Monthly Archives: January 2016
Running during the cold, dark and sometimes wet Winter months can seem bleak and uninspiring. I like to be grateful as I run through these wintry months, and nature has its own ways of delivering beautiful gifts as I take one footstep at a time. When I step out into the chill it is like I immerse myself slowly into a wonderful and deep lake, so I take my time and do not place any pressure on my body, I simply sink into the here and now and I mindfully experience.
I like the whooping sound of Canadian geese as they fly towards me. As I run I feel connected to their flight, my own movements become synchronised with theirs. They fly over and above my head and I am part of that energy, its strength, vigour, its togetherness. I say thank you to the geese for choosing to take flight during my run and I feel excited because I can see the next grouping of geese getting ready to take flight from the water’s edge. Maybe they also will whoop over my head.
I then find myself entering the world of boats. I am now running past a boatyard and the wind is shaking the masts of the many different boats that are there. Every boat has a different and human name – Cecelia, Prospero, Natasha – and the clanging of the masts is like a group of bell ringers celebrating my run, enjoying this beautiful moment. I say thank you to the world of boats. My attention then becomes immediately focussed upon a robin red breast, who is standing on the edge of the path that I am jogging on. I think about how hard birds and animals have to work during Winter in order to be able to get the food that they need and this makes me grateful for the muesli I ate this morning. I am also compassionate to my own physical and psychological struggles during these short dark and cold days.
I say thank you to the snow under my feet. I like the crunching feel of the snow. I like that my joints are experiencing less of an impact because of the white carpet that nature has rolled out this morning. As I run under a tree a smattering of white tissue paper drops gently all around me, the melting snow crumbling from the branches and disappearing into the environment. I look up at the sky above me and I notice that I am on top of the World – I am running along the highest point of a steep hill, looking down on the valley below me. I breathe in the fresh unpolluted air and I am grateful for this pure form of molecular experience. I then smile as I run into a village because now something is thanking me. I see before me a speeding sign that registers that I am running at seven miles per hour. In capital green letters the sign reads Thank You. Now I am being thanked, simply for taking one footstep at a time. I ignore the inner critical voice that says to me ‘You should be running at eight miles per hour’. I ignore the inner critic that says ‘You are running too slow’. Instead I say thank you to my self for going out this morning and just experiencing, just simply being. This sense of acceptance is a perfect winter’s gift.
Although societies like to differentiate between victims and offenders, in reality offenders are often people who have been victimised. The following is a fictional case study that represents some of the male offenders I have met as a therapist providing counselling inside prison.
Ian is a young man who is in prison for a ten year sentence for aggravated assault against a young man he fell into a dispute with in a bar. At the time of the offence Ian was very drunk and he says that he does not remember much from the incident, only that he ‘lost it’, that he was consumed by rage and lashed out at a young man he saw as being aggressive towards him. Up to the point of his incarceration, Ian had been drinking heavily and sometimes was also taking class A drugs. Ian had experienced a difficult childhood because his father was a heavy drinker who would physically assault his mother; his father was also aggressive towards Ian and his siblings. Violence was therefore a normal part of Ian’s everyday life at home. When Ian was 10 his parents separated and Ian and his siblings then had to move to a new area with his mother so that his father would not know where they were. Growing up Ian often became angry and could not understand why.
Ian clearly had been the victim of domestic violence; having to move home with his mother and siblings also meant that Ian had to create a new life for himself in a new area not out of his own choice. Ian is also likely to have experienced trauma as a child because witnessing and experiencing violence and aggression could have traumatised him in that the aggression from Ian’s father may have been episodically severe and overwhelming. Ian’s case also illustrates how victimisation, trauma and crime can be linked in that experiences of victimisation can be traumatic for the individuals concerned leading to symptoms like anger and anxiety, and some people may cope with these feelings by taking alcohol and/or drugs.