Monday, July 20, 2015

My Experience as a Prison Volunteer

Yesterday, for the first time, I volunteered at a prison for women.   I came in contact with Lawrence on Facebook a few months ago (he leads a group of volunteers at several Florida prisons teaching yoga, and other helpful tools to the inmates) .

I had no idea what I was going to experience, all I knew was that it sounded like something I wanted to do.  So I coordinated with Lawrence to try it out.

Yesterday we met in person for the first time at the women's prison parking lot around 9 am.  I had to leave all my "stuff" in the car (purse, notebook) and go through security.  Not a surprise at all.  Just standard procedure.  Lawrence brought along a cd player, and a whole lotta yoga mats which were inspected and counted before entering the premises.

I took some books to give away to the inmates....books I have already read and find uplifting.  They were so happy to receive these.

The inmates know the day and time of the group meeting; a small group was already outside the meeting room waiting eagerly for us.  After a few minutes more inmates joined us and we were a group of about 14.  I think the number of attendees is limited.

I was truly surprised and joyful at the welcome I received from all of them.  We sat in a circle, introduced ourselves, I briefly shared a bit of who I am, what I do, and why I was there.  I'm Dominican, a New Yorker, mom of three, a life coach and an ordained ministerial counselor.  Oh, I also shared I do Reiki.

Immediately I felt connected to all of them.  They were quite cheerful, open, and aware.  A diverse group, white American, Colombian, Mexican, African American, Indian.

Lawrence allowed me to guide the group in meditation....which I happily did.  Then we sat in peaceful silence for a few more minutes.  Just being, in stillness.  After that Lawrence and the group enjoyed an hour of hatha yoga to a really good dvd, while I, at the request of the inmates, did Reiki individually to 5 of them.....that took up the next hour for me.  But I was so happy!!!  I felt I was making a difference in these women's lives.  I prayed with some, listened intently to others share their stories after each Reiki session.  It was a wonderful and satisfying experience.

I'll be back for sure!!  This is a blessed opportunity to share, give, receive and touch lives.


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