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Our Thoughts … the Real Prison Cell

By Judy McSween

In the middle of facilitating a workshop, the alarm on my cellphone sounded. It was with great chagrin I noted that I was due for a court appearance for a traffic offence at that very moment. Being virgin to court procedure and having “broughtupsy”, I hastened to contact the court to advise that I had inadvertently missed my appearance and wished to set a new date. The response at the other end of the line was: “it doh wuk so mam. Dey mus be have a warrant out for yuh arrest”.

I attempted to reason that I was the one who had requested that the matter be brought before the court, so there could not possibly be a warrant out for my arrest. The young lady proceeded to explain “how tings wuk”.

I got my new date, arrived at the local police station and was escorted by a plain clothes policeman to the nearby courthouse. It was only as I, the only civilian, sat in the air-conditioned police office at the courthouse and heard the police officer say “We have another prisoner here – a lady, so someone has to remain at the back here” that I realised I had misconstrued my “special treatment”. “Am I the lady you are referring to?” I asked in disbelief. “Yes, on de warrant” was the response.

As I waited to be called to the court room, I was in good spirits. There was banter in the office. It was there that the whole concept of prisoner types surfaced. I was in confinement and yet felt a strong sense of freedom, as I received the support from the officers as they sought to clarify my misconceptions of court procedure. My thoughts kept shifting from

– my present experience of confinement where I chose to focus on the positive dimensions and learnings— why am I here, how can I learn and grow from this experience? to

– the chosen confinement of monks where they thirst and search for spiritual knowledge and growth, freedom from distractions and the silence of meditation

– the forced confinement of perpetrators and its consequences

How different the mental dispositions of these three “prisoners”. Our thoughts are indeed a more dominant prison than any physical confinement could be.

Till we meet again, it’s Judy Joseph Mc Sween, Time Out Specialist, encouraging you to take a Time Out to identify the thoughts that imprison you.

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