What Stillness Offers

Anne (not her real name) was first introduced to this premier practice by the master himself, Ainslie Meares. In this newsletter she shares her experience to help others discover this unique style of meditation and its life changing benefits.

“I commenced some 40 years ago with Dr Meares. As you know, I have continued the practice with you Pauline … regular, consistent sessions bring consistent results!

At the beginning I faced the long-time hurdle of learning how ‘not to try’. Trying to achieve stillness is the very thing that can make it difficult to capture.

Learning to release tension and accept whatever comes while just being still (even with racing thoughts), is the key to success.

Not every session of stillness is always the same. Sometimes I easily go deeper into the experience – and that is a blissful, wonderful feeling of calm. At other times the experience can be more difficult if thoughts try to claim attention.

But even fragments of stillness help the mind to rest. Dr Meares powerfully expresses this in his poetic work:

From the Quiet Place: Hill of Content Publishing, Melbourne, 1976

In a cluttered mind it seems counterintuitive to sit and be still. But just as the stressors of life accumulate to increase tension and anxiety, the regular experiences of stillness (deep or even less deep), accumulate.

As our mind repeatedly rests and gradually develops inner calm, stressful reactivity gradually fades.

Change comes gradually … less inner chatter, improved mood and most importantly, the calm ability to deal with the ups and downs of daily life. More bounce in my step, more laughter with others, more energy and zest within each day, no overwhelm at the prospect of challenging events – and more …

Stillness stands apart from other meditation styles due to its simplicity – as well as the ease of practicing at any time and at any place for any length of time. No props needed. No words to recite. No breathing techniques … no requirement to focus – or to do anything at all!

Of course, in learning to capture stillness there are ups and downs as the challenges of life will arise. It doesn’t matter though. The important thing is that I have stillness … and I maintain it to keep that natural calm. I know it will always help me get through! Thanks again for carrying on Ainslie Meares’ work and for doing it so well”.

a rested mind

allows natural healing

brings calm and ease throughout
our whole being

less tension

less stress

less anxiety

less depression

less anger

less fear

inner strength, joyfulness, peace of mind
and a calmer, better life

Stillness Meditation Therapy Consultancy

a time to prepare

a time to strengthen

a time to let go

Letting go into naturalness … a very different style of meditation

In this, Stillness Meditation Therapy, the full meditative experience is beyond the relaxation of the body and mind, beyond the transcendence of discomfort.  What is it then?  Is it something strange and unnatural?  No.  There is nothing strange or bizarre about it at all.  Nor is there anything dramatic or exciting.  Do not expect ecstasy or any outlandish distortions of the mind.

Expect rather the experience of deep naturalness.  Utter naturalness.  It is only when this comes to us that we realise that true naturalness is something quite foreign to us in our ordinary life.  Simplicity.  Such profound simplicity that we are almost overwhelmed by it, immersed in it.  And it is easy to become confused by the simplicity of the procedure and what seems to be an absence of a logical basis

Ainslie Meares MD (The Wealth Within: Hill of Content Publishing Melbourne: 1978)

Busy, stressful world?  We can help you find calm … the wealth within yourself … the natural way to live life well

Pauline McKinnon’s book In Stillness Conquer Fear, first published in 1983, is testimony to the work of Dr Ainslie Meares, breaking down the barriers surrounding anxiety and its related limitations.  As director of this consultancy, Pauline has more than forty years’ experience in successfully sharing stillness with some thousands of others.  A clinical member of AAFT, Pauline is founding patron of Meditation Australia and is widely known for her work in the management of stress, anxiety, nervous tension and related conditions

Just be still

Programs for your wellbeing

Welcome to all our clients, to newcomers and to all our regular visitors.  And a special welcome to those who return – sometimes with the words …

I was going really well so I let my practice lapse … or … I did what you taught me for a while and then I went back to work and forgot to practice … or … moving house sort of changed my routine … and … I didn’t think I needed to anymore!  Oops.  Big mistake that final one.

It’s very human but strange nonetheless, that the skills that serve us best are very likely the skills we may easily neglect.  Do we not care enough for our self?  Do we feel guilty taking time for our self?  Do we not value the natural gifts that best nurture our self?  Did we not understand or gain sufficiently from first learning SMT?  Are there questions or reassurances we need to have answered?  Do we allow other things to take priority over our own mind, body and spirit?  Or have we come to mistakenly believe that life’s new hurdles may be seen as a failure of the stillness experience?

New hurdles are part of life.  And yes, each new hurdle may cause stress, anxiety and related symptoms – especially in these times and as we meet new challenges.  It is at these times that mental rest can provide our strongest support.  We sleep each night to restore and rebalance our body; similarly, but different, it makes good sense to regularly rest our mind.  Stillness Meditation continues the wisdom so perceptively introduced by psychiatrist Ainslie Meares … so I quote from one of his beautiful poetic reflections:

A quiet mind

Is nature’s physician.

Call him to the bedside.

May we invite you to consider joining us within the following opportunities where stillness may likely transform your life?

Initial Consultation:  

My book, In Stillness Conquer Fear, is often the trigger for your first appointment.  Here is an opportunity to gain from all I’ve learned over some 40 years of teaching this life-art.  Share your story, your needs, your expectations.  I will listen, learn and offer insights.  And from there, I will offer you the assistance you seek within your first experience of stillness as a form of therapy.

Follow up individual consultations:

The journey of change begins.  Patience, practice and perseverance will bring relief and results.

  • deeper experience of stillness at each visit
  • encouragement and reassurance
  • your questions addressed as the journey of change unfolds

Moving forward:

In time, you may choose to join one of our intensive group programs.  We offer profound stillness within small groups of likeminded others whose experience of stillness continues to enrich and support each valuable life.   Limited places by appointment only so pre-booking is essential.

Long term SMT maintenance sessions:

These popular sessions developed in 2020 when COVID prevented personal attendance.  Zoom has enabled large and small group attendance at enriching maintenance SMT sessions.  Less personal of course but these groups still offer powerful and effective maintenance within a virtual shared environment.

Zoom sessions are conducted twice weekly.  These sessions are cost effective where large numbers can be accommodated.  Groups are conducted in twice-weekly ten-week programs.  Both weekly sessions may be attended if you wish.  Programs may be joined at any time for the set fee and providing that you are a current or former client.

Remote assistance:

The excellent facility of Zoom permits all services to be available throughout Australia and way beyond.  Please make contact!

Optional services, counselling, psychotherapy and mentoring:

Individual counselling, psychotherapy and mentoring may contribute to the development of insight and change while supported by the practice of stillness meditation. 

Some thoughts for Christmas & beyond

First Seek Peace

How do we Communicate

How do we really communicate?

Within this image, I find interesting contradiction:  here is a magnificent sky – an  artist’s dream – offering shades of orange, apricot, gold and misty blue through to turquoise and filled with cloud stories that offer a mix of serenity, joy, peace, hope, turmoil and maybe the threat of storm.  Yet dominating the picture is the massive satellite tower!  Fashioned from metal, rigid of necessity and visually eclipsing nature, it generates the power required for we humans to technically communicate with each other.

Yes, we enjoy technology.  It’s remarkable.  It’s functional.  It’s useful.  It’s almost reliable.  But in this world cluttered with devices, gadgets and related ‘stuff’ that brings into being all that spills from the communication tower…

…maybe we are not truly communicating with each other at all.  

We can text and email, trawl the web and exchange images ad infinitum but maybe we know deep down, that technology leaves something wanting.

Human communication is an abundant, natural life-giving resource.   From the development of language, the gift of speech and a time when pen was literally put to paper, we can communicate in ways that surpass other life forms – and surpass technology.    We can reflect, discuss, explain and project possibilities.  We can share (from the heart) feelings, actions and reactions.  We can assist ourselves and others to grow through fears, ideas, joys and sorrows, humour, laughter and tears, wisdom and creativity, art and literature and ultimately, our human expression of love.   

3747446.jpgBut there’s more:  our verbal messages, while achieved through articulation and diction, also include the non-verbal:   the tonal and emotional quality and volume of voice; and the physical postures, movements, gestures and facial expressions at the time.   No amount of emojis can meet that criteria!

And now another very important communication skill! The power of touch.  A simple handshake can offer a profound indication of connection, confidence and trust while sometimes perhaps, the handshake provides the opportunity to convey sincerity, emotion and discretion.

The touch of compassion too, is significant.  When someone is distressed, a reassuring hand on the shoulder to calm and encourage, can bring a level of comfort when words fail.

3747447.jpgSo what about hugs?  A genuine hug is a precious gift.  Family hugs always bring families together but especially in good times and in times of distress. 

Where human hearts become linked in powerful communication, alas, there is nothing in technology to truly offer that. 

And the further step that goes without saying – people grow, people meet, love awakens, love becomes relationship and is further expressed in the epitome of human communication.

My thoughts this month are a prompt to simply say let’s not forget that human beings are representative of a manner of being far deeper than technology can ever provide; a manner of being where  physical, mental, emotional and spiritual attributes merge as one to dignify us as to who we truly are.

Pauline McKinnon © 2023
manage life with greater ease

Goodness and Meaning in Life. Manage Life With Greater Ease

As I reflect on the season of Christmas, it’s difficult not to observe the various disruptions to peace on Earth, Goodwill to all that currently afflict our world.  Nevertheless, this Christmas message sustains hope and draws out the goodness that essentially exists within human beings.  Even more importantly, it opens the way for those whose ideals move them to make a difference – each in his or her unique way.

The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living.  The meaningful life adds one more component:  using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power or goodness.

Martin Seligman

This year, 2022, I have been privileged to attend the opening ceremonies of two significant Melbourne enterprises:

Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies – known as M3CS

Contemplative Studies Centre, University of Melbourne

3699775.jpgThese Centres have come into being because of the perceived need to offer widespread and proven meditative and contemplative practices to enrich and benefit the goodness of the human spirit.  The establishment of these centres has been enabled by the generosity of Melbourne businessman, Mr Martin Hosking, his wife, Dr Loreto Hosking and their daughter, Erica.

In concluding his address at the opening of the Contemplative Studies Centre at the University of Melbourne, Martin Hosking quoted the work of my mentor, Dr Ainslie Meares, (1910-1986).

Meares, a medical doctor, psychiatrist, author and poet, pioneered a unique style of meditation – the power of simply being still – for the purpose of assisting ordinary people to manage life with greater ease and consequently, with better health.  This work was radical at the time, and it transformed the lives of many – including myself.  And it is of course, at Meares’ invitation, that I have advocated and taught Stillness Meditation to others over some 40 years.

Shortly before his unexpected death, Dr Meares kindly honoured my work in his poetic book, A Way of Doctoring and I quote:

Tethered to the home
By invisible bonds of anxiety,
Time and time again

Braved it to fight free
Only to be defeated
By racing heart and sweating hands
And fear,
The fear that’s not a fear
Because we know
There’s nothing to be afraid of.

She had called up the highways and byways
For help,
Seeking relief
From psychiatrists and psychologists
With a lengthy period of psychoanalysis.
“You are my last hope.”

Now she is free,
Free as the wind,
Spending her time
In helping others to overcome it
In the way she has done.

She is Pauline McKinnon.
She has written a book about it,
In Stillness Conquer Fear
Anyone afflicted with this condition
Would benefit by reading it.

Meares, Ainslie, A Way of Doctoring, Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1985

To have Meares’ innovative work now acknowledged within the context of such remarkable progress at Melbourne and Monash universities is an achievement of great importance to society.  May the ultimate work of these Centres bring knowledge, power and goodness and the outcomes of hope, healing and peace for the betterment of all – and, as it happens, in the true spirit of Christmas.


My warmest wishes go out to all … may joy and love and especially peace bless your lives at Christmas and within the New Year to follow.  I look forward to continuing our work to manage life with greater ease from February 2023.

Pauline McKinnon, December 2022
Finding Freedom

Finding Freedom in These Challenging Times

Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote frequently and insightfully about stillness …so the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing … I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing… and more.

Eliot’s thoughts are well worth pondering – and pondering even more the significance of absence as the solution to a better understanding of life.  In Stillness Meditation Therapy we offer the skill of simplicity and absence as the ultimate step in change, growth and of course, finding freedom.

Freedom is the most precious gift humanity can know, and a perennial cause for celebration. And yet the word ‘freedom’ prompts a reminder of the gradual erosion of the freedom we regularly learn of.  Violence attacks freedom as words and actions in various forms begin with small judgments and escalate to attack … from acts of domestic violence to invasive occupation and oppression of other lands.
I’ve written of this before, but I can never forget the experience of spring celebrations near the site of liberation in Tallin, Estonia, alongside the giant memorial cross made of glass – glass as an ongoing reminder of the fragility of freedom.  Even more imprinted in my mind is the shocking tourist visit to the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  At Birkenau, the opening words on the plaque of remembrance state: For ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity …  One would think humanity might have learned. 


“Teach us to care and not to care, teach us to sit still”. T.S. Eliot


Yet still our world knows war and terror, with thousands seeking refuge in safe lands – so much trauma and sorrow.

Yet on a far smaller scale as individuals, sometimes it can be challenging to gain and sustain the strength we need ourselves, simply in daily living.  Life challenges of many varieties exist and enter all people’s lives.  These challenges are seen as ‘stress’ meaning worry, lost energy, mental burnout, confusion, with rampant life limiting anxiety and shades of depression.  

Let’s think, then, about absence – the missing piece in the puzzle of life.  The concept of absence may mean new strengths to recognise, develop and practice.  Let’s think about developing the practice of an undisturbed mind to better manage such stress; to differentiate what’s really important; to increase confidence and gain better health and energy and to shore up the strength to persist when trouble brings great pain. 

The tree is a good example of survival.  Beginning as a seed and then a sapling the tree survives by standing firm despite the stressors that change its shape and make it one of a kind.  It’s the same for us.  By regularly doing ‘nothing’ in a special way, we too can accept, grow and calmly strengthen to fulfil our own unequalled self
We at Stillness Meditation Therapy Consultancy can help you to develop skills of simplicity and absence, and assist you to step into change, growth and finding freedom.

                                                                                                © Pauline McKinnon, October 2022

Exploring the Liminal State

The liminal state describes those times in life when, surrounded by significant change or loss, we find our self immersed within a physical and mental space of uncertainty, disorientation, emptiness, confusion and anxiety. 


These are transitional times, decision-making times and positive times common to all.  Yet these are times when the canvas of one’s life may feel blank.  Because of changed circumstances, the liminal state has brought us to an unfamiliar space within our existence.  An indescribable emptiness or loneliness can arise.  It may be difficult, perhaps impossible to make decisions.  Energy is lost and random fears emerge as mere tasks assume the mantle of massive challenges.   It is difficult to describe one’s ‘self’ in these times. 

The typical liminal spaces are ever present in life as the image here indicates.


Liminal State


This man is a lone traveller.  Emptiness and an eerie quiet surrounds him as he waits:  doubtless the train will come.  But the train is no-where to be seen in his ‘now’.  An isolated environment and he must feel tremendous uncertainty.  No other person to assure him that he’s at the right place, at the right time and for the right reason.  He has only himself to trust in that emptiness and very likely he may be losing self-confidence.  Doubt springs to mind as a visitor to this man.  He has made a decision and currently is unable to retreat or move forward.  His life is at a threshold of change and he is an example of the many times in our life when change challenges us.  From birth to the end of living, we move through change.

While positive change is exciting, negative change of course brings pain. Either can take us to the space of uncertainty for a time.

We may also experience the liminal space (or state) quite fleetingly.  Everyday life examples of this include locations such as elevators, stair wells, lonely corridors or empty rooms … those sort of ‘creepy’ moments when we inexplicably feel unsafe. 

My own experience of liminality has varied over the years but one recent one remains clear if I choose to recall it.  It was the day of moving house.  We had arranged the assistance of professional packers to ease the somewhat weighty task of downscaling the family home of many years.  I had taken myself to our new address with a number of boxes and returned to the home we were leaving to find numerous strangers apparently undoing the life we had built within our home at that place for a very long time.  My reaction was shock and a kind of anger.  I felt a sense of physical hurt and personal damage that people unknown to me could invade my home with such abandon.  In that emptying space, and fighting tears, I wanted to stop them then and there.  Somehow reason prevailed.  The decision was made and there was no turning back.  Though quite bewildered, I fled to my car, a familiar, safe place.  After some minutes of ‘stillness’ to realign myself, I was then able to go forward to claim our new home with a different but positive view of the future.

The liminal spaces and the liminal state they evoke remind us that within our lives, change must occur. 


Life never remains the same while every experience offers meaningful understanding of our self and of our place in life. 

In the liminal state there will also likely be grief and maybe the pain that surrounds personal and spiritual growth.   This is when we need to trust – sometimes a challenge. Trust is our friend.  It can open the way to insight into who we truly are, what might be our life purpose. And the immense value of reaching and conquering each new and sometimes improbable mountain, all in good time.

                                                                                                © Pauline McKinnon, May 2022