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:
We can just sit quietly, just as you are, or you can get more comfortable, letting your weight sink into the chair as best as possible.
And if you feel comfortable, you’re welcome to close your eyes.
I invite you to deepen the breath gently, like you’re focusing on the breath and making the inhale and the exhales happen. If you can focus on your breathing, perhaps you feel your body relaxing a little bit more.
If this works, you can think of the breath bringing oxygen and life in the body, soothing comforting. And removing any tension or pain, anything we don’t need in the body. Maybe you can think of the cleansing quality of each breath.
And, if it doesn’t feel comfortable to focus on the breath, maybe you can just 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, I invite you to sit with the knowledge that we share this strong bond.
As we sit here quietly, I invite you to tap into feeling the peace and strength and the connection we have with each other.
Focusing on that inner strength, I invite you to think of where in the body it comes from. What place in the body feels like your core. Is it behind your navel? Is it your heart? Is it in another part of your body? What is your core? Where does your strength come from?
Focusing on the core of ourselves, the place where all our strength comes from, I invite you to think of that strength as light and energy. This light shines from your core. If this works, you can think of this light as your essence, your consciousness, who you truly are, beyond the body and mind, beyond the physical world, beyond experience and circumstances.
If it works to visualize that light and energy shining from you, I invite you to allow that light to spread through your entire body, soothing, comforting every part of your body. That light is your strength, and it is also your sweetness, your most subtle self, your beauty, your amazing spirit. The color of that light is your color. Whatever color you wish.
Now I invite you to think of this light, emanating from your core self, spreading throughout your body and beyond your body, so that you are inside a cocoon of that pure, beautiful light that is the essence of your being, your truth and your strength.
This cocoon made of that light, is your energetic shield. It protects you. It protects your heart. Nothing can enter that shield that you don’t want to enter. And everything that you want to invite in, can enter. You can invite in kindness, support, a sweet thank you. And you can shut out criticism and blame. You can shut out anything you don’t need right now, it doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative. Anything you don’t need, doesn’t come through that shield of protective, beautiful light. Any thoughts that come to you, any memories, if you want them, you can invite them in, and if you don’t, you can gently place them outside your cocoon and ask them to stay there until they are invited in.
If you face something difficult, someone being abusive, you can envision your heart being surrounded by the gentle light that comes from your strength, your resilience, and create that shield of light so their stuff doesn’t get to your heart. We can give them their stuff back. We don’t need to take it on. We don’t need to be made less than we are.
This protective shield of light is ours to choose to do with what we want. Anything that you don’t want to enter, does not enter. Our hearts may have opened inside this room, where we are safe and shared 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. You can perhaps go to bed and be comfortable there. 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 of light, warmth and soothing comfort as we gently bring ourselves back.
You can move your fingers and toes, open your eyes if they were closed, and maybe just look ahead for a moment, just taking some time to return to the room.