My mind tended to use my internal turmoil to fuel thoughts of violent aggression.
Housed: Airway Heights Correctional Center, Washington
Waking up day in and day out filled with anger and rage, compounded with the hopelessness of a 45 year sentence, I found myself doing a lengthy stretch in the “hole.” Isolated and left alone with my thoughts I became frustrated. Discovering my train of thought seemed to always roll down the tracks of hurt, pain, and anger, I grew tired of spending my days dwelling on the negative. I recall asking myself if I were crazy. My mind tended to use my internal turmoil to fuel thoughts of violent aggression. I was convinced this was just who I was, subject to the whims of my thoughts and powerless over my mind. It wasn’t until I picked up a book on Buddhism and learned to meditate, that I began to comprehend that my brain is a tool and not the other way around. This epiphany is the cornerstone of the transformation that developed me into the man I am today. I began to understand that the chain of events making up my life experiences were heavily influencing my current thought patterns and how I was choosing to perceive and engage them, was causing me to perpetuate my own suffering. The deeper I dove into my own past, viewing my experiences from a stance of compassion, I noticed a shift in my mentality. One morning looking out the window in my cell door, I spotted a rival gang member pacing the dayroom. Typically my thoughts would gravitate towards how I could cause him harm, but this time was different. As I watched, I started questioning the life experiences that made him who he was. I began wondering who he was, and if we struggled with similar things. My heart was open to compassion and I started seeing my enemy for the human being he was. I asked myself if in some other dimension, would we be friends? That moment it clicked what I had just done. I rehumanized my supposed enemy. I knew with this new lens, I couldn’t continue down my old path, so I chose to walk away. This was the revaluation leading to the renewal of my own mind. The first step in reclaiming my own life, starting anew, and taking another direction. This was the moment I learned that I could change. I wasn’t hopeless.