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Who Are You?

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

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 use material from the book “The Path to Freedom” by Kate Crisp (PMI’s Executive Director).

This was my second time sitting through this “Who Am I?” class at the prison, and it's still equally astounding to me how to open the guys in there can be. They are sitting in a room with 39 other men in Prison, and some still find their way into their own hearts and minds. They somehow find a way to speak to their own vulnerabilities, joys, hopes, fears, all of it, and I am immensely grateful to see this work in progress unfold before me.

I noticed how many genuinely engaged in the material as I looked around the room while Richard (one of our fabulous facilitators) walked us through the “Who Am I?” exercise. I can’t imagine being in such a cold, concrete place and still open to the tenderness of our hearts' pain and comfort.

One thing I noticed differently 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 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 Richard came in like a shining star…”Its a practice in letting go” He says, “Delusion is delusion, positive or negative.” He seemed to touch down on one of the 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 ways 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,” “I’m hopeless,” or “I’m stuck,” or…

By the end of the class, several guys came up to me to share just how much this content is helping them shift their lives into a more positive and uplifting 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,

Madrone Phoenix

Fleet, & Richard at POF RI Class.

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