Warriors Unite! Nearly three months to the day in which I said goodbye to David at the front door of Elkton Federal Correctional Institution, I was able to return for what was truly a joyful reunion. While I look forward to sharing more about my journey to see him, I am excited to finally share more of his email excerpts with you. Mail, even email, is not reliable. Delays, restrictions and returns have come to be a practice of acceptance. When things do arrive, I am beyond grateful as each and every email, letter or drawing is full of true inspiration. In the few short months of his incarceration, David has already experienced a lifetime worth of unthinkable proportions. Through it all and in each and everyday, he commits to the practice of yoga and continues to learn more about what that means for him. From my own time with him, I can share that he is doing well. From his emails perhaps you will understand why. Enjoy ~ Leslie
From early August, David writes…
“I have found that there is so much more here in the poses than just a physical workout. I am getting used to extending far beyond my comfort zone in many ways: having to adjust to the diet, sleeping arrangements, physical/emotional boundaries, and the lack of the basic necessities of life. I really struggle with all of these. Just as I am trying to face these fears and challenges with a sense of peace and calmness, I am learning to face other things in my life with the same kind of emotional flexibility. My practice on and off the mat helps a lot with this and I speak to it often while teaching in here. Yoga is…about finding peace and stillness in the present moment, regardless of what is going on. I have found this to be very useful in here in the midst of a difficult pose, a unit “shakedown”, or while there is a fist fight happening down the hall. I teach to these ideas often during my classes in here and it appears to help many people deal with the stress of this place and life in general.”
While I sat with David last week, I learned that Elkton has an extensive library to which he has complete access to use. The inmates at FCI – Elkton have very few daily requirements. Getting out of bed, eating meals, recreation, education, and employment are discretionary. Some men basically chose to do very little with their time while others are taking complete advantage of the opportunity to reform. In David’s case, he is stepping beyond the norm and creating transformation for himself and others. He is using the resources and his time to live his practice. I loved reading the following and continue to personally learn and grow through his writing.
“One of the major things I live by in here is the idea of a Sadhana (pronounced saad-nah) which means a daily spiritual practice…connecting with your highest self. I start this off right away in the morning before the negative thoughts of this place descend upon me in a way that will cause me to shift my attitude. My sadhana consists of elements that will help me maintain balance in my life while strengthening and detoxifying my body and calming my mind. For me this involves yoga, pranayama, meditation, and then journaling/writing/drawing. This allows me to do a physical, emotional, and mental detox. I do this early in the morning before most people are up so I can really focus and start the day off right. I don’t have many choices in here but I do have the choice to get up and float through the day and roll with its ups and downs, or to get up and tune into my highest self so I can go through the day with purpose. Some days I don’t have much time for my sadhana but even if I can spend 5 minutes meditating or sending out some positive vibes to a friend in need, I do it. I invite you to create your own sadhana. The elements of this can include yoga, breath work, meditation, chanting/singing, dancing, journaling, reading, and anything else that allows you to connect with your highest self. The length can vary but the main thing is to adopt a practice that can be managed everyday. A little discipline can go a long way when it comes from good intentions and your highest self. Good luck :)”
Each and every email or letter David sends always ends with….
Love & Light,
David, The Humble Warrior
PS – Artwork by David