This week I spent a morning behind bars. That is to say, I attended an orientation at a local detention facility in preparation for volunteering. My sweetie has been teaching yoga there through Light A Path, a service organization that links holistic wellness practitioners with under-served populations. We are proposing to teach a class together, using the book We’re All Doing Time as a basis for bringing yoga, meditation, and Alexander Technique to inmates.
I am excited about this work because it will really stretch my ability to convey the Alexander Techique, since touch – usually a cornerstone in teaching AT – is not permitted in that environment. How will I convey to participants new options for how they inhabit their bodies, using only words and illustrations?
The Alexander Technique offers a practical means to reduce reactivity and pain, improve cognition and self-regulation, and allow the kind of self-awareness that enhances respectful engagement with others and the environment. An AT teacher in the Midwest has been teaching classes and workshops for drug/alcohol and co-occurring disorders at correction and treatment facilities with notable success. I’ll be drawing on her research and class materials as we develop our program, as well as continuing to explore effective methods for resolving trauma and awakening embodiment.
When asked by Light A Path for a short phrase to introduce myself on their listing of volunteers, I said “My name is Michèle and I’m lighting a path for change agents who are temporarily behind bars.” I didn’t know before I thought up that phrase, that that is how I’m formulating the work I’ll be doing alongside my husband. I’m giving myself permission to consider: What if just one person who takes our class learns practical ways to stay calm in a stressful situation, refrain from starting or engaging in destructive behavior, cultivate an inner environment of calm and integrity? That person WILL effect change in every person and situation they encounter. The ramifications are not trivial: We aim to empower people on the front lines of dangerous situations to consciously choose connection over disruption, responsibility over blame, peace over power.
If you’d like to support this cause, please follow this link to Light A Path. Your donations support work that changes our world.