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

different meditation style

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)

Stillness Meditation Therapy History

Our regular clients and readers know that it was Dr Ainslie Meares who showed me how to overcome 8 years of life limiting anxiety (In Stillness Conquer Fear).  It is his work that I and my colleagues continue to offer to thousands of others.  With over three decades experience in helping a range of clients of all ages to personal freedom and “a better life”, we welcome your interest and enquiries.


High anxiety in 21st Century


Anxiety is common to all people.  In these challenging times we hear more than ever before of suffering caused by stress, tension, anxiety, depression, anger and a range of related symptoms.

If you or someone you know continues, confused and fearful or has become too reliant on medication or alcohol or any negative coping strategy, perhaps they may welcome this different style of meditation and approach to healing.  Let’s learn to manage negative emotions and live better through discovering the Wealth Within.

                                                                                                © Pauline McKinnon, May 2022

Stillness Meditation Kew

In Search of Peace. To Find that Balance

Some run for shelter,
The tree holds firm
And sways with the storm,
The eagle is borne higher and higher

Ainslie Meares M.D. Thoughts: 1980


Those words by my mentor, Dr Ainslie Meares, and drawn from one of his passages of Zen-like poetry, have long been an ongoing inspiration for my work.   His empathic use of the typical tree to indicate natural simplicity, serenity, strength and growth has formed our logo for the past 30-something years.  The image shown here to capture his words has been present on our site in a quiet way for some time.   It now becomes our new home page signature.

In this image we see a very stable and strong tree standing tall against a night sky.  Myriad tiny stars and a clear moon offer a kind of infinity to view while the tree reflected within a body of still water will, I hope, offer insight into the work in which we specialise.

The simple clarity of this image inspires me.  I am fascinated by the galaxy, the activities of the moon.  The universe is powerful, filled with hope of something far greater than we can humanly know.  Nature gives us peace and comfort, essential messages from which to take heed.   I hope that this image may inspire those who ponder it in their personal search for a calmer, better life.

Yet now there is urgency in our world.  The current range of health, environmental and hostile disasters are monumental in their universal effect.

Find that Balance - Peace

Can we recognise today that peace has recently become more precious to humanity than ever before?

War in Ukraine is deeply troubling, evoking memories of the second world war, Vietnam, long-time distress within Afghanistan and ongoing conflict in various other locations. We are aware, too of the ‘war’ against climate change and its effect on world environment.  Recent disastrous floods in our own beloved ‘north’ represent one of many consequences of the downside of what has become modern living.  Nature is speaking out loud!  We see also an urgency to universally recognise the negative dominance of selfishness, greed, abuse, injustice, anger and aggression.  There will always exist imbalances between the negative and positive but it’s only in the cultivation of balance that humanity may find peace.

How to find that balance? 

Perhaps it is time to pause together.  To acknowledge life’s imbalances.  To contemplate, to meditate regularly and to seek or recognise a greater power.  Perhaps it is time to seriously begin to pray … to consider something greater than human endeavour– the absolute power beyond all power.    For, in a nutshell, from the smallest voice to the strongest, we know our world is hurting.

Let’s aim to nurture peace?

Personal peace and peace beyond ourself with the aim of universal solidarity?

Beyond bewilderment

Healing our Communal Bewilderment

A certain miasma seems to have invaded our collective lives – a kind of invisible mixture of emptiness, complacency and urgency.  This odd mix of energy and lassitude is, for many, accompanied by a strange sense of sorrow; not the grief of trauma or loss but a level of something that halts progress and brings with it a state of bewilderment.

In these pandemic times, there is restlessness, a loss of who we are, who we were and what is expected of us from here-on.  

Change, which has affected all demographics, through all age groups and even our very young children, has overwhelmed life as we knew it.  We have been caught unawares, unprepared, unready for such a devious invasion of our ‘self’.

In this confusion we vaguely recognise a world that has been turned upside down.  With caution surrounding our every move we edge our way into this brand-new year with a level of trepidation that, in some ways, has somewhat eclipsed the threat of the virus itself.  No matter who we are in the hierarchy of society or whatever our role, we are called to realign our thinking.  We are bewildered as we attempt to navigate and adapt to a world of deprivations previously unknown. 

Restrictions in various forms remain inevitable, bringing change and loss and denying freedom. Without the gift of freedom, we feel frail.  And its kin, the treasures of peace, love, hope and joy fade back as adverse emotions surge in confusion, frustration and anger. Personal control has vanished, a discomfort that we’re powerless to ‘fix’ despite all effort.

With such burdened hearts and minds many succumb to the typical effects of exhaustion feeling increased stress, heightened anxiety and the cloud of depression.  What can we do? 

Let us pause, consider, and learn about growth – the paradox of healing – and the power of growth which can conquer emotional challenges. 

It comes in stillness

Take a moment to sit quietly and be still. Allow yourself to experience within that moment, an opportunity to completely ‘let go’.  Especially let go of effort or thought.  Not easy at first.  So perhaps you might pray, if you can, in whichever style of faith you can muster, for a new kind of freedom. Trust those quiet moments as little by little a tiny seed of inner peace may grow enough to bring you – and therefore perhaps others – toward positive change.

Do this – and see what happens.  Beyond bewilderment, from stillness you might capture, if only briefly, a different experience of the power of love.  And a future, not broken but refreshingly renewed.

path to human happiness

Calm & Peaceful

Christmas is an almost universal Season of celebration, aligned also within the festivities of most cultures. Christmas itself is the celebration of the birth of one who gave His life in the name of love, justice, forgiveness, and peace.

I have recalled the following story previously, but it returns to my thoughts as we continue to live under the shadow of the COVID pandemic.  Several years ago, at this time of the year I visited the country of Laos where Don, my husband, was involved in a fund- raising mission. Rich with magnificent scenery, and gentle, welcoming and generous people, Laos is understood to be the poorest country in the world.

In its capital, Vientiane, there was no pre-Christmas rush. Lao is not a Christian culture. However, there were other celebratory events taking place for the country’s National Day.

Joyful activities had kept the city vital and alive until the resounding music stopped abruptly at 11 p.m. But the revellers continued at a considerate pace, well into the following day. Making our way through the crowd as we wandered about, my attention was drawn to a scene of absolute contrast.

In the middle of the road, slowly and laboriously weaving her way through the crowd, came a frail, elderly woman pushing an old wooden cart. This, her means of transport, was piled high with possessions including many discarded plastic containers of all varieties – and a very small boy. It was explained to us that she collected articles for re-cycling – and even on this festive holiday she needed to continue her work.

As this woman crossed a rough patch in the road, the cart lost balance, tipping the contents – and the little boy – helter-skelter. Our instinct was to assist as it seemed tragic for her tiring efforts to be so hindered. But instinct also told us that assistance was inappropriate as, perhaps with Buddhist acceptance, little by little she reassembled the load.

This woman acted calmly. She was uncomplaining and independent. She was not embarrassed but remained dignified, simply doing what she had to do with patience and persistence and living with existential patience by just calmly continuing her task. For her, there was no pressure, no rushing and absolutely no urgency. Even the onlookers, including ourselves remained quiet and respectfully observant within a scene so different from what would surely have been happening at this celebratory time of the year in our streets back home.

That contrasting event radiated serenity, simplicity, and contentment.

All great spiritual leaders have taught their followers ways of life by which to live well. These teachings involve the virtues of love … justice … forgiveness … peace and ultimately, human happiness. It seems we have each been given a particular role in life, a path to follow despite any discomforts that role may present.  So as part of our festivities..

 …let’s look to each day with the gift of serenity leading to positive action. Let’s enjoy those busy times with ease and immerse ourselves in the happy times that follow. Let’s live each day similarly, regardless of what it may bring…

There may be challenges or conflicts to address and resolve. There may be things we can do to assist others and indeed, to preserve our beautiful world. There may be New Year resolutions to make – and keep! And there may be fresh, exciting avenues to joyfully explore. Such as these and more will happen. It is how we live them that makes the difference to our life and human happiness.