Updated: May 26, 2020
“At first, I am like a dog or something, I just react, react, react. Now with a few years of meditation practice, I am often aware of what’s happening inside me as I act in the world and make decisions. And I think slowly it is even changing my whole pattern of behavior more and more. Its like steps – oh – it’s like a Path!”
This fine realization was spoken this week at our first ever Path of Freedom class for facilitators. While all of us Path of Freedom facilitators acknowledge in the classes that we lead that we too are learners walking the path, it is often difficult to find the time and space to really work the practices and concepts for ourselves, in our lives. This week, about a dozen of us facilitators, who have all been leading classes in prisons for years, gathered as students to embark upon a 12 week Path of Freedom journey for ourselves. We are not meeting to compare teaching strategies, or to discuss how our various classes in the prisons are going. Rather, we are meeting to help each other work the Path of Freedom in our own lives, to become more free.
We are starting with unit one in the Path of Freedom Workbook, Training the Mind. And we are working the contemplation that we offer to participants in the first week of our prison classes: Contemplate Freedom. Of course, this contemplation stirs different associations in windowless rooms, with walls of razor wire blocking any exit to the outside world than it does in a comfortable, well-lit living room. And yet, we all have tangles upon tangles of mental bars and wires that keep us feeling trapped, and un-free. What is the nature of these struggles, what are these bars in our our lives? And what is the absence of these bars, what is freedom?
We are also making a commitment over the 12 weeks that we will be meeting, to develop a new habit in our lives. From quitting sugar, to adding in a nightly meditation session, we are all aiming to hold ourselves and each other accountable to achieve something we want – but that we are blocked from doing by some of our invisible, habitual, chains. My goal is to practice yoga everyday. I am two days in and I have to say, it is awesome. Incidentally, this website: http://www.sonima.com/live-fit/yoga/ is really helping me so far to practice on my own in the early mornings.
As our Spring semester of classes gets going in the prisons, it feels good to have our own internal work to do as facilitators. By breaking our chains link by link, we will become better and better able to offer ourselves, the practices, and the path, to others.