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Archive for March, 2010

Margie Braunstein

I have been thinking lately about how often I hear myself and other people say that they just want to be happy and are searching for loving relationships but not finding them. A wonderful teacher of mine always used to say, “Finding love is easy but stopping what we do that keeps it out is the challenge…”

As Petrea says, we neeed to keep ourselves in good shape and then we are in better shape to serve others. I noticed the other day when I was feeling fabulous, that the woman in Coles at the checkout was (to me) so gorgeous and the young man with poor english at the fruit shop was so sweet and I couldn’t help wondering why these same people were so annoying only the week before!

One of the things I sometimes do to ‘keep love out’ is to feel really grumpy with people around me. I build up my expectations and then feel dissappointed when people do not meet them (what chance did they have anyway?) I then feel resentful and before long my full blown martyr is in flight with internal dialogue like “no-one ever helps me” or the like…

When I am in good shape, I can more easily stay with just receiving what love they can give and accepting them for who they are. Hey presto! Love blooms in even the driest desert under this approach.

One of the simple practices I do for raising my happiness is the following: Take your focus to your heart and just let it rest there for a moment or two. Before long, (and if you are not too grumpy) you may feel softening and maybe even joy… If this does not work, see if you can just how you are and come back to it at a later time. At some point, something usually moves and mood improves.

I hope my little insights find all of you ‘Quest bloggers’ well and fluffed up. Love and light to all.

Margie Braunstein

Margie is a somatic psychotherapist and counsellor providing psychotherapy services to the people of the Central Coast and Sydney.  Margie lives on the beautiful Central Coast with her husband, two children, two dogs and a cat.

Over the last 12 years, Margie has also been engaged in the design, delivery and marketing of transformational learning programs. During this time she has regularly facilitated personal development programs for up to 50 people on weekend workshops, week-long intensives and advanced programs of 3-4 months.

Margie has a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education from UTS, Diploma in Psychotherapy from the Australian College of Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy and qualifications in somatic therapy, executive coaching and relationship counselling.

Margie has a passion for personal development and regards people with respect, empathy and compassion in the belief that while we all do the best we can, a little bit more kindness and care can lead to even greater peace and joy in life.

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In generosity and helping others, be like a river.
In compassion and grace, be like the sun.
In concealing others’ faults, be like the night.
In anger and fury, be like the dead.
In modesty and humility, be like the earth.
In tolerance, be like the sea.
Either appear as you are, or be as you look.

Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (1207- 1273)

Alexia Miall

RUMI is one of my favourite Poets, and always manages to speak to my heart as well as the head.  His 7 Advices above, for me, cover most aspects of living well and being at peace. When you have a moment, I encourage you to seek out some more of his Poetry; there is so much to choose from.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) celebrated the 800th Anniversary of his Birth in 2007.  This 13th Century Persian lawyer and Sufi, widely considered literature’s greatest mystical Poet, has been read in the West for centuries and there have been informed references to him in the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and many other eminent writers. But in recent years the popularity of his work in the West has increased to a surprising extent, Rumi was ranked as America’s best-selling poet in 1997.

Alexia Miall

Alexia’s career began in banking and then moved via advertising to a career change in 1980 to Transformational Education.  She has been privileged to share this incredible journey with 1000’s of like minded souls through her extensive experience as a facilitator, trainer, life coach, therapist, and mentor.  She managed her own training company in Victoria during the 1990’s, and during this time was the Course Leader for a training program from which the Banksia Environmental Foundation formed.

Alexia has acquired further education in Adult Education in Training; Somatic Psychotherapy; Life Coaching; Conflict Resolution; plus Accreditation in many behavioral and culture change models. She is an Associate of EcoSTEPS, a niche Sustainability consultancy, which supports her love of the natural environment.

Alexia is now one of the founding directors of Circumference a company focused on the delivery of Leadership and Personal Development Programs.  She will be co-facilitating a meditation course for the Quest for Life Foundation in Sydney called Meditation for Life.

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Michelle Richmond

Supermarket shelves, TV screens and bill boards  are splattered with pink ribbons, whilst statistics report one in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85, however little is shared on how to keep your breasts ‘Vivacious and Healthy’.

Our busy lives and the daily pressures of being a mother, daughter, partner, wife, friend and income producer often sees our daily routine encompassing little more than hair and makeup, as our breasts are tucked away or perked up in the latest ‘wonder bra’ hardly getting a second look in, unless something goes wrong.

It may sound too simple to be true however 30%-50% of breast cancer could be prevented with a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. The human body knows exactly how to take care of itself when given the right tools and by creating the right environment.

Girls, it’s time to be proactive and add a little verve to your breasts for your own health, vitality and longevity. Personal development guru’s encourage being in the flow and that’s exactly what’s needed to create healthy, perky breasts. High levels of stress, emotional, mental and physical congestion and toxicity all contribute to a less than healthy breast tissue.

A recent study found that women who wear a bra 24 hours a day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetimes. The tissue around the breasts, neck, shoulders, and arm pits contain the lymph system which unlike the vascular system does not have a pumping station, relying on movement and breath to rid the body of nasty toxins. So along with your shoes, fling your bra off at the door.

As stress is a major contributor to disease, rather than adding a few more things to that already over sized list, become present and choose to take advantage of existing moments of time to self nurture and create flow.

Tips to Vivacious Breasts:

  • Regular breast massage helps to improve circulation and lymph drainage; it decreases symptoms of PMS, menopause and menstrual cramps, and decreases the discomfort from pregnancy and breast feeding.

Take 10 minutes a day a little Almond Oil or other natural oil and using the flat of your fingers use small circular movements, around the breast, armpits, and shoulder blades. A relaxing thing to do when in bed at night whilst focusing on things that you are grateful for throughout the day, thus calming your neurology and physiology before sleeping.

  • Where there’s movement in your body, there’s movement in your life. Dr Finn Skott Anderson from the Humlegaarden Clinic in Germany says Exercise, Exercise, Exercise is essential to heal cancer. What heals must prevent. Bushing walking, sport, gardening, yoga, dancing.  Meet your girlfriend or colleague at the beach or park and go for a walk to discuss business instead of at a coffee shop or office.
  • Choose to still the mind by focusing on breath or an affirmation whilst walking, exercising, sitting  on the bus, in traffic, when going to sleep, taking a shower become present with your body, your environment, your breath.
  • Increase lymphatic movement and relax the mind with long slow breathing through the nose down into the pelvis – can be done whilst sitting on the train, at the traffic lights, waiting for a meeting or to pick the kids up from school.
  • Avoid seafood, which is farmed, including prawns, barramundi and salmon. And commercially farmed chicken and eggs.  Organic is always best.
  • Drink filtered water, not from plastic bottles.
  • Never use plastic when micro waving, only glass.  This includes plastic wrap which when heated releases sexo-estrogens into the heated produce. Avoid micro waves if possible.
  • Choose organic live foods, greens and high enzyme foods. If not ensure you wash your vege’s in apple cider vinegar and peel the fruit or vegetable well. Foods which have anti cancer benefits; broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips garlic, onions, cabbage, cherries, beans, carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, winter squash, yams, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, citrus, grapes, walnuts, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates, tomatoes, carrots, guava, ruby red grapefruit, watermelon, green tea, nuts, seeds, especially flax seed.
  • Never believe a pesticide is safe.
  • Use non toxic hair, skin and household cleaning products – It is known that the breasts can store quite high levels of toxins from our environment. Studies of human breast milk have shown a quite alarming tendency for traces of household cleaning products to be present for example. It is believed that there could be a connection with the onset of breast disease from these toxins.
  • Do what you love and love what you do – you might not always like what you have to do in a day, you can complain about it or look at the benefit … find the benefit, the blessing and change the colour of your day.

Ghandi said ‘Be the change you want to be in the world and watch the world change around you’ … next time you see a pink ribbon or a cancer statistics ask yourself ‘Have I put a little verve in my day and done my bit to lower breast cancer statistics?’

You’re truly worth it.

Michelle Richmond

Michelle Richmond is an innovator of holistic health, wellbeing and personal change management. In her previous role as CEO of the Asher Institute of Integrative Medicine Foundation, she has mentored 1000’s of people seeking a deeper understanding of an integrative approach to wellness. She combines research into Human Behaviour, Business Intuition, The New Sciences Quantum Physics, Energy Medicine and Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence. As a teacher and presenter Michelle is a natural; her presentations utilise a well tested understanding of what inspires people to make change in their lives. Michelle is a published writer, she consults in a private practice to individuals and is a Director of; energy at work – Corporate Wellness Strategies’. ‘WR business Enlightenment’ and maxAwareness.com an on line educational membership hub and a Founding Trustee for the Children’s Neuro Development Research Foundation. http://www.michellerichmond.com.au

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StJohn Miall

Every so often, especially when the turkeys are getting you down, things aren’t flowing well and you’ve managed to once again get out of bed on the wrong side, it’s nice to receive something that is encouraging, inspiring and heart warming.

Here’s such a thing…

“There are days when you are mysteriously lifted by the flow, like catching a breeze, and all you need to do is spread your wings and glide.  There are days when you are climbing up a steep mountain face with hands bleeding, wondering why this is your fate to struggle so.  And there are days when you reach the mountaintop and realize that the effort and courage were worth it after all.

But even at this moment of triumph, it is important to know that one day the clouds surrounding that mountain will lift and you will see that there are many more mountains left to climb, each higher than the next, stretching out in all directions.  And then a ray of sun will illuminate one of the mountain peaks and you will smile and sigh, then climb down from this mountain and go on to the next.

And so, knowing this, you might as well enjoy the journey.  Knowing this, you might learn to enjoy the feel of your muscles as they stretch, the expansion of your heart as you dig for more courage, the company of the other climbers you team up with from time to time, and the beautiful views you have along the way.

And one of these days, a breeze may come along that calls your name and you suddenly remember you have wings.  You leap off the mountain, catch the breeze and just spread out those glorious wings, ready for the ride of a lifetime, lifted and carried, circling among all the mountains, experiencing things you have never dreamt of, effortlessly riding the flow.

And then that flow, that breath of wind, will begin to drop and you will grab onto a mountain ledge nearby, to find yourself again looking up at a peak looming over you, wondering what happened to the breeze and why you weren’t carried all the way to the top.

But this is simply the way of it, the way things are in this great adventure of life.

Ah, do you feel it, that freshening of the air, that little breeze?  Do you feel it beginning to grow stronger and flow your way?  Do you hear it call your name?  Yes, yes, fluff up your feathers, open your wings.  Perch out here on the edge of this cliff and get ready, get ready to leap and take a ride.  Oh, what a rare privilege it is to be alive!”

Here’s my recommendation:    Print this out, and keep it somewhere handy.  The next time you are in need of a little fluffing up of your feathers, take a quiet moment to read it to yourself and know that it’s all ok.

This was written by Roger Harman from Corporate Heart.   He sent it to me and my colleagues at Circumference as we were just starting out – what a marvelous inspiration.   Thanks Roger.

StJohn Miall

St John was the Managing Director of a personal development and lifeskills training company in Victoria for 6 years offering a variety of courses to both the general public and corporate clients. In 1999 he co-founded EcoSTEPS P/L, a Triple Bottom Line Sustainability Consultancy.

More recently, his focus has been on the design and delivery of programs to both the corporate sector and the general public with particular focus on deeper, developmental work, supporting the ongoing building of emotional intelligence, coaching, leadership and personal development.

StJohn is an expert guide in the gentle practice of Meditation and its use by those wishing to explore their own inner landscape.

With over 25 years of training experience, StJohn has a wealth of experience to call on both in the design and delivery of transformational programs.      He is known for his easy style and ability to make the complex simple and easy to grasp.

StJohn is now one of the founding directors of Circumference a company focused on the delivery of Leadership and Personal Development Programs. He will be facilitating a meditation course for the Quest for Life Foundation in Sydney called Meditation for Life.

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Jane Ewins

I met an amazing man the other day and it got me thinking about what is it that gives us meaning and purpose in our lives, and how important it is.

Five years ago this man had several radical surgeries to cut out cancers from his face, mouth and neck. He is now unable to eat or drink through his mouth. He has no voice box any more. He has not tasted food or liquids for over 5 years. Life as he had experienced it for over half a century has changed in so many ways.

He now uses a portable typing machine that translates his one-fingered typing into his new American-accented voice. He has considerable facial disfiguration, breaths through a hole in his neck and eats and drinks through a tube in his stomach.

We had a wonderful conversation about how he still enjoys life. He had a sparkle in his eyes I have seldom seen in anyone. He said his eyes have become a major way of expression and punctuate his typing. He told me that before he had cancer his eyes showed no emotion, but now he agreed, they were in deed the window to (and from) his soul.

I asked whether he would let me interview him about his experiences and philosophy of living after cancer treatment for a book I am writing. He excitedly agreed and said he would also send me some of his writings. The writings are private, but I was brought to tears and humbled by the generosity of spirit of this man whose current major disappointment is due to his geographical isolation he is limited in the amount of connection and inspiration he can offer other people experiencing a journey similar to his own.

He finds pleasure and meaning in being with family and friends, fishing and his animals. He appreciates getting up in the morning!

I also had cancer about 7 years ago now and have had, and still have to some extent, my own emotional, physical and spiritual ups and downs.

“Listening” to this man reminded me what gives my life meaning and purpose: simply enjoying “being” here on earth, experiencing a sense of connection with others – not just friends and family, but people like this man, who cross my path for a time, enjoying nature in all its moods, and supporting others in any way I can to experience peaceful and meaningful lives.

When I was diagnosed with cancer I read Petrea’s book “Quest for Life”. I was struggling at that time with thinking that if only I could only figure out what I had done “wrong” I could stop cancer from coming back. She wrote that for her it’s not about living the longest life, but living each day well.

That was a huge “ah ha” moment for me and became the turning point of my healing. Whether I survived cancer or not was no longer the major issue. (Of course I was happy to stay alive!)

Living each day well in ways that are important and significant to me creates meaning and joy. This courageous man reminded me of that as he endeavours to do the same.

Just goes to show that we don’t have to be perfect, we can have bits of us missing, cut out, burned up, not working properly and still enjoy life!

Jane Ewins

Jane is a counselor and group facilitator. She spent the first 20 years of her working life as a marketing and communications executive. Jane was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2002 and faced many challenges adjusting to the changes following her diagnosis and treatment. Her experience inspired her to become a counselor, facilitator and advocate.

Jane developed the popular ‘Living Well after Cancer” program for the NSW Cancer Council. She has also developed education programs for several other not-for-profit organizations on issues including parenting after separation, conflict resolution, self esteem, and stress management. Jane has worked as a family relationship counselor. She currently counsels and supports carers in the Shoalhaven, NSW in addition to her own private counseling practice. She is also writing a book about the challenges and opportunities of life after cancer.

Jane Facilitates the Quest for Life program and other programs that support the Quest for Life community.

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Petrea King

Continued from yesterday………… We have recently witnessed the outward pouring of empathy and love from a global community for Heath Ledger’s family and friends. We don’t say, ‘our minds go out to you’, we say, ‘our hearts go out to you’. By this we mean that we extend our body map – our loving consciousness – through the invisible ocean that connects us, to envelop his family and friends. Indeed, Heath’s father spoke of the comfort that this outpouring of love from an extended community has brought them.

The loved-ones of people who die often speak of the emotional support they felt from family, friends, colleagues and others in their community and indeed, often feel that it was this love that buoyed them through the funeral and the immediate days afterwards. It is as if we infuse our consciousness into the body map of those who mourn and we are all strengthened through the experience; the sum of the collective consciousness being far more than any individual is able to summon. This is particularly so given that the individual is struggling to orient themselves in an altered landscape.

Likewise, many people find as the days, months, weeks and years unfold and the people who once mourned alongside of them, are distracted by their own lives, they may feel deserted and isolated in their pain. As people withdraw their consciousness through the distractions of their own lives we feel bereft of their love and understanding.

There is no timeframe for grief as there is no timeframe for love. Some people will move through the profound changes with relative ease while others will struggle to find a meaning for their life and any reason to exist given that the foundations of their life, literally their map for life, has been so profoundly shaken or destroyed.

There is a lesson for our communities in this. We need to build resilient communities both within our families, networks and larger communities so that we find a peaceful way forward when the trauma of grief assails us. Many of us are separated from our cultural or ancestral communities because we have moved to Australia from elsewhere. There is extensive social isolation between communities, cultures and within families. The resilience of the members of our communities is the responsibility of us all. It is often grief that draws us together and by which we find a larger landscape of awareness and connectedness. Reaching out to one another and continuing to care beyond the immediacy of bereavement is a key to building such resilience in ourselves and others.

The opposite of death is birth, not life. Life, love is indestructible, invisible, all pervading and the essence of our being. Love never dies. It is our ability to be profoundly connected to the essence of our being that enables us to let go of the physical form of our bodies or to perceive that our loved-ones are no less alive now that they have physically departed from us.

In this lies the great mystery of life and love.

______________________________________________________________________________

In April the Quest for Life Foundation is holding a very special program for 18 – 35 year olds who are living with the loss of a sibling. This program is being delivered in conjunction with Compassionate Friends and CanTeen. For more information, visit our website

Petrea King
N.D., D.R.M., D.B.M., Dip Cl. Hyp., I.Y.T.A.

Petrea King is a well-known author, inspirational speaker, counsellor and workshop leader. She has practiced many forms of meditation since the age of seventeen and she is also qualified as a naturopath, herbalist, hypnotherapist, yoga and meditation teacher.

In 1983 Petrea was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and was not expected to live.  Meditation and the integration of past traumatic experiences became paramount in her recovery, much of which was spent in a monastery near Assisi in Italy.

Since then, Petrea has counselled individually or through residential programs more than 60,000 people living with life-challenging illnesses, grief, loss, trauma and tragedy. Petrea sees crisis as a catalyst for spiritual growth and understanding and as an opportunity for healing and peace.

Petrea has received the Advance Australia Award and the Centenary Medal for her contribution to the community. She has been nominated for Australian of the Year in each year since 2004.

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Petrea King

Perhaps, more than any other human experience, the loss of someone we love evokes powerful and, for the uninitiated, unfamiliar agonies of the heart and soul. In this article, I’d like to raise a rather pragmatic approach to a particular aspect of grief through bereavement.

Your ‘self’ doesn’t stop at the edge of your physical body. Our consciousness which is at the very basis of our being permeates our relationships and entwines and extends beyond our bodies into an invisible volume of space which neuroscientists describe as peripersonal space. This invisible space is commonly referred to as a body map.

When we embark upon a journey into an unknown landscape we generally take a map which shows us the various interconnections of highways and byways. Likewise, our body map represents all aspects of our bodily self, inside and out. Together these invisible maps create our physical and emotional awareness and provide us with a sense of who we are in both physical and emotional relationships. They give us a sense of our presence in both the physical and larger social world. These body maps can be profoundly elastic and extend and contract according to the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the house we live in, the people we love and the social environments in which we move.

These body maps extend beyond our physical form and give us a spatial awareness that is beyond the usual senses of touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight. This allows us to negotiate around obstacles and park the car without mishap! We know to a centimetre or ten how far we are from the vehicles on either side even though our eyes cannot see the bumpers of either vehicle.

When we love someone this body map encompasses us both and provides a map by which we orient ourselves, as one being, to our immediate and larger physical and emotional environment. We don’t lose our sense of ‘self’ but acquire another and larger ‘self’ that encompasses us both.

The enmeshing of consciousness in one another – this love that binds us together – gives us a sense of who we are in relation to our environment, our sense of place and meaning in our lives. We know who we are by the feedback from our emotional and physical environment.

This happens most powerfully through our relationships, so it is little wonder that when someone dies we are confronted with a re-evaluation of who we are, what our purpose is and, for some, whether life is worth living. We have lost our body map and we feel disoriented, confused, shocked, sick in the stomach from the sheer unfamiliarity of our emotional landscape.

I recently spoke with a couple for whom the death of their baby precipitated them into a desire to die themselves as a way of being with their child. They had infused the unborn child with their consciousness – their love – and the sense of profound separation from that felt unbearable. In a loving relationship, the body map of a threesome is well established, long before the little one arrives outside the mother’s body.

This landscape of grief causes us to re-evaluate ourselves and our relationships. If we are precipitated into this unfamiliar landscape and don’t have other strong emotional relationships then we may well find this new landscape unbearably isolating, disorienting and bewildering.

The love of other people enveloping us, overlaying their body maps around us as it were, can give us a sense of our place in the larger landscape of love. For people without such loving relationships the pain and disorientation of bereavement may well evoke feelings of helplessness, isolation and sap the will to live.

The degree of connection to family, friends, the community in which we live, in addition to our inner connectedness to our own conscious awareness will determine our pathway through grief.

To be continued tomorrow……(sign up to receive the reminder)

Petrea King
N.D., D.R.M., D.B.M., Dip Cl. Hyp., I.Y.T.A.

Petrea King is a well-known author, inspirational speaker, counsellor and workshop leader. She has practiced many forms of meditation since the age of seventeen and she is also qualified as a naturopath, herbalist, hypnotherapist, yoga and meditation teacher.

In 1983 Petrea was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and was not expected to live.  Meditation and the integration of past traumatic experiences became paramount in her recovery, much of which was spent in a monastery near Assisi in Italy.

Since then, Petrea has counselled individually or through residential programs more than 60,000 people living with life-challenging illnesses, grief, loss, trauma and tragedy. Petrea sees crisis as a catalyst for spiritual growth and understanding and as an opportunity for healing and peace.

Petrea has received the Advance Australia Award and the Centenary Medal for her contribution to the community. She has been nominated for Australian of the Year in each year since 2004.

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