Because I’m giving a presentation and a tele-class this month on career and life transitions, I’ve been particularly attuned to different aspects of how to go through the change process that I read about, see in films, and experience as a coach and in my own life. This morning, I found a short article on the use of Vipassana (mindfulness) meditation classes for hard-core inmates of a maximum-security prison outside of Birmingham, Alabama-- and it made me consider again the role of attitude in creating successful transitions.
The William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility is yet another “overcrowded” American prison “with a reputation for mayhem” that brings together groups of “convicted killers, robbers and rapists” who close their eyes and “sit silently with their thoughts and consciences.” For most of these inmates, this is the only training that they have ever received in self-control, social skills, and how to shift their attitude of constant rage at others to one of greater awareness and serenity.
How important is this for people who may be spending the rest of their lives in jail? For these people, learning to create a shift in their personal attitude towards their situation may well be their only way out of the despair of lives gone out of control. One convicted murderer who “radiates calm” says that this meditation course and practice helped him “accept responsibility for his crime and find inner peace.” He considers himself “the luckiest man in the world” to have ended up in a prison where he was given the opportunity to change his whole perspective on life and his role in it.
So how important is developing inner awareness for those of us fortunate enough to be out in the world with more freedom to make choices? Often, a successful career or other life transition depends on your choosing a perspective to live with that gives light and meaning to your new direction. You may possibly not get the job you most wanted, but staying open to the possibilities of another one that you do get can bring unexpected rewards, such as new learning and new directions you might not have dreamed of. Or you may meet someone who helps change your life. It is how you embrace every possible opening that allows you to work and live with the confidence that you are on the right path for you!