What is the dominant feeling in Irish society today; fear, anxiety, helplessness, frustration, anger? Or could it be hope, wondering, possibility, or curiosity? Our country seems to lack leadership. Political, religious and social leaders seem to be caught in a vortex of frenetic activity. It is as though we are all being called into action: to fix the social ills, mend the leaking church attendants, and pour money into sieve-like financial coffers. But might there be another way? Rather than focusing on action, could we consider sitting in the silence of the vacuum in the centre of the vortex? While all around us whirls, can we find a silence and internal place of quiet? Could each of us tolerate sitting in the silence and resist the relentless fear that surrounds?
The contributions in this issue of Inside Out reflect some of these themes. Silence; Conscious, Natural and Deep are the focus of Ursula Somerville’s article; Healing through Sand. The space to be silent and relate in silence is echoed in Pauline Emerson’s personal reflections on Spirituality and Psychotherapy. Connections through silence between daily life and our internal self are described by Anne Gill in Sufi Soulwork. Mark Patrick Hederman discusses psychology as an essential component of spirituality. It is interesting that many of our unrequested submissions to this issue contain a consistent thread of silence and spirituality and psychotherapy. In The Space… Ann O’Connell’s beautiful poem, Witnessing shares the gentleness of candles in the acceptance of inner turmoil and silence.
Without relationships we struggle to proceed through life. Televisions in every room, computers, social websites, gameboxes and flickering screens of every description are present in our houses and social spaces. Our children spend increasing hours on their own talking to friends via text and electronic devices. An interesting fact to emerge in a recent study about causes of suicide states that all the young people who died by suicide had televisions in their bedrooms. (Irish Times, 7th Sept 2010). Homes in which each bedroom is like a self contained flat can result in families who seldom talk or share meals or even know if anyone else is in the house. Loneliness, feeling unheard and unwanted grows exponentially when friendships are made and broken by tapping a keypad.
And yet we must firstly learn to relate to ourselves. It is hard to sit in the silence of loneliness and isolation that may be created by societal demands on each of us. It’s difficult to sit with a client who, amidst thousands of students, has not spoken to anyone for over a year. It’s hard to sit with a person whom nobody wants to be with. These places of internal pain reverberate with those of the listener. Care of ourselves, learning to sit in the silence, to engage with the gentle quiet of the natural world, to hear the wind and birdsong, to see the butterflies and the pearly raindrops on fuschia flowers. Can we accept the tension of societal feelings and sit in the silence?
The Editorial Board would like to give heartfelt thanks to Margaret Byrne who is retiring from the board. With characteristic enthusiasm and good humour Margaret has handled and reorganised the advertising for our journal. We wish her very well. In the same vein we would like to invite applications for the Editorial Board from amongst our membership.