Looking out on the students at Look Out: Mindfulness In A Correctional Facility
Several times a year I donate a program to a charity or cause that I have a connection with. This year as 2017 comes to a close I was asked to share mindfulness training at the holiday’s program with the inmates at Lookout Mountain Correctional Facility.
When I worked with the young men at Look Out Mountain in Colorado I saw the faces of young boys ages 12-19 that are in a correctional prison for a crime they committed. While I never saw the list of crimes I know many of them were involved in acts of violence and use drugs and alcohol. They would not be getting out for the holidays. The boys walked in in navy uniforms with blue shirts most oversized and baggy. A security guard sat in the back of the room to assure if anything happened it would be handled.
I asked the students one question to start my training. What are you missing most this holiday? I was expecting from teenage boys answers like games, food, and toys. This was not the answer each and every one in their own way said – family. They miss the interaction and inner connection with people. They clearly said – we miss our families.
You see as I prepared for them to join me in the training room (auditorium) each boy in prison uniform was told by the security guard they could not even sit next to the boy in front of them. They had to have a seat between so as not to touch. No touching! No talking! Those were the rules. Listen to the teacher and so as she asked. It’s hard to be mindful when you can’t even be human.
After passing out handouts and pencils I began to share with the young boys that no matter how confined they felt in their physical reality they had 100% control over their mental reality. I taught them the A, B, C’s of mindfulness – Affirm the good. Breathe into their heart. Center to the moment and choose carefully their response. Each of these words had a hand motion of bringing in in affirmative energy, breathing out the stress and hands down to the earth to choose.
On the handouts, I invited the students to consider one thing they want to mindfully change. Then I led them thru a visioning activity to create the new story, the energy they wanted in their lives.
Even in prison, at Christmas, the boys mindfully wanted to look at forgiveness, and a future.
After the 17 minute talk, we had to gather back all the handouts and pencils, pencils are considered contraband and students could not leave till we had the same number of pencils collected as we had handed out. While I was not able to take the handouts I share with you a few photos.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment. In the three hours, I spent with the boys at Look Out Mountain I learned to value my safety and security. I was able to value my talent as a mindfulness practitioner and trainer to help these young men have one tool to navigate the holidays.
If I can do that for them I can do it for your leadership team in the “prisons of their own story”.
What story are you writing this holiday? Make it a good one.