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Martin Wells - Sitting in the Stillness

An Interview by Iain McNay

Iain: Hello and welcome to Conscious TV. I’m Iain McNay and my guest today is Martin Wells. Hi Martin

Martin: Hi

Iain: It’s Conscious Tv with a difference because we obviously have a situation were it’s not possible always to meet the guest one to one. Martin is based in Bristol and I’m in my house I have with Renate in Oxfordshire. So, we’re going to see how this works, this is the first one we’re doing in a remote way. We have our friend Rupert here who is doing all kinds of  sorts of technical things. We’re hoping the end result is jolly good, we’ll see what happens. Anyway , Martin has a book out called ‘Sitting in the Stillness’  which I read, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it for different reasons. It has his story in but also, he works as a psychiatrist in the British National Health. I thought that’s really interesting to write a book called ‘Sitting in the Stillness’ and you work as a psychiatrist. Let me ask you first of all, how do you get the title ‘Sitting in the Stillness’?

Martin: Thank you, just a quick correction, I’m a psychotherapist , formerly a social worker but yes, you’re right I do work in the NHS. It came from a colleague. A few years ago, we had a young Chinese Buddhist nun working for the Trust in a voluntary capacity. She would turn up in her robs, she was only thirty or so, but she’d been a practising Buddhist for a long time, probably since her teenage years. She ran a mediation in group in one of the psychiatric units with people of high levels of disturbance and distress. She ran this group. I never went to it but apparently it was very successful and well thought of. I said to her how would you describe what you do in the group. She said, “well I sit in my stillness and I invite people into theirs.” I just thought that was such a lovely simple description of the process, not just from psychotherapy, psychiatry, or anything in terms of the helping professions but also in terms of relationships with other people. What does that mean, to sit in our own stillness and invite people into theirs? I liked the two components of it as well because there is the suggestion we have a stillness that is inherent in us, and there is a suggestion that in a sense through self-inquiry, through practice, we can come back to that inherent true nature, and in so doing, that is an invitation to others. In a medical model where there is a lot about treatment and doing things to people, I really like the nature of that statement which invites, and only invites but it’s a powerful invitation, because if any of us have ever sat with anyone who is in their own stillness and at peace with themselves it’s infectious, it carries a transmission.

Iain: Good, thank you. Are you sitting in the stillness now?

Martin: Yes and no. Obviously in a situation like this there are certain things that happen in the body-mind like there may be a certain nervousness, anticipation in an interview like this but fundamentally yes. In a way we all are, it’s our true nature to be still , to be silent, to be peaceful, to be free. All of those things are inherent in us. The problem is not that we need to find that or develop that in any way but more that the way we are set up, the way we’re conditioning, we have eyes in the front of our head; we’re got diaries that talk about tomorrow and the next day. We are sort of conditioned to not be still, not to be in our fundamental stillness. We’re anticipating, there’s a certain momentum to life. There’s a what’s next often in the way we think about things. Like Churchill once said, “ the next dam thing”. What’s the next dam thing on the list to do?  Which in a way why I think lockdown has been a very interesting process in terms of coming back to ourselves, not looking forward so much. It hasn’t been possible to look forward in the same way, so it brings us back home potentially. It’s challenging in lots of other ways and different people with different challenges too.

Iain: Yes, we’ll come onto the whole lockdown thing and how we’re responding later, because it is very interesting. I  know in our household Renate’s response to lockdown, is completely different from my response so, we can look at that. People are always interested in a story behind how someone gets to a place. Let’s just run through yours and see how you got to be where you are now. You were telling me you were born shortly after the second world war. Your mother was German and your father half English, half Swedish, and the fact that you had a German mother was quite difficult for you in your formative years wasn’t it?

Martin: I wasn’t really aware of how difficult it was until I looked back. I think it was partly something almost hypnotic in the fact that I didn’t think of myself as in any way German. So, even though my mother was German, and  I think really struggled in this country for the first few years that she came here. There was a lot of antipathy and ill feeling towards Germans but as I look back I don’t have any sense of being German until someone almost till my twenties and thirties, someone said that must have been difficult for you. I think the point of that is that what I did with it was to create a false self, to then have a mask that really enabled me to disguise who I was. It was really interesting looking back. I was in a therapy group in my late thirties and someone said actually you’re only a quarter English, aren’t you? It was quite shocking in a way, for me I thought of myself as English. In a lot of ways, I am English but the shock was how much I’d assumed a persona, been chameleon-like in terms of my way of being in the world and in a way how good I got at it. I got very good at accents for example, I could imitate other people’s accents. I don’t think it is just a genetic thing, I learned to tune in so that I could be a certain person for certain circumstances.

Iain: Of course, we all do this to different extents. We all take on a persona, we’ll all try to be what’s acceptable. We all try and express what we feel is real for us, but of course, it all comes from our programming. That programming is unique to all of us but isn’t based on truth

Martin: Yes, exactly

Iain: Just to keep your story going you came to the stage when you were very drawn to Eastern philosophies and meditation, so what were the first clues if you like that you got from that?

Martin: When you’re drawn to something like that it’s often looking back, I think ‘ah’ that’s what I was drawn to. Probably at the time I couldn’t have articulated what I was drawn to, but I was quite politically involve at that time. I was very involved in left wing politics and I think the same kind of thing drew me, which was the sense of community, a sense of oneness. These people were writing about everything is one. I couldn’t have talked about it in those days. You used the phrase drawn to, it was people talking about community, oneness, union, love in those terms as well. I found it inspiring really, it was an amazing time. It was an amazing time anyway , being nineteen in 1969 was an incredible time to be alive, also in terms of shaking the established order, questioning the established order. So, a lot of these writing were deep questioning, is this real? Is that real? Are we really individual, separate? So, it was a time culturally of deep questioning and also for me deep questioning of what was real and what was not.

Iain: Yes, it’s interesting because I was also involved very much with left wing politics. I was drawn there because I felt something wasn’t right both inside me and in society. I felt well that this is the answer and then more involved I got, I realised the Trotskyist hated the Communist; the Communist didn’t like the Labour party and Socialists; they didn’t like the young liberals and all the kind of lefties on the one hand had similar philosophies. I say similar as there were extremities within those philosophies and in the end the ones that I found most fun were the Anarchists because they were the ones that didn’t want any rules (laughing). Like you it was a draw to something and then finding that wasn’t it. That’s the point, like you did, I moved onto the more philosophical, meditation etc. I’m just looking at the notes you sent me so we can keep this going about you, not about me. So, you’ve said in what you sent me, you knew that something was fundamentally wrong, and you became increasingly jaded. I think that was actually were you began to work as a therapist and meditation teacher. So just talk us through what happened at that point. You had the interest in Eastern meditation then you actually started to work as a teacher as such.

Martin: Yes, it was a bit beyond that actually. I’d been working as a teacher and a therapist for a while and part of a meditation network. I couldn’t have called it that at the time but looking back on that network it was in the progressive school. So, it was the sort of meditation practice that invited you to think that there was enlightenment at the end of the practice if you were committed , repeated your mantra often enough and long enough, and your mindset was right, then there would be a treasure at the end of the rainbow in a sense. I was in that network and I have no regrets. The people taught me a vast amount about meditation, about personal growth and all of that was really helpful. But it came to the point, and this is the jaded aspect of it that you mentioned. Again, I probably couldn’t have articulated it at that point, but it was something like, there’s a promise of going somewhere, but I don’t feel I am going somewhere. It was around that point, having been jaded for around a year or so, that I met jean-Marc Mantell who was giving a speech at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I went along because it was about mindfulness and I’m obviously teaching mindfulness within the NHS. The first two speaker were talking about research. They had some nice power points and graphs and things, interesting. In the afternoon, this tall Frenchman stood up and just said, “ in order to be a psychiatrist you must completely forget you are a psychiatrist”. Then he didn’t say anything for probably another two minutes or so. The audience were paused with their notepads, most of them, hoping for more information and he was saying “no, it’s not more it’s less. Stop trying to be something. Come out of the role of psychiatrist, psychotherapist, teacher, or whatever, then you’re free.” The talk made a vast impact on me. I couldn’t even describe it in words. It was more of a meditation than a talk. It was like he was ringing a bell every two minutes that just opened another doorway.  You mentioned readiness earlier on in our conversation, I think because of the jadedness, I was ready to hear what he had to say. Really what he had to say was stop. The same thing that Papa Gee says to Ganga Gee when she goes when she goes there, stop. Stop the searching, isn’t not anyone other than in your own heart and in your own being. You know sometimes when you get out of a car on a mountain lane and the air is so fresh, it was like that. Suddenly I had an intense experience of freedom and fresh air that I can still remember now. It’s quite distinct in my memory, my visceral memory.

Iain: It’s always interesting how these things come at the right time for us isn’t it? Probably no one else, I don’t know, it’s unlikely , no one else in the room had the experience and the impact on them that it had on you. It was just your time. It’s like you have to do all the searching and the learning about yourself, meditation, but as you found that doesn’t take you to the actual point does it?

Martin:  Yes, that’s really helpful. A friend and colleague of Jean-Marc, a chap called Peter Fenner who is and teaches in Australia…I read something not long after that… I had the same thoughts as you just said. He said there is no path to take but we need to take a path in order to know there’s no path to take. If we didn’t take a path, we wouldn’t know there’s no path to take. It’s a paradox obviously. Again, that was so helpful because initially I thought maybe I could have done this twenty years ago. Was that a waste of time, all that meditation in another path? Should I regret it? Should I feel resentful or something? That all fell away in that understanding that it was all necessary, all needed, all part as you say and as Jean-Marc calls it, “an exhaustion of the search.” I couldn’t have really smelt that freedom if I hadn’t known how imprisoned I was with my own searching, with my own thoughts.

Iain: What impact did that have on you practically at the time in terms of your work and  relationships with people?

Martin: It was one of those things that in a way that nothing changed, and everything changed. The biggest concern at the time was that I wouldn’t be able to continue my work as a psychotherapist. I was also concerned about relationships. Would people know what I would be talking about? Because everything had a different perspective. In my work as a therapist in a way there was such a massive perception shift that I did wonder how people would relate to that, whether they could hear the sorts of things I might now be saying. So, one of the fundamental things in therapy is often about change personal change and development. That no longer interested me, I was no longer interested in change or development, I was interested in freedom. Freedom from the personal narrative, enabling people to loosen up from all the stuff they’d been caught up in thought, in mind, and in diagnosis. People walking around thinking of themselves as depressed, or obsessional or manic. Not who they are but definitions they were carrying around with them, including or course, the personal story. So, the personal story for many people particularly in the NHS where we tend to see people with more extreme and difficult histories. Then, a lot of people saying I’m unlovable, I’m unacceptable, unwanted, I’m a failure. All of that in a sense was seen as fiction and of course, my own story as well, seen as fiction. So, that falls away leaving a different sort of clarity and perspective about the person whom I am sitting opposite with.

Iain: Do you think your clients noticed a change in you?

Martin: That’s a whole interesting area, I think. Yes, I think they did, but I think what started to happen and we’ve seen this in the NHS team I work in, is that there is some sort of unconscious networking that goes on, were people sort of know, not consciously of course, that you’re the person they need to talk to because of their readiness to hear something. So, in the book, not long after the experience with Jean- Marc, I talk about this patient who I call Malcolm who I talked to for two hours. He tells me his whole story, which is a very difficult story of failures, redundancies, abandonment. Right at the end he says, “do you know ,that’s the story of me but I still don’t know who I am.” I think that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about since Jean-marc and reading a lot of things around that time. I don’t think that is a coincidence. I think the universe works in that way. It’s beyond are capacity in the human mind to understand that wonderful synchronicity and union that happens. He found me, I found him, who knows which way round it is, it isn’t any way round. More and more of that kept happening. So, in the supervision groups I run, the training groups I run, again I would start to say things from this perspective. There was a bit of me still, probably ego that might not like this. It’s interesting where you started that then takes me back to my story because in my story I would rarely as a youngster risk saying anything that challenged other people or that was too far from the norm. The fear was someone would say “ah you’re different , you’re not one of us”. So, this process for me was a profound one of letting go of all of that aspect of my story. If people weren’t ready, they didn’t like it, or it was too challenging, in some ways I felt I had to go with it.

Iain: Was your process uncomfortable for you?

Martin: Massively. My story has been uncomfortable in the sense that I often sought comfort whilst feeling uncomfortable deep down. I was seeking structure, the known things, familiar groups. I remember when I went to social work college, there would be something like twenty of us in the room and they would ask questions and things. It was only when I had heard from at least eighty percent of the room in terms of their questions or their thoughts, would I risk saying something, because then I could take the temperature of the room and not stand out as different. So, in a way I was living with a lifetimes discomfort which I tried to make comfortable in different ways. The second most uncomfortable thing was letting go of the previous meditation network where I felt a loyalty and it gave me a sense of wellbeing, familiarity, structure. So, letting go of the known and stepping into the unknown was profoundly uncomfortable and in the same breath liberating. I wouldn’t trade it for the world

Iain: I understand. Many people talk that after a significant opening and obviously at that talk you had a significant opening, they say that the whole process of integration is very individual. In so far as some people sail through, others can have what may be years of real difficulty. One person I interviewed quite recently lost his whole personality, had to real build it, and hardly left his house for a year as he couldn’t function in the outside world. Obviously, that’s an extreme case but he’s ok now I have to say. It’s not like… there was a happy ending. I should stress that, I’m a great believer in happy endings in as much as there can be. Are there things that you can share for us now? Little examples of how you overcame or approached the challenges of that integration

Martin: One of the things is patience. Like you I talked to people who had been through that experience, I read as much as I could about those experiences. Often people were talking about how integration took place. Yes, it is unique but there was a common thread that there was a momentum to the previous personality, the story, the life patterns. And that momentum, a bit like an oil tanker… you may have turned the wheel but there is a lot of momentum in that story. I think integration is an interesting word. For a long time, I was trying to integrate meditation and psychotherapy. I was trying to integrate me into the world of psychotherapy, so I belonged, like before but with the non-dual perspective, it didn’t seem to be about integration. Almost like a ruthlessness to it that this is how it is and if you’re going to try and integrate other things into that don’t fit , that aren’t real, good luck, it won’t work. Almost like life or the Dao was saying this is it, this is it, this is it. To deal with that is going to be uncomfortable, I don’t think there is a bypass to that and a number of stories in the book are about breakdown and breakthrough. They are about how, as in nature, if we allow the breakdown of certain patterns and it is uncomfortable as you’re saying , then there’s a real potential for something of our essential being to breakthrough. Another part of that I think is enshrined in the phrase ‘not my will but thy will’ . One of the things to go with in that respect to allow the process in a sense to move you, to shift you. You won’t be in control of it, you won’t be able to manipulate it like we do other things. Jean – Marc has a nice image of it. It’s like the child in the back of the car with the plastic steering wheel. We think we are driving this, but no. we’re not. That’s been really helpful in my work in the NHS particularly with people who come with a breakdown and often it is perceived as a failure. We don’t perceive the breakdown in nature as a failure when the caterpillar goes to mush to become the butterfly. That’s not a failure but in human terms we see that as something wrong like we are a radiator or car engine that needs fixing in some way.

Iain: Yes, breakthrough comes so often after breakdown and the breakdown is hard isn’t?

Martin: Absolutely, really hard. One of the hardest things is the loss of structure. What we have in terms of a structure is the story, familiar patterns, ways of thinking, ways of being and in this experience that has to be relinquished in a sense. The structure has to go and that for some, can be terrifying. The other thing, answering your earlier question, I would see to people read and listen to the teachings of people who have been through this because what they help us with is what’s called the understanding. We can’t do other than go through it if we’re in it, but it’s helpful to have an understanding of it. If the understanding is yes, there is a problem and we need to fix it, that’s very different from there’s no problem , stay open to this, let it break you open, be curious about what comes next, surrender to this. If that message comes with what people are going through, that’s a very different message, then a celebration of creativity, no failure at all.

Iain: Yes, in your book, ninety-nine percent , most of it is accounts of parts of sessions with your clients. The feeling I had which you touched on earlier was that you were there with them, there’s a kind of a holding although you are not doing anything, but there’s a kind of creating of space of allowing, and actually you don’t try and fix them at all.  You don’t really make suggestions. Rather than me trying to interpret, you talk about it (laughing)

Martin: One example from the book that is quite illustrative is a colleague who is a consultant psychiatrist, I saw for supervision mostly. She came to me having been on her way to work … a very competent consultant by the way… on the way to work just came to some traffic light, a roundabout or something and thinks I can’t do this, I can’t go in any more. She stopped in a lay by and sits there and in her terms, she thinks I’m having a breakdown. What do I do, I’m a psychiatrist so shall I take some medication? I’ll go to my GP, what will they say?  There was a bit of her that did not want to go down that route. That was a deep knowing that something was creative about this process. She came to see me, and we had a conversation about it. she said to me afterwards, the thing that made a difference was that she didn’t see fear in my eyes. In a way,  we’re coming back to Ginho’s ( ??35.49) statement “I sit in my stillness and I invite people into theirs”. I was concerned about her functional level, but I had no concerns about her on the level of being because it seemed to me such a potentially creative process. Again, as you’re saying really uncomfortable. For her it was her worst nightmare in a sense, not to be competent to look after her colleagues. She was a very, hands on psychiatrist. Out of that fearlessness comes a creativity. She started to remember being six or seven, loving family, but her sister was chronically ill. So, her sister had got an enormous amount of attention of course, needed to have that attention. But my colleague can remember almost deciding I’ll never ask for help myself. I’ll never be vulnerable, I’ll manage, like a little soldier or sentry. I’ll manage this. That story was very effective in the sense that she became very competent, others looked to her to manage things, but it also caught her in a trap. She wasn’t free. She sat with us for a while, did some mindfulness, we talked a bit more, and she really felt very liberated by the whole experience. She went back to work and said, “I’m practising saying I don’t know”. People would come into her office and say can you tell us what to do about that, or we’ve got so and so in the ward , shall we … she said I don’t know, what do you think. This was completely alien to her; she was stepping into the unknown. Not long after that she was in a room with an adolescent lad who got very aggressive. I think he threw some chairs around but didn’t hit her, but she was terrified. Again, she could recognise the story. We don’t get rid of our story, it’s still there. She could recognise the story and thought, what I would normally do here is brush myself down, go back to work and do some emails or something. She thought no, I’m scared, and vulnerable and she asked her colleagues for help. They sat with her, comforted her. It was transformational in a sense. The final bit of her story which I really liked was she asked her husband at the end of all this, “do you think I’ve changed?”  He said, “no, I don’t think you’ve changed but I think you’re more you.”

Iain: Lovely. Does your wife think you’ve changed?

Martin: Yes, she does (laughing). I now talk much more than I ever used to, I talk too much she says. When we first met I was so quiet, and again this was part of my personal story, because I used to think if I open my mouth, there was some risk that people would know the true self in a sense, or the German self anyway, not the true self. She once said I nearly gave you the elbow because you never said anything when we went to dinner parties, you didn’t speak, now I can’t shut you up.

Iain: Did she notice anything deeper in terms of the stillness that we talked about in the beginning.

Martin: Yes, very much so I think. One of the key things I think I learnt from Jean-Marc and from other teachings… he wrote a paper called ‘Therapy without the Therapist’. He was talking about what happens if we’re absent of ego and story. I think in personal relationships and certainly with Sue, what that’s enabled me to do is just to observe ego more as what it is and not to get so caught in it, not so defensive, not so opinionated. All of that stuff is less tangible, she says for example, it’s impossible to pick a fight with you, she keeps trying, and sometimes I buy it. That fundamental stillness is through everything really. I always really enjoy the image Raman Maharshi talks about “ego should be like a moon on a bright summer day” , he says. I think that is a lovely description of that. What I’ve been able to do, we’ve been married forty years now, what I’ve been able to do more recently… I think that’s evident in the way we’ve been together, and lockdown brings people together even more intensely. It’s been lovely, and the only hiccoughs have been may been when some egoic tussle happens or when I’m trying to defend some position.

Iain: Something that interests me that you touched on earlier… and I’m going to basically say now that the reason that Renate and I do Conscious TV to a large extent… people think that it’s this wonderful thing and you give so much back to the world. Well that might be part of it but what certainly motivates me is the process of learning. A process of meeting different people, then something happens for me on my journey and even if it isn’t a journey, something still happens. I’m interviewing somebody a little bit later. Something he talk about in his book that was just a huge thing for him when he had an awakening. He went to this space that we could call the Absolute and you touched on it, there was a certain coldness about it. You could almost say there is a heartlessness about it. I would say without mentioning names at all there are certain teachers we’ve interviewed were I’ve felt this kind of heartlessness. I don’t mean this at all in a judgmental way. I’m not saying they were being heartless; I’m just saying the space they were in appeared to lack something. That’s just my take on it. Watts Howley (?? 43.50) , the guy I’m interviewing later talks about, you get to this place and it’s as if you have to integrate, for him anyway,  he had to go back and experience all the levels of humanness again. He found that to be excruciating at times, the hardest thing. It’s just a kind of question for me, more and more the world of advaita is being talked about. People think if I can experience the oneness, advaita or nonduality , or live in that world, then all my personal issues disintegrate, and everything is wonderful. Of course, that doesn’t always seem to be the case

Martin: No, I really enjoyed David Carse’s book ‘PerfectBrilliantStillness’

Iain: Yes, I read that

Martin: There’s a piece where he starts talking about himself as ‘the David thing’. I found that a really helpful notion because ego is not going to go away, the story is not going to go away , the patterns of our lives are not going to go away, our humanness is not going to go away. We are formless beings in form, that form is going to have all its human frailties and vulnerabilities. What I liked about ‘the David thing’ notion was , then it is a thing, the personality , the patterns, the story, it’s a thing. It’s going to have its preferences, its ways of being, its angry moments, its troubled moments but because it’s a thing like that, “the PerfectBrilliantStillness” in the background, the observer, the witness , is not that. Hence, non-duality, not that. In Christian terms, negation, not this , no that , neti- neti, in Hindi.  So, we can’t in a sense know what we are, but we can know what we’re not. It’s that chipping away at, that loosening of this structure that is part of this process, and it reveals what’s there. There is a lovely story about a sculptor and a horse. The sculptor’s asked how do you sculpt the horse and he said I just took away the bits that weren’t horse, which is what of course a sculptor does. That’s what this process is, the stillness, the being , the freedom,  the love, the union, is our inheritance, that’s who we are. Of course, there’s lots of other stuff that we deal with in terms of conditioning. Another phrase of Jean-Marc’s that made an impact on me, those stories are not just irrelevant to be discarded, they are our unique keys to freedom, so it via the stories. For me, its years of pretending and trying to be something that really enabled me to see what was wrong, what was beyond that, to see that’s not me, that’s a fiction. That’s a persona or mask that I’m wearing.

Iain: Is that a process that’s still ongoing for you?

Martin: Yes, it is although there is something about it, a bit like the wheel on the oil tanker, there’s something about it that has turned. This is a really important aspect of this because often people… I had a patient last year say to me “actually I feel really different, but I’m very concerned about slipping back, relapse to use a medical model, of going back to where I was”. I said. “I’m not sure that is possible because it’s a bit like those optical illusions were you see a vase or two faces and someone says can you see the two faces and you can only see the vase. You stare at it and use all the effort to see it, and you can’t see it until maybe just one day you glance at it out of the side of your eye and you can see the two faces. Then of course, you can’t not see the faces. Once you’ve seen the faces on the vase you can’t not see them. We’re talking about that rather than progress, a progressive model of getting better. We’re seeing something clearly for what it is and, in this case the true self, my essential being. I’m not this, I’m not that, I’m not that drama, I’m not that fiction. It’s that clarity you can’t lose. You can forget, you can get distracted, the momentum of the story can catch you, but you can’t not know it anymore.

Iain: Well that’s quite a place to live

Martin: Yes , it is

Iain: Can’t not know it anymore. Although I’m not seeing you physically, I can feel that from you. One of the wonderful things is you look well and alive. You told me your date of birth, you must be nearly seventy now and you still work with clients. I hear so much of people who are in a similar profession to you, they get burnt out and can’t do it anymore, but obviously that’s not of relevance to you.

Martin: No. It’s still a passion. You said earlier about these interviews and how much you learn. What a privilege to sit with someone, a patient, a private client, or a group, and really just sit with your own stillness , it’s like a meditation each time and be with them in that deep process. It’s never dull, it’s never not new, it always stretches in some way. There’s always a piece of me in it in a sense. There’s something to face, something to learn. It’s amazing. I am asked because of my age. I am now seventy, why do I continue to keep working. In a way it’s quite simple, I still enjoy it and I’ve got a wonderful team of people that I work with. I’ve always chosen to be in a team because of that communal sense of working together. The only thing that might stop me is if someone taps me on the shoulder and says you’ve forgotten too many appointments; you went to the wrong office or something ( laughing)

Iain: So, we talked about lockdown earlier which, we could maybe briefly talk about that and how you find people respond to that. I said in our household here, Renate loves lockdown and I struggle with it at times. I’m an out and about people person which  is inherent in me. I miss things on a human level. I’m ok to do that because that’s how I feel. It is interesting how different people respond in different ways, and no one is wrong, and no one is right

Martin: Exactly. It’s been an entirely fascinating process. For me I suppose its been sometimes close to be like a monastic experience, not that I’ve ever been a monk, but I have been on silent retreats and things. There’s something about the locking down of all the looking forward and around us. Freedom isn’t getting what you want. It’s wanting what you get. It’s freedom from wanting itself. I’ve really enjoyed the do I want to go there, or do that, or see that person. Like you I’ve missed seeing those people. Our grand daughter is three, I’ve really missed that physical contact and having her but what I’ve enjoyed most is the freedom from the wanting. Shall I do this or that? No, just be we’re fortunate to have a garden and the simplicity of just sitting and being with the birds is so beautiful

Iain: We’re blessed we are in Southern England and you are as well, it’s been such beautiful weather. It’s forgotten to rain, the clouds have all disappeared, it’s lovely every day.

Martin: The other thing I think about lockdown is in a global sense and I read a really interesting article by someone who has studied disasters and crisis. She says one of the things that often happens as a result of crisis and disaster is that what’s real becomes revealed. What’s rubbish, fiction and spin gets more seen as that -the last few days may have shown us that- and what’s sustainable is seen as sustainable and what isn’t , isn’t. I thought that’s a helpful way of thinking about this. At the same time as, economic structure are collapsing like houses of cards, nature is enjoying itself again. You can swim in the Ganges, fish in Venice, the skies over China are clear or were, in the same month as the economic structures are collapsing. This does I think fit with a non-dual perspective because what’s real, will last and what’s not real, won’t last.  It’s a simple equation in a sense. It’s true on an individual level and on a global level.

Iain: Yes, we’re having breakdown in some ways, the thing is will we get the breakthrough as humans? I wonder whether that will happen, that’s up to us to some extent, isn’t it? 

Martin: Absolutely and it’s back to your earlier question about discomfort. Are we willing to put up with discomfort? Already as people relax lockdown … I want to do this. I want to go shopping, I want. Here it is again really, here’s the seeking that comes with it.

Iain: Martin we need to finish. Really appreciate you being on Conscious TV. I’m going to show your book again ‘Sitting in the Stillness’   . you talked about the story of where the title came form to start with which was lovely. So, thank you, good luck with your work and we’ll see how as a human race we handle our breakthrough. We will find out

Martin: Thank you very much for inviting me                                                                   


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