With the help of mindful meditation, Vinny Ferraro keeps his drug addiction past where it be
[CNN] Vinny Ferraro makes his way to a chair at the front of a dim, chatter-filled room. Most Friday nights in San Francisco, he leads a meditation and an open discussion group session. And tonight is that night.
Once seated, Ferraro bends down to remove his shoes. He then sits up straight, closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before opening his eyes to say, “All right, all right, all right, y’all. Let’s bring it in.”
Everyone – from ex-cons and recovering addicts to everyday businesspeople – searches for a seat.
And then silence.
All eyes are on Ferraro, who is wearing a gray sleeveless t-shirt that reveals his tattoo-covered arms.
“Welcome, everyone. My name is Vinny Ferraro and I’m the guiding teacher. This is a particularly surreal night when there is, like, cameras over our shoulders,” he says, referring to us.
“So, if you are in witness protection, please exit through the gift shop."
The crowd laughs.
It’s Ferraro’s sense of humor and his own troubled past that give him the ability to connect with so many people.
Trying to survive
“Both my mother and father dealt with addiction. I was raised in this wild neighborhood, with a lot of violence, a lot of drug addiction and a lot of incarceration. So I had to figure out a way to armor up.” Ferraro leans forward and continues.
“The ethics were loose because we were all just trying to survive. So I participated in drugs and the street life. And it led me to being locked up. It led me to being homeless.”
He still gets choked up talking about his history and the unexpected events that led him to his turning point.