How to Escape the Prison of the Mind

Film Five of the Restorative Practices Film Series
Escaping the Prison of the Mind (31 minutes)

Wherein we sit down with Violence Prevention expert Earl Simms. As a young man growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Earl was the victim of the social traumas of anti-black racism and the familial multi-generational traumas of a father who left. He learned to channel this rage and helplessness through football, where he excelled. When this no longer became a viable option for him, this proclivity to resolve anger through violence led him into gangs, and by twenty one he was serving a life sentence for gang-related homicide. In this film, Earl talks about the prison of the mind he found himself in long before he found himself behind bars, and the process of turning back towards himself through mindfulness that led to his release in 2014. He is now Regional Executive Director of Timelist Group, an extra-ordinarily effective re-entry program for men returning to society post-incarceration, which was founded and is run by formerly incarcerated men who have been released. Earl is a certified life coach, peer counselor, and Applied Mindfulness facilitator. He is a leading violence prevention advocate, having done extensive front-line work disrupting gun violence, and an advocate of mindfulness.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants explore and inquire into what mindfulness means
  2. Participants learn about the importance of non-judgment
  3. Participants explore what it means to turn back towards the wounded parts of ourselves
  4. Participants engage in inquiry in what their 'inner prison' is


  1. Participants understand that most people are imprisoned by the way that they see themselves
  2. Participants directly experience the power of turning back towards the parts of ourselves that we have turned away from.


  1. What is your inner prison? Where do you feel trapped? Stuck? Like you can't escape?
  2. How could you begin turning back towards the parts of yourself that are most wounded? What tools/ skills/ supports would you need to be able to hold these places in yourself with compassion? What would the older / wiser parts of you want to say to these parts of yourself? To go deeper with see, please see our film on Healthy Relationships

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