I want to talk to you about teaching yoga at the jail and humanity.
Today we taught our last class there. We've been doing it just over a year now.
One of the guys there gave us dream catchers he made us as parting gifts. They are beautiful.
I am sitting in my car right now. It’s after class and it’s raining. How does the sky know how I am feeling??
The first time I came here to teach, I was scared, truthfully. All I knew of jail, at that time, was what I saw on t.v. and movies.
I was scared at first, but I knew it was right to come here. I felt it in my bones.
The fear wore off quickly as the unknown was replaced with giggling guys, stiff and grunting through the harder poses, always so grateful and polite and cordial, respectful and appreciative. I never left here once, not feeling full to the brim.
I never felt afraid for my safety.
I always felt protected as if no harm could come to me somehow.
At the end of each class, which ended with a prayer for wellbeing, peace and a “Namaste”, I really DID see the light and the divine in each one of them (and maybe, they saw the same in each other, who knows).
The softness and the joy, the giggles and smiles…the sweetness…you wouldn’t think you could experience that stuff in a prison. These were just little boys who lost their way, who made bad choices. I could see the innocence in each one of them. I couldn’t shake the feeling that… I would be in jail too if I had lived the life and grown up the way some of them had as kids.
I’m just… as I sit here, in my car, in the rain… my heart is still touched so deeply by this experience. I have trouble finding the words.
They shared their humanity with me. They don’t feel like criminals to me, they feel like my brothers, my cousins, my sons. I feel no separation between myself and them.
Each human being is a bright and shining sun. Some have a lot of storm clouds around them, but behind the clouds is a bright light.
There is so much suffering in the world, so much struggle and strife. Sometimes you can feel it all at once in your own heart. It can be heavy. We feel it because we are not separate.
I am not perfect. They are human lights, just like me. People are not inherently bad. Their choices are informed by a lifetime of experiences that may have been unkind, unloving, and cruel.
People are people. All are deserving of love (though some may not have received it). That is all I tried to bring to classes at the jail: love and light.
I feel like I am leaving a part of my heart on the inside. Yoga is not about the poses or the “shapes” or the techniques, or the philosophy, it’s about the love and the light.
I just want to say “thank-you” boys. Thanks for showing up to class and for bringing your self to the room. I hope you continue to see your own light and goodness. Thank you for sharing it with me. And thank you for the dream catchers. It is the perfect parting gift and reminder of you and our time together.
And gratitude to my good friend Terri for bringing me in, for nurturing, loving and respecting these guys who need someone one to believe in their goodness and love them. It was clear how much they loved and respected you back.
I was lucky to bask in that glow. Pure magic. These words don’t do justice to how I am feeling right now, crying in the rain in my car. I just feel deeply touched and grateful. <3 Namaste.