In this issue
Understanding ‘the Silence’ through sound
Devashree Prabhu explores meditative experiences with silence and sound
Jung and yoga
Lina Mookerjee looks at Jung’s attitudes towards Westerners practising yoga
Silence, transcendence and therapy
Rosemary Laoulach reflects on the crucial role of silence in therapy
A spiritual classic
The imitation of Christ
Robert Jeffery describes the influence of The Imitation of Christ on readers over the ages
Counsellors and religious pastoral carers in dialogue
William West, Terry Biddington and Phil Goss ask what counsellors and religious pastoral care workers can learn from one another
From the chair
Melody Cranbourne-Rosser: Wheel of Life
Welcome from the editor
This is my first editorial for Thresholds and I would like to start by thanking all the people who have already made me feel so welcome. I’ve crossed quite a few thresholds in the past year, including being made redundant after 10 years in a seemingly ‘secure’ job and embarking on my second year of psychotherapy training with all the challenges and inspiration that brings. I’m now crossing the threshold of a new role as editor of Thresholds. Shortly after my interview for the role, I kept noticing the word ‘threshold’ in books I was reading. Wonderful how one’s awareness changes with circumstances.
I am very fortunate to be studying at the Karuna Institute, where an awareness of the spiritual in psychotherapy is regarded as a crucial part of the training of a core process psychotherapist. Core process psychotherapy is a mindfulness-based Buddhist form of psychotherapy, and meditation practice is integral to the training. During every year of the course, the students and tutors do a weekend silent retreat together – I don’t know how many other counselling and psychotherapy training courses include such an experience.
Almost 10 years ago, I decided to do an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) course, where I was introduced to mindfulness practice and, following this course, I decided to go on an eight-day silent retreat at a Buddhist retreat centre. I arrived at the centre with a bag full of books. At first I was quite reluctant to give up reading and spend eight days without the distraction of the written word. I reluctantly put down my books and let myself experience just being and doing sitting and walking meditation with a group of strangers. I struggled with the initial instructions to focus on the breath and was quite relieved when one of the teachers suggested focusing on sound. This felt much more freeing to me, my breath started to calm down and my body relaxed naturally (when I wasn’t focusing on my breath!). Listening to sounds led to a feeling of spaciousness, which was a wonderful discovery and extremely resourcing. It then became easier for me to focus on my breath. Sara Maitland, in A book of silence, acknowledges: ‘…with fewer things to look at, I see better. I listen to nothing, and its silent tunes and rhythms sound harmonic’1.
The world’s spiritual traditions have inspired their followers to compose beautiful music in praise of the divine. How often do we truly listen to music? Oxford, where I live, is a fine place for choral church music. Last Christmas, I went to a carol concert at Queen’s College and was reminded of how much I enjoyed carols as a child. There was something extraordinarily comforting about listening to a beautiful choir and then being invited to sing with them. Two of our authors this issue write around the spiritual power of sound and silence. Devashree Prabhu gives us a gentle and inspiring account of her meditative experiences with silence and sound; and Rosemary Laoulach explores her thoughts about silence and transcendence in counselling and therapy. Lina Mookerjee’s lead article is a fascinating account of her struggle with Jung’s take on Westerners studying yoga. I’m also delighted that Robert Jeffery has shared his enthusiasm for The imitation of Christ, a book I read as a teenager. And William West, Terry Biddington and Phil Goss share their findings from a research project which aims to invite dialogue between counsellors and religious pastoral care workers.
I had the great pleasure of meeting the divisional Chair, Melody Cranbourne-Rosser, in Pontyclun at the beginning of April (very early on in my new role as editor), while attending a meeting of ‘Counselling with Spirit’. In this issue Melody explains the process of rebranding and the deep enquiry that resulted in the choice of the divisional name, BACP Spirituality. And if you would like to know more about how to join the BACP Register, Hadyn Williams gives some useful advice.
I am excited by my new role as the editor of Thresholds and look forward to working closely with and learning from the members of BACP Spirituality, the executive committee (who I’ll be meeting in July) and contributors to and readers of the journal. Crossing the threshold is just the beginning of the exciting journey that lies ahead.
1. Maitland S. A book of silence. London: Granta Books; 2009.