Joanna Macy on the effects of refusing to feel

“The refusal to feel takes a heavy toll. Not only is there an impoverishment of our emotional and sensory life, flowers are dimmer and less fragrant, our loves less ecstatic, but this psychic numbing also impedes our capacity to process and respond to information. The energy expended in pushing down despair is diverted from more creative uses, depleting the resilience and imagination needed for fresh visions and strategies. ” 

Joanna Macy – World as Lover, World as Self

Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in awakening, cultural questions, Disconnection, emotions, grief, Joanna Macy, power and powerlessness, sadness & pain, shadow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trauma, injury, illness and waking up – Monica Cassani

Trauma, injury, illness and waking up

Click on the title link above for this post by Monica, whose site holds a great richness of resources for anyone seeking healing or seeking alternatives to the psychiatric model perspectives. This post has many useful links. Anyone with any engagement with what gets categorised as ‘mental health’ (or as we would see it, natural responses to difficult human experience) would gain from a few hours immersion in these resources. We do a lot of trauma work with people at this service (and we also engage in our own work with our own trauma, because none of us come through unscathed). The writer resonates strongly with what she says here and elsewhere about the nature and cultural/generational context of that work.

Thank you, Monica.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in awakening, community, compassion, consciousness, creativity, cultural questions, embodiment, emotions, family systems, flow, generational trauma, grief, growth, healing, interconnection & belonging, internal locus of evaluation, kindness & compassion, mindfulness, Monica Cassani, Palace Gate Counselling Service, perception, physical being, psychiatric drugs, psychiatry, Rachel Naomi Remen, self, therapeutic growth, transformation, trauma, vulnerability, working with clients | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thich Nhat Hanh on those who harm others

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh 

This feels wholly true. We all, personally and collectively, live through aspects of our own suffering in ways that adversely affect others (and this is also true in the macro sense, in terms of how we engage with the natural world). In therapy, we hold space where people can experience their pain, and experience being understood and lovingly received in real relationship – we hold space for the other….and that creates an environment which supports the unfolding of that person’s own inward resources to heal, grow and expand. Of course the therapist has some baseline needs in play too (for example in terms of receiving the payment that allows them to spend their time in this way, and still have the means of living themselves)… Yet for the most part the attention in the therapy room is on the other person, their experience, their needs. That is the focus of the shared enquiry. It works only if the therapist follows a parallel process in their own life – be that though participating in therapy themselves or in other ways – meeting their own needs, and engaging with their own pain and awarenesses and growth, as a lifelong, commitment-based practice.

There is a yet more sensitive and complex task in relationships outside the therapy room, where both people are seeking to meet pressingly felt needs in the relationship – be it partners, or friendship, or parent and child, or colleagues, or….. That brings the challenge of somehow navigating our differing needs, our wounds and fears and undigested traumas, our stories about ourselves and each other, the countless ways we miss and bruise each other…. and of course it is all too easy simply to pass on pain, to deepen our own suffering and that of the other person, even where there is love and loving intention on both sides. And we can also tip into fear-based ‘othering’ or dismissing or demonising the other person, seeking power over, morphing into oppression, cruelty and dehumanising behaviours, And yet most of us persist, seeking the places within relationship where fear diminishes, our hearts open, and we can receive ourselves and each other. We seek the warmth of sunshine on our skins. We need each other.

Both within and outside the therapy room, it is relationship that – potentially – heals.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994


Posted in 'evil', communication, compassion, conflict, congruence, core conditions, cultural questions, Disconnection, emotions, empathy, encounter, fear, friendship, growth, healing, human condition, interconnection & belonging, love, person centred, person centred theory, presence, relationship, sadness & pain, Thích Nhất Hạnh, therapeutic growth, therapeutic relationship, transformation, trauma, trust, vulnerability, working with clients | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helen Macdonald on landscape nostalgia

“I think of all the complicated histories that landscapes have, and how easy it is to wipe them away, put easier, safer histories in their place.

They are only safe for us. The fields where I fly Mabel back in Cambridge are farmed organically, and they are teaming with life. These are not. The big animals are here, it is true: the deer, the foxes, the rabbits; the fields look the same, and the trees, too, but look more carefully and this land is empty. There are few plants other than crops, and few bees, or butterflies, for the soil is dressed and sprayed with chemicals that kill. Ten years ago there were turtle doves on this land. Thirty years ago there were corn buntings and enormous flocks of lapwings. Seventy years ago there were red-backed shrikes, wrynecks and snipe. Two hundred years ago, ravens and black grouse. All of them are gone.

Old England is an imaginary place, a landscape built from words, woodcuts, films, paintings, picturesque engravings. It is a place imagined by people, and people do not live very long or look very hard. We are very bad at scale. The things that live in the soil are too small to care about; climate change too large to imagine. We are bad at time, too. We cannot remember what lived here before we did; we cannot love what is not. Nor can we imagine what will be different when we are dead. We live out our threescore and ten, and tie our knots and lines only to ourselves. We take solace in pictures, and we wipe the hills of history.”

Helen Macdonald: H is For Hawk

The writer of this blog has just finished this mesmerising, deeply moving book, which is above all an account of grief and of relationship between human and hawk….and is also full of inward and outward landscapes and the relationships between… Recommend from the heart.

Here is the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in accountability, awakening, consciousness, cultural questions, Disconnection, diversity, ecological, ecological issues, ethics, human condition, meaning, natural world, perception, political, shadow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John O’Donohue on Beginning

Here’s the text, for those who have trouble seeing FB links:-

‘There is nothing to fear in the act of beginning. More often than not it knows the journey ahead better than we ever could. Perhaps the art of harvesting the secret riches of our lives is best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally. To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a critical look at where we presently are, attempting always to discern where we have become stagnant and where new beginning might be ripening. There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different. I have never seen anyone take a risk for growth that was not rewarded a thousand times over.

John O’Donohue

Excerpt from BENEDICTUS (Europe) /

And here is the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994


Posted in consciousness, creativity, growth, John O'Donohue, risk, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nayyirah Waheed on loving ourselves

“If someone does not want me, it is not the end of the world. But if I do not want me, the world is nothing but endings.”

Nayyirah Waheed

Yes, yes, yes. The core of therapy is about coming home to ourselves, and to wanting, loving and appreciating ourselves (and therefore having that to offer to others and to the world as well). Loving embodied presence, in possession of our wholehearted ‘yes’ and our clear ‘no’. And that can be a long road for some of us….

Not certain if this is from this book….but there will be many wonderful words, whether or no….

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in acceptance, cultural questions, Disconnection, identity, interconnection & belonging, love, presence, sadness & pain, self, self concept | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Henry Beston on our concept of animals

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

Henry Beston

Lots in this…. the sense of sacred, so much absent in our cultures; the sense of ‘other, not lesser’; the sense of the wisdom and medicine in that otherness – what it might offer and teach us, in terms of restoration from our destructive, solipsistic, ego-driven human perspectives into much-needed reconnection with our deeper embodied selves and the natural world….ultimately a sense of underlying connection, oneness, the web of life: ‘…caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

The writer suspects that how we treat animals and how we treat children are the great, invisible rights issues of our time, which will have our descendants scratching their heads in wonder and dismay.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in civil rights, community, cultural questions, Disconnection, diversity, embodiment, ethics, interconnection & belonging, natural world, objectification, paradigm shift, perception, shadow, spirituality, values & principles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment