Cameron is one of the 'advanced' guys participating in our Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Monday night class at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections; AKA: The Prison. Yep. I guess some guys in prison can have dogs.
Cameron has been around a while, and apparently has been meditating for almost as long as I've been alive. There was an interesting moment in our noting practice when we were all watching, feeling, seeing (not only the beads of sweat dripping from our faces onto our laps during this 92 degree day) but Bruno, who was allowed to "run free" - albeit in this tiny stuffy cinder block prison room. After Cameron asked if was okay if he "took Bruno off his lease so he could be free" the response from the other guys in the room was a resounding "Yes!" It was duly noted by some, that the microcosm of freedom is somewhere tucked away in our minds, even in the context of life in prison.
Could I have asked for deeper insight?
Speaking of insight. We did some really interesting dives into somewhat foreign waters: Theravada practices - namely noting (which, from the link above, you must now know all about ;) ). We first just did this kind of outrageous practice where we all noted out loud all that we were experiencing - together. It was quite funny and within minutes, most of us were laughing and noting: "humor...humor....feeling.... seeing..humor....... feeling..."
-- Imagine, a tiny room, in this kind of extreme heat, no window ventilation (just a fan to blow around stagnant prison air), and 17 of us all speaking the craziness of our active minds, out loud --
yet there we were, all of us - courageously and fearlessly on display. It was quite hysterical, giving us most all a much needed laugh, bu that's not all it it. It ignited something deeper, and there was a lot of saucy conversation around all that it brought up for the guys.
For a lot of the guys, it seemed that noting practice was exhausting on some level. Yet interestingly, that exhaustion seemed to proved to be good fuel for meditation practice. "Thank goodness!" said Ralph in response to our stopping. "My Mind was driving me nuts and I just wanted to settle and focus on my breath, like for real!." To really get a taste of just how crazy our minds are (which Noting practice surely seems skilled at pointing to), we begin to expand our awareness beyond the 'thinking / breath' dichotomy - we start delving deeper into seeing and begin to notice how, as Charles said "Our sweat does not make the distinction between thinking and being - it just is..."
By this time, Bruno had simply dropped to the cooler concrete floor, putting his head down and staring into the ethers depicting skillfully, with the breath in his precious dog body, the simple ways in which we can just be.
He was just hot. It was hot in there. That's all.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,
* Names have (and usually are) changed to keep confidentiality :)