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A Letter from Soledad Prison

On 09-10-09, I attended Byron Katie’s workshop. The participants were asked, “What is the thing you are most ashamed of in your life?”

Like many of my incarcerated peers, I found myself answering Ms. Katie’s question by stating my crime, enduring the labels associated with my crime (i.e. murderer), and the domino effects that my crime has had on so many other people. This would include my victim, my victim’s family, my community, my own family members, and my own unmet potentials in life.

A week later I read A Thousand Names for Joy. Through Ms. Katie’s work with my incarcerated peers, many of whom are lifers like me, and after reading this book, I am better able to “turn it around.” I rewrote my initial statement, as if it was written about me by someone else. I redescribed my problem of believing outdated labels (i.e. prisoner, lifer, murderer, etc.). This all resulted in my embracing myself in a more positive manner. I even looked at myself in the mirror, inside my prison cell, and for the first time in my 31 years of incarceration, I came to a more meaningful sense of serenity (peace of mind) and self-realization of who I am as a man. I no longer fear tomorrow, nor carry the weight of yesterday. Instead, I swim in the pool of today’s reality, swimming with the current of today, and even wearing a smile throughout my worthwhile day.

Thank you, Ms. Katie for the workshop. Please come back soon and help us help ourselves.


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