BREAK OUT…of the Prison of Greed and Fear

woman behind bars

In the last article titled ‘Let It Flow’ I discussed the importance of breath and conscious awareness in our bodies. How, when our amygdala’s “flight, fight or freeze” alarm response creates constriction in our bodies, we lose the opportunity to be creative and generous, and we find ourselves locked up in a pattern of suffering that causes harm to us and those around us.

In this next series of articles, I will illustrate how the lives of my students incarcerated in the Marin County Jail parallels the poor choices many of us have made in our own lives. I use these illustrations to illuminate the universal weaknesses we all have in reaction to the cards we have been dealt. As humans, we are sometimes prone to act and react impulsively or out of fear. Let me show you what I mean.

Stuck In A Cycle of Suffering?

In the classes I teach in the prison system, I work with people who have fallen through the cracks of our society and are in many ways stuck in a cycle of suffering. I consider the prisoners I work with an amplified microcosm of what many of us are going through in our lives in a way that may seem subtler, but still contains the same devastating effects. My students tell me that it is often so unbearably painful that they have to numb out from their mental, physical, emotional, and financial pain just to cope. Likewise, many people who are not confined in prisons are also prisoners to their own feelings of pain, fear, greed, and debt.

We Are All On Our Path

Had you told me twenty years ago that I would become a Spirit Rock Meditation Center trained dharma teacher, I’d have thought you were crazy. And I could have never predicted that I would then become a mindfulness teacher in the local jail, helping incarcerated women regain their dignity and enthusiasm to enjoy a second (or third) chance at life.

I was a greedy San Francisco real estate guy in my earlier career and then a greedy spiritual seeker in my 30s and 40s, anxious for enlightenment. Though I thought of myself as ‘spiritually superior’ at the beginning of my journey, I had little consciousness of my path. Only after many years of surrender, did I realize the humbling truth that there is no such thing as “enlightenment retirement” but only layers of process to lead oneself toward compassion and mindfulness.

To be perfectly honest, I had experienced both worlds, and as a result, I have been in and out of the jail of my own habits, actions and thoughts. The work to maintain balance in the material and spiritual worlds never ends. The gift I have to share after hitting bottom is understanding how our human condition  leads to all the ways we get stuck in a rut (even if we sugar coat it) we are not mindful and conscious.


Koorosh on CBS5 video stillSee my recent TV interview with Frank Mallicoat on CBS5 Bay Sunday by clicking HERE or on the image.

Bad habits are like chains that are too light to feel, until they are too heavy to carry.

—Warren Buffet



Forgiveness Workshop, Money AnxietiesAnd for those in the SF Bay Area, I invite you to join Rik Center and me as we offer participants tools and reflections that can begin lessening the anxieties that keep us from calm and allowing more space that supports us moving forward in creating possibilities of financial stability. For details, please visit




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