It HAS been a while since I posted anything in my blog and vlog. (Where the heck have you been??) I have been really busy teaching at a youth academy. This particular youth academy was formerly a juvenile detention center. An organization known as Sequel Youth Services has taken over several detention facilities in Florida and throughout the US (I believe it is 20 total). They have instituted a drastic and life-altering change in these facilities from being punitive to being rehabilitative. WHAT A CONCEPT! REHABILITATE our youth instead of just incarcerating them and SIMPLY letting them do their time and go back out onto the streets or into the same circumstances.
I was fortunate enough to get involved with the youth academy through my affiliation with Compassionate St. Augustine, in St. Augustine, Florida. This groundbreaking organization was founded by my friend, Caren Goldman. Caren is a journalist, an activist and an all around compassionate person. CSA is a remarkable group of people, coming from a myriad of backgrounds, specifically to foster compassion in our community, county, state and country. AND THEY ARE!! Caren felt my work in Qigong, and meditation would be valuable to the academy and its residents. (Truth be told, I get AS MUCH as I give!) She made a call to the Academy's director and in a couple of months I was teaching.
Now, picture this: I am a small, silver-haired, middle-aged woman, who dresses like someone they have never encountered. How do I dress differently? I exclusively wear a kurta. What is a kurta, you ask? It is a kind of tunic or dress traditionally worn by Indian and Pakistani women. (I get all of my kurtas from India and Pakistan.) It is loose, colorful, tailored and has slits on each side or down the front for ease of movement. I started wearing them years ago because it makes it easy to do my personal practice and to teach. But I digress...
The youth academy residents are young men, ages 13-18, from different counties in Florida, and they are predominately African-American or mixed race. (Yes, I could write volumes about the incarceration of these communities. Very sadly, they reflect the incarcerated community as a whole.) They became residents due to a myriad of offenses. However, truly violent offenders are not kept in this high security facility. They are in maximum security facilities.
Most of these young men are from predominately impoverished communities. Some of them are drug addicted and in recovery, some are fathers, and some are on medication for ADD, ADHD, depression or anxiety. There are also many residents who are being treated for anger issues. (I have taught in similar communities in the past and that is a future blog post.)
I have been working with them for 6 months and the strides we have made together are nothing short of miraculous.
I've been developing a technique for about 5 years that incorporates several healing arts disciplines. They have been my beta testing, so to speak, AND IT IS WORKING!!!
SO what I intend to write here is about that journey. I will publish excerpts from my book: Moving Meditation During Incarceration - A Teaching Guide In Juvenile Justice.
My intention is to make the book available within the juvenile justice system to enable interested staff to learn the technique and teach it, with my coaching, so they can be "boots on the ground". Who better to reinforce these exercises and techniques than someone who has a vested interest in the facility and its residents?
You will read about my direct experiences with the director and assistant director, the staff, and most of all, the residents, via classes, in-person conversations, phone conversations and emails.
Some of it is incredibly funny, some is poignant and some is very sad.
Those elements, though, have made me a better, and stronger teacher. A better, and stronger person.
You will laugh, you will cry, you will be changed!
I am going to do my best to post weekly, or more. So please come back often.
Thanks so much for starting this journey with me.
...and as always, if you want to contact me about my book AND the screenplay being written based on the book, or if you want to learn the simple and extremely effective technique I have developed, please don't hesitate to email, text or call me.