This week's class was steeped deep in practice. We sat for almost the entire class, which lasts, on average, two and a half hours. Of course, this is variable depending on when the correctional officers decide to open the door and yell - as seemingly as loud as possible: "CLASS IS OVER!! LETS GO!! MOVE!" --- imagine that being the gong to end your meditation session... It sure is quite the reminder of where we are actually practicing.
So, getting back. Before we sat this week, there was some interesting discussion around military service. I don't know why, but I was shocked when two of the guys in our class shared that they too had served in the military - one for almost 20 years, in fact. That sent me off on a whole different train...20 years in the military and now here this guy is. I don't really have any sort of connection to make, but I'd be curious to hear from those you who may (or may not) have a connection yourselves...
(An interesting side-note...As I am writing this, I just turned around to ask the founder of Prison Mindfulness Institute, Fleet Maull "Do you think the Military and prison are more alike or more different?" Without hesitation he responded "More different." This, coming from a man who spent just under 15 years on the inside himself.)
I suppose the main connection I can make is the idea of "doing time" (speaking of, have you all had a chance to read Bo Lozoff's book?) - but who knows really. I come from a military family myself, and that, of course, has conditioned me in one way or another, just as any of our experiences condition us, which pushes me deeper to ponder:
"Do I want to be conditioned by the past or just experience this moment for what it is?"
So, whether we are in the military, in prison, or sitting on a grey Pilates ball in front of a computer screen (sharing a work space with the amazing Bodhisattva Fleet Maull) writing a blog entitled "Military Heart-Mind Meets Prison M & M's" - this practice is really about coming back to the present moment, back to the endless magic of our reality, back to the most basic (and profound) aspect we all have in common: being a human being.
It's right now seeing the dance of shadows reflecting through a basement window..it trusting the magic of your beating heart pushing your blood though your veins and knowing we all share that same collective experience. It's tasting an M & M.
Yep. I said an M & M.
"I noticed the texture - smooth, oval and slowly melting. I noticed when I held it to the light, it reflected off of it's candy coating... ...what started off as an M & M was now no more then a memory; a tasty film left in my mouth and a thirst for another... ...I've never ate just one since. Now, I live in the moment of eating a whole bag at once..."
This, from a guy in our class sharing some of his weekly experience with the cell practice of mindfully eating a raisin..to which he shared that "Since we as inmates don't have a lot of access to the raisins, except for something they call "Student Mix" which is a sort of trail mix and hard to come by, I decided to go with something I did have, an M & M..."
And what a brilliant reminder to read, not only the reflection of someone who can fill up an entire page describing, in wonderfully colorful detail, what his "mindful eating of an M & M" was like, but also someone who didn't just give up when he didn't have a raisin to use. He took it step further, and with sheer determination, he engaged in a practice that was grounded in presencing. He came full circle.
Now's your chance! Again. Right here in this, the present moment, AGAIN...to taste the sweet truth of just this...
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,