In this issue
Surviving the prison bubble
‘Pamela’ and her counsellor reflect on their experiences
Creating community with strangers: spiritual retreat Andrew Smith talks with retreatants
Vision quest (free article)
Margaret Rock explores her journey on Iona
Jane Renton describes her experience with fire in the therapy room
The personal and transpersonal
Jinny Gupta reflects on her experience of the transpersonal
From the chair: Social justice, spiritual activism and cultural psychotherapy
From the editor: Inner and outer freedom
Sometimes we encounter situations where the people we are close to are forced to face difficult circumstances and we need to find ways to support them and look after ourselves. In this issue’s special focus article, ‘Pamela’ tells the story of how she felt about the imprisonment of her grandson and how she coped. Her counsellor also writes about working alongside clients facing similar situations. I would like to thank Jacqui Gray, Managing Editor, for her work with the authors on this article.
I stumbled upon a book about teaching meditation to prisoners, edited by Sam Settle, who is the director of The Prison Phoenix Trust, a charity based in Oxford.1 The charity provides support to prisoners, through meditation and yoga classes, and also offers a letter writing service. Peace inside is a wonderful collection of letters to and from prisoners who are practising meditation. It illustrates the variety of approaches taken by prisoners to the issues they are dealing with while learning to meditate and the incredible resilience human beings show when faced with adversity. The letters seem to be a friendly form of spiritual accompaniment where people share the frustration and the joy of meditation practice, in its many forms. In the introduction to the book, Sam Settle writes that meditation practice is: ‘...living from a place of freedom in the truest sense of the word, right where you are, bars or no bars. Unlike the “system”, which can seem rigid and unforgiving, our hearts and minds are flexible places we can dive into and work with at any moment. This very personal work offers huge potential for give and take, for change, for growth, for inspiration, for warmth, for love, for uncovering a part of ourselves that is true and deep. (And sometimes, the inner work you do often starts to affect your external circumstances.)’1
As people working in the counselling and therapeutic profession, we need to find ways to replenish ourselves. Whether that is through, for example, reflective writing, going on retreat, being in nature, it feels important to make space for the emotional impact of our work.
I hope you’ll find inspiration and encouragement in this issue. I welcome suggestions and articles for future issues.
1. Settle S (ed). Peace inside: a prisoner’s guide to meditation. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 2017.