by Steve Taylor

Imagine you have to spend almost all your time in a single room. Even worse, in the short periods when you’re allowed out of your room, you can’t venture beyond a small, confined area. You are also forced to live without possessions (aside from the bare minimum) and are unable to pursue any career or ambitions. You aren’t allowed any autonomy and have to live according to a strict discipline, following preordained rules. A person might consciously choose to live this kind of life by becoming a monk or nun. Or they might be forced to live this kind of life by being sent to prison. Of course, there are some massive differences between the lives of prisoners and monks or nuns. Choosing to live a restricted life of solitude and detachment is itself an act of freedom, compared to having a restricted life imposed on you as a punishment.

But for a small number of prisoners, the lack of distractions may have a positive spiritual effect. It may lead them to reflect on their lives and to explore their being in a way they have never done before. And through doing this, they may encounter a spiritual aspect of their being that was previously hidden.


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Copyright © 2021 by Steve Taylor, adapted excerpt with permission from Extraordinary Awakenings: When Trauma Leads to Transformation, published by New World Library.  Steve Taylor, PhD, is the author of several books on psychology and spirituality, including The Leap and Waking from Sleep. He is also the author of three books of spiritual poetry, including The Clear Light and The Calm Center, and the audio course Return to Harmony. Taylor is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom and writes the popular blog Out of the Darkness for Psychology Today. He lives in Manchester, England.

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