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

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

Revisit resilience

Revisiting resilience

Living as we do in these times of high anxiety and with not much evidence of real improvement to that situation, it seems timely to revisit the word resilience.  This is a word that entered popular vernacular a few years ago and a word that is currently quite vigorously postulated as the answer to issues surrounding mental health.  Perhaps the gaining of resilience may be part of that solution – except for a couple of important questions.  Just how is the gift of resilience gained?  And how can individuals, or society in general actually foster resilience?

For resilience is not one single commodity.  The getting of resilience, like wisdom, comes from living, observing and learning … definitely not something to be purchased in a packet from Chemist Warehouse and taken as a daily remedy.

To be resilient is to be able to respond from a place of personal strength in the face of adversity.  The challenges of life are many and plans and needs can change, even sometimes from moment to moment.  So the power of resilience begins with one simple phrase: be responsive, not reactive. Reactivity is useful in emergencies. But uncontrolled reactivity is a clear indication of lack of resilience.  Witness reactivity in everyday life:  impatience, irritability, bullying, aggression and simmering rage.  Such reactions are perhaps most visible on our roads and further, within belligerent demonstrations, domestic violence, on the sports field or in public places and it goes without saying, in racial or terror induced confrontations and their tragic outcomes.

Self control and self respect are closely related to resilience and so indeed is self-discipline – an unpopular word these days – yet without discipline life can quickly slip into non-resilient chaos.

As products of the parents, siblings, relatives, teachers and mentors who impressed early life, much will have been learned.  But perhaps a true recognition of the real self is absentMaybe there is a lack of personal confidence which in turn creates feelings of fear?  Maybe jealousy, resentment and anger are constant emotional companions?  Maybe the fear of failure is far too present? Perhaps loss in its many forms and its accompanying grief has coloured life to a point of helpless overwhelm?  Or at times of stress or illness or anxiety there is no ability to recover because there is simply no energy in reserve.  And of course self-talk, most likely sprung from the child-self, can be so negative that the adult self-image is tainted which in turn, can damage respect for others.  These reactions and more may need some amendment if resilience is to be gained.

Since the gift of resilience means the ability to accept and to persevere despite the odds, that means building mental as well as physical stamina.  A resilient person demonstrates calm control, emotional elasticity and a level of orderliness.  These qualities can be gained through a range of mind strengthening skills such as the practice of meditation.   Sound mentoring is also advisable to help nurture positive attitudes of hope, gratitude and humour, as well as the development of a happy work-life balance.   Like personalised building blocks, these ideas and more assist the maturing process until one day, suddenly the life-raft of resilience truly becomes apparent!

Pauline McKinnon (c)
July, Melbourne 2017