cutting paths

path in woods

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Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. – Thich Nhat Hanh

In the end, just three things matter:
How well we have lived
How well we have loved
How well we have learned to let go.
Jack Kornfield

 

Making change looks a lot like cutting paths. There are paths, trenches, river beds well worn and established that our minds run over and over, re-inscribing. These are cognitive landscapes that are well-explored and often sweet places to live or the only places to live, at least for a little while. If they weren’t, we would never have made them.

After a while these paths become dead ends, cul-de-sacs, you get the idea. You get stuck in the same old places, patterns, sometimes without knowing it. And, it is a lot easier to get stuck when you are forced to literally stay in one place. We started a mindfulness unit this month with the intent of expanding that repetitive space in the mind and between the walls. Continue reading

mindfully drumming – part 2

This past winter, a colleague and I began a grand experiment – to design and co-facilitate a drumming & mindfulness practice program for 20 women prisoners incarcerated at the Chittenden Correctional Facility.

Walking Meditation  By barliquin

Walking Meditation
By barliquin

Vermont Works for Women, with some generous private funding, gave us its blessing and guidance to make the pilot project happen.

If you recall, the aim was to teach band drum-line techniques and mindfulness exercises over 16 weeks to reduce stress and anxiety in some of the most challenging inmates.

The women participants, or as they named their band – ONE SOUND, ONE SOUL – graduated from the program this past May.

Here’s a recap of their inspiring progress in my Vermont Public Radio commentary that aired just this morning.  Enjoy the listen!

mindfully drumming

My latest project at the Chittenden Correctional Facility is designing a drumming & mindfulness pilot program for the incarcerated women.

Drum line by taddzilla/Flickr

Drum line by taddzilla/Flickr

Ask me if I knew A THING about the difference between a snare or tenor drum when we began in January, or even how to hold a pair of hickory drumsticks?  The answer then was a resounding, NO!”

Yet under the skilled mentorship of Berklee College of Music-trained drummer Sue Schmidt, of Burlington, we are halfway through an 8-week program, learning how to play our individual parts while simultaneously becoming a unified drumline. (Sounds like an important metaphor for life, huh?!)

The 16 women participants were identified by correctional officers for this innovative Vermont Works for Women program.

The program, called “Flying Sticks: Drumming and Stress Reduction,” aims to provide a healthy avenue for women (who struggle with aggressive behavior) to burn off stress and anxiety through drumming, as well as to engage in healthy communal activity with other inmates. Continue reading