The Real Shawshank Redemption

By Tomislav Huha

Tomislav Huha, a volunteer with The Art of Living, shares his experience of assisting a Prison Smart program in Croatia:

A few months ago I started assisting the Prison Smart program. We have had four courses this year so far (there might be one more, I think). The experience was absolutely mind-blowing and heart-opening... After my first visit to prison, I wrote about my experience.

Saturday, March 12, 2011, 2:18 AM

This started cooking in my head last week, and boiled today - some late sharing, I guess - have to get it out of me...

In the room, were Sanya and I, three guards and about twenty prisoners. Later we learnt that their combined sentences totaled to around 300 years. Until then, every time during Sudarshan Kriya I would breathe, but then I decided... To watch. I was breathing with the rhythm, but kept my eyes open for a part of the time.

I don't remember ever feeling Oneness with the Universe so strong as then, in the same time and space with twenty souls we call, on another level, criminals.

 

So, about ten days ago for the first time in my life I was in a prison. No drama, exactly the opposite: I took Sanya Kordić to Lepoglava prison to conduct the prison variation of the (Art of Living) Part-1 Course.

In the room, were Sanya and I, three guards and about twenty prisoners. Some of the people in front of me were probably nothing more than petty thieves, but some were multiple murderers, pedophiles - that category. Later we learnt that their combined sentences totaled to around 300 years. Until then, every time during Sudarshan Kriya I would breathe, but then I decided... To watch. I was breathing with the rhythm, but kept my eyes open for a part of the time.

Did it ever happen to you that you know something for a long time on a rational level (one-plus-one-equals-two: raw, dry math)? Yet that same thing didn't really sink in on an emotional level (where 1+1 equals at the same time both 2 and 11 and 0 and infinite - because ordinary math does not work there). In that way I have for a long time known that we are all the same, but I did not fully and always feel it.

And so, spines erect, palms facing the sky, for most of the people in the room, it was just a Long Sudarshan Kriya. For me, it was one of the strongest and deepest insights ever. Through my eyes, I was looking at twenty people, some of whom have committed horrible things (no need to go into details). When I shut my eyes and looked with my soul, I saw twenty souls same as me, on their path, whatever it may be, same as I am on mine. There was no difference between them and me. Absolutely none. I was them – they were me. I don't remember ever feeling Oneness with the Universe so strong as then, in the same time and space with twenty souls we call, on another level, criminals.

It was incredible to watch these criminals glow in Sudarshan Kriya... After Sudarshan Kriya, I had to stop myself from lining all of them up, hugging them and blessing them. It was not the right moment; it still was the Prison Smart. Some other time I'll get my hands on them.

This course (next one is scheduled for May) has ended today and what I felt (wanted to write "saw", but "felt" is the right word) watching them saying goodbye to Sanya and Alen is... Hardly describable by the words I know. People, who are rather forgotten by the outside world, have gotten the knowledge and tools that will help them to tackle whatever they have inside of them and maybe, in time, let their demons go, and come closer to ‘what they really are’.

It is so easy to say somebody is this or that, good or bad, black or white... Yes, I still do it myself, I'm sorry to say, in the haste of everyday life. But, underneath our skin, we are all made of the same Love and Light, we are all pieces of the same Universe, we are all children of the same God. We all know it, no problem about that, but to those who haven't yet, from the bottom of my heart, more than anything else, I wish they feel it.

Founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,The Art of Living is an educational and humanitarian movement engaged in stress-management and service initiatives. Mehr