Our group for sex-traffic survivors at Rikers Island is growing. The first person to share this week was new, with an absolutely heartrending story, which she shared for the very first time. I was worried that she was opening up too much at once, that she might stay too open afterwards. The structure of our group is sound, though, with an intern whom the women can see afterwards for follow-up, and a specific closing meditation shared at the bottom of this post.
I wasn’t worried though, by the end of the group, because of the other women. They shared similar stories, adding how they were empowered thanks to our group. Their pain was so deeply felt, yet their stories so uplifting. These women are embracing the spiritual challenge: to use all their strength and focus on healing themselves – instead of wasting it on drugs and men.
I was incredibly inspired and awed – so much strength in that room – the strength of this group.
Photo taken at Cotobato Prison by Agron Drgaj
Closing meditation for sex-traffic survivors group:
Let’s just sit quietly, just as you are, or you can straighten your spine if you like, and bring our attention inside for a moment.
And if you feel comfortable, you’re welcome to close your eyes.
Let’s deepen the breath for a moment, and as we inhale, see if you can bring your consciousness along with your breath, inside the body.
The breath brings oxygen and life in the body. It’s not invasive or harmful. It soothes us and deep breathing helps us to feel better. So you can focus on the cleansing quality of each breath, of that h energy as it comes in the body and cleanses whatever part of the body in need that kind of attention.
It’s our choice, to focus on it or not. If it doesn’t feel comfortable to focus on the breath, you can just perhaps enjoy the quiet in the room.
Now, as we sit here quietly, having absorbed the strength and courage and resilience of all of us here, and also having felt some of the pain that led us to tap into our strength, let’s stay with the knowledge that we share this strong bond.
If it’s available to you, let’s envision, with eyes closed if possible, ourselves sitting here quietly, feeling the peace and strength and the connection we have with each other.
Focusing very strongly on that inner strength let’s think of that strength as energy. This strong energy emanates from you, and forms an invisible shield around your physical form. You can expand that shield so you have space between you and the inside of the shield to hold in good energy and keep what you don’t want on the outside of that strong invisible shield.
Now, if it’s available to you, you can think of the incidents of the past as black birds. Perhaps there are many black birds around you at this moment. Perhaps they’re trying to get in through the shield, or perhaps they’re just flying by. You don’t need to let them in. You can let in anything you want and leave out anything you want.
If someone is abusive to you here, you can think of that energy as another black bird trying to shred your shield and get to your heart, to make you believe you’re less than you are.
In truth all these shadow birds have come to make us stronger – to strengthen our energetic shield, so that in the end nothing can break us.
If a memory comes from the past, you have the choice to think of it as a shadow bird and keep it outside of your shield.
In this room, we allow those birds in for a very little while, just so we can see it for what it is, see perhaps another aspect of it, and then we can put it outside of our energetic shield again.
All the events from the past and the abuse in the present are like shadow birds, black birds trying to peck at our true selves.
This protective shield allows in all that is true and good from outside. Friendship, kindness, being seen for who you are, all these positive things can enter through so we can hold them.
Anything that you don’t want to enter through the shield, does not enter. Our hearts may have opened inside this room, where we are safe and shared anonymously with each other. Now this invisible shield will protect our hearts, so that we can stay safe.
If you feel weak or tired from what came up for you today, look for others who are here now and they will look out for you. You can perhaps go to bed and be comfortable there. Or you can talk to the intern if you need more support. Whatever you choose to do, you can keep that shield made of strength around you and focus on not letting in what you don’t want.
Let’s hold on to thought of the invisible shield as we return to the chaos out there, and also know that you have each other.