Jessica Mauboy Panic Attack
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Anxiety Can and Does Affect Everyone

Recently, it was revealed that the mystery reason the popular Australian singer Jessica Mauboy did not appear at the Melbourne Cup last November to sing the national anthem, was because she suffered a panic attack. “This is far more common than you think” says Pauline McKinnon, psychotherapist and respected meditation teacher for over 30 years.

“I’m sure Jessica was terribly disappointed not to have been able to perform at the Melbourne Cup, a coveted gig for Australian entertainers”, said Pauline.  “But equally she is very brave for opening up and seeking help”.Jessica Mauboy

Jessica’s willingness to talk about her own struggles with anxiety makes it easier for others to recognise symptoms in themselves or loved ones and encourage them to seek help.

“Anxiety is debilitating and can limit one’s life quite severely” continued Pauline.  “Usually the sufferers do whatever they can to hide this from others and often begin to withdraw from activities that may bring on the feelings of anxiety or a panic attack”.  This is clearly demonstrated in the case of Jessica Mauboy anxiety, withdrawing from performing at the last minute.

But not all is lost.  Pauline herself was a long time anxiety sufferer who spent 8 years fearing to leave the safety of home.  After seeking and trying numerous medical remedies, she finally found relief through Stillness Meditation Therapy (SMT) as taught by renowned Melbourne psychiatrist Ainslie Meares.

That was over 30 years ago.  Since then Pauline has been teaching thousands of others how to similarly find relief and overcome limitations and fears.

The practice of SMT, simply enables our central nervous system to achieve homeostasis – to return to a balanced way of functioning, which is essential for mental health” said Pauline.  “It does not require concerted effort or constant awareness of one’s self, which is a relief for most anxiety sufferers.”

Pauline offers these tips for anxiety relief:

  1. When you feel anxiety or panic symptoms rising, note the tension in your body and practice letting that tension go. The more you practice letting go, the quicker the anxiety will diminish.
  2. Don’t force or fight against fear as that reaction only stimulates the fight or flight response. Instead, stop and think: ‘I will do this and I will do it calmly and easily by letting go of tension”
  3. Cultivate an attitude of ease in your everyday life. This will gradually come into being by practicing stillness, until ease becomes the way you live.

We know Jessica Mauboy anxiety struggle is not uncommon.  There are many many people suffering similarly, but perhaps more silently.  While public figures get a lot of coverage and seemingly a lot of support for what they are going through, ultimately, it is about reaching out and seeking help.  If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety SMT can help.  Contact us to make an appointment and start living calm!

© Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre, March 2016
03 9817 2933

Finding hope – and the matter of soul

Spring’s arrival in Melbourne brings us a step nearer to the close of a year when the world metaphorically stopped. Still the virus hovers and for preservation’s sake, the range of restrictions imposed by authorities continues a new way of living in a bid to outwit this enemy.

Understandably, people are confused, frustrated and upset. Anger and fear have become emotional companions to many. There is little to look forward to.  Perhaps most overwhelming for many families are concerns surrounding student upheaval and financial issues relating to lost employment or the failure of businesses impacted by the entire COVID problem.

These six months have clearly raised the need for stress management. Significant recognition is being given to mental health issues as emotional turmoil crosses all boundaries of society. People are experiencing thoughts and feelings previously unknown to most and it becomes easy to lose hope. With these influences in mind I have written recently about seeking our inner self and about valuing new beginnings. Attention to such concepts keeps us positive and aims to offer an optimistic focus. But this emotional pain, experienced so widely, indicates that our collective soul is hurting.

The concept of ‘soul’ may raise questions. For centuries, sages, mystics, spiritual guides, poets, philosophers and wisdom seekers throughout the world have discussed the human soul – its power, its protectiveness, its contribution to shaping life.

But in current times with a somewhat egocentric focus on material matters, perhaps we have overlooked important soul matters? Could the absence of attention to soul be contributing to society’s emotional pain? And if so, how can we do more to assist ourselves and others to discover the hope we crave by looking into the depth of our soul?

Here we meet another challenge: how do we recognize or even define ‘soul’? First, I think we must honour imagination, the part of our self that stirs within life’s surprising moments. Our soul is also found in deep emotional experiences, intimate conversations or flashes of insight. Soul is present within nature, when wonder triggers emotion or when the heart is touched by awareness or gratefulness. And soul is there within the power of art, music, literature … or when tears spring unexpectedly into being. Soul is of those moments when the power of love rises to expand our consciousness beyond the present. And as our soul can teach us much about the beauty of life, it can also teach us how to ease the pain.

From within our pain, our soul can offer us hope! If we take time to be still, to calmly receive the messages within everything we feel, we may be surprised at the depth of truth, understanding, freedom and healing that may gently be revealed.

Soul discovery cannot be rushed. Soul is the most secret part of our-self, waiting for our attention. This is mystery that has intrigued me for decades and so I copy below my poetry as expressed in the opening pages of my book ‘In Stillness Conquer Fear’. If nothing else, perhaps those thoughts may prompt a reminder of the precious value of hope.

The Soul sits waiting she is poised,

waiting.

Ever patient, she waits for man or woman to know

her truth;

the truth that frees him or her from all pain

wrought by fear.

The Soul never fears.

Strength is her trademark, peace is her

presence,

wisdom the arrow that flies from her bow.

The Soul is love.

Deep as the core of a precious fruit she

nestles within us.

Yet wide as thunder and wind

her wings of change embrace the world.

All powerful, all mild,
she is our own –
our whole and special self.

 

© Pauline McKinnon, September 2020

New Beginnings!

Life is all about regular and individual, new beginnings!  Every age and every stage bring difference, change, challenge and hopefully, knowledge and growth.  If you take a moment right now to revisit yourself at pre-school age, from that moment on, engraved in your memory will be circumstances surrounding each or all those influences.  Within each of those influences, among the joy you have also experienced some level of pain.  And every time, you survived it and you moved forward accordingly!

When I first wrote my personal experience of overcoming anxiety, that word was largely unknown in our vernacular.  For me and for many others, anxiety was practically a forbidden word.  Now at this time in our living history, anxiety has truly been brought to public attention and it rates public concern.  It’s important to notice this raised awareness and the level of emotional challenge within today’s human experience.

Reflecting on this topic I recall the words of one of my clients quite a few years ago:

“what I’ve learned from you is my own resilience and the knowledge that I wasn’t alone in this ordeal”. 

Somehow, knowing that she wasn’t alone in experiencing the effects of stress and anxiety enabled her to stay steady and not diverge from her commitment to facing a new beginning.

 COVID-19 has brought a great many people to face significant change and a range of new beginnings.  We are not alone in this situation.  And so many are feeling crippled by negative reactions: loneliness, boredom, exhaustion, confusion, stress, tension and fear.  These are typical reactions and it’s not difficult to imagine that many may be unable to picture a positive outcome.  Subdued by a range of alarming thoughts, the prospect of any kind of change may waver:  what if I never recover from this situation?  What if the hesitancy, the headaches, the churning, the avoidance and the depression and many other negative feelings will always rule my life?

I think it’s important to remember that thoughts are transient and in reality, life is all about new beginnings. 

That is not to deny that fact that life is somewhat more challenging right now since the pandemic experience is far reaching and, again, never previously experienced.

Yet from quite a number of years of living I can attest to having experienced many new beginnings – many positive and several quite negative.  And right now I am facing another major change:   as with many businesses – and especially businesses such as this that for over thirty years has involved very personal interaction with groups of people – these past months have been severely challenged from a sustainability point of view.  And there is no way of knowing what the future may hold as well as the restrictions we will likely face for quite a long time.

This situation has provided the impetus for me to creatively restructure services offered.  The reason for this decision is simply because our current environment was tailored to meet therapeutic requirements that cannot now be fulfilled in precisely the same way.   This is the end of a long era – but as I see it, the welcoming of a new beginning!   Having made that decision, I am very much looking forward to continuing my work within the following established practice:

Kew Holistic Health

77 Willsmere Road, Kew, VIC

My contact details remain the same as always:

[email protected]

Tel: (03) 9817 2933

So if life is causing you to feel disheartened at present, perhaps now is the time to discover different ways of working, new ways to nurture self-confidence and skills that assist with optimism and the ability to live from a depth of personal calm.

We travel long roads in a lifetime and we never know exactly what might be around the corner.  When approaching those corners however, the one thing we can be sure of is that whatever we discover there will inevitably be linked to a new beginning!

I wish everyone a peaceful and productive month!

 

                                                                                                Pauline McKinnon,

August 2020

 

 

Time to hear our inner self?

I listen for the whispers

That come from within.

But who can hear the whisper

Mid the noise of trying?

As with the bird

On his lonely flight,

It’s in the calm and the stillness

That we hear the whispers

Which tell us the way.

Ainslie Meares M.D. – A Kind of Believing: 1984

 

And so, throughout our lives, whispers come and go.  Sometimes, though, whispers grow a little louder – and these whispers are quite likely speaking a great deal louder to us right now, within this time of global pandemic.  Life as we knew it has become difficult. For some, time drags by painfully as concern and fear fills minds and hearts.  For others, time is frustrated in juggling responsibilities, managing home-schooling again, adjusting to living arrangements and prioritising workload.  For most, worries worsen as finances diminish and a range of future insecurities become apparent.  Humanity is indeed facing a serious situation.

In modern life as we have long known it, emphasis has been placed on a drive to explain things, prove things and fix things.  We have been focused on control and to seek outside our self.  But now, the throb of life, the ups and downs of life and the thrills of life speak in undertones of a new urgency.  Are we feeling out of control?  A bit lost, scared and confused?

What is it all about?   Why this current world challenge? What is the purpose?  What is truth?  How?  Where?  Who?  Even more questions and the urge for answers as frustration, anger and blame rise in crescendo from a whisper to a shout – to be met only with silence.  From the depths of the raucous din of everydayness, in all this chaos, it is really the quiet inner self, filled with life questions, that is calling to be heard. 

So then come more questions and what are we really seeking?  The ‘old’ ways and the world we thought we knew?  Or is it security – or prevention and cure?  Or is it fulfilment?  Or our happiness, peace …  contentment …  resolution … wholeness maybe?  And that little voice inside us says again…

‘the answers won’t come from out there, but from within yourself’.

So maybe now’s the time.  That time perhaps previously spent on matters that seemed important then has now become a little more available as time for reflection.  Time to pause and consider and remember how we began and how we have travelled since.  To question our beginnings … who was this person when I was seven … or seventeen … or twenty-seven … who is this person now?  And we might for a moment feel even more afraid!

Because of course, it’s fear – anxiety – that detracts from contentment and peace and robs us of the security of happiness.  In other words, fear gets in the way of all that is good.  So, before seeking answers we may first need to manage fear, that human reaction that holds us back and can spoil our own life and the lives of those around us.

To know our ever-changing ‘self’ is a journey without end.  It takes time!  And commitment and lots of stumbles along the way.

But now is an opportune time to begin! 

Let’s value our personal history, where we came from, who we were then and who we are now.  And let’s truly hear, in times of quiet, the whispers within – the truth and value of the inner self.

        

                                                               Pauline McKinnon, July 2020

Stillness Meditation Therapy Case Studies Melbourne
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Stillness Meditation Therapy Case Studies

Is SMT for me?

This is a frequently asked question by many people when first making contact to find out what SMT is all about.  

Fearing they are the only ones facing particular circumstances, or experiencing certain symptoms and reactions, it is a fair enough question.  The answer however is almost always YES.  SMT can help just about everybody at any age.

Overall, clients who complete our standard SMT program, report a 54% reduction of their initial symptoms – and that’s within less than six months of commencement.

Here are some Stillness Meditation Therapy Case Studies, which may help answer some of your questions.

Each of these clients has completed a report which sets out a brief description of their symptoms, their overall level of anxiety at commencement at the SMT Centre and a self rating of those figures after completion of our standard SMT program*  (names have been changed for confidentiality purposes).

1. Rosemary, a teacher, was aiming to cope with recent life issues and to be less fearful.  She was tearful, distressed, anxious, tense and experiencing phobias, depression and physical health issues which she feared.  She rated her current emotional state at 6/10.

 “I’m not longer so fearful of situations concerning health and other matters.  I am no longer as depressed or tearful and I feel much stronger physically and emotionally”  Rating now 3/10

2. Tony, a nurse was seeking to have anxiety decrease to appropriate ‘normal’ levels.  His symptoms included chest pain, sweating, heat, tension and catastrophizing events, with great energy going into worry.  His rating was 8/10.

 “My sleep patterns have improved and I am experiencing dramatically less episodes of anxiety” Tony, a nurse.  Rating now at 4/10

 3. Merran stated her occupation as simply a mother.  She was suffering very intense and frequent panic attacks, waking in panic, with generalized anxiety symptoms together with ongoing worry, negativity, tearfulness and doubt.  She rated this state at 8/10.

 “I still have episodes of anxiety but at a much lesser level.  I also now have periods of no anxiety and uninterrupted sleep.  I am much more able to manage my life challenges”.  Rating now 4/10

 4. Jeffrey, a company manager, stated anxiety and mild depression with symptoms of nausea, uncontrollable and irrational negative thoughts and lack of motivation.  He estimated his anxiety level at 10/10.

“My mind is more at ease – at peace.  The internal chatter has slowed and it is easier for me to relax.  I do not worry about the stresses in my life nearly as much”.  Rating now 3/10

5. Anthony is a tradesman.  He expressed the need to no longer feel anxious about anxiety and when comfortable dealing with it.  Symptoms stated included social anxiety, tension, insomnia, depression and lack of confidence, rating the effect of these symptoms on his life at 7-8.

Now experiencing much better sleep.  Generally more relaxed and when feeling some anxiety it’s not for long or as intense.” … rating now 1.5

6. Kathy, a young lawyer, was seeking to be free of stress, anxiety, tension, panic attacks, depression, lack of life direction, nausea, heart pain and anger”   She rated these symptoms at 9/10

 “I feel much calmer and better equipped to deal with stressful situations.  Symptoms of anxiety, stress, panic attacks and physical symptoms have lessened.  This really has assisted.  Rating now 3/10

These and more Stillness Meditation Therapy Case Studies can be found in “Living Calm in a Busy World” by Pauline McKinnon.  To book an appointment for your initial consultation please call our office on 03 9817 2933

* The SMT program is comprised of 16 facilitated group sessions at the SMT Centre, complemented by daily personal practice.

If you have questions about any of our Stillness Meditation Therapy Case Studies or want more information please get in touch

Courage is not necessarily about moving mountains

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

                                                           –  Theodore Roosevelt

For quite some time I have wanted to write about courage because the concept of courage is such a magnificent human attribute. This big topic, almost boundless to discuss, kept pulling at me because in my work I see so many people living courageously through a range of life challenging situations.  It is a recurring privilege to witness such courage.

But also, in this work I see people who believed they had no courage, now begin to gain that supposed lack.  In my experience this is due to the fact, that, in actually learning and practising Stillness Meditation, a certain degree of courage must be summoned.  Since fear and courage are emotional companions, those who persevere with this style of meditation then discover that as their fear recedes, more and more courage is gained.

So, I began to ponder ‘courage’ and seeking inspiration, I was fortunate to discover the words of the remarkable Theodore Roosevelt.  So neat yet so respectful: “do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – a summary so profound that the word itself doesn’t even need to be included.  Just think of how those simple words might apply to our world today as we begin to adjust to the adjustments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

With social restrictions being reviewed here and scant recovery in other parts of the world, the virus hasn’t left us.

We don’t really know what our future holds except that we must learn to begin to live again to the best of our ability, regardless.

As a society we have been fortunate for a very long time to be able to make plans and assume the probability of perfect outcomes.  In some ways we have taken much for granted and we’re now challenged to consider things differently and with caution.  And so there are risks – especially those surrounding matters of health and finance – perhaps the two major reasons for concern.  Risk involves us all and especially those remarkable people at the coalface of healthcare.  Finance also involves us all through a variety of ways and decisions must be made.  Humanity requires courage at this time – and yet the courage to act may be impeded if fear, predictably, should raise its controlling head.

I’m reminded now of the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz.  That representation of the King of the Beasts believes he is fearful and that he lacks courage, and that he’s not at all brave.

But, of course, he really is very courageous and only needs to shift his belief.  In fact, that lion has been living authentically and in precisely the way that Roosevelt’s words convey!

So courage really means simply moving forward with good intent to face whatever we need to face.  Courage means believing that whatever we need to attend to, achieve or conquer can be accomplished.  It is reassuring to understand courage as action, just as we are at any time.

And remember, while a certain few will make headlines for extraordinary courageous achievements, millions of ordinary people throughout the world are performing commendable acts of courage every single day.

                                                                                                          © Pauline McKinnon, June 2020

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As we emerge from the chrysalis…?

COVID-19 has enveloped the world in fear, apprehension, concern for our families and ourselves and for others.  Most importantly and tragically, due to the virus many, many lives have been lost.  For our own protection and for the protection of others, while practicing social distancing we have been secluded in lockdown, living restricted lives.  

This was our first taste of pandemic loss.  Next came secondary loss due to the collapse of businesses and reliable work for many. Individuals and families must now adjust to a change in income and in general abundance which for many, has previously been taken for granted.  And those less privileged will need the support of all, from government through to each of us as best we can contribute.  

Meanwhile, sheltered within our protective cocoon, loss continued.  Valued events and the travels and pleasures of our dreams, days, months and years have been cancelled.  The traffic has slowed, the streets have emptied, religious venues are closed and social distancing within shopping centres has created empty space. Our celebrations and our grieving times have reduced to few participants and the aged in care have been denied family company.  Inevitably health will suffer – mental health in fact more than ever as drastic changes impact emotional lives. 

The world as such, will never really be the same again.

However!  Seclusion has brought cleaner air, less noise pollution and quite likely a reassessment of wants as opposed to needs.  Also, through the human ability to adapt, creative people have managed life well.  Zoom, among other technological facilities, has brought us together for business and pleasure.  Kind and resourceful people have created unique concerts, parties and practical assistance for the needy.  Parks and gardens have come alive with walkers – keeping their distance – but enjoying the outdoors with friendly compatriot smiles and a nod to those they meet along the way.  Best of all, time has become available to us.  And in many respects, because of that, so has energy.   

Perhaps our enforced restraint has brought advantages?   The virus came upon us almost without warning but has provided the opportunity for another stage in human knowledge, understanding and development.  There is potential for a better society. Families have become closer, sharing time, meals, conversation and the support and appreciation of each other with new vision.  Most importantly, slowing down has provided leadership opportunities for those who might otherwise be viewed as reclusive:  here is their time to shine within their kind of world.   

This universal experience has given us occasion to accept, reflect and convert old ways into different ways and, in fact, availed us of the key to greater freedom.  Surely changing habits, adapting to situations and adopting novel interests is part of the process of evolution?  

In a way ‘lockdown’ is rather like a tiny preview of the personalized ‘stillness’ we teach at this Centre: less effort, less stress, less tension, less anxiety and a sense of calm where physical health thrives too.  

Life has changed.  How might we each emerge from our stay-at-home bubble into a different, and unquestionably transformed, world?  

© Pauline McKinnon, May 2020

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Breaking through the COVID Challenge!

And so now we’ve all, somewhat suddenly been catapulted into a range of strange experiences, a new way of life – and perhaps some very strange feelings.

In a bid to contain the COVID-19 pandemic we are surely all complying with government recommendations – the most important of these: stay at home.

We’ve been so used to freedom! We’ve been so used to fulfilling most needs, wants or desires in a heartbeat, that personal containment may well feel like some level of incarceration.

We hear of those who feel lost, lonely, alone, confused, anxious. With compassion, I deeply honour those feelings. The very reason I’m involved in the healing work that I do, is really because of my 8 years of ‘incarceration’ due to extremely high anxiety some 4 decades ago. Anxiety at that level means lost, lonely, alone, confused. I deeply understand anyone feeling such very negative emotions.

Those who have read my book (In Stillness Conquer Fear) and from it, learned to change their reactivity, have identified and benefited from my story. They too, will certainly identify with people currently feeling all that confusion surrounding the restriction placed on our lives.

It’s important to understand that current restrictions for many, cause a shock to the self. This sudden change coming from beyond our self represents loss of control. When we experience a sense of lost control, yes, we experience a loss of self. And so of course we will feel lost, lonely and confused.

Routine has vanished; everyone or no-one is home all day and the elements within our life that we have taken for granted are no longer available. Symbolically, we become rather like a fragile piece of porcelain, balancing on a shaky pedestal. As such, we need to steady that pedestal – and then begin to treat the fragile ornament with some new respect.

While we’re also obligated to care for our personal health as much as possible, here are some practical tips to help others strengthen, grow and gain some sense of control through this experience.

  • Steady the pedestal by releasing tension (that means learning to release the tightness within your body and let go within your racing mind)
  • Plan the day (without a plan, the loss of personal control will intensify)
  • Make communication part of the plan (use devices, but go beyond technology to make personal calls to your family, friends and neighbours)
  • Humour and fun are essentials whether you’re alone or within the family unit
  • Ensure daily fresh air and exercise – simply walking is the best all round physical activity
  • Seek new things to ‘do’ – this could be the very time to commence new interests or long-term unfulfilled dreams
  • Take a short time each day to review the day, to ponder your reactions, to notice your potential for adaptation – and maybe even start to keep a journal – something to look back on as a period of change and all it represents for you, now and into the future

Finally, it goes without saying that I more than advocate the practice of meditation. This strongly relates to the very first item in my list above. Meditation, if learned and practised effectively, empowers you to relax your body, mind and spirit and therefore gain calm control, profound serenity and natural ease of being. In a nutshell, I quote my esteemed mentor, Ainslie Meares MD:

Ease is that incredible quality
That enables us to deal equally
With disaster and success

Ainslie Meares M.D. – Let’s Be At Ease (1987)

I would truly welcome your comments and would very much like to assist as set out in this month’s Newsletter.

© Pauline McKinnon, April 2020

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SMT – Coronavirus as a prompt to discuss typical life issues

As we all know, our community is currently facing the health threat of novel coronavirus, an apparent pandemic. While it could be argued that the level of concern is largely driven by excessive and potentially misleading social and other media, this raises the topic of fear and anxiety as these reactions apply to typical life issues.

Being human means experiencing the joys and the ‘messiness’ – the good, the bad and the ugly matters of life. Being human also means that we can’t personally choose one or the other or predict possibilities. We may well experience an amalgam of both joyfulness and messiness all together. One thing is for sure, there will be times when that amalgam will challenge us with what we recognise as stress. And as we know, stress increases anxiety from which a range of associated and common symptoms may present themselves. I have chosen four typical issues that present regularly at this Centre:

• Insomnia
• Grief
• Panic attacks
• Social phobia

Insomnia:
Insomnia or sleeplessness is almost always included among the symptoms noted when first we consult with new clients. Insomnia is and has been for a long time, an extremely popular topic for discussion in glossy magazines or newspaper columns. Insomnia is also high on the list of symptoms presented at visits to the GP. Insomnia means broken sleep, restless sleep or long hours through long nights feeling frustrated, lonely, isolated and desperate for respite. It’s probably fair to say that there is no one who has not known the experience of a restless night. But for some, insomnia becomes a major problem and a habit that interferes with daily health and wellbeing. In many instances, worry has set the scene and prolongs the misery. How to change when mental overload is the primary source of poor sleep? Of course, there are practical steps one can take and general advice usually recommends lowering mental stimulus in the bedroom. The phone has no place on the bedside table. Nor should any device including TV enter that space – simply because a sleep deprived brain needs to slow down, and literally switch off. If work, or other challenging issues are foremost in your mind at bedtime, these may trigger wakefulness. It can be useful to make a list and prioritise worries to be dealt with next day. Other habit breaking tips include avoidance of alcohol, caffeine and high sugar. Replace these with milky drinks or camomile tea, read a relaxing book – real books are preferable to digital books – and consider counselling to resolve emotional issues. However, in our experience of many years, the regular experience of ‘stillness’ as we teach it, certainly calms the mind and brings ease from insomnia. It may take commitment to therapeutic sessions and time to change but results will be long lasting.

Grief:
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, whether of a loved one or a seemingly less significant part of life, can be an experience of desolation. Loss can be tragic and devastating. Loss can seem relatively minor, yet reactions can still be potent. In grief, memories, fears and feelings become mingled and magnified – sometimes out of proportion. Fatigue, loneliness, displacement and confusion and a range of physical symptoms are common reactions to grieving.

Regardless of the cause of grief or the length of the journey, within that time the heart, mind and soul need freedom from encumbrance. The experience of true stillness can provide that because it asks nothing but the practice of effortless rest. From regular therapeutic stillness sessions, regular daily practice and the passing of time, the nervous system will regain equilibrium. I have been privileged to hear extraordinary stories and positive outcomes that could not have been imagined on the client’s first visit. Grief, when travelled well, is the gift of personal growth.

Panic attack:
Panic attacks typically seem to come ‘out of the blue’ but this assumption is incorrect. For the sufferer, the lead up to a panic attack is indicative of a gradual increase in stress, tension and exhaustion. When the brain receives those messages through a surge of nervous signals, the amygdale, thought to be the fear centre therein, is activated. Just doing its job, at that point the body releases from the adrenal glands, the natural chemical, adrenaline (epinephrine) – our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in action. These days of course, the level of danger that once existed in earlier times is limited but, as a form of natural protection, the brain continues its work even though the signal we are giving it may relate to some far less threatening occurrence. Even a sharp rise in tension for a relatively simple reason can be sufficient to trigger amygdale reaction and a subsequent flood of anxiety.

And so, as adrenaline is released into an overloaded system, the body is prepared for action by raised heartbeat and the onset of shaking, sweating, churning in the stomach, irregular breathing, bowel or bladder reactivity or other alarming symptoms – and so a panic attack occurs.
Panic attacks really mean the occurrence of extremely high anxiety attacks. These will gradually cease when calming measures as indicated throughout this blog, are put in place.

Social phobia:
Social phobia begins with emotional pain – perhaps rejection, judgment or self-criticism experienced by sensitive people influenced by unkind, negative and controlling others. Usually formed within early childhood, such insecurity is heightened by stress and always by increased nervous tension. Whatever the cause, something in one’s life has raised anxiety to the point where social situations create for many people, the alarming symptoms of panic and a sense of losing control. Social interaction soon becomes something to avoid – painful experiences for the sufferer, for fear of ‘falling apart’ leading to the prospect of failure and rejection. Over time, such situational avoidance becomes a lonely way of life.
To assist people to gain or re-gain personal confidence, our first step here again is to discuss the influence of nervous tension. As we facilitate SMT sessions, we see tension gradually lowering and our clients becoming more at ease as over time they capture mental rest and the emergence of calm confidence. Again, from regular therapeutic sessions, regular daily practice and the passing of time, the nervous system will regain equilibrium.
In summary, when dealing with life issues we also need courage: the courage to step back from pressure and be present to ourselves and to others; the courage to seek appropriate help when we need extra support; and the courage to reciprocate hope and compassion to our ‘self’ and to others. And we need to nurture patience, without which, issues as discussed cannot be solved.

SMT offers a personal experience that calms reactivity. The repetition of this meditation regulates the nervous system and restores healthy mental equilibrium. Painful symptoms and despondency can lift and hearts can heal as we enjoy the gift that grows from learning to just be still. And it is well known too, that a healthy nervous system leads to a healthy immune system. Let’s not be excessively fearful about the coronavirus; let’s take sensible care of our health and address the matter of fear and anxiety in the bigger picture.

If you or someone you care about is dealing with any of these issues, please get in touch; we can offer an alternative that can help change your life.

Pauline McKinnon (c)
Melbourne, March 2020

Stillness Meditation Therapy Case Studies Melbourne
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Surviving Trauma

For some months now our beautiful land, Australia, has been and still is, burning. Bushfire throughout vast tracts of land has stripped natural beauty, destroyed homes, livestock, native fauna and flora and robbed people of their homes, their livelihood and in some cases, their lives. It is heartrending and difficult to contemplate the losses sustained and the challenges faced by so many as they look to their changed future while coming to terms with,  and surviving, this trauma.

A majority of we city dwellers have also been touched – indeed members of my own family live within very close range of the spread of fire but this time at least, have been fortunate. And many friends and acquaintances who treasure life in rural areas on the fringes of the city, they too have been living in cautious anticipation of threat.

Perhaps we in Melbourne needed to experience something tactile to help share the pain? And so came many days of thick smoke to envelop the city, forcing people to remain indoors, soon followed by torrential rain bringing with it the Mallee red dust – a powerful further reminder of the power of the real disasters way beyond the city’s boundaries. Loss, bewilderment, pain, grief, fear, trauma.

Yes, practical matters can be addressed. Funds have been raised and countless people across the community have contributed generously through various events and through those organisations whose responsibility it is to bring assistance in these ways. Many touching stories have been told, too, demonstrating how consistently we Australians support each other. Similarly, relief for the native animals in need and care awareness for the future of our rivers, forests and natural land has become a high priority. The disasters of this summer are not incidents easily forgotten.

In this climate, currently we have become aware of another kind of trauma – that of the coronavirus, originating in China but certainly now affecting this country and further abroad. Growing fear within the community surrounding the prospect of an invasion of a life-threatening virus infection may, even in itself, reach outbreak proportions. Fear grows fear – a topic I have written on in numerous ways in the past. It is human and normal to feel afraid. Life in general provides many reasons to incite fear and such reasons certainly include trauma.

And so, from this background we have come to the beginning of a new decade. These are times, similar in emotional reaction to significant birthdays, when people tend to take stock of life. Questions are many … que sera sera indeed:

How will we ever get through this? How to hold our family together? Will insurance be sufficient to assist us? The new school year has commenced, there are many expenses to cover, how can we manage with such limited funds? Can we ever rebuild the property/farm/business? How will our ageing parents cope with this shock? Will I/we ever feel less confused and stressed again? Has it ever been this bad before? Maybe the last decade was affected too but we were lucky that time? What will the coming decade bring? Are we able to compare these lifechanging events to those of the past? What has been learned from the past? Do we have the capacity as individuals – or as government leaders – to address potential change that can influence the future? Will this be the life-changing-for-the-better decade? While questions abound, what are the solutions?

I think the primary solution to managing trauma and all it embodies, lies within our self. I think we see this evidenced in the magnificent and courageous words spoken by those affected by the fires. We see absolute courage and dedication within the work of the ‘fireys’, those men and women of all ages, who fearlessly and willingly face the demon fire, at times day after day, risking their own lives to protect the lives and existences of others. There’s a job to do – and they do it. Perhaps they don’t always win, either. But they are prepared to persevere in search of the best possible outcome.

When it comes to the rest of us, I believe we too have that capacity to pull through personal pain. We are not all suited to fire fighting. But there are resources within each one of us to assist us in traumatic times – regardless of the cause of trauma. So, it’s good to reflect on those resources:

We have some level of physical strength and aptitude. We have some level of mental strength and aptitude. We can prepare our mind, listen and learn and take proper precautions. We can value ourselves and our families enough to offer advice and protection. We can offer love in its many forms – to ourselves, to our families and to others. From life experience, we can make the right decision. We can honour our loss and grief and accept the prospect of change. To come to acceptance, to gain self-understanding and to grow into life, we can seek counsel by sharing with trusted friends and family or with professional therapists. We can adopt stress reducing activities such as walking, running, swimming and more. We can learn the value of rest for body, mind and spirit to nourish the gift of true awareness.

At this Centre we know the value of rest – especially rest for the mind. We talk about it regularly. We are proud of the dramatic successes our clients experience and we share their enormous joy as they benefit more and more from the ‘magic’ of this simple yet profound style of therapeutic meditation. If you find yourself in need of mind rest, if you recognise the value of mental equanimity and if you have always wanted to make positive changes to your life, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

Most importantly we know that traumatised lives can heal. Such healing comes through the ability to develop personal resilience through whichever means each person may commit to. There is no doubt, when all is said and done, that ultimately healing comes from within the self.

We wish all those who need relief, the joy of new beginnings, with hope, peace and love in abundance for 2020 and all the years to come.

 

NB: I have 20 complimentary copies of my book (Living Calm in a Busy World) to assist those affected by the bushfires. Please email or call us now to secure your gift and share the love.

Pauline McKinnon (c)
Melbourne, February 2020