Tuesday evening, May, 3rd, 2016.

At 6:00, Soledad maximum security prison, in front of 25 inmates who are serving sentences of life and life without parole:

After Class Q&A

William: When I breath into my heart and think of gratitude…

Alik: Don’t think, try and feel grateful…

William: I don’t know how to feel that…

Alik: You come to me at the end of every class and say ‘thank you for coming to Soledad,’  right?

William:  Yes.

Alik: Thank you is the precursor to gratitude. Take that feeling and expand it. Feel warmth in your chest… Your heart will come alive…

William:  I feel anger in my chest.

Alik: Look, you know they are trying now to get cars fueled on corn and other organic matters, right? They are putting a lot research and technology to try and eliminate fuel.

William: Yeah, I know.

Alik: So how is that no one is trying to do away with engine oil.

William: (Silence)…Maybe they want the money?

Alik: Or maybe there is no substitute to an engine lubricant. You have got to have some kind of lubrication to the engine or it will explode.  Same with the human heart. Gratitude is the lubricant of our heart.  Without it, we are dead men walking. We go through the motions but we are really dead.

William: That’s a new way of…

Alik: Do you participate in the ‘Anger management’ classes on your yard?

William : Yes, but they don’t help. As soon as I get angry, I forget all the lectures.

Alik: I know. When we get angry, emotions blind us, all we can do is breathe.  And that is the teaching. Start breathing the anger down to your foundation. It may take twenty, fifty breaths, whatever it takes, eventually the anger will dissipate into your belly and you’ll have fire ignited there.  That is the most effective anger management. You breath your anger down.  It does not belong in your chest. It’s a tool, a powerful energy that can build you instead of destroying you.

William: Every day I wake up with two different feelings, either pain or anger. I feel like breaking up things…

Alik: What good would that do? A temporary relief and you’ll get the hole (solitary confinement). I have a better way for you. Breath as if your life depends on it.

William: it’s like a knife, the pain…

Alik: I know.

William: Then we have these guys who insult you, throw shit at you, talk about your mother, it's as hurtful as a knife going in…

Alik: Same answer William.  Breathe and use the negative tension exercise I thought you. Look, a couple of weeks ago a very dear person in my life said some horrible stuff about me. He also dredged up stuff from the past, twenty and thirty years back, bringing you back to diapers…(Everybody laughs)  Isn’t true, how some people would try and rub your face in the shit of stuff you did many years ago? 

William: So what happened?

Alik: I had few sleepless nights, as I was trying to figure out why would anyone do that?  Especially a person that loves you?

William: What did you figure out?

Alik: A mean streak? Yes, that too. An angry person? Yes, very angry, sitting on mountains of unresolved rage.

William: Did it help?

Alik: Then It dawned on me. It’s all a matter of control. When someone wants to control you, they’ll either hurt you viciously or say how wonderful and sweet you are all the time.

William: Don’t get it.

Alik: People are strange this way.  They figure they don’t deserve more, and they go back to the source of pain.  It’s all about control

William: So what happened?

Alik: I breathed and breathed, hours and hours, days and days. And finally forgiveness happened.  Burned the pain away. Use your breathing William. It will change your life here.  I cannot take years from your sentence but I can help you get inner freedom.  And then, miracles happen. Everything is written but permission is granted to change that which is written…

William : Alik, I am not the person I was a year ago… Thank you…

Armed guards enter the room. Class is over.