I founded my company, The Mindful Path, in 2003. My brand has evolved based on my own journey. Knowing first-hand how mindfulness heals and builds resilience, it has become my life’s mission to share these methods with other women of all walks of life.
When my kids went to college, a new chapter in my life began. I had been thinking about doing volunteer work. I wasn’t clear on what that looked like though I knew I wanted to do something that reflected my unique talents. One day as I was driving (with the radio off) it hit me. I want to teach mindfulness to women prisoners.
I’ve read most of Wally Lamb’s books. Being a Connecticut resident, he often writes about the women of York. The York Correctional Institution, formally the Janet S. York Correctional Institution, is Connecticut’s only prison for women.
I enthusiastically called the prison and explained what I was hoping to do. Next, I completed their volunteer application, which asked for recommendations and character references. When I received my letter of acceptance, I felt as though I had been admitted to Yale.
At my orientation, I went on a tour of the facilities and was presented with a thick stack of papers informing me of the risks associated with volunteering in a prison. As I read them I started to feel afraid.
So I took a meditation break. I felt in my gut that all would be well. I chose to stop reading through the handouts. That said, I did connect with Prison Mindfulness Institute and utilized some of their resources.
Since then, I’ve facilitated a number of sessions. One evening I had a particularly inspiring experience. Unlike previous groups, I found myself struggling to make a connection with the women. I noticed myself getting tense and thinking what a bad idea this was. Then a theme emerged and I just ran with it. As always I ended with the Loving Kindness meditation but this time we sang it. What a joy to hear the women laughing and literally singing out the door as they departed.
Empowering the women at York Correctional Institution with mindfulness brings great meaning and purpose to my own life. When I leave I often have to refrain myself from skipping to my car. May you find a volunteering opportunity that energizes you in the same way.