During our Five-Day retreat in the Malmesbury New Prison, we asked a question each day, and allowed all present to reflect upon the question before writing it down. Some notes were anonymous, others had names. Sometimes we read our own notes, other times the notes were shuffled before redistributing them. It was a random decision – not allowing anyone to hide behind anonymity, encouraging accountability and honesty. Following are but a few of the comments – drawn in no particular order:
Maybe this will sound a little impossible, but I would like to be mindful in all aspects of my life.
To hold my child for just one day, to see him smile and to just be a little happier.
I came here to find myself. As an orphan I never found love, a home or stability. Through meditation I believe, by just being silent I will find comfort and peace of mind within myself, for the future. NOTHING will stop and deny me the opportunity to live again.
I regret that I am unable to support my ageing mother whilst in prison. That when I had a perfect partner I didn’t realize it until it was to late. That I ever started to use drugs. That I am such an attention seeker!
I would really love to change all my BAD habits into GOOD ones.
I regret not telling my father that I loved him, also the mount of time that I have wasted thinking about the past and worrying about the future.
I want to seek truth – to see things as they really are.
I sincerely wish to stay focused at all times, so that when anger and frustrations arise, I can deal with them in a way that I will not offend others.
I wish to attain the Truth. I know so little about myself.
I would like to stop making other people see things only my way, and stop getting carried away in excitement. I would like to be free from my habits. I would like to stop being controlled by my thoughts and to stop watching so much T.V. and sleeping late!
I regret not trusting my instincts at times, as this is one of the many reasons that I am in prison today. I also regret having too much pride – even when it is not necessary. This has led to the loss of so many things.
I would like to look at aspects of how to deal with temptations.
I would like to change my attitudes towards other people, to accept things as they are and to get rid of ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘My’.
I commit myself to do a minimum of 1 hour of hard practice each day, developing mindfulness and to expand my practice by making use of a list of 20-activities which I have compiled, so that I am able to take this development of mindfulness into everyday life.
5-Days of pain and discomfort. An invaluable experience which I have no intention whatsoever of wasting by stopping now. The realization that practice is my life and that life can only be lived one moment at a time.
To stop moving from A to Z without enjoying what’s in-between. In short – living for the moment, and not letting my past determine my future. To let go of my baggage and bad memories.
I want to be less judgmental and be more meticulous.
I want to stop worrying so much about what other people feel and start worrying more about how and what I feel. In short, I want to be more sensitive to my emotional needs.
I regret not being there to walk my son to school. I have not seen him since he was born.
Sitting for four days, and only today I came to the realization how important it is to keep ‘Don’t know’ mind. So, in the future I want to commit myself to keep this ‘don’t know’ frame of mind and to be able to experience that fantastic one moment of before thinking!