Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry. ~Lyman Abbott
Yesterday one of my most committed yoga students from prison leaned forward to me very close and whispered " It is very uncomfortable to say, but I often want to beat up people, just hit them in the face. Especially it gets complicated when I want to beat up my cell mates, because after the fight, I just cannot walk away, I have to keep living with them". Then we both laughed, because indeed it can be complicated situation if you constantly want to beat them up. And then we talked about some possibilities to put our reactions on pause and seek for the cause in our own needs being unsatisfied at that current moment, seeing alternative and more compassionate ways to satisfy them.
But at the same time, when I think back to out society outside the prison bars, how much we fear our anger, how much we fear all negative emotions, rather then thinking them as very positive signs of us being alive, being sensitive and aware of what is going on in ourselves. It might be not yet a conscious process, but still a process.
I would rather tend to believe that anger holds a lot of energy and transformation power, just like many other emotions, which can be described as negative. For me they are catalyst of change. It means that the person is not indifferent and willing to express themselves and their pain, in direct or very indirect ways. It means that there is passion for life, first sign of vitality and motivation to live. No surprise that I find this student to be very committed and motivated. Although bothering sometimes with her loud voice and side-behaviors.)
Prison is a very strange place, where probably also me would get mad at some point about everything around, sell-mates, guards, hypocrisy and my own self. There is constant risk of too much accumulated energies which we are sometimes unable to release without physical workout and mental break/ solitude. Thus for many prisoners attending yoga is escaping from the tension space into finding their own power to balance and transform. Thus I wish that all those practices- non-dogmatic yoga and meditation, non-violent communication, self-care and community service shall be in agendas of all prisoners, if they really want to rehabilitate a healthy individual. Indeed they should be into agenda into everyones life.
Thus for me anger can be a beautiful start from where we transform the lives of ourselves, strongly deciding upon guiding principles and values that matter the most. It can be great work still ahead of us, but seems like anger is a sign of our ability to be powerful enough to survive through these winds of change.
Stretch your body&transform your mind!
This Project is funded by Louis August Jonas Foundation, creating a holistic training experience for 50 young women from Ilguciems women prison and Maras Crisis center. Young women are learning simple peacemaking practices including yoga, non-violent communication, mindful awareness, conscientious social action and good-doing.