New Beginnings

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 my inner self

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


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

Stillness Meditation Therapy Case Studies Melbourne

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

Really love your life

Stillness Meditation helps you really love your life!

‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,
All play and work makes Jack a mere toy’

With R U OK in mind this month, let’s get some energy and balance in life.  The old proverb gives us a hint that it’s not a bad idea to do just that, yet sometimes it’s a bit tricky to get the balance just right. We all must work in one way or another and while we all need play for recreation and refreshment, we can’t rely on play for life satisfaction. However (and unfortunately for many), our desire for ambition and independence, our easy access to international travel and all that entails and our ready access to technology of many kinds can mean that work can become far too constant – and over-cluttered.

That’s when burnout begins to make its presence felt. This is when finding the time and energy for play becomes challenging. Play becomes difficult to organise, seems to be interrupting more important matters, and fatigue destroys what once would have been an enjoyable and relaxing event. This is when other unwanted feelings begin to dominate the day. Frustration becomes a regular companion. Struggling against a kind of entrapment or helplessness underpinning the work ethic and drive for success, tension increases. The mind is racing and the faster heartbeat and shallow breathing recurs too often. “Work is great, I love my job” is the inner cry – while chaos abounds and the exhaustion of wakeful nights produces with daylight, a sense of overwhelming panic.

This is overdrive, this is stress – this is burnout – a state of existence where its victim is running on adrenalin all week and collapsing in shreds at the weekend to curl up for two days under the doona. How much better to have balance, to be relaxed in work and play and keen to seek fresh air, sunshine, exercise, the fun and company of family and or a simple meal and a glass of wine with friends.

Burdened by headaches, recurring colds and ‘flu, chronic illness, the expression of latent anger and high tension levels, now comes a conflict between love of work and fear of work. We see this from the dark suit corporate world right down to new mothers learning to juggle and adjust to an unfamiliar role. People want to succeed, to get things right, to be in control. But those aims are difficult to accomplish if we’re operating along the lines of the Duracell Battery.

So, are you loving your job and balancing it all with ease or slowly collapsing under its weight? If your reply is that of the latter, then you are in the clutches of a stress response and burnout is likely to be the reason.

At this Centre we abide by the theory and the words of eminent psychiatrist Ainslie Meares who defined stress as the difference between what is happening in our life and how we are handling it. Those words of wisdom apply to the effect of any ‘stressor’ that may enter one’s life.  Burnout is supposed to be work-specific. However, anyone can experience burnout if we’re not taking care of ourselves. I say this with conviction due to my personal experience which coincided with my experiencing a major panic attack. I wasn’t in the corporate world of today, but I was hard working, inclined towards perfectionist ideals, ambitious in my desire to perform well in anything I attempted, newly married, a new mother, very short of sleep, unaware of the need for rest and facing the reality and grief of a series of losses and readjustment to life. Whew! I was stressed and ‘burned out’ and life was very difficult until I learned and developed the natural way back to balance.

So … R U OK? How will you know? When we want to bring life back into life again, sometimes it’s in simplicity that we discover the greatest power … and so we remain passionate about Stillness as the premier meditation.

Our work and our passion means helping lots of others truly love their life!

Pauline McKinnon (c)
Melbourne, September 2018

Essential calm

Essential Calm

The primary purpose of our work in teaching Stillness Meditation Therapy (SMT) is to help people to find within themselves, the essential calm that gives power and purpose to life. Our world today is a busy place, often cluttered, sometimes controlled beyond personal resource and many feel overwhelmed. When we ask our new clients what they hope for in coming here, the distilled responses are always located within the primary desire for calm, peace and happiness.

When psychiatrist Ainslie Meares created his concept of meditation (the Stillness Meditation Therapy of today) way back in the 1950’s, he keenly recognized those needs – calm, peace and happiness – and the way to access such desirable strengths within the self. As specialists in his work we aim to collect, nurture, distil and teach attitudes of calm; to curate and project the values of calmness in fact. And so we assist people to access their own essential calm through natural mental rest – in silence, quiet and profound stillness.

Once the commitment to stillness commences and after several intensive sessions, without doubt good progress can first be seen in each person’s face … the loss of tension, and yes, the calmer, more serene (yet livelier and happier) expression, and the clarity within their eyes. As such, these observations often lead us to test our clients’ sense of humour by suggesting that SMT can be the most wonderful form of beauty therapy, too!

When the mind rests naturally in stillness, the reactivity of stress and the symptoms of tension, anxiety and depression are relieved: the body’s own way of coping with distress, to quote Dr Meares. Gradually we see our clients begin to experience living calm, which of course means that they are moving toward their goal of becoming calm, peaceful and happier people! And then along comes confidence. Confidence leads to productivity and these lead to courage. Courage means meeting life’s challenges, reaching ambitions and dreams and being rewarded with success. Success brings contentment … and so life gets better … and better.

In short, as the days and weeks pass and new friends become regular visitors, magic happens! And while each person may not know it yet – or they may not have yet reached the personal freedom they believe they are seeking – further changes are taking place.

Now here’s an important thought! Anyone can achieve this. SMT is not a challenging system or technique to learn through action. In SMT there is no mantra, no chanting, no mindfulness, no need for breath control or the focus of background music. Stillness is about not doing anything … just simply being in profound mental rest with the outcome of experiencing deeply, one’s inherent calm.

SMT is simple, natural, and easily accessible. Sometimes though, the simplest things in life can be the most elusive. In learning to capture such simplicity, the majority may need some help in correctly finding the way.

Pauline McKinnon (C)
Melbourne, August 2018

a calm mind

A calm mind and a beautiful life!

This is a really important reflection. As well as witnessing life changes taking shape with our clients, we meditation therapists consistently notice visible changes, too. When the art of ‘stillness’ is truly captured, it’s really another form of beauty therapy – men and women alike!

I’m always interested in the progress of our clients as they walk the walk of Stillness Meditation. We review this progress formally at certain times during each client’s 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.

But as the days and weeks pass and the client becomes a regular visitor, magic happens! The practice of stillness is morphing into living calm. Individuals may not know it yet but there’s a serenity appearing. ‘Stillness’ is becoming part of their life. The smile is brighter and more spontaneous. The eyes look rested. The nervous habits have vanished. Nails are growing and excessive lines are smoothing out. A kind of beauty is gradually emerging. He or she may not yet have arrived at their desired outcome – but the way there, the way of living calm, is certainly making a difference.

Calmness leads to confidence. Confidence leads to courage. Courage means facing life challenges, meeting those challenges and being rewarded with success – and then achievement … and adventure … and little by little, next comes the change that leads to contentment. And so life gets better, and better …

Meditation is the balm to soothe life and challenge and personal growth. For some, these transformations are captured surprisingly quickly. Others may take many months to have their commitment and patience rewarded. But as an observer who is also sharing the journey, it is utterly delightful to notice beauty in its many forms, gradually emerge.

Pauline McKinnon (c)
July 2018, Melbourne