In the Spring 2010 issue of Tricycle, Alexander Sharkey wrote a profile of Vinny Ferraro, an ex-convict and recovering drug addict who now works as the teacher-training director of the Mind Body Awareness Project (MBA) in Oakland, California. In Sharkey’s piece, “The Heartful Dodger,” Vinny talks about leading MBA’s Challenge Day—a mindfulness-based program that introduces kids to mindfulness exercises in order to open them up to their own “thoughts, fears, prejudices, and vulnerabilities”—and how he works with kids to help them find freedom beyond conditions:

All my work revolves around the same conversation. What is freedom beyond conditions? Beyond this school, this prison, this hood, whatever your conditions are. Do your conditions lead inevitably to suffering? No, they don’t. Only a being’s perspective leads to suffering. Two people in the exact same situation, according to their outlook and expectations, can have completely different experiences. Turn that around and any conditions can be a vehicle for bondage—or freedom and awakening.

Vinny’s work with MBA work recently caught the attention of MTV—on Tuesday, July 20th, the network will premiere a new series entitled “If You Really Knew Me” that follows high schools students through a MBA Challenge Day held at their school. From

Each episode of If You Really Knew Me takes place at a different high school, and follows five students from different cliques as they go through the life-changing experience of Challenge Day, a one-day program that breaks down the walls between cliques, and completely changes the way students view their school and each other. Watch the amazing transformation each week as new students open up for the first time and try to change by revealing who they really are, behind the cliques and the labels.

To read Alexander Sharkey’s full profile of Vinny Ferraro, click here. Find out more about MBA’s Challenge Day program here. Check out the trailer for “If You Really Knew Me” below: 

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