Each month there will be a short extract from one of the Autumn Voices interviews. This month’s extract is taken from my interview with the award-winning poet, Sheila Templeton.

Soon after taking early retirement from teaching I joined a Heartfulness meditation course and then started daily meditation. Through meditation I learned to slow down and listen to what was in my heart. I’ve been doing it for twenty-three years, both on my own and in groups. I think it is necessary to have a good look at yourself and meditation helped me do this. It gives me a way of facing myself. For me, it’s the only way to live, to be able to do that and to realise who you really are, rather than the person you have invented. One of the big shocks in my life was to discover that training as a counsellor and helping people professionally wasn’t what I wanted to do. I'd always believed that's who I was, so this was a shock to my system. That's when I began listening to my heart and found my first creative writing class. But, it is one of my core beliefs that, if you can get inside a person’s feelings, then the door is open to the end of anger and hatred and the beginning of understanding and forgiveness.
I define creativity as facing the fear of going inside yourself and coming out with what you find – facing myself and having the courage to express what I find. As a child I would only sing if I could hide under the table. It’s rather the same with poetry – making my inner self public. It’s also about going back in memory and discovering things afresh, being surprised by them.