|By Taylor Ferguson (Own work) [CC BY 4.0]|
Through the programs, participants and outside facilitators discover together the power that comes from recognizing our freedom along with its responsibility, no longer hiding —as victims, or products of a conditioned history (of violence, abuse, addiction, betrayal), but rather accessing the freedom of our being which is unconditioned, participating as we do in the entire web of reality, and thus capable of a new creation. We are exploring what that new creation might look like within the physical constraints of incarceration.
Neither cameras nor audio equipment are permitted inside the prison. Preferably, we would like to share pictures of the women, their living conditions and the profound impact of their LiT-uPP groups. At this point we are limited to written reflections. Below are descriptions of the program by two members of the core LiT-uPP group. They accompany others in the prison on the LiT-uPP journey.
Often, when I am asked what is unique about the LiT-uPP program, I respond with the differences between the many groups I have participated in throughout my 31 years of incarceration.
However, the most important thing to express is what it is doing and can do. It is changing every life it touches. It moves gently to the wound which is kept buried and hidden, allowing a soft touch to begin to bring it out. Participants are given compassionate tools to go through the wound, heal it, and emerge strong and whole, thus transforming lives, bringing advanced thinking and self-understanding.
Negative behaviors begin to change with insight. In finding oneself, there is a chance to have a voice, a way to make sound decisions, and the ability to reach out to others on the same path and share the journey.
Meditation becomes an important tool for having quiet time and the chance to think things through. You find another way to process by using Gestalt Awareness Practice where you can change seats with others to be able to have an empathetic heart. Learning and using the study of the Enneagram broadens understanding of personal behavior and the behavior of others, which can lead to improved communication.
With each reading of The Lioness Tale, a new insight of self becomes even clearer. Open dialogue and process bring change from the inside.
Freedom from a damaged life–once held so tightly that it becomes the only true identity–begins to emerge. Knowing truth, and understanding life experiences, transforms doubt, bitterness, anger and darkness into lovingkindness for self and others.
LiT-uPP changes lives, thinking and hearts, creating safer communities inside prison walls and outside prison walls as well. It brings light to why negative and addictive behaviors develop, then healing to those behaviors. This journey through LiT-uPP is a must for anyone who wants lovingkindness in her own life.
After over three years of experiencing the transformational magic of the LiT-uPP program and moving now to passing that magic on to others in my prison community, I am well-aware of the end goal: an improved life for all due to the gift of coping skills to help navigate the incarceration journey, along with teaching others to find true person repair, acceptance and peace.
It occurs to me that reaching goals in this environment is like Bumper Cars: It’s not really possible to avoid interference, interruption, or the invasion of one’s personal space. Just when you believe you’ve found a clear route to success, another force appears to knock you off your path. That’s the nature of the prison beast. But, those of us who have completed training and wear the Panther mantle proudly are determined to share the riches of our new life-maps with all the women here. We have started: Two groups of interested participants are working to reach a place where they too can be trained as Panther facilitators. They are already changed by The Lioness Tale and studies of the Enneagram and GAP (Gestalt Awareness Practice). They feel the growing seeds of commitment, soaking it all in like sponges, then expanding with new knowledge. They long for more and more to absorb. They have opened their hearts and souls to the process and they have developed a sense of trust and security in their LiT-uPP circles. This leaves them better prepared to learn their own truths and grant lovingkindness to themselves and others.
I have seen the changes in these women. I can sense the wave as it moves across the prison yard. News travels fast in a confined environment. This time, however, that news is about a program that is different than any other; a program that offers true healing and transformation. Our waiting list is growing, our hopes and dreams are steadfast.