15/05/13 0

Throughout the year we hear from facilitators across the country who offer Lionheart’s prison program, Houses of Healing, to incarcerated adults. The feedback they offer is typically outstanding and most valuable to us as we continue to develop our curricula for prisoners and youth.  Sometimes included are letters from the participants of the program, stories of struggle and change.  Just this afternoon we heard from a female inmate from South Carolina.   We were moved by what she had to say, and hope you are too. (J. Perry, COO, Lionheart)

          “When I started Houses of Healing I had high expectations. I’ve done that with every book I’ve read or class I’ve taken. I enter in thinking this will be the one that will make the difference—and I’m continually disappointed until now. Nine years worth of self-help books, courses and Bible studies and I finally found “the one.”  I can honestly say this book has transformed me. We all want to say that after taking a good course, but in this circumstance I know there is truth in the statement as my family has noticed measurable change in our interactions.

There are a number of ways Houses of Healing has positively impacted me. I used to be a very emotional person. I never realized how much until now. Not emotional as in overly reactive in an outward manner but inwardly my emotions would fly off the charts. I am now able to rationalize rather than emotionalize. I have found inner peace. When I encounter a situation that would have previously sent me in to an emotional tail-spin, I am able to stop. I can catch myself and in that moment I ask “what is the issue here?” that very question slows me down to the point where I am able to gather facts, look at my motivation, question the feelings and motivation of others and get to the root of the issues. Things are rarely as they first appear. I am able to remove myself from the situation emotionally and it gives me a different vantage point. It’s much like sitting back and watching a movie rather than being caught in the middle of the drama as a main character. The change in perspective makes all the difference. It’s amazing how much can happen in that brief moment prior to flipping that emotional switch. My inner calm and peace is maintained and huge issues seem to shrink before my eyes.

I have created a condensed version of the Daily Emotional Weather Report that I can mentally refer to on a situational level. This helps me clear away the emotional fog  and see a situation in the clear light of day. I am able to respond rather than react. For this alone I am grateful.

          Meditation has become a daily necessity. If I skip over it—I muddle through the day in a knot of tension. No matter what the day has held or what is to follow—taking a moment for meditation makes it all seem manageable.  I also welcome the time to literally “tune out” the buzz of prison.

Finally—Forgiveness…Houses of Healing has helped me see forgiveness as the gift it is. As with anything in life—the more you do it, the better you become. I’ve become quite proficient in giving it to others—with myself, not so much. I still struggle with self-forgiveness and have days when the guilt and shame swallow me whole. That being said, Houses of Healing has equipped me with the tools necessary to begin digging my way out of the pit. I’m just not there yet. Some days I welcome the darkness and pain. I feel deserving of it. But Houses of Healing has given me hope that perhaps one day I won’t feel like I need it any longer. For now I will just be grateful for the hope.

Thank you from the depths of my heart—for this opportunity to transform and grow emotionally and spiritually.”