Rainforest Mind: Embodied eco-spirituality with Allison Priestman

Rainforest Mind: Embodied eco-spirituality with Allison Priestman

00:00 / 41:03
Allison Priestman

In this episode I’m in conversation with Allison Priestman, body psychotherapist and wild psychotherapist.

We talk about spirituality coming through or from the body, receiving something from the natural world and examples of wild spirituality.

I’ve looked for the C.S. Lewis quote, ‘God is wild’ and it looks like Allison was right – it is from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, “He’s Wild you know, not like a tame lion.”

I mentioned Gerald May’s book Wilderness and Nick Totton’s book Wild Therapy.

Other related episodes:

Allison’s website for her therapy practice is here: http://www.allisonpriestman.co.uk/ and details of the Embodied Relational Therapy and Wild Therapy training courses are here: http://erthworks.co.uk/

Rainforest Mind: Searching for God, or something like it

Rainforest Mind: Searching for God, or something like it

00:00 / 31:08
Harlech Beach, by Ed Webster

In this episode I recount three experiences of being in sacred space, one on a rooftop in Delhi, one on a campsite in Harlech, and one during a five day chanting retreat.

What was I encountering in those moments, and does it matter what it was?

How do we interpret spiritual experience? Did I find God, the Buddha, or just the world?

Autumn and Winter Well-being

This month I was asked to write about coping with the disappearing sun, for our local magazine All About Malvern. This is the article I wrote:


Worcester has disappeared into the mist that is sitting in the Severn Valley. The garden is damp from a wave of rain that passed over the hills. Soon, the sun will dip under the horizon and the dark night will come.

I’m writing this in early September, and it’s not quite evening. The days have been getting noticeably shorter recently, and I am reminded of winter days in my youth when I would walk to work in the dark, walk home in the dark and spend the day longing for natural light rather than the fluorescent glow of the department store I was working in.

As summer draws to a close I also find myself remembering those first days of sunshine this year, after the long snowy winter. The sprits of the whole town seemed to lift when the bright weather arrived.

What can we do to stay happy as the hours of light become less, the temperature cools, and the clouds roll in?


Lots of you will have heard of Hygge. Pronounced Hue-guh, this is a Danish word that means something like cosiness. When interviewed by the BBC Susanne Nilson said, “Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book.”

Maybe we can think of Hygge as creating conditions that help us to relax: Lighting candles, or sitting around a fire (inside or outside), creating a winter evening playlist that slowly gets more and more chilled, or sharing a good meal with friends.

Getting outside

As Arthur Wainwright famously said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Getting outside means getting vitamin D. It means moving the body, and it means you’re more likely to look at trees. All of these things are really good for you. In cold damp weather I pften feel reluctant to go up onto the hills, but every time I do I feel better afterwards.

Eating well

This summer I’ve been enjoying lots of wonderful salads and Buddha bowls for lunch. Our veg. patch needed plenty of watering but the results were amazing, and it’s been great to go outside pick something and have it on my plate minutes later. Now the earth is turning different things are coming into season, and I’ll be enjoying homemade soups with squash, leeks and other winter goodies.

Sometimes – particularly when I’m on my own – cooking can seem like a chore. But when I eat good food I always feel better.


Maybe it feels easier to meet people when the weather is good, and easier to stay at home on your own on cold dark nights. But we are social beings. We each like different amounts of company, but some company is good for the soul, so host a dinner party, meet a friend for a coffee, or join a book club.

Plan something you enjoy

If the thought of a long dark winter really does lower your mood then make sure you plan some bright spots. Make a date with yourself, or a friend, and put it in your diary. Having something to look forward to in the future can make you feel better right now.

As the weather changes, and the light changes, it can be easy to fall into wishing for the autumn and winter to already be over. All of the suggestions I’ve made today are based on accepting the reality of what is, and finding ways of appreciating and making the most of what is happening right now.

Whether you are a cold weather person or a hot weather person, I hope you have an easy and enjoyable autumn and winter.

Rainforest Mind: Wild Therapy with Stephen Tame

Rainforest Mind: Wild Therapy with Stephen Tame

00:00 / 42:10
Stephen Tame

In this episode we explore Wildness and Wild Therapy. Stephen Tame is a trainer on the Wild Therapy training course, and also on the Embodied Relational Training course that I’m currently taking.

We talk about what wildness means. Is it chaos and unpredictability? Or something else? We talk about what supports wildness, and wildness in urban settings.

We talk about the ideal of Wild Therapy – what kind of people is it trying to produce?

You can find details of the Wild Therapy training and Embodied Related Training on erthworks.co.uk, including a Wild Therapy weekend workshop in October 2018.

Nick Totton’s book is called Wild Therapy. The Charles Eisenstein essay Stephen mentions is Invitation into a Living Planet and James Lovelock has written about the Gaia hypothesis in many of books. Stephen also mentions Joanna Macy (if the world’s dying, let’s go down with some grace) the environmental social activist, and Buddhist scholar, who has written eight books.

Stephen’s own website, with details of his therapy practice is: https://www.stephentame.com/

Rainforest Mind: Developing Empathy with special guest Satya Robyn

Rainforest Mind: Developing Empathy with special guest Satya Robyn

00:00 / 30:48
Me and Satya on holiday, exploring the Yorkshire moors

Following on from the last episode Empathy With My EnemiesI ask the question what supports empathy? How can we be more empathic.

To help me answer this question I’ve roped in a special guest – psychotherapist, Buddhist priest and writer of novels and self-help books, Satya Robyn.

Satya also happens to be married to me, and we co-run the temple here in Malvern.

We talk about the therapy/client relationship, emapthy in friendships and how spiritual experience can support empathy.

Apologies for the slightly echoey audio in the conversation. I had a one microphone set up and as we were different distances from the mic you could hardely hear Satya on the recoding 🙁  I fiddled around for ages to get the levels right, but there were some unwanted side effects. I’m still learning!

You can find Satya online (including details of her books) at www.satyarobyn.com

Rainforest Mind: Empathy with my enemies

Rainforest Mind: Empathy with my enemies

00:00 / 19:17
Freshly painted by Matthew Casey

In this episode I talk about the power of dialogue across difference, using the example of two counsellors who now work together, both grieving the loss of their sons. One killed by an ISIS suicide bomber, the other whilst fighting for ISIS.

I talk about processing my own feelings that came up when I took part in the Worcester March for Unity on September 1st, marching past an EDL protest taking part on the same day.

And I talk about my vow to save all beings. All of them? Even the ones I don’t like.

I couldn’t think of a good image to illustrate this, so today’s photo is of our brand new mandala in the temple hallway, painted and donated by the artist Mathew Casey.

Rainforest Mind: Zen and Christianity: An Interview with Rev Ian Spencer

Rainforest Mind: Zen and Christianity: An Interview with Rev Ian Spencer

00:00 / 42:11
Rev Ian Spencer (front row, 2nd from left) in his Zen robes at Amida Mandala

Today I enjoyed spending some of the morning with Rev Ian Spencer. Ian is an Anglican priest and runs a retreat centre not far from here. He’s very involved in interfaith work and is also a Zen Buddhist. He seemed like the perfect person to speak to about Buddhism and Christianity.

In this conversation I ask him what Zen Buddhism offers his Christian practice, how he makes sense of ‘The only way to the Father is through me’ and we get to the mystical heart of each tradition.

We cover topics like intimacy, holiness, relative and absolute truth.

Ian mentions books by James Finley and Thomas Merton.

Rainforest Mind: Places of Worship? What’s the point?

Rainforest Mind: Places of Worship? What’s the point?

00:00 / 26:34

After listening to episode three: wildness, someone asked me, “If the jewelled forest in the Buddhist teaching is a call back to a real wild forest, why build temples?”

I take that question as my springboard this week, thinking about how both wildness and temples have supported my spiritual practice and drifting off into other interesting and not completely unrelated areas.

Hope you enjoy listening. Do drop me an email or comment below.

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Rainforest Mind: Wildness

Rainforest Mind: Wildness

00:00 / 23:41

The importance of wildness, why wildness is fundamental, and trusting the process.

I talk about getting out into the natural world, and touch on the process that led to the creation of the Amida Mandala Temple.

In this episode I refer to Isabella Tree’s Wilding, and Nick Totton’s Wild Therapy.

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Rainforest Mind: Needs, Gratitude and Grace

Rainforest Mind: Needs, Gratitude and Grace

00:00 / 18:15

In this episode I recount discovering a deep need (that’s probably impossible to meet),  what helps me work through such needs, and how I can land in a place of feeling deeply satisfied.

The Buddhafield talk is below, as is the talk from Sarah Boak that I mention.

Kaspa’s talk from Buddhafield Festival:

Sarah Boak’s talk:

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