– essay shared with permission by Ruben
I have been incarcerated at Allenwood for the last 10 months. While I was in the world outside I practiced meditation on and off, finding a refuge to my busy life and anxiety in it. Being in prison is another story. I have time, more time than I ever had. Time to use or misuse, time to achieve or time to loose. Time to enlighten my mind, or time to be enveloped by it. The decision seems easy, but it’s not.
In prison, despair, boredom, anxiety, loneliness, all of those things that go against our search for liberation are always haunting us. The struggle is twice in prison: the physical and the mental/emotional, and believe me, emotional imprisonment is the worst. You are trapped by your past, your present and mostly by your future. There seems to be no hope… Meditation is a path toward liberation. Liberation of that mental prison, liberation of your potential wisdom and compassion, and in prison, compassion is the number one path to liberation. When you look at others lives and see yourself in every inmate, when you talk and find out you are talking to part of yourself in that infinite universe where you are your neighbors are all part of the joy to live, then you understand that compassion for all the living things, for all those inmates of any color, race, language, identity, age etc. can fill your mind and you soul, filling it with a love you thought didn’t exist, and that love is inside you. Through meditation, walking the halls of my unit, for 50, 60, 100 times a day; silent, my mind tries to be clear, no noise, no sight, nothing there to distract me, just my steps, left, right, left, right, a mantra on my lips, that smile…with time everyone respects my silence, my walk, my meditation. Many have come to ask me, and i try to teach, because we will never be free if there is one soul in chains. Walking the halls of the unit at Allenwood is setting me free, as free as I have never been, or at least I am trying and in this process, the journey is the goal: trying, trying, never to achieve anything, because all is transient, all lasts seconds or less…just walking, left, right, left, right “Om Mani Padme Hum” and I see nirvana as close as it can get in this life.