A few years ago I was serving as the Executive Director of a meditation center when I got a call from a friend. He served as a Buddhist chaplain at a prison and an inmate, we’ll call him Greg, was being discharged. “Would you mind looking after him? He’s started meditating and could use some support.”
The son of a bank robber, Greg got into the family business early. He tried to stop once he was a grown man but his wife was interested in the career choice so they pulled a heist together. She was a first-time offender but he had a record. She walked; he went to jail for 20 years.
While in jail Greg learned meditation, a powerful tool for learning about and overcoming your habitual patterns. Once released, Greg began attending meditation sessions at the Shambhala Center regularly and we became friends. We would have tea and chat, and he told me his life story. He couldn’t emphasize enough how much the simple act of being led in meditation helped him back onto the right path.
One day I realized it had been a few weeks since I saw Greg last. I wrote to him a few times, tried calling him, but nothing. A month later the Buddhist chaplain sent me a video. Greg was on it, holding up a convenience store. He was back in jail. Habitual patterns are hard to overcome, even with the aid of friendship and meditation.