“Not all of us are called to be hermits, but all of us need enough silence and solitude in our lives to enable the deeper voice of our own self to be heard at least occasionally.”—-Thomas Merton.
Once again it is summer time in south east Texas, where Polunsky Unit, Texas death row is located. And this year I have started my exercise program on May 1st. So for a month now I’ve been doing a 45 minutes workout in my cell and now that my body has adjusted to the work out I am feeling great. I am a competitive guy and the men on Texas death row have their own version of basketball we play, and my exercise routine is part of that. I exercise daily to be able to run faster and longer. The interesting thing about it all is that as I get older my body is needing some kind of physical exertion. If I do nothing my back aches, legs ache, knees ache and on and on. But when I exercise it’s like a magic pill – all my aches and pains go away! So for the first time ever I am enjoying the exercise and look forward to it each day. I do this routine with a focus on breathing through my nose and by the time I have completed my 45 minutes workout using full deep breaths through my nose I have altered my consciousness. And when I sit down to catch my breath my body is warm and loose and I feel so good. Having attained a super conscious state via deep breaths through my nose when I close my eyes and begin my meditation I am immediately swept away. And for the next 15 to 20 minutes, and sometimes up to 40 or 45 minutes (depending on outside distractions) I go within myself and for those precious moments dwell in bliss. Long ago I learned that my best thoughts and ideas come to me when I am doing my meditation – what I call my spiritual practice. Often times the answers to problems that come from elsewhere will suddenly appear and everything will become clear about that particular situation. or I will sometimes be very angry or supremely frustrated and do my exercise and meditation and it is like pouring water on the flames of anger and my ego as it tries to contrive some absurd reason as to why the world should conform to my desires. With my spiritual practice also comes a mindfulness that has recently helped me come to realize the need for self care. I was taught as a child and into adulthood that men are supposed to be tough and show no pain or emotion when things go wrong and your world goes up in flames — be the strong silent type. For most of my life I’ve been this kind of person and it has caused me untold pain, suffering and heartache. The insane thing about it is that when you do not know things can be different you suffer in silence because that is what strong tough guys do. As many know my issue is often anger – and the root cause of anger is fear. Recently I have come to realize if I can talk about my anger and fears with someone I know and trust this really helps. It is like lancing a boil and letting all the poison out of the wound. I have at last come to realize that even tough guys on Texas death row are vulnerable and I must be willing to expose that vulnerability to someone I trust and love thereby giving myself a way to feel relief. when I acknowledge the fact that I am sometimes weak and need help I free myself and it is so good to feel this kind of release. The thing about my situation is I am the strong one in my life and I help others as much as I can giving love and support to as many as I can. But with what I’ve gone through these past 8 months of my life it is very nice to be able to put that load down for a little while and rest. I’m still the same guy with the power of 10 bears within me but it’s so good to put down my heavy load and take a break! Which brings me to the above quote – I am a long way from being a monk or a hermit but I live in an insane situation where healthy and whole young men are taken away and murdered all too often. Because these evil things happen in this death camp it is critical that I make time for enough silence and solitude to hear the deeper voice of my own self as my soul returns from where it come from merging with All That Is — The Supreme Being many call God. This is the only way I will continue to keep my center and balance. That and a bit of exercise, along with the love and support of the best most beautiful and kind friends that anyone could ever hope to have. Life is what we make of it and with the helping hands of those I love and who love me I am determined to make the most of mine!
LOVE PEACE HOPE AND LAUGHTER TOO!!!
Charles D. Flores