Monday, June 3, 2013

Judith Pemell re-thinks crisis and change

Author Judith Pemell
Judith Pemell is a meditation teacher, psychotherapist and writer who has worked in an unusually wide range of settings, most recently in mental health services in Australia's detention centres where the political and social "treatment" of asylum seekers remains a highly contentious issue. In this Q&A with Universal Heart Book Club co-host, Stephanie Dowrick, Judith talks about her new book Transition: 7 Steps to Surviving Life Crisis, its structure and intent, and the circumstances under which it was written.

Q: Judith, I loved your earlier book, The Soul Illuminated. Tell me how this new one is different?
The Soul Illuminated, my first book, was essentially about the soul, and integrating the spiritual journey into our everyday lives. This new book is based on energy and consciousness and enables the reader to understand their transitions in life from an energy perspective. For instance, when energy becomes blocked, crisis tends to manifest in some area of our life - which is a reflection of our inner being. The book guides the reader through the 7 Steps to identify what the blockage is all about, then mobilize the blocked energy into transition and flow, promoting a leap in self-awareness and the dissolving of old, destructive energy patterns.

Q: Did your inspiration to write it come from the work you were doing with other people - or mainly from your own inner needs and promptings?
The inspiration came from both, but particularly my experience of a very challenging personal transition in 2008. I spent a lot of time in meditation as a result and this led me to the understanding of how blocked energy interferes with transition.

Q: What gave you the idea for the particular shape this book has (and please say a little about its accessibility, structure, etc)?
In planning, structuring and writing the first draft, I wrote the book in three parts. It was twice as long as it is now and covered a much broader scope of ideas. When Magnolia (who edited the book) fed her conclusions on the first draft back to me, she proposed rearranging the structure and very decisively cut two very significant areas of the writing, saying they really demanded to be written as books in their own right. I knew she was right.
Following Magnolia’s ideas on the restructure, I developed them further and did a lot of new writing. The result was a much more succinct, accessible, relevant and evolved book. I could feel its power growing as I worked through the final draft.

Q: I'd love to know what your greatest support is in your writing life - where isolation is a factor for so many people.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that I love isolation, though I find it very difficult to achieve. Being a long-term meditator, I love to withdraw into prolonged periods of deep silence. I am never alone in the silence as it is in this kind of solitude that connection with a much greater Energy Source of pure love and creativity enfolds me. Internally, a depth of clarity and truth emerge from this. Withdrawal into deep silence is a very important part of the creative process for me as it inspires, brings clarity, sustains and replenishes me completely.
"Life challenges us in many addressing the underlying causes of life crisis we can transform our lives."

Q: I am fascinated that you finished the book while working on the mental health team at a remote detention centre for those seeking asylum in Australia.  Please describe how this affected your thinking and even your stamina to get a book completed while dealing with so much sadness and uncertainty in the lives of those in your care? 

The actual writing of the book was done while I was working in several detention centres in various parts of Australia. These settings provided a surreal landscape, while the work reflected everything I was writing about from its tiniest, most subtle facets to its greatest, boldest strokes on the canvas.
Human beings seeking asylum all have stories of transition, and I would meet them at a place where their drama of physical survival (often utterly heartbreaking) was changing into a drama of survival at a very different level. Not a day could go by that I would not feel profoundly moved by these encounters. I took constant inspiration from my clients and observed their processes, responses, transitions and ways of coping, very deeply. Their energy, their feelings, and their narratives have made an indelible imprint in this book, although their stories do not appear in it.

Q: You are a meditation practitioner and teacher as well as a psychotherapist: how is that reflected in these pages?
I am naturally and passionately drawn to explore what makes us tick, to unravel the mysteries of existence, search for truth and meaning, and understand human behaviour. These provide rich mines for my curiosity, and a wonderful springboard for writing the book on Transition, or almost anything a person like me could think of writing.

Q: You have been writing this book since 2008. What's the major change it has brought about in your own life or thinking?
The constant learning I experience from Transition has enabled me to let go of so much of my old, limiting ideas, beliefs etc, especially in relation to myself and others. I feel much freer and more accepting of people as they are, of whatever comes along; I have developed an implicit faith and trust in the unfoldment of my own life drama, and I have stopped worrying. All of this frees up my energy to be more relaxed, more productive, to remain in the flow, and be more detached yet engaged, with this thing we call life.

Q: What's your "prayer" for this book as it moves into readers' hands?
I like to be very detached about a book once it passes out of my hands. I am mindful not to block any energy around it with my own agendas. I never feel that the book is ‘mine’ or that it belongs to me, as I know I am an instrument for sharing what has been given to me as a gift. When people contact me to let me know that it has really helped them in some way, then I feel reassured that it has come into the hands of those who are ready for its message - for that’s how it works - and it’s such a good feeling!

"Everything begins and ends in silence. Stillness and silence are the source of power."
- From Transition

We would love you to share your thoughts about this book - or any reviewed on these pages. Judith Pemell's Transition is available for download on Kindle, iphone, ibook and other e-book outlets.  Print copies are available from:  or (from her website)

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