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The Healing Cocoon Podcast

Partners in ‘Shine’ with
Open Mind Space Founders Renee Wilkinson & Murray Smith – Part 2

‘Waking up’ in jail with Murray Smith

Posted by:
Jacobie Gray

In this week’s episode of the podcast, we speak with Murray Smith. Murray and his wife, Renee´ (our guest on last week’s podcast), built The Open Mind Space studio in Newcastle NSW, as well as a newly-completed retreat space called The Dome. Today, Murray shares his journey from being a mixed-up youth with adult coping mechanisms to his enlightenment while facing a 13-year jail sentence. It is a beautiful story of redemption and self-empowerment.

Murray is extremely passionate about men’s mental wellness, connecting people to nature, aiding people in rediscovering their true selves, and cultivating a safe environment in which people can continue to build a healthy relationship with their mind, body, and spirit. Through dedication and discipline, he now leads a life with his wife and daughter worlds apart from his past. He studies and shares yoga, thai yoga massage, breathwork, energy healing and much more. 

From Lost to Found—in Jail

Murray’s journey has had many twists and turns. Leaving home at a young age, Murray fell into gangs, drugs, and a life of crime. His awakening happened at the end of a lifetime of trauma when he found himself in jail. Although not the first time he’d had a run in with the law, he was looking at a much longer sentence than ever before, with a potential for the next 13 years of his life to be spent removed from his world. 

He doesn’t credit even the sobering sentence as the moment that roused him, but actually a separate experience. Early in his jail stay, he had an encounter he describes as his spirit connecting to something else, coming to him like a sweet olive branch from the cosmos. Instantly, he had the realization that this wasn’t actually who he was and this wasn’t the way he wanted to live anymore. Having to to keep up the tough persona in jail simply to survive, he continued to use the ample supply of drugs available in prison to numb his growing, yet currently unattainable, desire to change. 

As though an act of mercy by a higher power, Murray was released, under strict conditions, and remained steadfast in his decision not to go back to his former life. 

One of the court-ordered mandates was for him to spend a year in a rehabilitation facility. During his time there, he began meditating, finding peace within himself for the first time in his life. Without the ability to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, he was able to sit with his own thoughts and face shame, guilt and other painful feelings instead of numbing them.

Trauma Work

From a young age, Murray learned to mask his unmet needs with destructive coping behaviors. When he looks back, he can see he did not know better at the time and it was all he knew, but that it wasn’t his true self.

As he really got into healing work, he was able to process that the household he grew up in was void of love and affection. It’s not that there was hard core trauma—no violence or abuse—there was just no affection, the result of generational trauma. 

The effect of this type of trauma was that Murray did not have a framework for healthy relationships or how to receive or show love. The drugs and alcohol were his way to find the comfort he instinctively craved. His deficit of love and affection was so deep at even eight years old, that this was the age he had his first experience being drunk. He is now floored by the ability of an eight-year-old to have the thought patterns that this was something he should be doing, when it is an age he should still be gifted with the innocence of youth. 

Enter: Renee´

Once Murray had done a lot of work on himself (like years of it), it’s like the universe knew he was ready for companionship, almost rewarding him in a way, and Renee´ came into his life. Murray was living his dream: surfing and yoga everyday, living a block from the beach, and had a job he loved. Renee´ came in at a time when he was able to offer her the best and forever growing version of himself.

He says his relationship with Renee´ was the first in which he had been able to engage on an emotional level, which, in his words, was “scary as hell.” By date number two, Murray told her everything. He felt he could not move any further in their relationship until she knew his whole story and had the opportunity to know him within a deeper context. He was super honest about his background, but also about his transition to a new start and his vision for where he was heading. And she stuck around.

Learn more about Murray at and find him on social media at @theopenmindspace.

For the full interview with Murray, listen via the link on this page,, or find us on Instagram @thehealingcocoonpodcast.