be considered that, but in the correctional settings, it's manipulation. Because there are a lot of restrictions, volunteers are not allowed to give practically anything to an inmate. Inmates, particularly when volunteers come in, they're generally soft-hearted, kind folks. And so they make requests of volunteers that the volunteer may or may not know, but at the kindness of their heart, tried to help and to be compassionate towards individuals, and that could cause a problem. So, that's one of the biggest distinctions that I've noticed you have to be aware of and know what the boundaries are. 


I, as a volunteer, followed the boundaries but was pretty critical of them. When you go on the inside and get the view from the inside, you better appreciate why the boundaries are there. Some are more restrictive than others, but there's a fairly good rationale for why most of the rules are in place. 


John MacAdams: 

Well, I think this is incredibly valuable information for folks who are bringing, whether the contract is to come in and do some programming or volunteering to come in. I think that could be a large portion of our audience. So, if you were to come up with sort of a primary quality, like a number one quality that folks who are going to enter into or who are currently working in these sorts of environments, what would be that personal quality that would really help them to impact or will help them to kind of excel in this work? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

It's hard to pin one, but I would definitely say self-awareness is pretty big. To have an awareness of yourself about your own trauma, your own baggage, your own luggage, what you're bringing in, your own bias even. I don't think folks are often aware of their own bias. So, there's explicit-implicit. It's harder to get in touch with, but as mindfulness practitioners, we're more equipped to get in touch with our implicit bias, those things that are hiding underneath our consciousness. And to have some awareness of what our biases are, even though you're going to help. 


Are you going to help because you're coming as the savior? Are you trying to fix someone? So, often volunteers come in to try to fix these broken inmates with that mentality, so to have the self-awareness that you're not the fixer, and you're not the savior, right? You're coming to do a service and to serve. That is one thing. And then also to come in with humility, particularly cultural humility, that oftentimes, when you go in there, there are different cultures involved, and to not make any assumptions. 


And certainly, to be mindful that if the culture is different from yours, to try to learn about what's the best way for me to kind of communicate. Don't be the teacher that goes in and demands that it's not what it should be. It's my way or the highway. You have to have some sensitivity about culture and even more sensitivity about the trauma that you're in a trauma space. 


Those are the two big things that I would say folks need to be aware of. And to have the eyes and the mindset and the awareness that when somebody's not participating in your group the way you'd like or doing it the way you want to, maybe there's something else going on. There's another undercurrent occurring in terms of their own trauma playing out in the space, particularly if you're doing mindfulness. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. I want to go into mindfulness and trauma and trauma-informed approaches. I just want to note what I have found to be, I think, a really important distinction. When you use the term cultural humility, there is also this term, this kind of idea of cultural intelligence. And yeah, maybe we have some level of cultural intelligence, but that humility aspect of not knowing or going in with an understanding that that's not the way I grew up, you know, so that's the way somebody else grew up. That's where I need to learn, right? 


That may be one of my pitfalls in this. So, I just really appreciate that you made that distinction that we're not talking about, you know, I can figure this out by reading a book. No, you got to talk to me. You got to be in there. Be humble and just try and learn. It's lifelong learning, right? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Yeah, and to have the conversation that I don't know everything, right? And to acknowledge the cultural differences that say, "Hey, I'm a middle-aged White man. I'm saying if that was someone. I'm speaking to all African Americans or Black and Brown folks." to acknowledge that there's some contradiction. You're here to learn. I'll show you. If I say something that doesn't sound right, that seems insensitive culturally to you, that you resist because of the language I'm choosing, bring it to my attention so I can learn, right? So, I'm able to better serve you, and I can grow within myself in terms of how I communicate with this population. 


John MacAdams: 

Beautiful. Great. Well, that's great. Thank you for that. So as a middle-aged White man, actually, I'm an older White man, but I can hear that over and over, and it's going to help me. But let's move in. Let's move on because I know you're so passionate and so well-schooled and learning all the time around trauma. I've worked with you in an in-person class in South Carolina, and we just addressed trauma right away throughout our time together that day, as well as transformation. So, I want to hear your thoughts around recognizing trauma, acknowledging trauma, and being careful with trauma but also, you know, in some way, I think mindfulness is a bold, courageous way to work with trauma. 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Yes. This connected to one of your earlier questions when you asked, what's the best quality for people to have going in? I mentioned awareness and humility. And this is a very important one, as well, to be trauma-informed. To have some sensitivity about trauma to recognize. I tell folks all the time.

 

Most groups, the most institutions you attend, at some level, it's trauma institutions. Everybody has their trauma on the plane and interacts in intersectionality. We just don't talk about it. It's more so in the prisons and jails, right that most of the folks that are incarcerated are incarcerated because they had significant trauma history, abusive households, and violence, whether it's verbally or physically, or sexually. The community there's a lot of instability in the community, instability in homes. That affects a young life as they grow up in terms of how they manage life and how they see things. 


They're always in survival mode. Right? Their survival brain is turned on, and it's turned on high. So, they're hyper vigilant and quick to react because of that. I'm speaking in generalities. And so, when volunteers come in, the more trauma-informed they are, the more training they have to deliver mindfulness with trauma sensitivity or to notice when someone's trauma has been triggered. It is a tremendous gift that they could give not only to themselves but the population that they're serving. 


Most volunteers don't do that. Most volunteers come in, and they're set. Mindfulness is powerful, and meditation is beautiful and awesome, but it can also be dangerous, right? If you're not skilled enough, you should be careful of how you deliver mindfulness to a trauma community because mindfulness and meditation, in general, and specifically, can trigger people's trauma. They work like a body scan that will trigger the trauma stored in the body. 


So, when you're doing a body scan, people will come unrested and uneasy. When you settle the mind, sometimes the trauma emerges like froth. It just rises to the top of the consciousness, at least some of it. There's a lot of discomfort. And so someone might start twitching, start sleeping, start acting up, become talkative, and even be disruptive in the session. It might be because they've been triggered. And so, you might see that disruption and get irritated with the person or angry with the person or even kick them out. 


Sometimes it's necessary because they're still disruptive. But to have the awareness that something has happened to that person or to yourself, that doing mindfulness gives, you have to give people a choice, that's one of the important things I wanted to say. When you're doing these meditations, give people a choice. If they feel triggered, if they feel unease, give them the option of grounding themselves and then getting up, walking around, opening their eyes, looking around the room, or whatever other grounded techniques you might have so they can orient themselves and ground themselves in the present moment and not get sucked into the story of their trauma. 


You need to be able to recognize that and upfront, kind of set the stage for these men and women that you are leading in meditation, that it's not just you who are waxing eloquent, and you know, being this great guide. But you're there to offer choice to the folks that you're guiding, that if they don't sit a certain way, you're not overly rigid about them sitting a certain way or holding their hands a certain way. And you know that you give permission for them to be comfortable however they are, right? You're not teaching them how to be expert meditators. You've just given them the basics about how they can regulate themselves. 


And, of course, mindfulness and meditation can be a profound gift for people with trauma because when we're able to teach them how to breathe right, the breathwork is profound. It's helpful to the nervous system to calm down. That matters that you can teach them that. Or if someone really wants to, what I call touch and release, right? Like, touching the sensitive areas in their lives through meditation and letting it go when it gets too intense. Come back and ground themselves and go back in and back out. Those are helpful skills to help the traumatized befriend their fears and befriend their nervous system, and befriend their fear center in a way that they can learn from it as opposed to being afraid of it. 


That takes skill. That takes extra training to be able to hold that space. And to also know when you're past your limit, you know. To go into, for example, particularly a woman's institution will often have severe trauma to just do whatever you want to without the sensitivities is malpractice, in my opinion. You ought to have some sensitivity to that and know your boundaries, know your limits, know when to not go too far, and know that you can invite people to take on their worst traumas. 


Think about the worst thing that happened in your life and bring them to a mindfulness session and meditation session with that, and not have them get triggered if you're not skilled to do that. So yes, mindfulness was a profound gift. And in the wrong hands, it's a dangerous tool. So, we have to be really careful how we do that and how we engage the traumatized population. 


John MacAdams: 

Thank you. Thank you for that. When you were speaking about the understanding of what it's like to live in prison as somebody in custody, you talked about all of the things that you don't choose. You don't choose what you don't choose. There are a lot of choices taken away. And then you talked about how we guide or bring mindfulness to people. And then you mentioned bringing choice. So, can you just talk a little bit about those parallels, those connections? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Yes, thank you. All of this connects to trauma, right? Because trauma is a disease where a choice has been made. Right? People don't feel they have a choice, an option. So, when you're sitting with groups like that, you want to introduce choice. You want to let them know they have control, that they have some control of their lives and what's going on. And so, to remind them of control, to give them a small taste of choice and control, is very nurturing to their own nervous system and to their own well-being. Yes, I do have some control. 


What can often happen to all of us is our brains have a negativity bias. We would notice what's wrong. And so, certainly, in prison for the incarcerated and for the traumatized, that's what's wrong. And to forget you have a choice. So even in a horrible situation like a prison, with all the constraints, you have a choice here. So, do not lose sight that even there that whatever the small pieces of choice, the morsels of choice that you have to grab those and nurture them, and relish them and celebrate them. 


It really builds your resilience and well-being. It calms your amygdala in some way. And notice that, you know what, I'm not stuck. I do have some choices. There are things out of my control, but there are some things I have control over. So, choice and control are really two very powerful tools and gifts to encourage and share with the incarcerated. Did I answer your question? 


John MacAdams: 

Yeah, no, that's great, Michael. Thank you. Thank you. Another thing that you mentioned earlier on was; clearly, there's a power balance that is weighted on the administrative side, but you also mentioned to me when we were having a conversation one day that if we talk about power over and power under, we're talking about power imbalances. 


You've mentioned at one point something about knowledge over, and I think that that also ties in with something you said about the potential pitfalls coming in as a volunteer or as a programmer. You said something about waxing poetic, right? Can you talk a little bit about that? What do you see as or what do you mean by knowledge over? How can that be not helpful? And how can we utilize our knowledge and understanding experience as mindfulness practitioners to not get ourselves in an unbalanced situation but really be able to help with our knowledge? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Knowledge connects to self-awareness and to humility. So yes, it's likely that you might have more knowledge than some of these things. It's possible that some of those guys or gals that you're going to deal with have more knowledge than you because they've been doing it for a while. Think about Fleet when he was in there. I'm sure his understanding of meditation might have exceeded some of the folks that were coming in there teaching meditation. 


And so, it's important to not get stuck and not get in an ego state where you have the mentality, the mindset, that you're the expert. That's the knowledge. I'm the expert, and I'm going to come and tell you what to do. It's not an invitation. On the other side, it's not acknowledging that the other side might have something to bring to the table or does have something to bring to the table. 


And so, the knowledge over peace that I'm referring to is having ignorance about that, having ignorance that you're going in not to be over people but to walk along with them as a coach, as a facilitator. You're facilitating. And to be open to the possibility that they might be very equipped. And if they're not, then it's our job to facilitate the process to meet them where they are. But, you know, to not shut someone down like, "Well, hey, listen, I'm the teacher." Do-as-I-say type of mentality. 


Of course, there'll be situations where you have to reaffirm and put boundaries down because of what's happened in the class, what's happening in the session in terms of someone really disrupting the entire class. That's different from just having the attitude that I'm the expert. I'm the one that knows everything. Just do as I say, and don't ask me any questions. Just believe what I said. So, that's what I was referring to about knowledge. 


A good example of this is the first question you asked me. I mentioned to you that when I first came there, I would not take the grade. So, I came in with a chip on my shoulder that I had the knowledge, I'm trained, and I was going to teach these guys and train in a lot of different modalities, but I was going to come in and teach these guys. And quickly, I learned that I was also a student, right? And so, my attitude, my knowledge over attitude really shifted, that I could like, "Wow, I am learning a lot from these guys if I'm aware." 


It might not be my academic learning that I was getting from them. They might not have given me theories and doctrines and all these other kinds of stuff, but I was learning. I was learning about how life is for others. I was learning about how they navigate space. I was learning to listen deeper. I was learning how to have more compassion for folks that grew up differently from me, live differently from me, and have less education than I do. How do I operate in that space with compassion and care for them, and not from my ego state? Say that I'm the boss, and I know it. I know the things. 


John MacAdams: 

Thank you. No, thank you. I really liked that you highlighted that facilitative approach. The coach or guide approach that you mentioned. So maybe we'll shift gears a little bit and ask you about your work as a chaplain, as a faith-based chaplain if you can speak with us about that, and about how you are blending that or not with your mindfulness meditation. How does that come together? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

My journey with meditation has been a long time. When I first got exposed to meditation, I was very resistant to it because of my faith tradition. My faith understanding said that mindfulness was not Christian. It was Buddhists. It was everything other than Christian. And so, I didn't, but I struggled because the Holy Scriptures have plenty, hundreds probably even, references to meditation. And so, I had to try to make sense of that. 


What helped me was going to prison. Going means working in prison. I was having faith classes and teaching in prison about faith and spirituality and all of that. I also noticed the trauma of these men. If your mind is dysregulated, if you are ill, this stuff is transactional. It comes, and it goes because it's nowhere for it to really sit and find roots, per se. 


Now speaking again, in general, some folks, you talk to them, and you preach and teach. It can be one session, and they're really transformed. But for the majority of folks, it does happen because they're too dysregulated. So, where you can teach them to regulate their nervous system like calm. And then I teach the men there. This is a great way for you. Before you have the prayer, calm yourself down. Not empty your mind or clear your mind, but just calmness. So, you're not thinking of a thousand things, so you can pray the way you want to without the mind being distracted, without having the monkey mind. 


The same in their studies. If they're going to study the Holy Scriptures or whichever faith you have, whatever your faith is, that you have a clear mind. And so, I began to incorporate doing that in my sessions with these men. And so, just a tremendous difference in terms of how they were receiving their own ability to kind of extend that to take in what was happening. And so, then I created a curriculum, instead of teaching some churches to break the myth that meditation was a Buddhist or some other thing other than Christianity. 


In my research, I discovered that pretty much all three have meditation in them. The early Christians meditated. The monks were big meditators. Many of the early Hebrew teachers were big meditators. As a matter of fact, early in the Hebrew journey, it was thought to believe that meditation was the only way you could get to know God to be still. There's a scripture that says, "Be still and know that I am God." So that intersection was perfect. And then I realized that there were a lot of people like myself, several years ago, that were resisting that intersection to be stale and learn. I think they have to sit cross-legged and sit a certain way and go on. There's all this misunderstanding and myth about what meditation is. 


Fortunately, for Jon Kabat Zinn and all of the research that came after him with no mindfulness and how that's affected us, not only our minds but our body, helping with pain and helping people recover quickly. That's helpful. So, folks see this now as a tool. And then, I bring that understanding and also bring the understanding that it's been a part of practically every faith tradition, and certainly, for Christians, it's been a part of our tradition, but how do we meditate? How do we meditate? 


Most of us, when we hear the word meditation, think of study as studying a particular scripture more deeply or sitting with something more deeply, and that is a form. I kind of give the basics of how to sit still and how to regulate it. I'm convinced that when you do this when you have meditation practice, you are more inclined to have the mind of Christ. You're more inclined to have compassion. When I say the mind of Christ, I really mean compassion and empathy for yourself and for others, right? It does that. It cultivates that compassion and empathy in someone so that you can be the best you in your faith.

 

So, if you're a Christian, you could be the best Christian because you're cultivating compassion for yourself and for others. And you do that by sitting still. I'm convinced that if there's a hearing from God, we hear from God better, then we learn to settle the noise in our head so we can be better guided and directed. Some folks call it the true self, while Christians call it the Spirit of God in us, the Spirit of God in you. You can hear that voice that speaks for you to say left, right, yes, no. As a guide, you're better able to hear that voice with clarity and with certainty if you're cultivating a meditation practice. 


John MacAdams: 

And so, in your bio, it said that you'd developed a curriculum. Can you talk a little bit about that? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Yes. So pretty much some of what I've just shared is a part of the curriculum. I kind of go through the history of what happened. The disconnection between meditation and the Western world. How and why was it kind of thrown out if there's a particular time in history when there was a big resistance to talk about the connection of other traditions that have meditation as a very big part of it, including Christianity? 


We go through these scriptures, looking at meditation, looking at different texts that speak in meditation, and looking at the Hebrew language. So not just what the English language says. What are the Hebrew or Greek words? Or Aramaic words that speak to that particular word that it's been translated as meditation in English. 


I talked about the different ways you could meditate and how you can incorporate this in your life as a Christian in terms of study, worship, church prayer, especially prayer, and how it will transform your life. So that is a general overview of what we go through with lots of spaces where we're practicing. I'm teaching, and we're doing practice. Practice and what we have just learned. So, yeah. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. Well, when you were speaking a few minutes ago, you brought up the name of Jon Kabat Zinn and the fact that there's been a phenomenal amount of research, sociological research, but also neuroscientific research. I know that you are pretty well steeped and have some foundational understanding of neuroscience. Would you like to talk a little bit about how that works on how that is informing and helping you with your teaching guidance? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Yeah. So, I am a neuroscience geek. I'm not sure how I got there. But it's for those of us that are in a mindfulness space and meditation space. Neuroscience is very important because we're trying to understand the mind. And, again, for the traumatized community, it's also a very big thing because when you understand why the mind does what it does and what affects it and the different parts of the brain that comprises our thinking and our feeling and knowing about our amygdala and our fear centers, and how that's triggered, understanding that we can become easily triggered because we're hypersensitive, because our survival brain is hyper-alert, because of the years of trauma. Those things really matter and influence how you offer trauma-informed care to folks. 


It also helps you. One of the most beautiful things is a gift that neuroscience has given me. It has helped me how to deal with myself and to have compassion for myself because I understand and I know that there are certain things that I do or think or say that are not coming from my true self or not coming from my wisdom brain or the brain that desires to be flexible and loving and care. 


There's a part of my brain that's designed to protect me, and it cares about nothing else but looking for threats. If it deems something as a threat, whether it's a threat or not, it's going to release hormones in my body. It's going to affect me. It's going to make me start thinking. It's going to recruit thoughts to my mind knowing that I can say, "Oh, here goes my survival brain taking over. I could compartmentalize that in a way that it shows, give myself some compassion and some grace. 


I'm not always successful at that. Sometimes it takes over, and I'm obese. But having that understanding, so it's not just it doesn't help you, it informs how you teach, it informs how you facilitate, it informs how you present mindfulness to others because it's imperative that there is some understanding of this when you're going out to the world and you're offering mindfulness to others, particularly a group that has been trauma-affected. 


John MacAdams: 

So, having said all of that, Michael, would you be willing to guide our audience in a three to five-minute practice the way you might do so for a group you would be working with within prison? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Absolutely. 


John MacAdams: 

Thank you. 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Yes. So, yes, an invitation to take some breaths. Deep breaths into the nose. It's your choice to have your eyes open or closed. Most people like to close their eyes because it makes them relax, but if that doesn't make you relaxed, then you don't have to. Just really feel your body sitting in a chair. Just sensing the chair and your body sitting in the chair. Feel the weight of the body. Feel the chair supporting you, holding you up. 


Sense your feet. Call this from the seat to your feet. Notice the contact between your feet and the floor. And that anytime at any point in this meditation, if you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, or overwhelmed, you feel like you are getting triggered, just open your eyes, and come back to the space. Suppose you need to look around the room or walk around. You have complete control over how you enter this. 


Feel any sensation on the bottom of your foot. Tingling or anything. Notice in the feet. Notice how the floor supports you. It's one of my favorite meditations to do. I invite folks, if they are willing, they can stay their feet on the floor, or you can expand from the feeling of soil and just feel the building or the end of the floor. Sense that if you can in your imagination. If it's just too much, stay with the connection of the feet again. 


You have the choice, again, to expand your awareness. The sense that the earth is old enough to build. You have the choice there or to stay with the feet connected to the floor. Feel the earth supporting the floor, supporting your chair or your bed or whatever you're resting on. Let's take a deep breath into the nose. Feel the support. 


Just rest your awareness on your breath. Without doing anything, feel the rise and fall of your breathing. If the breath is too much for you, just keep it on your feet. Find a body part that feels comfortable and focus on that. Again, I am inviting you. Your choice. Just think of one thing you're grateful for and really sit with it for three breaths and you can open your eyes and return back to this place. 


John MacAdams: 

Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Michael. That was great. 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Welcome. 


John MacAdams: 

And a wonderful model or guide. Well, it's been wonderful having you. Again, thank you for all of your time, and you're caring. If people are interested in finding out more about your work, how might they do that? 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Yes. They can email me at Christie7777@gmail. I'm also on LinkedIn, but I'm not sure what my LinkedIn address is. I am Dr. Michael Christie. They can reach out to me by emailing Christie7777@gmail.com


John MacAdams: 

Again, thank you so much, Reverend Dr. Michael Christie, for being with us. Such a pleasure. Such a pleasure. Take good care. 


Rev. Dr. Michael Christie: 

Yes Likewise.


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