The Exit is Inside

by Kenny on May 12, 2016

For over 5 days Pilar and I visited men and women from all walks of life incarcerated in the Oregon state prison system.
We visited some women who were ready to hear our message of “living in the moment” or “in order to be free you must change your story”.
It was rainy the whole week we were there, but the warmth of our group meetings dispelled any dreary feelings from the weather. There were smiles, giggles, laughter and tears each day. It did not matter if we were in a men’s group or women’s group the issues and concerns were the same.
“How do I stay free?” The question was a relative one and a spirit filled one. Some people were first time offenders. Some were five time offenders and some were never getting out.

For those going home we stressed taking a deeper look inside of themselves.  For those who were never getting out, we also stressed, that they take a deeper look within themselves.
The technique we use is called mindfulness meditation.
“Faith based programs really work.” Government studies have determined that inmates respond to programs such as ours.
We would hear their stories and suggest that they take 15 seconds to simply be still and then report what is appearing in their minds. An example..
I will call her K.

“Kenny, a lady came in a few months ago and taught us meditation, but I can’t meditate because of the technique she gave me”.
“Okay do us a favor. Would you?” Warily she says okay.
“Okay, come up here and demonstrate to us what you are doing.”
K sat down and held her fingers a certain way and sat erect and started breathing.
“Stop everything K, and close your eyes.” I suggested. “For 15 seconds just sit and place your attention on your thoughts and feelings that are in your body”.
After 15 seconds I asked her to stop. “What’s going on now? How do you feel?
K, smiled and said, “I am calm and relaxed.”
Thanks K.
The next day we returned to the same prison and as I was talking I saw K in the back room..eyes closed…sitting being still.
“K, would you come up and sit in front of the class again?” Again there was reluctance but she sat.
“What is going on today?”

“Since yesterday Kenny, I have done nothing but meditate”.
This one report from K was all we needed to hear. Her life is changed for the good. Namaste

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