By Charles Wilson
Part 1 – The Beginning
Bad karma and circumstance from one position may be the total opposite from another. Shakespeare told us that “Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Kevin Trudeau would tell us to, “Take Life Lightly” and “Feel Good Now” regardless of circumstance. The funny part is that I had no idea who he was until I arrived at prison camp.
I’m quite humbled to be in this position. Kevin asked me to share some of my experiences with his fans and friends. I will create a new chapter in the series every Sunday between now (November 2020) and New Years. Thank You for reading, listening, and believing the Truths that I will share over the next 9 weeks. My 2 goals are to provide further insight into federal prison via my experience, and to explain “Doing Time” with Kevin, a life changing experience.
I am possibly the luckiest guy ever sentenced to Federal Prison. My Google search shows my facts of a felon in possession of firearms while growing marijuana with the intent to distribute. I was arrested in 2015 and awaited sentencing for nearly 3 years. My judge sentenced me to 30 months, nearly half of the prosecutor’s recommendation, and then he supported my “ask” to self-report to FPC Montgomery on Sept 13, 2018. My life between the arrest and sentencing was a gnarly rollercoaster of highs and lows. The sentence was a relief to the torture of not knowing, yet I didn’t research prison for 1 minute, I just arrived blind.
Hurricane Florence hit S.C. as my mom and closest sister drove me 9 hours to report to Camp. The original “Club FED” lies on the Alabama River at the back of Maxwell Airforce Base. Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham are the 3 housing units. Each building is a 2-story concrete block structure. Both levels have 4 wings, for a total of 8, and each wing has 25, 2-man bunks. This means that at full capacity, each building houses 400 men for a Camp total of 1200. The population was nearly 900 when I arrived. I reported to Mobile Unit Team.
The odds of living near Kevin were very low, yet I was assigned B-06, close to his B-15. I remember sitting on my top bunk, stewing in the minutia of my overwhelming new reality, when suddenly a comforting voice arrived. “Hello. I’m Kevin! How long do you plan on staying with us?” He radiated positivity and offered me 2 “Amazing Meals” (Passover Kosher Meals ), a Salmon and a Roast Chicken. It was the most generous gift anyone had bestowed on me. I immediately felt better and knew things were going to be Ok.
Prison Life With KEVIN
By Charles Wilson
Part 2- The Transition
My favorite acronym of all time is F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. Kevin shared this with me.
I’m pretty comfortable jumping off F.E.A.R. cliffs, waterfalls, surfing big waves, diving deep and many other “scary” things, yet the transition from a comfort zone through an uncomfortable zone and into a new reality is never easy. My Camp transition didn’t feel fun at the time. Thank God I met Kevin!
Each wing has several brick walls, usually around “the Pit”, where people leave books, magazines, clothes, and other “free” items to pass along or use (see attached drawing). In my first week someone left the book “More Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About” (by Kevin Trudeau) on the wall in front of my bed. Wait…..!!?? My new friend, Mr. Kevin……wrote this book?! I was quite intrigued and quickly read the whole book.
A 6’4’’ white kid with shaggy blond hair, Fusco, aka “The Legend”, walked by daily. I instantly knew he and I would be friends. I asked him if he had read the book or knew about Kevin. “Yoooo!!! This book is the Truth bro! KT is a Legend. You will see.”
My life changed on Wednesday, September 26. On Monday Kevin suggested I speak with the man in the cell next to him, Mike, about moving into his top bunk. I followed his advice and after clearing it with our Counselor, Mrs Rogers, I moved into B 16 Upper. She rarely let anyone change bunk assignments within the first 6 months. I was thankful, humbled, stoked!!!
B 16 would be my home until the end, but it wasn’t without its challenges. My cellmate Mike had severe mental and physical health problems. 6’’ of low concrete divided me and Nick, a very aggressive Cuban gangster kid. We only grow through challenge and adversity. When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Kevin immediately invited me to start training with his group at 7:30 AM each morning. The workouts took place in “The Oven.” It was a concrete handball court with huge walls, no air flow, and direct sun exposure until late afternoon.
Kevin previously trained with a Shaolin Monk at his home in “the free world.” The Kung Fu workout was unlike anything I had done. KT, Fusco, and TP had a rhythm of sweat, grunt, and team spirit. Ballistic Stretching was a major component as well – often our warmup and warm down. My typical exercise before Camp was riding my bike, surfing, or freediving. I felt like a fish out of water!
This was my first true experience of leadership. Kevin was leading by voice and movement, watching us, pushing harder than us, and watching the clock all at the same time. I was blown away by his communication, his energy, his clarity, and his knowledge of what I didn’t even know existed. This was my first feeling of community, and in my transitional state, it felt amazing.
I truly believe that one of the biggest problems in the world right now is Community – the innate need for Community by humans and the lack of it. The Collective Consciousness is starving for connection. COVID has only heightened an existing problem.
Prison taught me about many levels of Community. Kevin brought together several small groups of warriors during my stay, but this first group, time and place, will always have the deepest place in my heart. This was the foundation. He slowly built me up.
The prison has RPP classes which are required to stay on good terms with Unit Team, and ACE classes, which are semester long classes that are optional. As luck would have it, the next day, Thursday, September 27, the 2nd and final offering of Kevin’s “Goal Setting and Marketing” class started. Kevin’s course was an ACE class, and it was held in the Visitation Room rather than in a small room in the education building. Kevin is the only famous celebrity at the Camp, and many people know of his books, fame, and fortune. Everyone wants to get rich, especially guys in prison, so it was a packed room with nearly 200 people!
Kevin, if you don’t already know, is always very organized and is usually 10 steps ahead. I walked into the VR and was immediately soothed by the voice of ”The Catalyst Lanre: Affirmations.”
- I am successful.
- I look for and find opportunities where others see nothing.
- I am a lifetime learner.
- I am solution focused.
- I see only solutions.
- I am a solution.
- I unconsciously, consciously, methodically create my own success.
- I ask the right questions, I get the right answers…..”
- I am a man of honor.
- I am grateful for breath and light.
- I arise, I shine.
- I am aware of my essence and I know who I am.
- I am the salt of the Earth.
- I am the light of the World.
- I am handsome, charismatic, charming, gifted and bold. ………..”
Many components of this class changed my life, but these positive affirmations of: Success, Love, Happiness, Empowerment, and Honor blew my mind. It just made sense. I felt good. My hair stood up.
Hearing and Saying the Right Things rather than the Wrong. Programming positive vs. negative. I am listening to these affirmations now as I write this. I purchased an MP3 player at Camp almost specifically to download and listen to these daily, every night before sleep and when I wake up.
Kevin had 2 speakers setup and his podium was in the middle. His MP3 played the affirmations on repeat until class started, every class. His cellmate had a table setup passing out the class handouts.
Class? It felt like an epic seminar of grave importance. It wasn’t class. It was opportunity. It was energy. It was Truth and Knowledge. Generosity. Mentorship. Entrepreneurship.
For me it was a blessing.
My Dad went to Harvard on a full-education scholarship. I went to good schools. Why hadn’t I ever been taught Goal Setting or Leadership Principles? Better yet, why hadn’t I sought this information on my own? Why hadn’t I realized what was missing in my life?
No one owes us anything, and it is our moral obligation to pursue what we find meaningful. How the hell did I ignore so many opportunities? Am I really getting this education and information in Prison????????
I was honestly dumbfounded.
His book list, if you aren’t aware, has some of the most important books you can ever read. They are the books to read and reread. Honestly, I hadn’t read a single one of them. Wow, I have some work to do!
He included audios, clubs to join, and courses to take for self-improvement. Kevin talks about reading and learning “in a new unit of time.” Truth and Wisdom always have more to share.
Throughout the eight-week class Kevin shared stories, humor, humility, leadership, generosity, warmth, truth, and much more. We received 14 pages of Nuggets of Gold which I review daily. He shared 22 Success Principles and many lessons under each one of those, including Goal Setting specifics, Meditation, and Marketing from an energetic perspective.
This class was a Godsend for me. Every week it was the highlight. I couldn’t wait for next week. It set the stage for my entire prison term and honestly for the 2nd chapter of my life.
Kevin just came alive, and brought this incredible energy to the room, to my life, to the entire camp. He wears an infinite number of hats!
Thank You GuruKev!
Prison Life with KEVIN
By Charles Wilson
Part 3 – Yoga
People pay thousands of dollars and travel all over the world to “learn” yoga. They pay for training, wisdom, community, and growth. Prison gave me all of that and so much more….as a punishment!
My Yoga path and education was the focal point of the whole experience – the heart of it really. Words truly limit what it means to me. The asanas, the breathing, the community, the Unity, the Energy, the Truth.
The components of the Yoga Sutras can be traced back to the last Ice Age, thousands of years beyond any modern religions. Once again, how the hell have I come 36 years in my life without learning this? No one to blame but myself, but thank God it was part of this Karmic path. Kevin was an instrumental leader and light in my Yoga path.
Sadhguru of the Isha Foundation defines Yoga well with these 2 quotes:
- “The word ‘yoga’ means union. Union means you begin to experience the universality of who you are.”
- “Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is a science for inner wellbeing.”
I finished my prison sentence on October 26, but the judge sentenced me to 1 additional year of Home Confinement. My probation officer recently approved me to go to Bikram yoga every Sunday afternoon. Funny truth is that I had to take a Mental Health Assessment in order to get yoga approved as “exercise” to benefit my mental health. I also have to talk with a therapist 1x/month. They forced me into 1 year of Home Isolation, and now I must see someone to discuss my feelings about isolation!! LOL because this is True! What would we do without Federal contracts to keep the scam in business??
Anyhow, tonight was my first class in several weeks, so this is the perfect night for painting the tip of the prison yoga iceberg.
Prior to prison, yoga was a desire, yet not a part of my life. I made excuses and “never had time.” Like too many people, I “never had time”…………. to take care of myself. I arrived in poor mental, spiritual, and emotional condition, and Yoga was exactly what the Creator ordered.
I arrived in September, towards the end of the warm weather. Kevin led a Restorative and Deep Stretching style class on weekend mornings at 7:30 until the weather got cold. 8-12 people usually showed up.
Kevin always shows up early, super prepared, and always starts on time. Those are 3 keys to success in life and ever-present components of his character.
Similar to my Kung Fu and Ballistic experience, I loved Kevin’s rhythm and ability to push us into deep, critical stretches with ease. And Mega Memory didn’t disappear in prison folks, let me assure you. GuruKev wields an uncanny ability to memorize 1.5 hour long class series that change daily, and sometimes just change on the fly and flow into something else spontaneously. It’s “As If” he had done it 1,000 times before. Maybe in a past life, or maybe in his mind prior to creating it as the external reality we were all benefitting from.
Think about that.
Grunts, moans, panicked breathing….. and then Kevin saying, “Smile. It’s ok. Tell your body everything is Ok. Smile, just smile.” You can hear the smile on his face by the tone of his voice, almost to the point where I would laugh at the absurdity of it. How is he smiling so big right now that I can feel it hitting me as my hamstring is about to explode!!!???
“Release, Relax, and Let Go. Just Let Go.” The deep, long holds are designed to fatigue the muscle which eventually forces the natural muscle contraction reflex to let go. I will never forget those words, the Mantra of his class.
Over time, I realized this process was more mental and emotional therapy than anything physical. The Mind, Body, and Spirit are all interconnected. “Release, Relax, and Let Go.” Kevin was helping us Let Go of the layers of mental and emotional anguish, pain, and confusion that accompany time in prison.
Every stage of the prison process has different things that you must release. The pain and struggle is all in our minds. We must release the Ego binds that torment us. Yoga is such an amazing tool to stimulate this Self growth. Unity with the divine Self rather than only living in the realm of Ego – the small self.
I met Donnie, “The Jedi,” at my first weekend GuruKev class. Yoga, meditation, writing, and intense exercise chiseled his body and lightened his spirit during his 8 years in prison before I showed up. He and Kevin were close friends, and I knew right away he was special. “The Jedi” truly is the most fitting nickname for him. He and “The Legend” were closest in age to me, and became 2 of my best friends. Like Kevin, Donnie is a bright light – he never dims, and he has so much to share with others.
He led the yoga classes 2 nights a week in the Visitation Room. We were Extremely fortunate to have a 3,000sq ft room all to ourselves Mon-Thurs from 6-7pm. Visitation prep is Friday and Visits happen Sat and Sun. We had speakers available for relaxing music (from an MP3 player) and a TV to watch old yoga tapes if we chose.
Donnie and Kevin used to practice together just watching the tapes for several years before I arrived. Donnie held the asanas perfectly, led the class with relaxed clarity, and could still watch others and give pointers. Often Kevin, Donnie, and Fusco “The Legend” would all 3 lead in the front of the room. Fusco would randomly just walk off for 30 minutes or do completely different poses, but that’s just part of why he’s “The Legend.”
I may also mention that these were some of the “gassiest” yoga classes in history. Prison food gives everyone bad gas, and the movements of yoga push that gas through……sometimes with nearly perfect choreography to the movements. Shall I mention “Release, and Let Go” here??
Those nights were some of the best of my life. We were the Tribe of Yogis. The group grew and at its peak nearly 20 people showed up, a mix of black, white, and Mexican guys. It was an amazing community of positive support and energy.
Like anything in life, those who showed up consistently with persistent energy and focus “Let Go” quickly, and others who rarely showed up stayed at the same point of tightness and rigidity. One fellow who came often had a flexible body but his mind was stuck. He got into a verbal altercation with staff one day, was kicked off the compound, upgraded to a higher security prison, and then hung himself. The Wolf just couldn’t let go.
Whatever you may be going through people, just breathe through it and say GuruKev’s mantra in your head. Mantra = Mind Tool. We have 2 choices, we can Master the Mind or the Mind can Master Us.
Pick choice #1 please.
“Yoga Jim” had been in prison for 7 years when I arrived. He was a white guy in his mid 50’s, and he showed up to our Camp in a wheelchair. He had cancer and had been on chemo. Yoga healed his body and his life. Leading class and practicing in the Visitation Room was his church. He usually led yoga on Tues/Thurs and The Jedi led Mon/Wed. After The Jedi was released, Jim was the leader all 4 days. Jim also led classes outside on the weekends all year, even if the weather was 30 degrees!!!
Donnie and Jim both led a flow style yoga similar to Iyengar, PowerYoga, or Ashtanga. They would adjust the series of movements based on who was in the class and how they were feeling.
Kevin often encouraged people by referencing that “every-body” is different. “It’s not what it looks like but what it feels like that matters.” Every-body has different limitations and every-body feels different every day. With flow style classes it’s easy to get lost or behind if your body isn’t feeling on par with the group that day. I had some amazing sessions with Jim and will be forever grateful for my time learning from him.
Jordan arrived at the end of my first winter. He was the 4th yoga leader to enter my life, and I love him like a big brother. He was a Bikram yoga instructor for 10 years prior to getting wrongly snared in a marijuana conspiracy case and sentenced to 15 years.
Bikram is the most famous yoga school “brand.” I believe very strongly in the components of it, yet the Bikram name is now scarred with drama, lawsuits, and materialism. The Bikram practice helped Jordan do his time, and he invited any willing participants on the journey. Between 2-8 people would show up on the walking track to practice with him.
The 105 degree studio is a major component we didn’t have at camp, but we practiced at 1 pm to get the most heat we could. I think the S.M.A.R.T. Goals system parallels the Bikram process. Specific postures, Measurable changes between classes because the postures are the same, Achievable growth because constant improvement exists in each posture, Relevant because each posture improves the other and together the total organism of you, and Time-bound because each posture is held for specific times to a sum total of 90 minutes per session.
The specific postures are different from any yoga I had practiced. The 26 postures are part of the “Original 84.” This is the true Hatha Yoga from India that hasn’t changed for thousands of years.
Kevin also enjoys Bikram and believes in the system. Once Jordan was released, Kevin and I practiced together for many hours; sometimes 1 or 2 people would join us. I feel tremendous gratitude for all those amazing experiences.
We end every yoga practice essentially bowing to each other. So I will end this story tonight with a bow. “May you Release, Relax, and Let Go at Each and Every opportunity. The Divine Light in Me Bows to the same Divine Light that also shines from you.”
Namaste Friends and Namaste GuruKev.
Prison Life with KEVIN
By Charles Wilson
Part 4 – Quiet Time
Good evening friends. Thank you for joining me in this special place for our 4th Sunday of stories from Camp. I experienced the freedom of another amazing yoga practice tonight, and my thoughts during class reflect the importance of this Part 4.
In the jungle, quiet exists for brief periods of time. The energy is intense even during a calm. Howler monkeys move between trees at warp speed, barking and shrieking within their community. They exhibit incredible yet seemingly reckless energy and intention. We humans aren’t so different from them. “Monkey Mind” isn’t an accidental metaphor for the conscious mind, the Ego. Friends we all suffer from this Truth. Awareness holds the key to control.
During the first few weeks living in my new bunk next to Kevin, I came back and witnessed Kevin sitting in his chair. He had a nice grey, plastic chair, a very sought-after item at Camp. “KT” on the back, and new tennis balls for feet protection, marked his property clearly. He had a prison issue, green wool cap, pulled down over his eyes. His hands were folded in his lap. He was sitting perfectly still. I later mustered the courage and asked him what he was doing earlier. He explained that he was meditating and does it daily. A surfer friend previously mentioned a meditation camp in Bali that changed his life, but beyond that, I knew nothing.
KT explained what to do. Sit still, focus on 1 point of stillness, your breath or a silent mantra. If you trail off, just come back to your breath or mantra. Try it for 20-30 min, twice daily.
Kevin isn’t one for rigidity. He always explains in such a way that “wrong” doesn’t exist. Find what feels comfortable and do that. “Have some fun with it and just relax” he would say.
My journey inside began. Ideally the goal is to meditate in the same place, at the same time daily. My best was probably 2 weeks of the same time and location before my schedule changed. I meditated in the chapel, under an oak tree, on a bench, in the stairwell, on the racquetball court, in my bed, at my desk, in a greenhouse at work detail, on the softball field, and on the tennis court. I spent extensive time “going inside” and feeling what existed beyond the monkey chaos. I am so thankful that Kevin sent me down that path.
Kevin introduced me to Siddha Yoga Meditation 1 month after he taught me to meditate. ‘’In Search of the Self” is a correspondence course free for inmates from the Siddha Yoga Foundation. He offered that I read his packet and if I liked it, I could write them and start the course. A diligent grasshopper doesn’t ignore any of the sensei’s suggestions. I started the journey and my life was permanently changed. This course was a major compliment to my consistent meditation practice. These teachings are based on Kashmir Shaivism, one of the oldest spiritual philosophies on the planet. I would like to share 3 paragraphs from my original:
Volume 1 Lesson 1.
“The essence of the philosophy of Siddha Yoga meditation is that one Consciousness pervades and permeates this entire universe and has become everyone. This Consciousness has been referred to and known by many names and titles. It is what we have always thought of as God. It is the Creator, the Absolute. In Siddha Yoga meditation we usually call it the inner Self. The reason we practice Siddha Yoga meditation is to recognize and become firmly established in the Self.”
“The Self is Consciousness, and Consciousness is our own Awareness. Our own Awareness of Being is not different from divine Consciousness itself. There is not more than one Self. There is only one inner Self. You and I share the same inner Self. For this reason, when we truly know our own Self, we truly know each other. The same universal Self is shared by everybody simultaneously. Everyone has the same inner Awareness, the same “I.”
“For the mind it is not enough to say, The essence of Siddha Yoga is love. When we are established in our own inner love, everything is complete; this is the ultimate fulfillment, the ultimate contentment.”
We all experience varying degrees of the same thing when we meditate. Time disappears, the monkey mind stops, this beautiful light is pulsing, nothing matters. It’s hard for me to write this. A slideshow of meditation experiences and feelings from Camp just blazed through my mind. I went through a long process of Surrender that could not have happened without meditation.
Meditation was a component of Kevin’s “Goal Setting and Marketing” Class I mentioned previously. When he explained that many successful people meditate, he had to organize a separate class just for Meditation that was held in the Chapel. 150+ people showed up, and that was the largest collective action towards peace and self-control in the history of the Camp! It was EPIC! After that class, dozens of people were meditating in the Chapel daily. Kevin taught me 2 months prior, and I saw the difference in Chapel attendance firsthand.
Many of you are interested in what Kevin does daily. I will elaborate more on that next week, but arguably the most important action he takes is resting. He is the BEST Rester of all time. He sleeps a full 8-9 hours every night. He is quiet as a mouse and can go to sleep in seconds. He takes lots of naps and meditates daily. Nothing seems to bother him or keep him from resting during rest time. He trains hard in the warm months from April-October, and then he “hibernates” all Winter. Kevin was the first person to elucidate the importance of rest, and then to do it! His actions and words always line up.
I love being outside and rarely slow down to rest. Prison gifted me the time to read, write, meditate, nap, and rest. I really needed a recharge, and while slowing down into those lanes was an adjustment for me, I loved it and realized what I had been missing.
The body and mind both need rest, but normally we just “rest” the body. What about the organs? When do they rest? For most people the answer is never, but for Kevin the answer is several times per year. I never considered Fasting in the free world, so when Kevin discussed fasting with me, I was shocked and intrigued! Prison will test one’s ability to transfer adventure excitement in the free world to the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in the prison system. The Jedi and The Legend, via Kevin, provided extra motivation for the fasting adventure. We three grasshoppers all started it around Thanksgiving of 2018.
KT has a plan and a system for each fast he does. This includes what he eats for the week or 2 before the fast, what liquid he will drink during the fast, and what level of exercise he will tackle during the fast. These details are relative to the time of year and his goals. He usually does 7 days minimum and 21 days is the most I heard of him doing. “Start easy and just see how the body feels” was his advice. I did 24hrs, then 36, then 48, then 72. What a wild experiment! The real test was Christmas dinner until New Years Day. The Legend bailed at day 4, but The Jedi and I hung tight until the end. Kevin advised me on what to break the fast with, and how to overcome feelings of discomfort and weakness.
In prison, food is the #1 emotional support mechanism. To purposely forgo that comfort, a warm bowl of food, for days at a time, in an already tough environment, was the most challenging aspect of the fast adventure. Making and eating food also helps pass the time. I truly believe that I am better prepared for any challenge ahead of me in life after my fasting adventures at Camp. I scheduled a 72 hr fast after Thanksgiving this week, and I know that several hundred miles away Kevin will be doing the same, and resting A lot!
“We learn to Ski in the Summer and Swim in the Winter.” Kevin inculcated this Truth during our training sessions. The body and mind must integrate everything we learn. Savasana is arguably the most important pose in yoga practice even though it is the Rest Pose, aka Corpse or Dead Body Pose. This importance comes from the need to integrate what was done and learned. Train hard in the summer, and let the total organism process it during the winter. The same goes for a 1 hour yoga practice, reading an important book, practicing a complex craft, or anything else for that matter.
Kevin has tremendous mental and physical energy, and it’s no coincidence that he places serious importance on rest and recharging. Could this be his secret weapon?
Tonight at yoga the monkey mind started. I was deep into “separate leg stretching posture”, and my mind started judging my position, the tightness of my back, my feeling of being stuck without progression in certain postures. “Stop it! Cancel, Cancel. Cancel that program.”
I immediately realized my mind was the problem. “Release, Relax, and Let Go.” Maybe I am stuck in the progression of certain postures, or maybe my mind is stuck in different areas of life which is then keeping me from progressing in those postures. I had that “Aha” moment, and recalled the need to silently whisper GuruKev’s Mantra.
The importance of resting, relaxing, and shutting off the Ego can’t be overstated here! Cancel Cancel that negative bullshit that judges and condemns who you are and what you are doing.
To me, the craziest thing about the drama and apparent separation in the world right now is that we are all struggling with the same problem: The Ego. We overanalyze, overcomplicate, and overdramatize everything. In all aspects, the peace lies in the Release of our Dramas/Concerns, the Relaxation of our Body, Mind, and Spirit, and Letting Go of what isn’t NOW.
Block out all the noise, go inside, and connect with your light.
Namaste Friends and Namaste GuruKev.
Prison Life with KEVIN
By Charles Wilson
Part 5 – Just One Day
– I am Wealth. I am Abundance. I am Joy –
Positive affirmations and mantras can help us in so many ways. The three above are stuck in my mind as a sequence. They are powerful words of Truth intended to direct us towards our true nature.
Just because I lived and trained with Kevin does not mean I NOW have life figured out. I get lost. I get down. I doubt myself. I make mistakes. I remain human.
ReEntry from prison to society is NOT easy. Yet never forget that life is NOT supposed to be easy.
“What we know at the top, we learned at the bottom.”
The journey is a grind yet also a reward, Friends.
David Gikandi leads powerfully in his book “A Happy Pocket Full of Money.” Kevin helped me yet again when he gifted someone this book, and they passed it on to me.
If you were sentenced to 10 years in prison, how would you spend your time? What would you hope to accomplish? How would you plan and what would you expect? Can you even begin to conceptualize that reality?
My experience predicts that ½ of what you may think you would do in prison will actually happen, and the other ½ will be many new unknowns that you will navigate.
I think that Kevin had a better idea of what to expect from “prison time” than some. But even for him, every day is a new day with challenges and surprises. Kevin accomplishes a tremendous amount some days in prison, and other days he just rests all day. No matter what he does on any particular day, he always leads by example.
In my first interaction with him, he referred to prison as an “exciting adventure.” Tonight, my goal is to open your eyes a little further into what an “exciting adventure” may consist of in “Just One Day”.
One of the first things that happens after arrival to camp is you get assigned a job. Kevin was smart and immediately started working in the kitchen. (Access to quality food is the most coveted privilege in prison – and experiencing that truth is a great reminder of what can happen if the world falls apart.)
Kevin worked his way up in the kitchen to become, essentially, the Manager of the special foods system. This means that people with religious and other dietary needs and preferences see Kevin to get their proper food organized. Kevin juggles MANY complex details and personalities in this position. Living next to Kevin allowed me the inside scoop, and a deep understanding of what I otherwise would not have known existed. The “Chow Hall” has more drama and politics behind the scenes than any other prison department.
Part of prison truly being “an adventure” is the abrupt changes and unknowns that keep you on your toes. That style of adventure beckons only the strong minded. Kevin’s schedule in the kitchen varies between the holidays, seasons, and truck deliveries. Sometimes he goes to work at 5:30 am and does not return until 4 pm. Other times he goes in to make breakfast/lunch and works for 2 hours. Several times we were in the middle of working out, and a gruff voice came over the loudspeaker: “Trudeau. Kevin Trudeau, report to the kitchen immediately.” Sometimes he would sort it out and be back in 10 minutes, and other times I would not see him again until 4pm Count Time.
The “Letting Go” process never stops. Most people that struggle in prison, fail to realize they are fighting themselves the entire time.
Kevin’s position in the prison allowed him access to the best food. He is in amazing shape, and he eats a healthier diet than most people in the free world. Kevin is also extremely generous with his access to food. In fact, no one in the prison is more generous with food and other material things than Kevin. Hands down.
People really crave good bread there, and “Dave’s Killer Bread” was the best available option – but only through Kevin. He brought me pieces, and sometimes loaves of it. Peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, and sliced bananas was my “Killer Bread Delicacy.”
The community of friends in our back corner of the wing ALL ate better because of Kevin. It was such a gift I never took for granted. He thoroughly enjoys taking care of the people around him, and he expends significant time and energy doing so.
Kevin always bought everyone in our back section of the wing, which we referred to as “The Gated Community,” several gifts for the holidays. 1 Boston Crème Pie, and 1 Christmas Cookies Bag from the commissary, were 2 of his Christmas gifts last year. The commissary at Camp is sugar loaded vs. sugar free at some institutions. A “write in list” offers temporary items. They usually order and offer several different sugar treats around the holidays and most sell out quickly.
Our friend Ike works in the commissary, which is the highest paid job on the compound. More importantly, he makes “cheesy greasy” treats. Ike has “a stinger” which is the heating element from a piece of electric cookware, and he uses it to fry stuffed tortillas in “borrowed” oil from the chow hall. He fills them with banana, sweet potato, chicken and rice, or diced apples. Several holidays, Kevin ordered 3 of these for each of us!! That is quite the surprise when you walk back to your cell area hungry!!!
Kevin lives the axiom, “Giving is better than Receiving.”
The education department has 5 classrooms, a typing lab, a legal library, several offices, a bathroom, and a library. The library is smaller than the classrooms BUT is much larger than what most prisons offer. Several years before I arrived, they even had a non-fiction library separate from the normal library. Sadly, the non-fiction books were trashed to allow for a bigger office for the education boss, who ironically has little education.
Most of the books are fiction, but some decent non-fiction books cycle through. The library has 4 TV screens with DVD/CD players, and it rents movies, documentaries, language tapes, etc. to watch, all on a first-come first-serve basis. 30 different magazines arrive monthly and 5 different newspapers arrive daily. If you are seeking, you will find a TON of great information to study and learn from in the library.
Spanish, German, and Italian are the 3 most popular language tapes. Kevin speaks Italian and for several months at a time, he trained hard to improve his Italian proficiency. I refer to it as training because mental training parallels the process of physical training.
The tapes are “listen and then repeat” audios. He often spent 4-5 hours in the day, followed by rest, food, and then 2-3 more hours at night. I taught several PM classes, and Kevin would always be waiting for 15-20 minutes outside the library to make sure he was the first person in line.
He trained nonstop for several months at a time and then would take time off for it to absorb. Remember, “learn to ski in the summer and swim in the winter.” We must give the body and mind time to rest and integrate what we learn.
Like everything Kevin does, he showed up early, prepared, and gave it 250%!! Additionally, he does not train in multiple areas at the same time. Most of his language training takes place in winter, and his physical training takes place in summer.
One of the most intriguing stories about Kevin (to me) is that his first business was a Clown and Magician service, at age 13. Few people have the confidence for that level of entertaining and showmanship at 13!! Balloon tying, card tricks, and magic were all part of the show. Thus it is no surprise that Kevin is a cards expert, master storyteller, communicator, and entertainer.
I possess Zero card game knowledge, and Kevin’s 45-year career skill set kept me in awe. He is “No Salami” when it comes to cards! Kevin organized a “Bridge Club” where several guys play for 3-4 hours, 1 night a week. I got tired just listening to Kevin explain the rules to Dr. Mark, much less holding attention to play (and usually win) for hours straight. In my opinion, Kevin excels in cards, as in other areas, because he is so driven to learn and find solutions to complex situations.
I played Solitaire on the computer as a kid, but I never played it with cards. Kevin educated me on the original name of Solitaire, “Patience.” So, he plays “Patience,” which is yet another level of mind training and relaxation. He would sit at his cell table and play Patience sometimes for 4 hours non-stop.
Kevin just has superior control over his mind, and that truth is evident in his interconnected play of sleep, meditation, and trained focus while awake. I enjoyed listening to him shuffle and flip the cards. In a strange way, the movement of the cards was therapeutic.
Depending on the “season,” Kevin reads a lot. He will read for 1 to 4 hours in the morning, often after naps, and sometimes at night. He receives many books from fans and friends. He gifts those books around to any interested party after he reads them, or on arrival if it is a repeat.
Many times, throughout this journey I can say, “Kevin changed my life because of X.” He led me, through his consistent actions, to the importance of studying and reading “the right information,” which definitely set my life on a much more focused path. If he did not give me the book, he told me which books to read. He also shared tons of great magazines with me and others in the wing.
The nugget that “leaders are always readers” should ring loud and clear. ALL the smart people I was around read ONLY non-fiction books, and they were constantly reading. In this technological world, paper pages in hand are more valuable than you may remember.
Sometimes a new inmate would be introduced to Kevin through a friend. Kevin was always very welcoming of new people into his space, and that interaction often made the inmate’s day. I witnessed dozens of excited book fans meet Kevin and get one of his many books signed. Most inmates had read “Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About.” I personally love Kevin’s handwriting, and if you have it in a signed book, I recommend reviewing it occasionally.
Do not forget that Words are powerful things. Kevin usually ends each book signing with several important words. “See You At The Top.” This is a positive affirmation to you. And it’s the title of one of his favorite books. Zig Ziglar wrote the book and Kevin was close friends with Zig. I am reading it now and loving it!
The religious library at Camp was stocked full of books and movies to watch. I mentioned that Kevin loves to read, and he focuses on 1 major project or task at a time. Here is one of his incredible projects: The Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
These are the 2 major epic poems in Sanskrit from ancient India. Kevin decided to read both volumes and watch the movies of each simultaneously. The Mahabharata alone is 15 times the length of the Bible! I felt like Kevin “disappeared” for the nearly 3 months that he spent watching these movies. My memory is that he watched 16, 4-hour segments to complete both series. I may not be exact, but I remember it as an exhausting feat on top of reading these 2 mega volumes of complex Sanskrit storytelling.
Kevin does his best to read every spiritually-oriented manuscript. He read the Bible 7 times. The goal, I think, is to have the best, multidimensional understanding of the world and creation. Without studying the Truths from many cultures and societies, how can we understand the depths of reality?? Without seeking, what will we find?
Only in our minds, do skin color, language, religion, and race etc. actually separate us.
William McRaven offers – 10 lessons from his life as a Navy Seal – in “Make Your Bed.” Lesson #1 is “Start Your Day with a Task Complete.” And making your bed is a great first task to begin with. Kevin makes his bed immediately to start every day. I developed the habit of making my bed every morning, largely from the influence of Kevin, who was 3 feet away!!
He holds himself to the same high standards in prison as he did in the free world. Kevin’s bed is always spotless. His cell area is always extremely clean and tidy. He gets his laundry done twice a week by one of the many inmates that do laundry for side income. The cost is a mere $1.50. His clothes are ironed, organized, and fresh. He is always the cleanest, best dressed inmate at Visitation, and those that visited can attest to that fact. He does not allow clutter on his bed, desk, or locker.
Never forget that our exterior reality is a mere reflection of our internal state. Just because one is in prison, does not mean that they must succumb to the state of those around them.
I typed up for you, the curriculum from the “Goal Setting and Marketing Class” that Kevin created and taught at Camp.
CLICK HERE to read this.
FYI, it had to be titled as such to fall under an ACE Class category, in order for it to get approved. (Yes, prison education department politics exist.) It is titled, “Success Steps to Get What You Want”. Under Step 1, are 22 “Success Principles” that I also included. I also included some of my own notes that were important details shared only for those who attended class.
Remember 3 simple Keys to Success: Show Up Early, On Time, Prepared.
Thank You GuruKev and Friends.
Prison life with KEVIN
By Charles Wilson
Part 6 – Insanity
The correlation between these weekly prison stories and my life events NOW is shockingly serendipitous. When I read the Siddha Yoga lessons, “In Search of the Self,” that often seemed the case. Kevin would likely explain it as the Shakti power working through my life, in combination with my thoughts shaping my external reality. Tonight, a powerful combination of heat, movement, breath, and discomfort elevated my awareness to a state of clarity and appreciation that I have not experienced in many months. Saneness in the Imperfection.
One of the classes I led at Camp was “Dress for Success.” I started each class with the definition of Insanity: “Doing the same thing(s) repeatedly and expecting a different result” or “Being out of touch with What Is.” A change in lifestyle or thinking patterns requires awareness of the present. This is the backbone of “Mindfulness.” Simply put, its disconnecting from your Ego driven thoughts to clearly see: What IS, NOW. I recently read, in “Be Here NOW,” that craziness is where everybody agrees about something, — except you. What IF, that “craziness” is a new kind of Saneness? Craziness and insanity obviously parallel one another.
In Kevin’s recent Facebook post, he mentions many people that were essentially deemed “insane” or “crazy,” yet they were vibrating on a much higher level of Truth. Sadly, many people choose to perpetuate their misery rather than seeing the Truth. How is the False safer than the Truth? Eventually, these “crazy” people became or will become heroes. The Geniuses, Visionaries, and Dreamers that lead this world forward must forge ahead through walls of fire and persecution, only temporarily, in order to karmically evolve, and bring their important truths to light.
Is this story about the Insanity of Kevin’s persecution and sentence? Is it about the Insanity of the U.S. Govt and the matrix web of corruption? Is it about the Insanity of False becoming more popular than Truth? Is it about the Insanity of repeat offenders in our prison system? Could it be about the Insanity inside the famous RDAP program at Camp? Or am I just referring to the Insanity that IS the many hypocrisies of the world in 2020?
Right NOW I think Kevin is probably laughing!
The answer to all those great questions is NO.
We come together in this space to discuss and live positive memories of Truth. We are here to visualize positive: Energy, Goal Setting, and Community. We are here to focus and discuss only the Gold. Kevin sees only the Gold in every situation. He shares everything he can with those in his world, in order to better our lives and vibrate only higher on his own plane. God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, give me the courage to change the things I can, and awaken the wisdom in me to know the difference.
We shall reconnect with our Tribe of Warriors tonight. Those EPIC humans who band together and push through daily adversity to elevate and improve all aspects of themselves. The Tribe knows that Life begins on the Other Side of F.E.A.R. The Warriors will jump off the cliff. They will follow their leader into unknown territory. They will charge forward when their leader says charge. They will push as long and hard as they must in order to grow and evolve.
Level 1 to this Insanity involved Carl, “The Godfather”, Donnie, “The Jedi”, Fusco, “The Legend,” Dustin, and De La Rosa, “The Beast.” This was a different type of Insanity. The 62 year old Godfather did his best to crush my spirit with set after set after set of pushups, jump squats, box jumps, burpees, plank holds, wall sits, and on and on. “Harder, Harder. Don’t stop. Push it. No excuses!!” Body destruction and mental war games. I could not eat enough food to fuel that daily process, and frankly I just was not interested in trying to kill my tired body for 1.5 hrs straight. Yoga, tennis, work, reading, and classes were already priorities. The Jedi thrived on it, yet let me remind you, The Jedi is an extreme outlier. White boy CAN Jump, and run, and stretch, and shred in just about every possible way. The Jedi and The Godfather shared a father/son bond that I admired yet knew was dangerous to my knees and energy levels.
Fusco thrived on the leadership, physiological strategy, and positive motivation that KT provides. Many hours of Kung Fu workouts and yoga took Fusco to a different level. At 6’4’’, with a titanium hip and size 16 feet, he must approach his activities differently, and like me, he wasn’t a long-term member of The Godfather Jedi Insanity Camp. Why are we doing B after X? Shouldn’t B come before X? If I hit this muscle group now, isn’t it fatigued for later? The warm up should warm me up rather than ruin me, right? Fusco will follow if he feels good about the direction, but in a blink, he WILL jump the cliff and emerge a Leader.
INSANITY with Shaun T by Beachbody.
Fusco chose an organized, methodical process that builds body strength, stamina, and endurance over a 2-month, focused workout and rest routine. Check out the website here for more details. He took it very seriously, like your high school track coach with a clipboard and a whistle. He led with energy and motivation. Every night “Blast Off Yo” and random screams could be heard repeatedly across the entire rec yard as Fusco pushed himself and several followers, including me, through the grueling process on the tennis court. Few people were interested in his process, but there will always be more followers of the False than the Truth.
The spring 2017 weather warmed and KT came out of hibernation. Kevin began leading Kung Fu workouts daily, his weekend yoga, and doing Bikram whenever Jordan offered it. He then decided to take things to Level 2.
Headbands, shirts off, circular formation, it was time to Blast Off! Fusco led KT, me, Moz, Dr. Mark, AJ, and TP on the soccer field every afternoon at 5pm. The Jedi left in May, but we continued to push as if he was with us. The walking track loops around the soccer field so we were the entertainment for all inmates at Camp.
During the week, the Warrior schedule with KT looked like: 12-2pm Kung Fu and Billistics, rest/eat/count time, 5-6:30 Insanity, followed by Jim’s Yoga in the VR at 7pm. On the weekends it was full throttle. Jim’s yoga at 5:30-6:30 am. KT’s yoga from 7:30-9am. Count time and chow hall. 1-3pm Bikram yoga with Jordan. Count time at 4:30. 5-6:30pm Insanity. It was quite the In-Sane Schedule. It was a Once-In-A-Lifetime opportunity to push and grow.
Fusco, “The Legend,” was due to finally leave on July 11. He went through a hell of a time in the RDAP program, and up until the last day he did not know if they were letting him leave. At any point in the day, he may yell “Let’s get this incarceration started!” Everyone at camp had a better experience because of him. I laughed every single time I interacted with him!
Kevin made the decision to carry The Insanity Torch forward in Fusco’s absence. They got together and wrote out the entire 2-month program before Fusco left. I then watched Kevin map everything out in anticipation of taking things to Level 3.
Level 3 included an order for no rain and extreme heat! Ask and You Shall Receive. BUT be careful what you wish for in this case! It was the hottest summer of my life and being from South Carolina, I know heat. We had 95-100+ degrees every day for 2 ½ months with less than 1’’ of rain.
Kevin turned up the intensity for all his workouts. He had dozens of different exercise routines memorized. Often he would say, “Just 1 more,” yet 5 later we were still going! All the holds were longer, and if he felt energized, he would expand the timing of whatever was planned. He always found a way to keep us motivated and shift muscle groups in order to keep the tribe going.
When: run 300 yd laps for 25 min followed by 2,000 yds of sprints is the warm-up, we clearly have elevated our state. Maybe even worse is the warm up with unknown timing. 5 minutes of powerful jumping jacks is tiring, and 10 minutes is brutal. Both are much harder when you do not know how long you have left. “Just keep going until I say stop.” “Great, I feel so much better now KT!!!“ LOL. Yes, it is Always just in our Mind!
Through it all, he managed to lead with a calm voice and solid pace. We all push differently in each exercise, but Kevin always maintained such a steady, functional level. It honestly blew my mind. Those who have not led an exercise routine just do not understand how much more difficult the combination of thinking, processing, timing, talking, and breathing is, all amid the doing vs. simply listening, watching, doing, and breathing.
Kevin also included Assisted Stretching at the end of 1 or both weekend yoga days during our hot summer. I progressed to my highest levels of flexibility during that hot summer. It did not hurt that my partner, Justin, was 6’3’’ and 210 lbs. As an ex-MLB baseball player with a World Series Ring, he understood stretching and physiological components well. This additional stretching played a huge part in our ability to recover from the grueling exercise routine. Kevin will tell you that Ballistic Stretching is the fastest single way to improve your flexibility, but I can attest to the combination of Ballistic, Assisted, Bikram, and Deep Restorative yoga as a life changing equation. Thank God for that opportunity and education.
“Y’all are crazy. Y’all are Insane. It’s so hot out there. What the hell are y’all thinking? Them boys are nuts! Why do you guys do that? Y’all look like fools out there.” And On and On and On. The words from the peanut gallery of watchers, confused by the doers. We heard it all. The water is so clear, refreshing, and peaceful once you jump off the Cliff.
That summer changed the lives of all the Warriors. We all came from and returned to different places, but everyone glows with love in retrospection for the Tribe and our journey together. We were not in prison. We were as free as free gets. We pushed beyond boundaries that most will avoid at all costs. Further words and attempted description only limit the experience.
So what Insanity are you experiencing now? Is it some EPIC level of Saneness or does it fall under the definitions of Insanity? What IS challenges all of us daily. Have you been releasing, relaxing, and letting go …..of yourself……in order to find Sanity? Kevin often quoted “This too shall pass.” The temporary or transient nature of things helps explain the Perfection in the Imperfection. “It” must be perfect, “As Is,” in this moment, as energy is in constant motion always evolving forward. Final Perfection is an illusion of the Ego that fuels the Insanity many experience. Kevin talks about focusing 90% of your energy on The Why, partly because the constant motion of energy makes it impossible to map out The How (future) right now. Focus on what you DO Want, rather than what you Do NOT want. Focus on Deep Truth, Sanity, Love, and Freedom.
Thank You for giving me an outlet to share what happened.
Prison Life with KEVIN
By Charles Wilson
Part 7 – The Teacher
Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is happy and healthy during this Holiday season. I enjoyed the evening with my family which was a huge blessing. I thought many times today about Kevin and the 1,000’s of inmates wishing they could spend Christmas with their family. As Kevin’s recent holiday post articulated, Giving is the backbone of the holiday spirit and a critical component of life. Many inmates would give anything in their power for holiday time with family. The gift of time is what I value most. I deeply appreciate all the time that Kevin shared with me, and I think many reading this post can relate.
Like anyone in prison, Kevin enjoys and guards his personal space. As a teacher, leader, and mentor to many along the way, his greatest gift (IMO) was time and focused attention. The 3 roles mentioned above are not possible without the considerable gift of time and attention. On a deeper level of time-sharing, Kevin was giving me and others not just the time of those exact moments but the time and accumulated knowledge from years and years of successful living.
“Your eyes and your ears will deceive you. I repeat, your eyes and your ears will deceive you.”
Many of you have heard this before. He is largely referring to Maya, the illusion of this physical world we live in. Kevin always focuses on the energy driving things. This is essentially The Why, The Intention. What matters most is how we Feel. Energy does not lie. The vibrations are the Truth.
Kevin is a leader and a teacher in so many ways. All of Kevin’s actions are teachings. I was blessed with such a close vantage point to study his actions. A person’s actions are his Truth, and words are not determinant of action. Kevin’s words and actions are always aligned, to the exact detail. I loved that aspect of him. Bulletproof character without ever blinking or questioning the right decisions. In this reality, you can learn from him constantly, but doing so requires constant awareness and attention.
“When the student is ready, the master will appear.”
Before prison I never considered the knowledge available in prison. Society does not accept the thought that a person incarcerated for 5, 10, 15, or 20 years would potentially be an incredible teacher and source of wisdom. The lessons learned in that time are tremendous and not possible in the free world. The free world largely contains too much clutter, materialism, and distraction.
I was desperately seeking a master when I arrived at Camp. I was a sponge and had no fear of putting the work in. I just had no clue what I was in for. Manifesting, energy, goal-setting, yoga, focused exercise, kung fu, qi gong, meditation, business, marketing, sales, cards, history, spirituality, interpersonal relations, organization, cooking, health, books, travel, sports, pool, aliens, women – these are just a few areas Kevin knows well. I paid attention, took copious notes, and did my best to evolve and live the lessons.
Today I watch at least 1 YouTube video a week of Kevin’s teachings. I feel better with his voice nearby. I continue to pick up clues and gain insight. Everything Kevin taught me was absorbed in the subconscious. I am in the conscious competence state and working daily to run on autopilot. All of it has changed my life dramatically. He introduced me and many of you to an incredible world of knowledge, inner power, and Truth.
Kevin often told me that Nothing Matters. “Take life lightly my friend.” Those words sit super heavy with me. I think of them often. Rigidity and seriousness are centered in the Ego. When we Take Life Lightly with the perspective that Nothing Matters, our energy stays in the best vibrational place. We do not get attached, we let go easier, and we karmically evolve. To me, these are the most important lessons that Kevin taught me. We must be in a state of allowing the universe to guide us best. Kevin smiles constantly. He is always laughing. He is hilarious and makes others laugh. He is very laid back and does not get hung up in the minutiae of the moment. I love it. As my teacher, leader, and mentor, this “Way” was subtly forced on me. Thank God!
It is important that you recognize how much Kevin can Teach you NOW. With the help of Tonya and Rahelios, he provides so much information online. YouTube is loaded with awesome videos and audios. His book list is 100% Gold. You don’t need to be in Prison or talk with him to continue to learn from him. “If it is to be, it is up to me.” You have the power to take action towards the wealth of information he shares.
I want to briefly share my Christmas Present Story from the Universe. I was working this past Wednesday moving rocks and grading my property. At 7 am several issues occurred, my plan for the day changed, and I spent several hours driving around town problem solving. When I got home, another issue occurred. I quickly ran across the street to my property. It fronts a major road, 3 miles from the beach. At the exact time I got to the front of my property, a beautiful woman was walking her bike past. I noticed and was surprised, yet I was focused on solving the issue at hand, a disturbed and hanging communication line.
When she walked by in reverse direction 5 minutes later, I took notice and walked in her direction. She called out to me and needed help. She had a flat tire. I held her bike safely while she jogged 4 miles home for her car. When she returned our conversation flowed effortlessly. Her energy was incredible, and I was mesmerized by her.
Since August, I have been asking the universe for a beautiful, spiritual woman who was practicing yoga, meditating, and living a healthy life. Zella is that person. She was having a tough day and has asked the universe for something that fit my description. Apparently, she is known to have a magic wand. Zella learned the power of manifesting with positive intention at age 20. She has read “Ask and It is Given” many times.
So many factors in my day that could have been “bad” or “wrong” led to this amazing situation of critical timing. She is the first woman I have connected with in nearly 4 years (pretrial, prison, and current home confinement elements as critical factors here) so the wild odds of this situation were quite heavy to me. Kevin taught me the importance of letting go, and, for the first time in my life, I have already let go of any expectation of outcome here. I am extremely Thankful for whatever transpires. She can be no better than a reflection of my internal state.
I thank Kevin daily for leading me and so many others to the Truth. I am so thankful for all his wisdom and time spent helping me heal, grow, and improve.
We all have the opportunity every day to light the world up. I ask you to turn your switch up, continue to Give daily, and illuminate your world at every opportunity.
We have so much more to be grateful for than we often recognize.
Merry Christmas – Love Charles
Prison Life Kevin
By Charles Wilson
Part 8 – COVID
Happy New Year 2021 to everyone. I hope you enjoyed a beautiful holiday season with your friends and family. 2020 was a heavy year for everyone and the COVID pandemic permanently changed the world. COVID drama is far from over, yet hopefully we can do our best to leave most of the scars in 2020.
I spent exactly half of 2020 in Camp and half in the “free world.” You read and heard about conditions in prison and mind you, every prison is different, but this is my account of what transpired in 2020 at FPC Montgomery with Kevin. I apologize as it is longer than normal which delayed my production time, but hopefully the details will paint a better picture for you.
“The Gated Community” as we called it was home to an all-star cast of characters along the way. 2 of the heaviest, wildest men in the camp, Kenny and Big Jim, lived directly across from Kevin; because of the bed facing direction, their issues of noise and germs were largely directed at me. Several others were consistently sick and coughing for most of my stay. The low ceilings and corner element of the wing always magnified everything.
As we all know, Kevin has an exceptional memory. Few people at the camp had been there as long as Kevin, and most certainly, no one else remembered details, people, and situations like him. A major foreshadowing of 2020 was the fact that “medical” set up a quarantine unit in the Birmingham building the 2nd week of January. According to Kevin, that was a first. When people started getting sick, they became reluctant to go to medical for fear of being quarantined for 1 week.
“Creepy Mike” was new to Camp and the first person in our wing to be quarantined on January 19th. Dr. Mark lived directly next to me, and since he was Mike’s only friend, he took supplies to quarantine for unprepared Mike. Dr. Mark then slowly developed a combo sickness of cough and fever that lasted about 2 weeks. From there, it slowly spread throughout my wing as it was simultaneously spreading through the entire camp.
Several of the prison staff that I trusted and respected were violently ill for the entire month of December. Nearly everyone throughout the Dec-March sickness time frame that had the combo of fever and respiratory infection claimed it was the worst sickness of their life. I sat across the chow hall table from several close friends as they could barely lift their heads. My ego claimed I would not get sick because my health and daily practices would protect me. LOL. Well friends, for the 1,000,000th time, my Ego was wrong.
I logged in my journal February 3, as a special day of sickness and noise in our wing. Big Jim had a 4-step process of cough, choke, snorting, and throat clearing. This would go on for hours at a time with no change. Kenny would yell at him or combat with a symphony of sewer farts. John was nonstop cleaning shoes, coughing, and yelling to “Little Man” about laundry and side hustles. Loui, right behind Kevin, was coughing, hacking, and spitting repeatedly. Dr. Mark was in the corner eating dozens of cough drops per hour, with intermittent coughing and throat clearing. “Papi” was blasting his ears out to American 80’s jams and singing at the top of his Puerto Rican lungs in broken English. KT was in the corner shuffling a deck of cards and practicing his Italian. My throat had just gotten sore, and I sat at my desk trying to enjoy the unique chaos of human survival in prison.
The sickness slowly crept on me. My throat was nearly swollen shut for a few days, and then it progressed to my chest. I felt like I had a jellyfish in my chest constricting my lungs. For nearly 1 week straight between 2-5 am, the constriction choked me wide awake into a coughing fit of epic proportions. I finally started feeling better and then it just lingered in my system for another 10 days. I was sick for 21 days straight. Somehow my cellmate Jerome never coughed once, and Kevin never got sick. They were the only 2 in the whole wing who managed to avoid the sickness.
Cigarettes hit an all time high in the compound February 17 and were going for 90 Macks per pack. That translates to roughly $70 for 1 pack of cigarettes!! Multiple men huddled in a corner to share 1 cig in an hourly game they played to pass the time. Prison is the only place you will ever see guys running around with laundry sacks full of mackerel fish packs headed to purchase cigarettes. Incredible!
On February 19th we had a Town Hall Meeting. The big heartbreaking news was an order through the BOP to remove our microwaves by May 1. People were crushed but we were one of the last facilities to even still have them. They did not end up removing them on May 1, and they were still there when I left on July 1. Hot food does a lot for the prison soul.
The Visiting Room was closed for the entire month of February for Black History month, and when it reopened, it was so nice to practice yoga again. On March 15, Kevin and I were early to yoga and discussed the COVID lockdown news with yoga Jim. I distinctly remember Kevin’s face when Jim gave us the news updates. He saw the whole thing unfolding far beyond what the news “reported.” I was upset about the news and foreshadowing, and my energy was off for nearly a week. It was a major step in the “letting go of control” process which defines prison. It’s a gnarly process to hear of and then witness (only through the TV) the whole world going into lockdown step-by-step. The funny thing is that the symptoms of COVID lined up exactly with the sickness at Camp that began in December……………..
Kevin stayed in touch with several internationally connected people. He gave us updates in the wing daily and weekly. Everyone at Camp became further glued to the TV. The Fear epidemic spread like the plague. I think Kevin was sending updates to Facebook and then they censored his page and/or shut it down. Right or wrong, the entire media world just shut down all communications from Trump. It seems that freedom of speech is completely gone. This is what Kevin was largely exercising with his books and fighting for regarding his contempt of court prison sentence.
What is fact and what is fiction these days?? Kevin always said that Fact is largely just the Ego backed opinion of someone else’s reality. I agree wholeheartedly, but what then causes us to believe something as Fact, Truth, or False? A Nugget of Gold that defines much of life = To Know and NOT Do, Is to NOT Know.
Attorney General Barr made the decision on April 1st that everyone leaving prison had to go through a 14-day quarantine lockdown. Our friend Bob left in the morning before that policy was enforced. We thought he was lucky, but later found out he was stuck in a terrible halfway house in Atlanta for months as a result. Camp staff converted E, F, and B wings in Birmingham into the designated quarantine unit.
Our Chow Hall operation changed, and they began calling us by housing unit on a rotating schedule for breakfast and lunch. Everything was served in Styrofoam and dinner was given at lunch. I calculated that we were filling an entire football field with Styrofoam every 3 weeks. The level of waste in general in prisons is horrific, but with COVID we were generating as much waste as a small city. This Styrofoam change also meant a ton of extra work for the kitchen staff, including Kevin. He got pulled away from his area and into the general population food assembly line of packing hundreds of containers daily. He was far too good at their job, and consequently they called him in to help much more than expected. These major system changes seriously disrupted the normal flow of stolen food that circulates throughout the buildings. In prison the rules force you to adapt, yet it is shocking how fast and easily we can adapt when our controlling Ego self is eliminated.
“Let’s Make a Deal” began on April 2. Kevin, the game show host, came to life. He oversaw ordering all the food for Passover, and rather than eating his own food, he chose to give it and extras away as prizes in his game show. Kevin took things to a whole new level with fun and engagement in our wing. It was the highlight of everyone’s day. He was so excited to give away food, prizes, and positivity. “The Games” usually started around 2 pm, and he would be ready and waiting in his bunk, giddy with excitement.
He changed the format daily for how the prizes were won. He would spend an hour or two writing clues on paper, preparing his boxes, making lists, and continuing to evolve the game. It started with just me, Dr. Mark, Big Jim, and Kenny. The game grew to include the entire Gated Community + “Creepy Mike.” Several people that signed up for Passover did not participate and he had more extra food than planned. Some games were simply guessing the right trivia answer, a random number in Kevin’s head, or picking the right piece of paper. Other games were more involved with options of boxes to pick or picking 1 item with a clue for another or option for exchange. He would “sweeten the deal” and lure you into a potentially worse or better pick. It was quite the psychological test.
The prizes included: the microwaveable “Amazing Meals” in 6 different flavors, Matzos boxes, a Passover breakfast setup, bologna or pastrami, EPIC Haggadah brand lemon almond cookies, horseradish sauce, Dave’s Killer Bread, a Passover breakfast setup, banana nut or choc cake, a KT special “pizza kit”, olive oil, special jelly, his yoga mat, his tennis racket, shoes, socks, boxes of (currency) mackerel, and several frozen meal options. EVERYONE in the whole building was jealous of the “Gated Community” with the Mayor KT.
Before April 5th, if you were caught wearing a mask, you would receive a disciplinary shot. Then the order came down that we all had to wear masks. They issued us masks made by UNICOR that smelled and looked terrible. In the housing units it was an option to wear them, but on the compound to/from the Chow Hall it was mandatory. The guards expressed lack of concern and only handed them out to say they did. Simple truth is that the guards brought the sickness into the Camp. How the hell else would it get in when we are on lockdown??
The Cares Act passed, and everyone rejoiced for expected freedom and relief. All public prison legislation is privately “At the Discretion of the BOP.” SERIOUS DOJ pressure must be applied for the BOP to release people, and then from there the prison staff must cooperate. Every facility has different staff politics, but at FPC Montgomery, no leadership or accountability existed. We, and Kevin especially, were not so fortunate as to the prison staff. Prison staff jobs do NOT determine power or status, rather position and time in the BOP workers Union does. Our Case Manager, Miss Z, held serious weight in the Union, and as a previous Lieutenant at a Medium Security prison, she lived in an emotional delusion that we were terrible people in need of further punishment. Simply put, she had no interest in anyone leaving Camp and did her best to block and stall everyone.
April 10th, AG Barr made an official statement directing the BOP to clear everyone out of the Camps. Everyone got prematurely excited and our Unit Team was put under the gun to work harder than ever. On April 14th Kevin got called to the office several times, and he was told his paperwork was sent to the RRM in Florida. The turnaround was usually 1-2 weeks, so he was excited and ready for the good news.
Our Unit Manager, Miss F, was one of the sweetest people on the compound. She was very sick in the month of January, yet when she went to the hospital for tests, the doctors could NOT identify the virus she had. It was something “New.” She did her best to get paperwork moving and wanted to see people go home. Unfortunately, Miss Z had no intention of working further or letting people go so the ladies got into a tiff. Miss F was pregnant, and the gossip was that somehow Miss Z used that as leverage for her to get sent home. So now we had no Unit Manager, and 2 unmotivated Case Managers. That was not an ideal start to COVID relief movement.
Once the lockdown started on April 1, everyone had limited space and breathing room. Each building contains 2 triangular patios. They are small, yet large enough for 2 picnic tables and several people to work out at once. Kevin, Dr. Mark, and I started working out daily. We usually began in the stairwell and ended on the patio. It felt extra confined and limiting at first, but I grew to love our workouts. Kevin adapted our exercises and routines daily. Kevin and I also started practicing yoga in our cells and later we moved to the patio after the 4pm count.
My release date was May 5, so on April 17th I was called in with a group to discuss reporting to the 14-day quarantine unit. I had recently cut a celebratory Mohawk for fun, and Unit Team discussed letting me stay at Camp longer if I was having too much fun with my hair. It’s just hair! They said we would report to quarantine on Monday.
We had agreed to workout at 12:30, but at noon I sat at my desk overwhelmed. All of a sudden it was time to go home. I got super emotional thinking about my last workout with KT. I honestly did not feel ready to leave, and maybe I did not want to? I had “plans” for my last few months at Camp and God had laughed at them. It all felt surreal. Somehow this experience had become bliss. What happened? So, at 12:30, KT said it was time to roll. I had to choke my emotions back, look him in the eyes, and go. I went hard and left it all in the stairwell.
At 9 am on the 18th, I was unexpectedly called to quarantine 4 days early. I had to run around in a mad dash to get everything together. I found Kevin at the computer upstairs; I gave him a hug and emotional goodbye. Sometimes hasty goodbyes are easier than lingering and lamenting. Kevin was so generous during “Let’s Make a Deal” games that I had one giant laundry bag filled solely with food!
I scored a great cell location at quarantine and got settled in. Several of my close friends arrived, and we all celebrated the taste of nearby freedom. Our boundaries were E wing, F wing, and the TV room in between them. Prison staff set up a telephone room in each housing unit at the start of COVID lockdown, and rather than multiple phones, we had 1 phone to share. Everything was peaceful and easy in quarantine. I continued to workout in the stairwell as Kevin and I had been doing.
We celebrated every time someone left, but then it was heavy to watch others return to Mobile Unit. Yes……….Several inmates were given release dates, moved to quarantine, and then after a week were told “someone made a mistake, you don’t qualify.” “We are really sorry and we know how you feel.” One inmate, Matt, was nearly 70 years old and had 7 years left on his absurd 15-year sentence. The mood in quarantine became quite somber after this occurred.
Kevin was expecting his date at any time; I hoped he would arrive in quarantine while I was there. The days kept passing and I wondered what was happening. Then I saw him briskly walking towards the law library one day. I knew something had happened and assumed our Case Manager Miss Z “made a mistake.” Well, it turns out I was right. His PATTERN risk assessment had been wrongly filed as a LOW rather than MIN. He filed the correct papers and was told it should be processed in 1 week.
Time passed, and May 4th arrived. At 6:30 am the R&D (Receiving & Discharge) officers arrived to make plans with inmates leaving in 24 hours. They told me to be ready at 3:30 am because my bus ticket had moved forward. 2 hours later Miss Z showed up with Mr. Barnes to talk with me. Really!!!??? They explained that my halfway house had no room, and I had to stay for 2 more months until July 1st. I was told to pack up and return to Mobile Unit. I knew that was a lie, and the halfway house was at 30% occupancy. I refused to leave and exhausted all avenues of relief before packing for the return to Mobile.
I lived in quarantine for 18 days, so when I returned to Mobile on May 6, everyone was flipping out. It was rather overwhelming and did not seem real. I had given my bottom bunk next to Kevin to Tony, but I chose to return there and take the top bunk. I was happy to see many friends, but it took a day or 2 to readjust.
In my attempt to understand my fate, I asked Kevin to talk with me in the stairwell. What did I do to cause this? I don’t understand! At the time I thought it was a bad thing rather than a blessing. Remember Shakespeare’s quote? I viewed it as a problem rather than an opportunity. Kevin drew a line on the wall and discussed the 3 levels of Karma and time with me. I studied and understood Sanchita, Parabda, and Agami well, but my emotions temporarily clouded reason. Talking with Kevin always makes me feel better. I took some deep breaths and settled in for the ride.
In life we all play different games. Games can be viewed from many angles. I stayed in contact with my family and attorney for the next month playing the game of control and “law.” We attempted to map the Cares Act and an early release opportunity. It was a loss of time and energy. I never enjoyed that game and eventually I quit playing. In prison, even though you are powerless, the ego pushes any attempt at control. It is much easier to just enjoy the ride knowing you are quite powerless. Laws do not exist, and politics is the real game.
Prison was a unique place to experience the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. Many guys were glued to the TV’s all day long. Some heavy conversations took place within the black community. I heard more than once that the true problem was blacks killing blacks rather than cops. The black vs. white relations at our camp stayed consistent, and we remained united by our common ground of incarceration.
Big Jim got sick and nearly died soon after my return to the wing. The medical staff repeatedly pushed him away and ignored his problem. He was up all-night vomiting green chunks, and they finally took him to the hospital. The surgeon said he was 3-4 hours away from dying! His hernia had ruptured internally, and gangrene of the intestines had set in. The prison staff honestly does not care if you live or die. You are an inmate #, not a human.
One of the blessings of my extended stay was more intense training with Kevin. The warden opened the compound for each unit to get rec time for 1 hour. I either played tennis or worked out with Kevin. We practiced Bikram 5 days a week and trained an additional 2 hours every day. We decided to hold our breath while running the stairs during our 20-minute warmup each day, and it elevated our game. Controlled inhales through the nose are key. Kevin created a modified version of the previous insanity type workout schedule, and the 3 hours of yoga daily was my favorite part. Kevin never stops playing games focused on self-improvement through mental and physical training.
At the start of June Kevin decided to go on a “nuts only” diet for several days before fasting. Once the fast started I expected him to slow down but he did not! For a full week he did Ballistic stretching for 1 hour (in the midday sun), and then we practiced Bikram every afternoon at 4pm. He felt great and maintained a superior energy level. Kevin is truly a machine, and his practices that week left me speechless.
He fasted for 10-12 days (I forget exactly), and then he took several days to rest and recover. KT, the warrior, then decided we would do a 2-week bootcamp. I loved my afternoon nap time, and without it, I could not have kept pace with Kevin. This intense schedule, for me, was the culmination of an incredible 2 year mental and physical conditioning process.
But wait, how come Kevin has not gone home yet? Well after waiting for several weeks, Kevin realized something was wrong again. This time it turned out that Miss Z had forgotten to submit 1 component of Kevin’s packet, so it had not been in processing. The DOJ continued to tighten the requirements and allowance for COVID relief. Kevin qualified for the original relief and needed his filing to be completed under those terms. Miss Z correctly resubmitted his packet, and towards the end of June, he finally heard from his people that his home confinement approval was being processed.
My time with Kevin was special and life changing, but our 1 on 1 yoga practice was something deeper. In a small triangular space, we were challenged with the cacophony of inmates playing cards, eating, cursing, yelling, sweating, and exercising. Flies attacked us constantly, yet the practice required constant focus. We stared at a sliver of blue sky and found deep peace in that limited vision. This practice meant the world to me.
I mulled over the last question I would ask Kevin. Finally, at the end of our last Bikram practice together I asked him, “Kevin, what do I need to work on to improve myself?” He responded with several examples to ultimately say. “Charles, there is No Other.” Essentially it was the deepest level of saying “See the divine Self in everything.” The illusion of this world is that we are separated from each other. We are all One.
My release date of July 1st did not change and suddenly it arrived. The BOP rules changed and release no longer required quarantine. They determined that we were already in quarantine so-to-speak. The day before I left, Miss Z called Kevin into the office. His home confinement location in Florida had been denied because it was not with family. What!!!? After all this time, they decided that he must be released to Chicago, his original sentencing district. The kicker was that he no longer qualified for COVID release! Miss Z said “You must submit a new packet for Chicago, but I’m sorry that you no longer qualify for the updated COVID release terms.” Kevin was befuddled by this situation, but as always, he said that “Everything is perfect, and I will leave when the time is right.”
My release finally happened, and I was at a deep peace throughout the process. It felt magical. I left in awe of what I just experienced. Time does not exist, and I felt completely different than when I arrived. As Kevin said when I met him, prison is an amazing adventure. I would not have believed anyone, and experiencing it was the only way. Remember, “To know and not do, is to Not Know.” Returning to the COVID world was an intense process, but I am grateful daily for my many blessings! The CDC recently admitted that COVID was here even before China publicly discussed it. I have no doubt that COVID was the “unknown virus” with the exact COVID symptoms that passed through Camp last winter. No one believed me at the time, but who cares anyhow.
I apologize for not completing this before the New Year as planned. The Universe laughed at my plan, and I was pulled in too many directions. Part 9 of this series was to be titled “The Comeback Story.” The Kings of Leon wrote a great song with this title. Look it up. Part 9 should have been posted before Kevin’s release. We are all ecstatic that he is out of Camp, and now we get to witness the makings of his Comeback Story. I know amazing things are in the works, and we are all stoked for what lies ahead. I think Kevin would tell us that anytime, no matter where we are in life, a Comeback Story is in our cards. “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
Emerson reminds us, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters in comparison to what lies within us.”
I am forever grateful for my experience at Camp and all my time with Kevin. You readers understand that my good rather than bad Karma led me to prison, but few can grasp that Truth. I wish you all a terrific 2021 and beyond. Thanks for reading and celebrating my time with Kevin.
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