Last night we went into the prison with one question in mind:
Who Am I?
This was our third week of a 15 part weekly Path of Freedom class. We are using material from the workbook “The Path to Freedom” written by our one and only, Kate Crisp (PMI’s Executive Director).
This was my second time sitting through this “Who Am I?” class at the prison, and its still equally astounding to me how open the guys in there can be. I mean, they are sitting in a room with 39 other men, in Prison, and somehow some of them still find their way into their very own hearts and minds. They somehow find a way to speak to their own vulnerabilities, joys, hopes, fears, all of it, and I have just immense gratitude to see this work in progress unfold before me.
As I looked around the room while Richard (one of our fabulous facilitators) walked us all though the “Who Am I?” exercise, I noticed how many of them were genuinely engaging in the material. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in such a cold, concrete kind of place, and still open to the tenderness of our hearts pain and comfort.
One thing I noticed different from this time around in comparison to our last class, was that the guys didn’t share so much as to what they wrote on those seven slips of paper in response to our question, but many of them instead spoke from from a place of observation.
“Eliminating the bad things made my luck seem better” says one prisoner. “But I didn’t want to let the good things go.”
And who of us would want to let the good things go?!
This is where our long time Buddhist teacher and facilitator came in like a shining star…”Its a practice in letting go” He says, “Delusion is delusion, positive or negative.” He seemed to really touch down on one of main points of this practice, which I perceive as letting go of our constructed identities. “Its not fixating, so we’re loosing our grip, it allows us to create more space for wisdom to arise.” Thank you Richard!
It was fascinating to see the process unfold in various way for the different guys in the room. Some appeared to be more wrapped up in only allowing positive qualities to define them while many seemed stuck in the core limiting beliefs such as “I’m inadequate” or “I’m hopeless” or “I’m stuck” or…
By the end of the class several of the guys came up to me to share just how much this content is helping them to shift their lives into a more positive and uplifted direction.
I’ll share one of the moving comments one of our guys, one prisoner shared with me. “Last time when I did this exercise with you all in the summer, I had mostly negative identities about myself ..but since doing this again this time I noticed how many of those negative ones I was able to let go of. I’m not violent anymore, and thanks to you all, I was able to let that go”
Thanks for reading!
Until all beings are free,