Last night was our final class for the summer - we'll begin again ..and again, and again, and again.. in September (or more accurately, in each precious moment!).
And that was just it..sitting together we were reminded of our practice. We were reminded of all we have come together to collectively, and individually, work on.
It was a very settled kind of class, one in which we could, at times, even hear a pin drop. We could certainly hear those same men - the ones we hear week in and week out - through the concrete block walls, banging on bongos and singing with a reciprocated reverence that rallied our attention on our breath. It was touching.
During the meditation process, we were reminded how we were "sitting here in meditation, in a prison, together."
We were encouraged to find that tender place of appreciation and gratitude for those men beyond those walls, and their commitment to their practice, as well as our own.
There was something about the "together" part that seemed to really resound. Each time I encouraged the men to drop their shoulders a little bit more, and uplift our skulls a little bit more, I could sense a shift in the focus and concentration. "Can you hold your spine even more upright? Your skull, can you feel as if it's being pulled towards the heavens?"
And there we were, all of us, simply sitting.
Engaging in one of the most radical things a human begin can do..just sitting with ourselves with a kindness and compassion that could rival any army. We were regularly reminded that when thoughts come in - which they will and do, the practice is to just notice them, and let them go - "come back to your body, come back to your breath.
It's funny, and somehow ironic that Fleet just began a four-week retreat with Tricycle online entitled "Showing up Together: Enlightenment as an Irreducibly Social Phenomenon" on the same night we all sat that room together and did just that. In a prison. Together. Amazing, indeed.
And once again, as I get to walk out beyond the shiny sharp razor wire I'm reminded of those peripheral sitting visions of suede brown boots, white sneakers and khaki clothes, and feel full of gratitude for the genuine openness and curiosity those men bring to that room.
(In case you'd like to check out Fleet's online retreat, here's the link.)