My prison break

‘Everything around me solidified,’ I recited my last night’s meditation experience to my mentor. ’It was as if in the entire creation held only me and my bedroom. Nothing else had form, nothing else seemed to exist anywhere.’

She’s a small woman, my spiritual mentor. Very humble, very human and has her own quirks, but she’s become the assistant map-reader for this multilayered human vehicle that I’m navigating here.

‘That’s it!’ She snapped at me and I startled. ‘Time for you to get out of all those spaces and rooms. You must stop using the words ‘room’ and ‘space’ for a time.’

Never before had she had spoken to me with that edge in her voice, as if she had had enough of me in some way.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked, not understanding her strong reaction. ‘Why can’t I use those words?’

Her face contorted a little, a mixture of sadness and disgust. ‘You speak of walls becoming you, you speak of holding and creating spaces. You speak of safe spaces and rooms where something is appropriate or not. You narrow your entire experience to the insignificance of your bedroom. For what?’

The words hit me to the core and gave an involuntary shiver. ’For safety,’ I whispered, feeling the quivering reach all the way to my fragile personality. ‘I need it for safety.’

I thought about the new-age-workshop teachers and practitioners who have taught me all those space-creation-cleansing-holding rituals. Recalled the ones who said it takes a lot of energy to ‘hold the space’. To make sure it’s safe and good for people to feel relaxed in that space. Both for safety of the participants and of the workshop holder.

‘You are the light of the creator experiencing a human form,’ my mentor continued as if talking to a child.
‘How long will you confine your precious experience to living in tiny boxes? You don’t need to hold space or create space or whatever nonsense. You are the space. You are the room itself and everything that surrounds it. You don’t need to build walls around you. There is nothing that can attack you that isn’t a part of you.’

Suddenly I had a vision of a large hand reaching from above and yanking away all the walls I had carefully placed around myself. The walls were made of shiny cloth and they folded around me like massive white bedsheets, sliding upwards away from me. I was being revealed as the ghost in one of those Scooby Doo cartoons. The white sheets slid off and underneath was… the little old me with glinting eyes; lonely, small and exposed.

How clever and crafty I had been with the mask on. How insignificant I was without.


The next day, I was sick. My right hip was in so much pain I could barely move. It felt as if I had lost my crutches and had to learn to walk again. This time on my own trembling feet.

Forced to rest for full day, I took a lot of fluids and did my best to love my aching hip. My mind kept wondering how it would be to live without the safety of confinement. I began feeling better throughout the day and at night, sat down on top of my bed once more for the meditation practise.

I took a deep breath, and… the walls of my room disappeared.

Not like in the movies, I could still see them, but it was as if they didn’t count anymore. Sitting on my bed, I could sense the weather outside, see the distant streetlights and feel the wind tousling the tops of pine trees in front of my house. My awareness connected to the city that was slowing down for the night and I felt myself slide with it, beyond it. 

There was no goal to this exploration, just vastness with me suddenly connected to it. No more walls protecting me, keeping things out, keeping me in. It was exhilarating. As if I had just learned to fly.

With assistance from my mentor, (and I suspect also the powers-that-be), we had orchestrated a prison break.

Walls and spaces keep us safe. We draw boundaries around us, erect barricades and announce our limits to the world. Rules and structure and control. A natural instinct towards safety, to keeping us from harm.

Most workshop leaders use the words ‘this is a safe space, here you are safe’ and we long to trust in that. The small-selves in us long to trust that, because our primal instincts yearn for the proverbial mothers and fathers to keep us safe from the strange large world. Walls, boundaries, rules, laws – all help us survive.

But once we survive long enough to grow up and begin to truly own who we are, those same safe spaces – the rooms where the bodies of others make us feel protected, where the nearness of someone’s love feels overwhelmingly essential – will become our prisons. 

Slowly, we begin negotiating ourselves to keep us small and dependent. Our own vastness becomes trapped in boxes of double-locked rooms, ‘safe spaces’ and relationships full of boundaries and agreements.

As my own makeshift walls were yanked away and I felt small inside all that largeness unknowing that it was all a part of me. It took time for me to realise that only I could define how I felt within it. Small and lost or large and benevolent. Loving or fearful.

This is not a call to try this at home. While I had those walls around me, they were the most precious thing and I wouldn’t have given them up unless I was ready. Feeling small and imprisoned can also be a curious life experience on this planet. No-one needs to rush away from it until they are called, willing and ready to take this step.

Enjoy each moment, no matter how many walls you have left. Or how many steps.

I love you.

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