Posts Tagged ‘Healing’
No matter how far I think I’ve come someone can bring you right back to all those past angers. I was checking my E-mail and there was a letter from a lady who believes Vincent is innocent. I’m okay with that, she is entitled to think what she wants to. What made me angry was I felt like I needed to defend myself all over again for the thousandth time, and what would be the point, in the end she will still believe what she wants to believe. I think the thing that got to me more than the letter is I let it get to me. I let it take me back to that place of anger that I’ve worked so hard to move past, but I thought about it and realized it was okay for me to feel angry, that’s a part of life, It’s just not okay for me to stay there. Sometimes it’s good to visit all those old feelings because it reminds you how for you’ve come.
Victims are the voices never heard, the eyes never seen. You turn the T.V. on and every other channel is, Life behind bars. It’s no wonder victims think no one cares, but there are people who care, and do need to hear what you have to say. People need to realize not every one in prison is innocent. For every prisoner there is a victim, and it’s time for victims to stand up and be heard. It is very important for victims to realize that people in prison are people too, and we do have to forgive in order for our hearts and soul to be free and begin to heal, but that doesn’t mean we have to be silent. It’s very important that people know both sides of the issues. The world is big enough for all our voices. I have received a lot of E-mails from victims, and the one thing we all have in common is the hope of healing.
Over the years I learned that I could grow in strength if I didn’t blame others for the negative things that had occurred in my life and accepted responsibility for my own actions. I learned that I had a stubborn side of me that really gave me the strength and determination to stay focused on the path that I had choose to travel. I learned how to detach from many of the events that were taking place around me so that I wouldn’t be effected emotionally and if I maintained control of my emotions I was have a clear enough mind to think through each situation I faced. I learned a lot about God and my relationship with God gave me a sense of hope that one day “everything is going to be alright.” I learned that I had the power to reshape the world around me by the words that I speak, the thoughts that I think and the prayers that I prayed. I also learned to love people (it was a gradual process, but I learned that it was really alright to love people as simply being who they were). All of those things gave me a sense of freedom and a different sort of power within me.
It was several years before I decided to change my life. I had seen a lot of violence and was classified as a jail jouse lawyer and a militant, but it wasn’t until I had been confined to a maximum security cell (I had gotten caught with two knives in my possession) for about a year that I seriously began to think about my life, my family and everything that I had lost that the reality of my 75-year entence began to sink into my mind. At that point I hadn’t ever had the opportunity to see my daughter and that caused me a lot of anger and grief. It was also during that time of confinement that I decided to change and never go back to the life I had lived. It was the beginning of a long journey that would be filled with trials, set-backs and victories, but it was a journey that I wouldn’t turn away from.
Ashanti Witherspoon spent 27 years in Angola Prison. In 1999 he was granted parole. Since leaving prison Ashanti has become a motivational speaker and is devoted to mentoring at-risk youth. He was featured in Jonathan Stack’s film THE FARM and THE FARM: 10 DOWN, which will be released June 16th, 2009 on National Geographic Channel.
In the United States there are religious communities specifically geared toward ex-offenders. For those living in the Boston area the Coming Home Directory might be a valuable resource.
Peace. Mindfulness. Acceptance. These are some of things that James Fox hopes to give inmates who participate in his Prison Yoga Project.
James Fox has been teaching yoga in correctional institutions for many years. He is committed to bringing this restorative practice to a population that can definitely use exercise, stress relief, and inner peace. Click here to find out more about the Prison Yoga Project.
Here are some things that participants in the project have had to say:
I have experienced decreased anxiety and improved ability to deal with stress.
I have also been able to relieve back pain and in general manage pain and injuries.” – S.L.