The door slammed shut, iron bars censure uncanny tunes with the screams of a woman held in another cell. It’s cold; I wrap the sheet given to me around my shoulders to try to ward off the chill. Sitting on a cement block I moved into a lotus position, pulling the sheet over my head I begin to meditate. Breath in, breath out, rememer love; relax go inside, into your heart. A wise part of myself seemed to take charge and guide me through the shock I was feeling. I began to chant silently, Nameo ho ren gay key oh… hey yeh no hey no… nameo ho ren gey key oh. A chant I combine with the Buddhist and Native American spirit meaning to me love and gratitude.
Frenzied screams continued to dominate as she belted wildly from her nearby cell. Screaming my pain out like her may have helped me release some of the deep core fear that I was digging fanatically to bury my best, I suppress trying to keep my senses in check. Had my internal screams been unbound I would have been force medicated and kept indefinitely in this cold dark place I fear. No I will keep my mouth shut. This utterly reminds me of my childhood.
I wondered if perhaps my soft voice echoed through the halls as well, because shortly after I started singing a guard came and move me to another cell. I was brought a few steps away into another cell over crowded with 4 other women already sleeping on all the plastic cots available. With no room to move I stepped over them very carefully and crawled onto cement block looking over them wondering if this was where I was to be for the night. The smell of body odor was strong and I wondered how long they had been there. One woman used the one roll of toilet paper there was for her pillow. They all had sheets pulled over their heads to block out the over-head light buzzing an ignominious hum. Her screams held pitch and all reminded me of when I was 18 years old forced into a mental ward for trying to kill myself. Dark, cold scary, screaming, hold on, I whisper and keep quiet.
Eventually, I was retrieved by a guard who formally escorted me through a maze of long cemented corridors to the main chamber where I was to spend the next ten days. Entering a large two-story cement room a television obsessively loud held their attention until I walked in and suddenly 50 women dressed in prison uniforms were all focused on me. I tried not to tremble. Carrying a grey plastic bin filled with a sheet, blanket and toothbrush, I walked directly back towards cell #401, trying to pretend this cold staring place, didn’t bother me. The tiny cement room held one bunk bed, a sink next to a toilet with no lid, and no privacy to use it. Rena, a Navajo woman who was my roommate gave me a welcome hello followed with instructions on what not to do, so I don’t’ get written up by the guards. I crawled onto the top bunk and did my best to prepare myself for the run by praying and trying to calm this totally shocked-in-trauma state my psyche was experiencing.
10pm. the TV was turned off and everyone moved back to her cell. As I lay down, the iron gates clashed in chorus bolting us in for the night. Curling up on the cold plastic mattress, I pulled the sheet over my head to block out the ignominious humming light that suddenly dimmed somewhat for sleeping. The stench in the sheet was that of someone’s body odor from before.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well, but when I did, I had a dream. I was watching two birds from inside the jail. One was a dove and the other a dark blue bird. The birds were cuddling with each other; the dark blue bird seemed to be comforting the dove. It was a sweet scene until in the wink of an eye, the dark blue bird snapped the dove’s neck and she was dead.
The lights buzzed back on to full glare at 5am. The haunting dream was a trauma in itself, but as I lay there contemplating, I took it as a strong warning. Don’t get too close to any of the inmates. Originally when I thought I might have to do time in jail, I told myself God had a reason for it and I was going to perhaps help someone there. But this dream warning changed that physical idea and I decided to simply hold space and silently pray for the others and that would be my service.
The women filed in at 6am. for breakfast, as I hesitated, Rena tells me everyone has to go, don’t forget your id band or you’ll get written up. I was handed a brown heavy plastic tray that looked like a chewed up dog dish. The contents matched the look of the tray. Sitting at a table with a group of hardened women, I noticed the alpha female here had maybe 4-5 months growth of gray, which made her somewhat resemble a skunk. Her energy attitude towards me was a hard-hitting confirmation of my dream warning and for me to take serious heed. Being pretty and blonde was not helping me hide and after giving my food away to another inmate, I hurried back up on my bunk, which felt the safest. They could smell my fear. I needed to find my center in prayer and mediation.
Watching the immature low conscious actions and behavior of the inmates’ against each other reminded me of Jr. High School when kids could be so cruel, down right mean and competitive. But these were grown women turning on each other, threatening instead of supporting. Our culture is in need of some serious reform.
It was here that I made a conscious choice not to take anything personal. I found this awareness to be very helpful with the tool of remaining an observer, watching from a distance above. Taking note of how I felt, yet still recognizing these women were in pain too, perhaps this was all they knew. Competitive behavior has always invoked anger in me, especially between women. How were we to come back to the sacred feminine ways if women acted this way towards each other, jail or not? We need to rise above the pain of suppression and conditioning of the patriarchal rule if we are to step back into balance. We need to remember we are all in this together.
The TV goes on at 8am and stays on until 10pm. Torture for me, a non-reformative distraction for the women. This personal anomaly coupled with being held prisoner in a cold toxic artificial environment devoid of Nature Herself was enough to drive me out of my body. I felt like I was remembering birth trauma and as I contemplated this made complete sense in our modern world birthing process. Mother’s womb, safe warm organic, comforting steady heart beat, … into a cold toxic artificial environment with bright lights and chemicals, the hospital shock for a newborn like jail, so devoid of Nature.
I observed all, and found some of the women to be kind like my roommate Rena. She explained she was doing 6 months for an alcohol problem and violating probation. She said she didn’t like it here but that it was better than being out there, where she would be cold and hungry. Her ill-omened prophetic take was that when she did get out she would just get in trouble again because she felt confused and never understood how to follow the strict probation rules.
If the system would offer programs in helping these men and women relearn their tribal ways, perhaps with a Medicine person of their Nation, they could learn to reclaim their dignity. We talked about alcohol and how it’s dark energy especially can destroy Indian people.
Rena is off to sewing, some of the regular women here go to work sewing uniforms, she liked it because she can get coffee and sometimes she said they would get to sew on a quilt. It’s a welcome distraction for her and a change of scenery from the daily ignominy.
All is grey cement, the water has a grey cloud like density, and the air vent releases a stuffy shade of grey, it isn’t a rancid bad smell, but it carries at times an odor detectable enough that it makes me cringe. Everything in here is grey and cold, calloused, controlled and cruel, everything here is deficient, except medication.
In my choice to be the observer and not take anything personal I felt, in a way I was watching a movie and taking notes on human consciousness in an intensely dense environment. I observed by simply watching without an emotional charge, it was in a way like pretending. Most of the guards were cold and impersonal as if the inmates were lower than human, like slaves. I felt they were just hurt and scared too and needed to be insensitive disciplinarians to help them feel safe and better about themselves. When a guard made an obtrusive very senseless remark in a demeaning infantile manner, even though I couldn’t believe she did it, I shifted gears into none reactive mode, like water on a ducks back. I was reminded how I had to pretend as a child even when things were really bad, this was cup cakes compared to how my father acted.
On the fourth morning at 9am, I was allowed to go home to work for the day. Putting my face to the sun, smelling the fresh air, right there in the parking lot of the jail I said a prayer to help the women behind these walls, a prayer of gratitude for this moment of freedom and for this day. I am an artist. When I got home to my studio I said more prayers and did my daily ritual of meditation. I got out a new canvas and started to paint. I had so much emotion held in me; I knew I couldn’t work on my commissions, not wanting to put that energy into someone else’s painting. I decided to do what I know best and heal my hurt through painting; I needed to paint the pain of the women in jail and mine.
I added black and grey and red for anger. I had a myriad of tears to shed yet nothing came. I think I was afraid if I opened that vessel I would not be able to close it, and I would loose myself in a deluge of despair. There was the threat that a parole officer could check up on me at anytime. And so all day I painted and I prayed with passion and deep emotion for the women in the jail. A dark and heavy beginning on the canvas stood to dry at the end of the day, yet I knew the transformation was soon to come.
Re-entering jail was again and again, over and over humiliating and for me traumatizing, I noticed by the eighth day I was feeling like I was watching through a fog-filtered movie. “Strip, everything off, lift um, turn um around, spread um, squat um and cough.” The strip search, as degrading and dreadful as it was, over quite quickly as the clock goes still was worth the trade off for a day of painting my pain in fresh air and freedom sun.
On the fifth morning I awoke out of a dream, reciting a poem, “Prepare yourself for the ultimate flight on the tale of a dragon, fly through the dungeon into the Light.” Creations Child, a spoken word I wrote to accompany a painting I did to heal my abusive childhood. I’d used it as a therapy tool to help young women who had been abused and were seeking help. I’d stopped that work 4 years earlier, feeling at the time it was too hard for me. Now I was feeling the inspiration to perhaps help these women behind bars, most if not all of them had been abused. I didn’t see any program to help the women in here, except one AA meeting and bible study per week. I was feeling distressed with the lack of support and rehabilitation for the women. Maybe I could help, maybe this is why I am here I thought excited, I needed these ten days, not just one to fully get the experience, not more, not less. I was feeling in touch perhaps with what God’s plan was. Much of my fear washed clear in that moment.
Later that morning I went home to my studio after saying my prayers for the women and begin painting the transformation of our pain onto the canvas. As I mediated with the painting, I saw the head of a White Buffalo and so I got out the colors to bring in the healing. I still felt within me a well of emotion, I felt myself like a pressure system that needed to explode, but again nothing emoted and so I painted and I prayed for the transformation to take place.
After completing the strip search process that night and re-admitted into the grey containment chamber, Rena informed me that 5 women had been released that day. Charlotte another Navajo woman said to Rena before she was released that she knew Cher was praying for her and that was why she was getting out. I stood silently listening, I hadn’t told anyone what I was doing while I was on the outside. Clearly my prayers were being heard by the Angels of God. I felt blessed to be a part of bringing in the light to this dark hole of despair.
And as the days unfolded, I began to watch magic manifest before my eyes, which was a very interesting case study for my observer. As I continued to let all harsh cold and insensitive actions unaffect me, placing awareness and understanding on the fact these souls were just hurt, scared individuals, their behaviors began to soften and attitudes changed. Many of the inmates began to smile warmly at me and even guards that were so “on guard” began to show some human qualities of compassion. Even the guard who was so immaturely demeaning to me began to smile almost apologetically, her attitude shifted so bizarrely; it was almost scary to see the change in her at first.
This movie of mine was transitioning from a dark horror flick into a human drama. I believe with devotion to the cause, I could turn this nightmare into a comedy or even a love story. I’m embellishing perhaps but not really. I did find, without negative thoughts to spark an emotional charge, while remaining aware and allowing a continuous flow of love, I could change my reality. I found peace and compassion inside, even imprisoned physically behind these cement walls. I found a reason, a purpose, a way I could be of service. Not an easy task, but clearly mastering my mind showed a dichotomy in perception to this inhuman condition.
And I was very, very grateful to be freed physically from the cold grey cement walls. The morning of my 10th day of incarceration, I was released, free to go with all my belongings and no orders to return.
I would have thought that I’d be ecstatic dancing in the freedom sun, and at first I was…
It didn’t take but a few hours and by the time I got home I felt myself slip into a dark pit of despair.
I was so emotionally unready for what I was feeling, I dangerously considered jumping off the bridge, the same bridge I was driving to jump off when I got arrested for the DUI over a year ago that prompted me to go to jail in the first place. What happened? What happened? Screaming out of my mind, out of control, I didn’t know what happened to me and I didn’t care, I just hated everything and I wanted out. I don’t even know how I made it through that first night. I scribbled in my journal just wait until tomorrow, you may feel different tomorrow, just wait, a part of me then agreed, I will wait until till tomorrow, but only until tomorrow.
Tomorrow came and although I wasn’t screaming wounded mad, I did not feel better inside. The bridge still seemed like an easy out. The river next to my home was flooding from an unexpected heat wave and was quickly rising as it melted the icy winter snow. I felt this a symbolic archetypal deluge of my emotions, I was tempted to sacrifice myself into her raging current.
I tried to do my ritual meditation and prayer that normally I love to do and found no will, no ability to connect. I found little solace in my greatest muse, Nature. I buried myself into my room and hid away from the world, which seemed so cruel and scary to me.
I realize now, in jail I had entered into a physical space of dark energy, and although I held the light consciously and remained an observer, I still somehow took it on in resonance. I personally have had a propensity to go right into suicide mode in the past; this has been one of my life's challenges I took on to transform this lifetime. Aware enough to see this resurfaced for me again, I refused to succumb to the temptation of this old behavior pattern and it was very difficult.
I still knew what I consciously know... such as an ounce of gratitude makes a world of difference, but in that moment nothing mattered, nothing! I knew something was very wrong and this lasted for days. I wasn't feeling myself at all. The fact that I had been vibrating at such a high light just before was very helpful because the dichotomy was so profound I could more easily identify the foreign feelings of numb dead dread.
In going inside, intuitively I felt I needed to do some soul retrieval. When I looked back on my memory of jail, I again realized although I felt I remained clear in my conscious intentions, I was also walking around in a blurring fog not feeling fully present. After doing some Soul retrieval work for myself with the help of a healer friend, I also discovered I needed to do some masculine/feminine balancing.
Although that worked helped a lot I was still not feeling right inside. I went to a shaman for help. She informed me that I didn’t need any soul retrieval. And after checking me using Chinese medicine methods, she said, “nor do you need any Masculine/Feminine balancing which is so strange,” she said, “because always after the kind of trauma you just went through, one always needs balancing.” This was a good confirmation to know that the work I already did, really did work. What she then preceded to tell me was that she needed to call on my spirit helpers to assist us in doing some entity extractions and to clear some very aggressive energy.
This concerned me as I went into the jail doing my best to prepare myself through prayer and meditation putting protection around me. The shaman explained to me that when one is confronted with serious trauma, triggered through fear, the psyche can be pushed energetically to the max, this she said can blow holes in the aura leaving an open door for all kinds of energies to take host.
I came to understand that the preventative measures I took did not completely work for me because unconsciously I was triggered in conjunction with memories of childhood, associations of mental wards and what not. I disassociated, leaving my body alone to deal with the experience similar to what I did to survive as a child.
It took some conscious time of journaling, mediation and getting back to Nature and a lot of Prayer. It took me taking time out of my day to howl and scream giving a stage for my rage to release opening for a brighter dream into my reality. Gratefully I have returned to myself perhaps stronger and with a deeper passion to learn more and share about this subject of rage, soul loss and entity attachments. What I discovered in the process of healing this shadow within me is that anger and rage is an energy that in the transformation truly offers gifts in freedom. Anger if ignored will destroy life, but anger in its transformation gives passion for change that graciously supports life.
I am grateful for the freedom I have found in the healing that has occurred for me. Not running away, facing my feelings and dealing with them cohesively is unfolding the “real me”, bringing awareness to a more authentic part of myself and discovering I am a living miracle. Although I periodically have those old thought patterns to die, through my perseverance to transform them they continue to loose power over me. Recognizing, feeling and expressing my anger consciously and doing what I know what works for me in my spiritual practice, tools are gathered to be more whole. Shadows don’t disappear and simply go away, but they will transform into valuable unprecedented gifts.
I share my story because I believe it may be helpful. What if more people are walking around with these kinds of issues than we realize? Epidemic proportions perhaps. Every one experiences fear and trauma to different levels no matter what the trigger is, even something as seemingly small as falling off a bicycle, or surgery can lead to post traumatic syndrome, which is Soul loss under shamanic terms. People in a jail, prison and hospital like situations seem to me very susceptible, as I was.
In truth every one has experienced deep fear and trauma in one way or another, some of course deal with it easier than others. Everyone has anger, unfortunately our modern society does not allow for its expression. Yes anger, expressed unconsciously is harmful and dangerous to ourselves, as well as others. Still anger unexpressed gets suppressed affecting the body, creating dis-ease, dis-harmony and dis-order in our inner world perpetuating to our outer world. In order to be whole, feel complete and happy we as humans get to embrace all aspects of ourselves. The shadow and the light play a role, it’s impossible not to have one without the other, therefore resisting only perpetuates a scenario that forces one until they can’t help but recognize it. We do have the power to change and transform the energy of though forms for ourselves, bringing awareness into these areas is the first step towards healing.
My feeling albeit naive perhaps in this modern world of ours is if issues such as these could be looked at and addressed in a conscious manner like those of the ancient indigenous traditions, people of this world might be more present to share their gifts and lead happier lives. The world might be conductively an easier place where others can live their Spirituality, express their creativity and we could have the beginnings of peace among Nations. Peace within our selves, therefore Peace amongst our selves.
Thank you. Copyrighted, By Cher Lyn.