In this video, we’ve interviewed Nicholas Colloff (co-founder of the Prison Phoenix Trust, an organization that brings meditation to prisons). Here Nicholas explores the lives of St Seraphim, Dostoyevsky and Mother Maria, the theme of his upcoming online retreat ‘From Russia With Love: Three Spiritual Journeys‘ from 17 to 19 February 2022.
Can you tell a little bit about yourself and how you encountered the world of Christian meditation?
I learned to meditate when I was 13 and and then decided to go and study Theology and Philosophy University And whilst I was there I encountered Metropolitan Anthony who was the Russian Orthodox bishop in London, a man of certain holiness and also a great sense of humor.
He introduced me to the Jesus prayer, the prayer of the heart, which is at the center of Orthodox spirituality and I started to practice and it opened up a whole new world to me. And then serendipitously I ran into Father Laurence a couple of years later whilst I was starting something called the Prison Phoenix Trust which teaches meditation and yoga to people in prison. And Father Laurence agreed to be a patron. And as time went on, my practice of the Jesus prayer aligned very well with the practice of the World Community, which John Main of course reintroduced to the west. So that’s that was my introduction really to meditation.
What led you to title your upcoming retreat From Russia with Love: Three Spiritual Journeys?
So it’s obviously a play on a famous film, but more seriously, it was designed to share my enthusiasm for the riches of Russian orthodox spirituality and to see it through the lens of these three very remarkable people, a hermit who ended up a spiritual counselor to thousands of people, a famous novelist who was searcher after holiness, but also very conflicted person in many ways. And sister Maria, who began as a social revolutionary during the Russian revolution and ended up an activist Orthodox nun.
So three very remarkable people all on a journey towards holiness and sharing it with others in their particular different ways more than one word, but a belief, a very powerful sense that every individual is made in the image and likeness of God. They discover that in unique ways and they searched in very practical ways to bring that into their everyday lives.
What can people expect from this retreat?
Well, I hope people will come away with either a new or renewed excitement about the riches of Russian Orthodox spirituality. That they’d have encountered three inspiring individuals, sometimes occasionally infuriating individuals as well, and that they will have seen through the mirror of both of those the tradition and these three people aspects of attitude belief practice that’s really useful in our own journeys towards bringing out the fruits of our meditations into everyday life.
Watch the full video interview with Nicholas