Beautiful Rowdy Prisoners

Knowingly or not, most of us build cages to put people and things in. Cages of judgement, cages of resentment, cages of gossip or comparison.

Often, the motivation is to keep ourselves feeling safe. The result is keeping ourselves small. The small feel safer or bigger by making the other feel smaller.

We might feel justified in building cages for others if that other is abusive, negative, or taxing in some way. Even a minor downer person at work, school, or in our friend group can nudge our inner jailer into action.

But we cage the best in others, too. Even admiration can be a cage if the admired isn’t allowed wiggle room for their life-giving flaws.

And most importantly we cage our own better halves, our unloved parts of self, including: our precious and rowdy passions, our curious creativities, our unlimiting ideas, our bigger self that lives outside the lines of collective habit. And then we conveniently forget how the cage got there or that it’s there at all, and we may blame someone or something else for our small life.

Who is this small person who builds cages of definition, limitation, judgement, prejudice? We know it today as that old bugaboo ego.

Ego is our protective self-identity. It’s the nervous system’s psychological comrade that grew out of repetitions of experience and grew into our cramp of conditioning.

The prison is in ourselves. And so is the key.

The jailer is in ourselves. And so is the liberator who drops the keys.

What are the keys this sageful self drops for the beautiful rowdy prisoners of a limiting idea of self? Praise, appreciation, encouragement, compassion; invitations to partnership, play, reverent mischief; an empathic nod, a supportive smile, an outright ooopsy daisy of chuckling truth. Anything that inspires and empowers the caged one is a liberating key.

A savvy survival sizzle is not about attacking the jailers. The Sage sidesteps that whole bamboozlement of opposition and conflict. He soft-shoes into the liberating rhythms of creative disruption that melt the cramp of conditioning. She jitterbugs through the narrowing norm with an effortless ingenuity.

But during her magnanimous rollick through the jails of conditioning, the Sage merely drops the keys. Picking up the key and stepping free is the choice we are each given as the Sage whispers to the beautiful, rowdy prisoners: Follow me.


Breathe intentionally.

  • The breath is the key to what the mindfulness teachings call The Pause. The breath is intimately connected with the nervous systems. It’s one of the autonomic processes that we can take charge of to a very great advantage. Intentional breathing tones down the fight-flight-freeze stress reaction and tones up the rest-and-reflect relaxation response. The intentional breath is an essential key of liberation from internal and external conflict. The aware breath opens The Pause, the space in which we can bring a better perspective to the moment. In The Pause we can reflect and make use of other keys. In The Pause we can touch The Infinite.

Three game changing questions: Before saying, texting, blogging, posting our opinion, ask ourselves:

  • Does this inspire and empower?
  • Is this who I want to be and be seen as?
  • Does this come from my desire to be kind or my need to be right?

Share the Wealth.

  • Sharing our wealth of knowledge or know-how isn’t about telling people to do it this way, that way, my way. It’s about offering our best stuff to the need at hand. It’s about giving away our hard won treasures of deft alignment with success for the benefit of enhancing another’s success.

Replace competition with co-operation.

  • Competition comes from fears of: losing out, lack, insecurity. Co-operation, community, compassion come from the understanding that unity and equality liberate our gifts, talents, strengths as well as those of others.

Frequently spend time in Nature.

  • Open yourself to a sensory and mindful appreciation of Nature’s wildish wherewithal of wonderment.
  • Cultivate biophilia. Bio means life. Philia means love. Biophilia is a love of all lifeforms. Biophilia leads to good feeling and better health.
  • Practice shinrin yoku, which means forest bathing in Japanese. Forests, plants, and the bacteria that live on them give off phytoncides, essential oils that protect from harmful microorganisms. Walking among trees and other plants drenches us in health giving life essences. And more: In forests the negative ion emissions are high. Negative ions latch on to airborne contaminants and weigh them to the ground, liberating the air we breathe from harmful germs, pollens, allergens.