All relationships need nurturing

It’s easy to think of relationship in terms of people around us. And of course, that’s the first place we find them, beginning from ‘day one’ when as infants, we are held in the arms of our parents. But of course, what happens after that is what counts. Is the relationship nurtured and therefore does it grow?

At grass roots, to nurture means to take care of … something. And speaking of grass, our entire environment can speak volumes in terms of how we might care for the people in our lives. The smallest seeds still need a regular drink of water!
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‘Virtual’ is no substitute for reality!

One of the drawbacks surrounding social media and the massive amount of information on the internet is mental overload! Lots of people confess to feeling overwhelmed and at times, physically ‘sick’ while trying to sift through constant messaging, pressured advertising and great stretches of time lost in virtual reality. Our brain can really take only so much stimuli and the mental effort of teasing out and selecting what is really important can quickly lead to exhaustion – and a rise in anxiety.

At the Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre we’re in the business of calming those minds in an enriching way which helps to balance that stimulus. And yet, contrary to the very purpose of meditation, there’s ready access to all manner of styles of meditation via online products. Yes, it can be very helpful to download a meditation track for home practice. This is essential when access to professional teaching is not possible – and yes, a selection of my own audio recordings is available for that very purpose!

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The discipline of success

Last month I talked about loss and grief and the process of grieving.  While grieving  is always an individual process and has no time limit, part of the journey involves the re-discovery of happiness.

I think the pursuit of happiness has become unrealistically popularized and largely misunderstood.  Happiness can never be one attainable state but a feeling that comes in ‘chunks’ which, when put together, may result in contentment, a far more powerful and productive state of being.  So how can we capture those chunks of happiness, even when all seems lost?

I was reminded recently of that wonderful quote by Woody Allen: 80% of success is showing up.

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On loss, grief and grieving

One of the most frequent reasons for clients attending our Centre involves the matter of loss and consequent grief.  There are so many levels of these highly charged occurrences and the individual emotional reaction that accompanies them.

Loss can be relatively minor yet reactions can be potent. In grief, whether recognised as such or not, memories, fears and feelings become magnified – sometimes apparently out of proportion. Loss, whether of a loved one or a seemingly less significant, though personal part of life, can be an experience of desolation:  Read more


New beginnings

And so we come to the beginning of another month … a New Year and already February has arrived!

What does February mean for you? For me, February means the birthday of my father (on Valentine’s Day in fact) and a gentle reminder of someone so dear; it means long, hot summers and time at the beach; and another birthday, that of a very special school friend with whom I spent many fun filled hours in our growing years. The gift of her fantastic enjoyment of life still fills me with joy in every email we exchange.

And February also represents the beginning of the school year. After so much holiday freedom seeing those ‘back to school’ banners in the stores can trigger very difficult emotions for some kids. Not perhaps so for the older ones, but very often for those facing Years 2, 3 and 4. Challenges abound because it’s in those years one can begin to feel the pressures surrounding acceptance or rejection – and consequently, the experience of loss, confusion and anxiety.

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Calmness amidst chaos

There’s a huge irony in what we’re seeing on our screens in these pre-Christmas weeks. One moment we’re being shown horrific and explosive footage from scenes of war in the Middle East and next, some facile advertisement for the purchase of gifts for loved ones – or images of extravagant food to stock up on for Christmas.

It’s perplexing that on the one hand, extravagance to find happiness is being promoted when Christmas is supposed to celebrate the humble birth of Christ. When I see nations at war, I wonder at the perception of human kind when throughout time, spiritual leaders such as he have taught only peace. And it’s sad that the simple act of giving has morphed into yet another modern pressure.

Though meant to be a happy time, the rushing, the crowds, the repetitive ‘carols’ playing in the stores, the traffic and the urgency surrounding shopping at this time can lead to distress. Temper and impatience increases, road rage and violent acts become more prevalent; unresolved family issues rear their heads; counselors are reminded of the current problem of youth suicide and anyone prone to morbidity and anxiety may notice their symptoms mounting. Yet this Season is meant to be a celebration of the birth of one who gave His life in the name of love, justice, forgiveness and peace! Read more


Preserving life in all formations

I’m writing this on a peaceful Sunday afternoon with the warble of magpies providing a suitable musical accompaniment to my thoughts. It’s two weeks since we returned from exploring Western Australia – the big State! And it is big – and in its vastness we were introduced to a range of extraordinary and interesting entities that capture some of the history of our planet.

Perhaps the most remarkable of these was our viewing of the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay. These ancient marine wonders are intriguing and unique rock formations – fossils that have developed over some 3.43 billion years and indicate to palaeontologists the earliest forms of life on Earth. Though they appear inanimate, hidden within is vital growth! Sometimes described as living rocks, stromatolites are formed from microbial communities (cyanobacteria) that reside therein and continue, extraordinarily, to build them. It is believed that these communities, through the process of photosynthesis, were responsible for originally increasing the level of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere sufficiently to enable life as we know it to develop.

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Healing Anxiety

Reflections from one who is often the sufferer’s last resort!

Over almost 30 years now, I’ve sat with people, offering reassurance and gift of hope and, for many who ‘get it’, an outcome of relief from the debilitating chains of anxiety.  I can make that statement with confidence knowing that there is a world of people out there who consider themselves to have been led on the proverbial wild goose chase.  It seems there are too many ‘experts’ offering complicated treatments that bring scant results.

The cases presented here at the Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre very often arrive as a last resort, when the individual’s frustration has reached boiling point.  If clients feel frustrated, then, with respect, it is somewhat exasperating to listen to stories such as these, repeated time after time: 

 “I have been everywhere, tried everything, searching for the cause of my problem.  I’m tired of trying, of doing, of relying on prescription medicine …with no sign of improvement at all.”

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We hear a lot about ‘resilience’ these days. I think the word is often interpreted as some extraordinary toughness that is needed if we’re to survive challenges that appear in life on a regular basis.

But resilience is essentially about flexibility and the ability to “bounce back”; about being equipped to react with an element of elasticity as opposed to inflexible, rigid and uncompromising attitudes.

As it happens, Ainslie Meares encapsulated the word resilience in one of his remarkable poems circa 1980 and long before it became the catch word of the 21st century:

Some run for shelter,
The tree holds firm
And sways with the storm,
The eagle is borne higher and higher (Thoughts, 1980)

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The stillness of a garden

Yesterday was spent on retreat in a beautiful garden.

I’ve always been drawn to the garden and I always manage to include something about gardens in my books.  It’s in those places of nature, among a plethora of green that I find an embracing and very deep comfort.  Even now, in our chilly Melbourne winter, the damp air is refreshing, the breeze invigorating and the occasional raindrop, a reminder that the season is in full swing.

Of course I love open beaches, rolling hills, wide plains and intense forests – so typical of the variety of our country.  Each space holds its charm and its value.  But most of all, for me anyway, there is security and peace in the garden. Read more