|Posted on July 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM|
TESTIMONIALS BY FOLSOM STATE PRISON INMATES REGARDING THEIR WEEKLY
T’AI CHI CHIH CLASS. INSTRUCTOR, JULIE HERYET – OCTOBER 2011
S. Deville: My T’ai Chi Chih class is one of the high-points of my week. It has given me a sense of calm that I believe I will be able to continue to carry with me after my release.
F. Bouldin: This practice allows me to cultivate and use this energy, (that everyone has), in a way that helps heal my physical being and adds a sense of peace to my character. We take this energy that we all receive from this source and use it to help ourselves in different ways.
L. Hamilton: I’m 60 years old, and I get stiff and cranky. I come in here and the movement helps me to harmonize. The concept of energy – it flows through my body, and I can tell that the benefit I get comes from doing this. The time we spend in meditation, being around that energy – that’s even more beneficial. It makes the space around you alright, whether out there or in here. When we go back out there, it stays with us.
T. Gonzales: When we’re on lockdown I get stressed, but when I come in here, I feel peace. I really look forward to coming to this class.
D. Sherman: This class helps me to balance and to put my mind in a settled place. It takes a lot of the stress away, and settles me down. It is very comforting to all the people here. I enjoy it a lot.
R. Medeiros: Regarding the T’ai Chi Chih/Moving Meditation class on Thursday afternoons, I would like to relate To Whom It May Concern, that I and many others find this class extremely beneficial to our rehabilitation and grounded connection with our high power. It is very beneficial to my groundedness, because it opens my spirit to the awareness of what’s going on around me, so I can share and practice that sense of peace with others and bring peace and serenity to all I interact with, in turn, helping everyone. To not have this outlet of spiritual connection would be a tremendous loss to everybody. Thank you for honoring and allowing our practice to remain.
Kuwabara: Folsom Prison is a unique institution due to having bars on the cells. Folsom is possibly the loudest, most stressful prison in the system. Coming to T’ai Chi Chih services is the only calming, quiet, centering time available to us at this institution. Often I stay up very late, just to experience some quiet time. Unfortunately, that leaves me in an irritable state the next day, due to lack of sleep. I find myself using Moving Meditation exercises when the noise is getting me into a hyper state during the day (even in my cramped bunk space), to calm myself and attempt to channel the negativity out. I’m extremely grateful that I am able to attend these sessions on Thursdays.
R. Rodriquez: This T’ai Chi Chih class really helps me on a physical level because I can physically feel the positive energy I get from the energy in this class – all put to a positive purpose. It’s a positive program in the prison because when I connect with the individuals in my T’ai Chi Chih class, I reflect that same positive energy when I see them on the yard, or at chow, or anywhere. This T’ai Chi Chih class is a good idea to continue in the Chapel because of the power of the positive spiritual energy that it allows us to leave the class with, and carry with us throughout our daily lives.
Addendum by T’ai Chi Chih Instructor, Julie Heryet:
We begin every class with a check-in session in which the men share their feelings, thoughts and experiences of the practice, and we end the class with a seated meditation. To summarize what I have heard from them during the last two years: Their T’ai Chi Chih class is changing them for the better. They are calmer, more centered and grounded. They feel less anger, stress and depression, and this enables them to think about, rather than react, to their surroundings. They feel a deeper Spiritual connection within their own personal beliefs, and a deeper sense of connection to each other, and humanity as a whole. With this comes a deeper sense of responsibility to their inmate community, and to society at large. They are able to focus less on their differences, racial, religious or otherwise, and see instead that they all share the same path of personal and Spiritual growth. I truly believe it makes them better inmates, thereby becoming positive role models for their fellow inmates. It has been proven to reduce their chances of recidivism, and contributes to the kind of people they will be once released.