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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SMT drug antidote

Recent weeks have brought wide publicity around the negative effects of prescription medication. Firstly the media targeted the ill effects of the tranquilliser, Xanax.  In the following week the offending drug was the anti-depressant, Efexor (ABC 7.30 Report 23rd July) said to increase the problem of gambling.  A week after that, “Accidental addicts” on the SBS Insight program.  These reports also coincided with pre-Olympic fever and public awareness of yet another problem, that of athletes’ reliance on performance enhancing drugs.

These are recurring themes in the papers, radio and TV and on-line which seems to indicate that such problems are not being properly addressed.

As one who knows exactly how it feels to live with the symptoms of anxiety, I have always held that prescription medication, used wisely, is almost invariably necessary for a time of relief.  For a time of relief! Read more



Pauline talks with Trudy Thomas from the US Blogtalkradio program “Living with Hope”.  Click here to listen


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


Taking Stillness into life

When the art of ‘stillness’ is truly captured, it’s really another form of beauty therapy!

I’m always interested in the progress of our clients as they walk the walk of Stillness Meditation and we review this formally at certain times during their course.  But far from the formal assessment of individual progress is the appearance on people’s faces as they gradually begin to live calmly.

Very often at first meeting, the new client’s strain visibly shows.  When anxious, tense, stressed or depressed, the facial features appear tight, twitchy, nervous or sad.  Hands are restless.  Nails may be bitten down.  Legs are crossed and uncrossed and the eyes, often close to tears, are wide with apprehension.  After so many years’ observing the effects of ‘stress’, it’s just not possible to miss these things. Read more


The difference between SMT and other methods of meditation

The question is often put to me ‘what’s the difference between Stillness Meditation Therapy and other methods of meditation’?  Here are my thoughts from over 25 years’ teaching!

First, some clarification!  The concept of Stillness Meditation (SMT) is significantly different from classical meditation which primarily involves the principles of Hindu or Buddhist teachings.  SMT is a Western style of meditation and a medically based form of therapy.  It is unrelated to classical or sectarian meditation and it does not use method or technique.

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Mind Care

Community Education Workshop, Thursday 12 July
Box Hill Community Arts Centre, 470 Station St, Box Hill, Victoria

Click here to download the flyer