The first time I drove to the prison for training, I was nervous. It was all so new to me. This is something I had thought about doing for a few years, but I honestly wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle it.
When I first saw the building, the barbed wire, the solidness of it, the new experience of it, I was intimidated. I felt small and naïve. I wasn’t quite sure I was going to the correct entrance, so I stopped to ask the officer sitting in a vehicle almost like a check point. The dog in the back went nuts which made me jump and I may or may not have let out an audible gasp. I tried to tell him where I wanted to go but all the moisture in my mouth suddenly disappeared, and I was unable to talk. He told me to relax and take a breath and after an embarrassing eternity that was probably only 10 seconds I managed to ask if I was going in the right direction. Thankfully I was and continued walking convinced now I would not be able to handle this. I swear it took every ounce of determination I had to keep my legs moving forward. Just inside the doors I was directed to the area at my right where I gave my id to the armed officer and waited for someone to come get me. I sat there and watched employees come and go like this is normal. Looking around the room at all the rules posted for visitor and employees, leaving no room for misinterpretation, everything about this place is intimidating, purposefully, and it was not lost on me.
There was a feeling in the air and all of a sudden I had this all-encompassing sensation of desperation, of sadness, hopelessness. You could feel the energy of everyone incarcerated. I felt my heart thumping in my chest and my breath was rapid. My mind racing! “I cannot do this! I could just leave. No one would be mad, they’d understand. Wait. I’m a yoga teacher. I teach at a rehab, what do I tell people all the time? What do I tell people? Oh my god what the F#@## do I tell people?! I can't think, its overwhelming, its too much! Focus on your breath. That’s right, focus on your breath. Breathe through your nose, breathe through those moments. Notice your breath, take control, and slow it down. Long slow inhale, long slow exhale.” So, I did just that. “How could I possible teach here if I go through this just being in a waiting room! How do people live in this oppressive energy 24/7 for who knows how long? Oh my god people live here 24/7!”
I took a long slow inhale. I focused on my heart visualizing healing light emanating out with each exhale. I could picture it. I could feel the warmth of my body and I imagined it being that light. I imagine it passing through the walls and giving some peace to those that needed it including myself.
My breath returned; my heart slowed. I looked around half convinced that someone could see what was going on inside me, my god how couldn’t they! It was so loud, so big, so overwhelming!
There was no way I was leaving. I had the luxury of walking out those doors when I felt overwhelmed, but people live here. How could I turn away? They aren’t good or bad. They are just people living in that energy.
We don’t heal by hurting others. We don’t make things right by giving our pain to someone else. We heal each other. We heal the cause. We fix the situation.
The training complete, I was ready for my first class scheduled in 2 weeks, March 2020.
17 months later…