The Three Principles: Bringing Hope into Prisons

Posted on Mar 11, 2013

In March of 2005, when we were living in Tampa, Florida, events occurred that would change and enrich our lives in ways we had never dreamed of.

Syd had called us a few months before asking us to visit a woman who had been writing to him from a Florida prison not far from where we lived. That visit was one of those unexpected, even mystical events that seemingly come out of nowhere and brings new learning and evolution to our lives. This woman had been sharing what she knew of the Principles and Syd’s work with small groups of women in the prison yard and people were changing. As the visiting time was coming to an end she asked us if we come in and do a regular Three Principles class, that there was a real need and a lot of women that were interested. It seemed impossible in that moment but somehow, within a couple of weeks, we were doing weekly sessions for two groups of women at the prison, and would do so for several years.

In all our years of working with teams at all levels in a wide variety organizations, we had never seen any team like the one locked away in this maximum security setting. This team of women was so open and so adaptable that they actually became the inspiration for much of our business consulting and trainings. In the business world, we had some key points of discussion such as; being able to “step back” psychologically, adapting to change, getting along together in the workplace, seeing the value of not taking things personally and being able to recognize negative and non-productive thinking. After having many powerful insights into the “true nature” of the Principles and as a result their own true nature, these women not only grasped the significance of these qualities, they thrived on learning more about how to incorporate them into their lives. They found happiness in an environment we can only imagine!

The book, The Enlightened Gardener, by Sydney Banks, was a great catalyst in the change in these wonderful people experienced. It bridged the gap between hopelessness and having a dream; between insecurity and confidence.

The women often told us that our unconditional acceptance of them, from the first moment we met, was what made them want to listen to what we had to share. They were buoyed by our insistence that inside, they were as healthy and worthy as anyone in the world.

As we shared what we knew about the Principles in our own way, often through stories, and through Syd’s videos and CD’s, we were delighted to see these women find their own voice and begin to share their own insights. When Syd came to visit that prison on several occasions, he was deeply moved by their love, sincerity and gratitude. He would always advise them to see themselves as brand new, and forget about their negative past. The CD that Syd made in Tampa, called “One Thought Away”, is a great example of him talking on this subject. We would play that CD quite often for the women, and they resonated deeply with the words of the incarcerated women who talk with Syd on that CD.

This is the first of a series of blogs we will be writing about our work in corrections and addictions rehab. We hope that our stories of these courageous women, as well as some stories of people in other locations and programs, will keep their legacy of hope and inspiration and wisdom alive.

Please see our video The Power of Hope on our media page.