What We Can Learn About True Freedom From Ex-Convicts, Special Ops Vets and Byron Katie

Alisha Das Hayes and Byron Katie“Sweetie, you’re not getting this. I could be like Hannibal Lector and bite a nose off a face. I could have my guys kill for me, but I liked it to be up close and personal. I killed pimps, cho mo’s [Child molesters], dealers…the cops would actually thank me, give me back my weapons, and say have a nice day, sir.”

This is from an actual conversation I had recently! I sat on the floor with Viking. * He’s three times my size, and he just laughed when I asked how he killed in prison without weapons. He had made a journey few ever will—from the most violent death-row convict to a free, (mostly) peaceful man.

Allow me to fill you in on the twenty-four hours before this conversation. I had gone to an invitation-only Byron Katie/ Inside Circle Foundation (ICF) event in California wine country. This was to be the first time ever ex-convicts (and we’re talking former lifers) would share with “free people” the transformational work they’d done in prison. I had come because Byron Katie’s daughter, Roxann, invited me and I trusted her implicitly, but I had been told nothing about what would occur.

In the training room, I saw the roughest-looking men I’d ever seen. I thought we were there to serve them but they were clearly intending to serve us. Big Andrew* whooped a Native American invocation as sage burned. Rob, a biker with a long white ponytail, read stunning inmate poetry. Then they presented the ground rules. We didn’t make it past the first one—no violence.

Please Read The Full Article on The Huffington Post

Alisha Das Hayes on The Huffington Post 




Martyr, Predator, Loser, Whore. . .
whoever is in you-
gather them unto your wide heart.
For ‘God loves all His creation’*
(Including yours.)
While you rushed out to live the good life
the parts of you that weren’t good enough
slipped out the back
and suited up in disguises hewn of your humiliation
After your winter of sorrow turned to summer of denial
you flung those stifling cloaks deep into your closet of shame.
They were hidden but not forgotten
and that made all the difference.

Yet your abandoned children of the night
clutch the very energy of the gods. Therefore,
your frantic fray to be good, to be okay.
Gently summon them forth.
Lift their coarse veil
and look them full in the face.
Gaze long enough and you’ll see,
peeking out from a mass of unkempt shame,
your original innocence.

Can you hear them?
Their voices may catch from years of being told,
‘Shut up! I hate you! You don’t exist!’
They may sputter and then spew
the things we shouldn’t think and shouldn’t say.
If you simply listen without judgment
(Aye, there’s the rub, but too, the key to the unlocking heart)
until they have been finally and truly heard,
their tarnished words will start to run clear and pure.
You will discover you always wanted the same things-
You just deeply misunderstood each other.

You stop fighting the war
no longer being waged against you.
You offer your smooth, lily-white hand
to the gnarled, dirty-brown one bearing the calluses meant for you.
You tenderly embrace your leather-cloaked self
as they let the dagger slip from their baby-soft fingertips.

You see now that you had wrought a sliding door
so only one aspect could slip through at a time-
Good or bad; light or dark
But you know now:
you are what the earth and sky have in common.
You are the living bridge
And you are that which has no need of a bridge
You are the Christ who sees it all the same

You tenderly gather yourself to your heart, a newborn.
You are ready now, to love wholy-
Nothing withheld from the Holy of Holies.
And you finally understand
‘It takes great courage to see the face of God
because first you must see your own.’

Alisha Das Hayes

I wrote this poem after a session I did many years ago. It  describes work I do to assist one to recognize, acknowledge, listen to, love and reintegrate disowned parts of themselves. Prodigal (their title for it is Love’s Unveiling) is handed out as part of the curriculum for the University of Santa Monica’s Graduate Course. I dedicate it to Ron Hulnick, with undying gratitude for being my mentor in this and all things.

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