It certainly lived up to the drama the media makes of it. The entry was an episode in itself, the security clearance, personal screening and the series of heavy metal doors as I made my way up the vertically oriented downtown prison. When I got there, there was a room filled with fifteen women clad in bright orange waiting to hear what I had to say. The official made a quick introduction and exited, leaving the door open, thankfully. After a gulp we started with a round of introductions.
Following some discussion and a couple of meditations, something shifted in me. I became comfortable with the place and the people, just like I'd be in any classroom. Over the next three sessions, we shared a lot of stories, giving a glimpse of where we were in our journey. I began to see them as friends.
After the final session, an officer on duty offered to walk me out of the building. She'd been watching me and could tell I was a novice with this crowd. She shared their backgrounds, which ranged from petty criminals to those fighting murder charges and may never get out. They want me back there to teach and suggested I read the book Games Criminals Play. Friendship, she says, is a mind game they use to lead an unsuspecting victim to the venus fly trap. The other piece of advice, she wanted me to practice giving the 'look' when I sensed they were up to a game.
I came away feeling it's a fine balance between teaching mindfulness and staying out of mind games. Who'd think that a yogi life would be living on the edge! Signing off now to go practice having the 'look'.