“I find enormous solace and inner strength in nature.”
When Pam Stockton first came to Brigid’s Place in 1998, she was a practicing corporate lawyer doing full-time transaction work for a real estate development company. Today, she works as a psychotherapist in private practice and practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork.
The story of how she got here from there begins with Brigid’s Place and the awakening inspired there, first through connecting with Centering Prayer, and many years later, discovering Holotropic Breathwork. In between there was a sojourn in seminary, where Pam earned a Master of Theological Studies degree and Women’s Studies Certificate at Perkins School of Theology, and collaborated with the Rev. Betty Adam in creating theologically expansive liturgies for Brigid’s Place Feast Day events.
On the eve of graduation from Perkins, synchronicity intervened and Pam unexpectedly found herself at a Holotropic Breathwork workshop that Betty had planned. Within a year, she was training to offer that work, and later decided to return to graduate school for credentialing as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Along the way Pam also became a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and offers that approach, developed by Peter Levine, as a component of her office practice.
With friend and colleague Mark Ryan, Ph.D, Pam offers Holotropic Breathwork workshops in Houston. The work was developed by Stanislav Grof, MD and his late wife Christina Grof, and offers a method of deep inner self-exploration and healing using deeper and faster breathing along with evocative music to naturally access non-ordinary states of consciousness. For Pam, the breathwork was a kind of “spiritual jumpstart” that led to a more authentic spiritual and personal life, along with a new profession. It is still a significant aspect of her personal practice, providing ongoing access to insight and healing.
Contemplative practice and the mystical path have been consistent aspects of Pam’s daily life since learning Centering Prayer at the Brigid’s Place Women’s Spirituality Day in late 1998 or early 1999. Today her practice includes the wisdom traditions of the Tibetan Buddhist path, but the Christian mystics, and their contemporary interpreters, continue as sources of inspiration and connection.
How would you define real beauty?
Real beauty is an inner quality of surrender and connection to the ultimate ground of our own being. To know beauty in that way naturally imparts attributes of kindness, compassion, and a grounded presence. I am coming to recognize that beauty of this kind has little to do with what the culture defines as beauty, which is largely focused on perfection as dictated by norms imposed by a culture obsessed with power and material wealth. The beauty I am attempting to describe is concerned instead with the grace of flowing naturally with life
I find enormous solace and inner strength in nature. To feel the life in the wind, the trees, the blades of grass in the summer meadow, the smoke of sacred fire, is to know the presence of the holy that lives in the depth of the natural world. It is in moments of connection to that immanent divine that I feel at one with life.
Deep community with soul sisters, when we tell our hardest struggles and share our joys—in those moments there is such delight in sharing our inextricable connection to the absurdities of the human condition – how can you not laugh at that?Which female in history do you most admire?
The life of the thirteenth century beguine mystic Marguerite Porete is a source of enormous inspiration to me. She found the beauty and mystery of her own inner connection to the divine, and would not silence her voice in praising it, defying ecclesiastical authority. For that crime, she was burned at the stake. (I wrote about her in the Brigid’s Place Women’s Journal in an article on the Beguines, published in 2003.) Well-behaved women—as they say—seldom make history, and I admire women who are willing to stand their ground against the prevailing powers of their time.How do you feel Brigid’s Place provides support in our community?
For many years, Brigid’s Place has offered women a way to connect with a deeper and more authentic spirituality, whatever that means for them. I encountered Brigid’s Place first in the late 1990’s, when it was much more connected to scholarly feminist theological inquiry, but Brigid’s Place has also always offered opportunities for contemplative practice and women’s connections with one another.
In early 2000, Pam and the late Fred Eckert began a weekly Centering Prayer group that is still meeting today at its original time of 11:15 a.m. each Monday and, at least until the Hines Center opens its doors, gathers in the Cathedral’s Mellinger Room. Today, Carole Pentony, Ph.D. co-facilitates the group, which has grown significantly in recent years. All are welcome to join, no experience required!
The next Holotropic Breathwork workshop will take place at St. Paul’s UMC in the museum district, November 6-7. For more information and registration, go to: http://www.holotropicbreathworkhouston.com