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Lions Roar : September 2005
I chose to be with them as my own family. Several of the punks asked me one night if I would teach them walking meditation—they had obviously been talking with Alexander. I said I would be happy to, as long as they remained drug-free for two days. They agreed and com- plied—quite an undertaking for them. Two evenings later at midnight my punk friends chose one of Glasgow’s finest private parks to do their walking medita- tion. They found a tree just outside the park fence, boosted me up into it, and instructed me to crawl along a branch that overhung the park. For their part, they simply bounded over the fifteen-foot-high railings and then caught me as I dropped from the branch in a less than elegant manner. Once we had picked ourselves up and stopped laughing, I intro- duced them to the basics of walking meditation, slowing them right down with the breath, guiding them to release their distress into the earth. I still smile when I remember this scene: my punk friends and I walking barefoot in the grass of one of Glasgow’s finest private parks, breathing slowly and walking mindfully for more than two hours. We sat on a park bench, fresh with early-morning dew, and they began to talk to me. As I listened to them sharing heart- felt stories of how they came to be where they were, I encoun- tered a level of deep listening I had never before experienced. I was familiar with deep listening, but not at this level. I felt an all-encompassing energy embrace me, my young friends, the park, the lights, and the night sounds of the city of Glasgow. I said very little. I left both intellectual understand- ing and suffering behind and entered what was totally new territory for me. On that evening the carefully constructed sense of self dissolved and the “I” of me disappeared in that moment when I was deeply present with my young friends. In that stillness, the vastness of the energy touched deep seeds of consciousness in them as they trusted me with their confi- dences and secrets. We stayed there for hours, frequently silent, and walked back to Punk Palace just before dawn. From the smiles and embraces we exchanged I knew something had changed in all of us: I had discovered a deep listening I had never thought possible; my young friends and son had nurtured long-for- gotten seeds of hope within themselves. My new friends were now showing great consideration for me. Drugs were still being used, but less so. When they knew I was in, they would turn their heavy-metal music down, as they knew I had not learned to appreciate it. Also, no drug deals 64 SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2005 went down while I was there and the kitchen even got a cursory cleaning. At the evening sit following the adventure in the park, they all said they were very aware of my presence in the Palace. I thanked them for their consideration and quietly said I was very much aware of them. I was aware of every acid hit, of every cocaine use, and of every moment of their despair, anger, and self-destruction. I felt the energy of it all in my body and it hurt like hell. A thundering silence ensued that dragged on for ages. One of the girls started to cry and one of the boys too. Yet it was a good silence, for it had healing and heart in it. I broke the silence by very gently thanking them for their kindness and consideration toward me and told them that I was there for all of them. Then I left them to talk amongst themselves. They had listened to my stories of wilderness adventures in Canada, of my pet wolf, and of how it felt to swim with dolphins. They instinctively knew for themselves how everything was inter- connected. They were simply lost. After that evening, I did many walking meditation exercises with each one of them in the nearby park. I spent time listen- ing deeply to them and learned a great deal from my punk family about the alienation young people felt. I was there to provide counsel when asked and always steered conversations around to the topic of taking responsibility in their lives. Since they weren’t being judged, they talked openly. They felt abandoned and marginalized, yet were so creative and intel- ligent. I fed them with healthy food and counseled them in simple terms that related to their situation. The basic frustra- tion for my punk family was the powerlessness they felt in their own lives, a deep hopelessness they escaped from through drugs, pimping, prostitution, and drug dealing when necessary. Each time this would arise in our many talks and walks—mostly one-on-one—I referred to a fundamental equation: power over one’s life comes with taking responsi- bility. We talked of their creative dreams, the dynamic energy they had neglected, and practical alternatives to the way of life they had fallen into. I talked about my own struggles in life, including dealing with childhood sexual abuse that was buried in my unconscious mind for many years. That was a point of connection, for each one of them had a history of abuse and neglect of one kind or another. MY WORKING SESSIONS with Alexander continued and involved practical measures that we prepared for by practic- ing meditation. We met with his college tutors, who had not seen him for six months. He told them about his drug They felt abandoned and marginalized, yet were so creative and intelligent. Their basic frustration was the powerlessness they felt in their own lives, a deep hopelessness they escaped from through drugs.