Archive for the ‘Compassion’ Category

Who cares for you?

Who cares for you?

This blog was originally posted on The Happiness Institute website and has been reproduced with permission.

Do you look after someone with physical and/or psychological health problems? Does it impact on your happiness? If so, consider these statistics:

  • According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, within any 12 month period approximately 20% of Australians are affected by depression and other common mental health disorders
  • Similarly, approximately 20% of Australians experience chronic pain (defined as having pain every day for at least 3 months) at any one point in time
  • More than 100,000 new diagnoses of cancer are made each year
  • And these are just a few of the many “ailments” people experience!

What does this mean?

It means that even at a very rough estimate there are probably 4-5 million Australians, at any one point in time, experiencing a significant and ongoing physical or mental illness.

And all of these people have “significant others” or carers.

Why is this important? Because research indicates that approximately one third to one half of these carers suffer significant levels of psychosocial distress.

So in Australia alone there are probably about 2-3 million carers who’re struggling to care for themselves and to care for their loved ones.

And, I suggest, these people could significantly benefit from some help!

So today I bring you a few simple tips for taking care of yourself, if you’re one of these very important “significant others” so you can enjoy a better quality of life AND so you can care more effectively for your loved ones. Because you can’t help any one else if you can help yourself…

  • Firstly, don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself. Remember, even if your primary goal is to love and care for another you need to remember that you can only do this if you’re relatively fit and healthy yourself
  • Along the same lines, recognise that it’s normal and appropriate to experience a range of emotions, in relation to your situation, from anger and frustration to guild and sadness. Accept these feelings for what they are, try not to fight them, and don’t be hard on yourself for them being present
  • Do all you can to stay (realisitically) optimistic and to maintain hope. Your attitude and emotions will impact on how well you can support your loved one and they’ll also impact on how well you feel yourself so it’s in everyone’s interest for you to try and focus on the positives, where and when they’re there, and to encourage all around you to do the same
  • Reassure yourself that it’s OK to have some fun and pleasure at times; this will boost your mood and as already mentioned, allow you then to support your loved one more effectively and with more energy
  • Understand that support and love are very important BUT oversupportive behaviours, such as doing everything for the other person, are not always ideal. That is, where and when possible try to help your significant other to do as much as they can for themselves so they continue, as best they can, to feel useful and compentent and so they don’t lose confidence and control over their lives
  • Remember that there’s no one perfect way to support others; it depends on you and them and the context and more. So do your best to support in a way that’s best for you and them and as much as possible, support with and from your strengths

So, that’s the short version of a huge topic on which much as been written. What do you think? Do you support another and if so, do you have any thoughts on what’s most important? If so, we’d love to know what you think and we’d love, as always, for you to post your comments.

Professor Tim Sharp

Upcoming Webinar and Workshop: If you are interested in this topic, Petrea King and Prof Tim Sharp are co-hosting a free webinar and a follow up workshop. All of the details are on our website, if you would like further information.


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It's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

It’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

This recently came into our inbox:

If you will take the time to read these. I promise you’ll come away with an enlightened perspective. The subjects covered affect us all on a daily basis. They’re written by Andy Rooney, a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words.

I’ve learned…. That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned…. That when you’re in love, it shows.

I’ve learned…. That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.

I’ve learned…. That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I’ve learned…. That being kind is more important than being right.

I’ve learned…. That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I’ve learned…. That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in some other way.

I’ve learned…. That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I’ve learned…. That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I’ve learned…. That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

I’ve learned…. That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I’ve learned…. That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.

I’ve learned…. That money doesn’t buy class.

I’ve learned…. That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I’ve learned…. That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I’ve learned…. That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I’ve learned…. That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

I’ve learned…. That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I’ve learned…. That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I’ve learned…. That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I’ve learned…. That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I’ve learned… That life is tough, but I’m tougher.

I’ve learned…. That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I’ve learned…. That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I’ve learned…. That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

I’ve learned…. That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I’ve learned….. That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I’ve learned….. That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you’re hooked for life.

I’ve learned…. That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

I’ve learned…. That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Do you have any lessons learned to add?

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Rachel sees the practice of medicine as a spiritual path.

Rachel sees the practice of medicine as a spiritual path.

Rachel Naomi Remen is an honoured physician and a long time teacher. Her early professional life was spent immersed in the world of science. After four decades of working with cancer patients, medical academia, and her own chronic illness (the reason she doesn’t come to Australia) she has come to see that life is defined not by science, but by mystery.

She was one of the early pioneers in the mind/body holistic health movement in the US.

And like Petrea, she recognised the power and the role of spirit in maintaining health and the recovery from illness that can sometimes happen when this was not expected.

Rachel sees the practice of medicine as a spiritual path.

Teaching health professionals to remember their calling is her passion. Her holistic curriculum enables her participants to strengthen their commitment to serve life. That commitment can turn their practice around.

These same principles apply to her work with people with chronic and life threatening illness.

You can find part of this journey and revelations about her work in her two main books: Kitchen Table Wisdom and Stories My Grandfather Told Me. Both are best sellers, even though they have been in print for years. For a full list of her publications check out her website above.

Rachel has also has an audio presentation called The Will to Live and Other Mysteries which can be a good start to come to terms with her overall philosophy on life and how this applies to her teaching. If you are keen to get started try getting it on www.soundstrue.com

Her basic premise is that science cannot fully explain how we heal, and people who open to the mystery of how we heal, often against all odds, do actually heal. Healing is not always physical but in the stories she tells, many actually find peace and physical healing. Exploring the power of mystery of how we heal actually switches on the physical power to heal. “The source of wonder and hope is available to us all at any time.”

If you want to be more up to date visit her Facebook page: Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

One of her presentations asked the questions:

What if the world is not broken?
What if fixing is too small a strategy for making a difference?
What if our power to make change is greater than the sum of our skills, our training, our education, our politics, or even our wealth?

These are great existential questions that can lead us to question the purpose and meaning of our individual lives. Whatever the questions or our path to engage with them, programs that give us a safe place to consider these questions are offered at the Quest for Life Centre on a regular basis. Those of you who have experienced a program may like to make some comments about your experience and what happened to change your view on your own life.

We welcome all contributions.

Wendie Batho

Wendie Batho

Wendie Batho

Wendie has co-facilitated residential programs with Petrea for more than sixteen years. Prior to that Wendie spent over 25 years as a teacher, school principal and was involved in educational leadership and facilitation of school executive groups.

Ten years of this time was spent in PNG where she taught and worked for the government. Wendie has been travelling since the early sixties and is especially attracted to Asian cultures. She holds degrees in Anthropology, Education, Sociology, Theology and Political Science. Her current passions are her grandchildren, travel biographies, exploring Asia, 4×4 driving, reading everything she can get her hands on, and watching movies on the big screen at home.

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The freedom of being in the surf waiting for the next wave

The freedom of being in the surf waiting for the next wave

A childhood friend recently died peacefully, her son, daughter and brother were at her bedside.  She had been suffering physically for more than a year, yet she remained strong mentally and emotionally during this time.

We met when I was 10 and she was 9, and have so many happy memories of growing up together.  Summer holidays at her family holiday home in Bundeena, buying our first surfboards together and enjoying the freedom of being in the surf waiting for the next wave.  Going through puberty and adolescence together, with many funny incidences from that time.  First loves and first breakups shared.

When she married, had children and moved north, we did lose contact for a few years.  However, when her children began University, we reconnected, staying in contact until today.

I farewell a friend who would always be there, who never judged, and had the kindest demeanour of anyone I have ever known.

RIP Sandra, we look forward to reconnecting when it is our turn, and you can show us where the ‘best waves are’.

I share a poem by Rumi, one of my favourite poets:

“you mustn’t be afraid of death
 you’re a deathless soul 
you can’t be kept in a dark grave
 you’re filled with God’s glow
be happy with your beloved 
you can’t find any better 
the world will shimmer
 because of the diamond you hold
when your heart is immersed 
in this blissful love
 you can easily endure
 any bitter face around
in the absence of malice
 there is nothing but 
happiness and good times
 don’t dwell in sorrow my friend”

Translated by Nader Khalili “Rumi, Fountain of Fire“
Cal-Earth Press, 1994

Alexia Miall

Alexia Miall

Alexia Miall

Alexia’s career began in banking and then moved via advertising to a major career change in 1980 to Adult and 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 behavioural and culture change models. She is an Associate of EcoSTEPS, a niche Sustainability consultancy, which supports her love of the natural environment.

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Do you remember what it was like to fall in love?

Do you remember what it was like to fall in love?

Do you remember what it was like to fall in love?

It’s one of the best times in a person’s life.

  • You can’t wait until the next time you are with your loved one
  • You can spend hours on the phone talking about almost anything
  • You experience a new vitality and you have heaps of energy
  • You find your new loved one endlessly fascinating – how they do things differently from you, their history, their aspirations, and their quirky habits are all sources of wonderment
  • Inhibitions melt away
  • Life becomes, engaging, fun and a great adventure
  • Your normal preponderance to judge, criticize and complain see to have evaporated into thin air and there is a new sense of tolerance and acceptance that previously had not existed at all
  • Life is full of optimism and new possibilities
  • You are open to things that previously we would have pulled away from
  • In short, life is good and you are happy

So how come life is so good when you’re falling in love, and less so the rest of the time?   What is it that makes the difference?

The key is in your heart, or to put it more precisely, the key is that you are willing to engage in life with your heart open.

Petrea and the other Quest facilitators talk about our Second Nature (“that’s just who I am.” ) and our First Nature – our authentic self, who we really are.    Our Second Nature, the collection of beliefs, assumptions and attitudes we have developed over time as to who we are and how the world is, tends to based in our head.  Whereas the Authentic Self, our First Nature, is based in the Heart.

The Heart is a fascinating organ – so much more than a pump.   It is where who we really are resides… home of our courage, our passion for life, our love, caring and compassion… indeed all those things that we suddenly can access so richly when our hearts open when we fall in love.

Unfortunately, as we go through life it’s quite normal for our Heart to get wounded along the way, and if we are not careful we will close down access to our heart in self-protection – a wise thing to do when we are around people who may take advantage of an open heart.    However, it’s all too easy to keep that door to our hearts locked shut in self-preservation and the cost is missing out on a life full of heart-felt adventures, warmth and connection.

The great challenge therefore as we continue our lives back into our First Self is to learn how to rest back into our hearts, develop a strong and resilient relationship with our heart, so it can still protect itself when it needs to, but so it can also openly embrace life fully when the threats are not present.

That’s what the purpose of The Compassionate Heart program is all about –  learning how to reconnect back to the Heart, how to drop back into it’s warm embrace and to rediscover that when we do judgement drops away, right/wrong dynamics drop away, acceptance re-asserts itself and all of a sudden we have fallen in love with Life again.

The Compassionate Heart Workshop is a Workshop for those wanting more Heart in their lives.   It is facilitated by StJohn and Alexia Miall being held in Sydney starting on Friday 18th May.   For more information and registrations, go to Hyperlink to Quest Compassionate Heart Webpage.

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This has become a symbol of self-care and self-love for me.

This has become a symbol of self-care and self-love for me.

One of the best things I have learned from Petrea’s inspiring teaching over the years is about how important the ‘little things’ are.

One thing I have implemented since coming to Quest is to put a bud vase next to my bed and choose a new living flower or piece of greenery every week. This has become a symbol of self-care and self-love for me.

When I look at the flower or leaves that I have placed near my bed, I remember that I am worth loving and that I care enough about myself to complete this task on a regular basis.

When the flower is brown and drooping and the water has gone green, it serves as a reminder that I may be overdoing things and gives me pause to consider where I fit in my own list of priorities which is usually a fair way down…

This little thing has added so much to my life. I would love hear about the little things that sustain you and enhance your life.

Much love for now


Margie Braunstein

Margie Braunstein

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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There will always be washing!

There will always be washing!

Thank you to our wonderful program co-ordinator Suzanne, for these lovely reflections.

There will always be washing and washing up but living in a moment is but fleeting.
The treadmill of life sometimes sees us missing the everyday wonders.

My sister at a recent family get together said “I always love to see my 5 year old niece.  She is always so happy”.

I thought about that briefly and reacted “she gets it from me” and took it as a compliment for my parenting skills.  The funny part about it was I kept thinking that is furthest from the truth; I simply do not radiate that zest.  With the busyness of this time of the year I was feeling burnt out.

What was it about my daughter that she smiled all the time?  How was she so happy?  I just watched her wondered.  I really could not take credit here.

Stop the world I want to get off!!

After our guests all left I said to my 5 year old – I am so tired.

She said to me “Well why you don’t just take a little rest”.

My immediate thought was I could not possibly, there was dishes from lunch piled high on the sink, the dishwasher was full, there was a stain on the tablecloth from lunch etc, etc, etc.

She had a point – to look after your instant need – that should have been totally obvious to me as there is always going to be washing and washing up.  Sometimes giving up the little things (washing up for now) will mean something bigger to you.   The more I continued to observe her; it really is about taking your time and allowing yourself to breathe.  We all get caught up in it.   Take a moment to notice a smile, to loose yourself in someone else eyes and to enjoy the magic of laughter.

Washing up and washing will always be there. Look after your spirit and it will look after you.

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