The Journey to Integrity House
Integrity House, a safe haven for both men and women. Located in the heart of Newark, New Jersey.
Their mission: helping individuals and families through an effective and measurable system of comprehensive therapeutic community addictions treatment and recovery support in a way that brings about positive, long-term, lifestyle change.
So what brought me to this place? A young woman, who I met randomly. Her work inspired me. A yoga instructor who volunteers her time to teach women how to heal, and in return gives them the confidence and strength to make their way back into society. Who does she teach? Women who are transitioning out of New Jersey's Hudson County Jail.
How does one come to teach in prison? How does one come to teach those who are transitioning out of such a place? They are few and they are strong, passionate people who are striving to make a difference. They are passionate about creating strong communities. Communities that will give you their hand and lift you up when you're on the ground.
To teach compassion, self-love, self-care to relieve the burden of yesterday, to help focus on the 'now' rather than the past. Letting go of the "What If's", "If only", "I will never", "I can't" and bringing to light the most beautiful thing in which has been created. YOU. Letting go of doubt and remembering that we are incredible, we are enough, we are worthy. What happened yesterday only made us grow stronger, wiser, and richer. It made each and every one of us appreciate life for what it is worth. It's the small things, that are given freely. The breeze that plays with your hair, the sun that kisses your skin, the look in the mirror when you say, to yourself, you are enough and I'm blessed to be me.
When we teach, we see a little bit of ourselves in each and every one of our students. We are all connected in some way or another. We hear the stories of our past playing out in another's life. It quickly makes you realize that we are all the same. That we might have come from different families, grown up in a different part of the country or had different life experiences. Yet when we reach down deep enough we realize that all we want is a better life. Yet, what is "better" what is "life", what is the meaning of a better life?
Our students give us more than we could ever give them. They help us become centered in our own lives. They give us the appreciation of life. There is always something waiting on the other side. Though to receive, we must be patient and open. We must be patient with ourselves and remember that there is "you" and there is "I" but with out "me" there is no one. It can sound selfish. But, who are you? Are you your job? Are you your family? Are you your hobby? Who is that in the mirror? Just for a moment, pause. Take away everything. Your clothes, your car, your possessions, your friends, your family, your activities. What would happen to "me" if everything was striped away? How do you begin to rebuild yourself? You start with the person in the mirror, looking back at you. To give hope, rather than fear.
Together, we are the hopes of tomorrow.