Prison Journal—Blockages to Freedom

I listened to an Eckhart Tolle video on my way to my last yoga class at the prison for the year. In the video Tolle responds to a question regarding mental illness. He mentions something that I’ve sensed and believe. It is the notion that there is one consciousness, and that that one consciousness is expressed in a multiplicity of forms.

Every human being is an expression of that one consciousness, every animal, every plant, every insect, evert molecule. Each form expresses an aspect of that consciousness. Each is in the process of figuring out that it is that consciousness. Our lives are that dance of forgetting and awakening.

Awakening has to do with understanding and sensing and aligning with the source which is the consciousness that is everything. It is an awareness that there is nothing to do, to fix, to change in order to be in union with all that is.

And so when we experience loss or a blockage of some sort, we can work with that loss and move beyond the fear that may arise or the sense of contraction we may experience and open up to new possibilities because there is never really a chance that we will be separated from that oneness.

This week in my yoga class at the Dice House one of the yogis shared about the challenge of the holidays in light of grieving the loss of a loved one. The following morning on my ride to prison, I reflected on my conversation from the previous night and thought of how the grieving process is so difficult, so painful and at the same time so rich. From my own experience I know in our grief we often step into something larger than what we were before the loss.

I also thought about the inmates I was about to share a yoga practice with and how for these individuals they have experienced a loss that is so profound and that too many never recover from, yet like the yogi the night before grieving for her husband, they, too, can experience a sense of opening that was not there prior to the incarceration.

Losing one’s physical freedom is challenging in so many levels. But the loss of physical freedom does not necessarily have to be internalized. We can find freedom no matter where we may be. This is the gift of awareness that I receive every time I practice with the men at Everglades Correctional.

The men teach me that like the grieving process, and like mental illness, as Tolle points out, every breaking point is a possible opening where we discover who and what we really are.

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