So many amazing things happen when you open your heart in service to another person. In my previous blog, I told you briefly about my training for the young male inmates at Lookout Mountain Youth Correctional Facility. There was one young man I wanted to devote an entire blog too – we will call him Manuel. Note his name has been changed.

When most people think of mindfulness they think of an open space, expansiveness, and expansion. Or they think of quiet moments in meditation. When I work with mindfulness I think about applied mindfulness. How do we use the most common definition of mindfulness – the practice of being present in the moment in every moment, every place, every day? I help people use mindfulness to live more centered, creative and peaceful lives in these times of overwhelming stress and anxiety.

At Lookout Mountain Correctional Facility that day, I had been asked to repeat my mindfulness at the holidays talk twice so the most number of young men could benefit from my mindfulness message. After the first session I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure how I would get thru the second. The first group was rowdy and rambunctious, they called me names and were not so interested in the topic. Then I looked up and saw Manuel (name has been changed). He came back to hear the talk again. My head said, “You are kidding where ever he is supposed to be must be really bad if he wants to hear my talk again.” Then my heart spoke and it said, “Wait you touched this kid and he wants more.” No matter what the truth I began the talk again.

In the second talk, I told more of why I do what I do. I shared with the young men that my cousin was in a State Correctional Facility in Oregon serving 35 years and he still had 19 years to go. Travis was convicted of a series of crimes that under the laws at that time mean he will get out when he is over 60 years old.

Suddenly Manuel and the other men realized they had something going for them a “get out date” Now not all of them know what that exact date is but, they know they will get out. This gave them hope.

I shared the same exercises as I did in the first talk and Manual and a few other boys actively participated. I felt a shift in the room. For a brief moment, the young men saw the good in them. They knew that someone beyond their teacher believed in them.

At the end of the program, several of the boys asked questions about what to do when they get angry, how to talk with a teacher or parent. As the boys were being escorted out by the security guard Manuel handed me his handout. You can see on it he mindfully connected to his heart that day and invited a few of the other young me to believe also.

In the practice of self-mindfulness, you never know how you will touch another what example may help a boy diffuse anger or connect.

No matter what charity you opt to share your gifts with know that your willingness to give of your wisdom and heart make a difference this holiday and all year long.

In gratitude for Manuel,