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Blessed with Life

Blessed with Life

I sometimes feel as though I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. After all, there seems to be so much to worry about.

For example, here are just a few of my incessant worries.

  • Money – will we ever have enough? Will we be safe?
  • My teenagers’ safety – will they come home again when I kiss them goodbye?
  • The state of the world – will we blow ourselves up? Will we run out of water, clean air and clean food?
  • Illness – will I get cancer, heart disease or diabetes?

It goes on and on doesn’t it? It’s enough to give anyone a panic attack!

I have struggled with worry all my life. As a psychotherapist, I have pretty well worked out the psychological roots of my anxiety and as a result, I can choose better responses to situations and I use various strategies to calm my over stimulated nervous system.

This has certainly helped but worry is still present and emerges in my dreams, in arguments with my husband, in ever-present fear and in my relationship with abundance and money.

In my heart of hearts I have always known that there is more to life than worry, which has inspired me to keep seeking ‘solutions’ to ‘problems’.

Thanks to my determination (and to the wisdom and love of my ever patient husband), I think I have found a large piece of the puzzle. Hallelujah! I must be a slow learner but after years of searching, talking, teaching, reading, meditating and praying, I think I understand the following…

Life is a gift

Life as me is really short

Every moment I live is one more blessed moment to delight in and love

Every breath is another gift to be deeply appreciated

There are plenty of people, now passed, who would swap with my circumstances for another moment of this precious wonder – life.

So, I intend to do what I can to address my issues as they arise and then I intend to live each day. Really live, rather than wasting this precious gift looking for quick fixes and lost in thoughts about future catastrophes that may or may not eventuate.

And I wish you the same bright awakening. I expect that there will be days when I do this well and days when I get lost again but I think I have finally found something worth tattooing on my arm…

Blessed with Life

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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Rolling Stones

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need"- Rolling Stones

The other night I was watching a TV show in which the Rolling Stones were performing when they were young men. They were so full of energy. Mick was his usual cheeky / seductive self. Keith had that serious look on his face.  I noticed myself thinking “if only I had a DVD, I could watch them being so young and beautiful any time I wanted”.

I went off into a long daydream about when I would watch the DVD and how great that would feel. I could see myself reliving all my old favourite songs and I could just picture myself rocking to this great band who served as a back drop to my adolescence.  I started thinking about the group of friends I had when I was 16…

Then, in a blinding flash of awareness, I noticed I had missed the last 5 minutes of the program! I realised I was completely missing the experience of actually watching them at that moment, in the present.  I had a good laugh at myself when I noticed what I had been doing…

I did not buy a DVD of the Rolling Stones because I received something much better. The gift of insight. So I blew Mick and the boys a silent kiss of gratitude, put my credit card back in my imaginary wallet and enjoyed what was left of the documentary resolving to keep my busy mind present rather than absent more often. Now I can definitely get some satisfaction that way!

Watching the mind gives us so much information. I wonder, have you ever caught yourself doing something similar?

Much love and satisfaction to all

Margie

 

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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if I could only find the right practice for me, my life would open up and I would find enlightenment

"if I could only find the right practice for me, my life would open up and I would find enlightenment"

I am constantly researching and wanting to simplify my ideas as I have spent years thinking that if I could only find the right practice for me, my life would open up and I would find enlightenment or at least a constant state of peace! Given all the people we talk to on our programs and in our lives, those ideals and similar ones have a lot of followers.

A lot of us are searching for the “right” path to peace. It goes something like this. “if I can only do this, THIS, THIS  and THIS, then THAT will happen.

I don’t know about you but life here on planet earth just doesn’t work like THAT at all.

In fact the opposite usually happens. It seems we all may be trying too hard to get it right.

So here are a few thoughts for your consideration from people who are meant to know something about meditation.

Buddhist meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, says “When I meditate, I don’t really seek anything. I sit. I open myself. I don’t try to do anything. My life is my life and it’s not about changing it. That’s what meditation can do – it can help us find a great space of awareness that allows us to see the dance of life and participate in it without getting so caught up in it.”

What he is saying is that life is one circumstance after another in which to learn. It is the realisation that life is like this that gives us an opportunity to see life as not about success or failure but about experience that we can learn from. Jack Kornfield also says that in the ups and downs of life, there’s a place within us all that is still, wakeful, and compassionate. No matter what happens we can tune into that, rather than allow our mind to dominate the situation and take us in to negative territory.

He says that meditation empowers us to see things clearly and be gracious with the ever changing flow of life.

The message is that believing that if I follow this particular path I won’t suffer. It sets up an exam to try to get it right all the time.

What do you think and what is your experience here?

Sally Kempton, author of Meditation for the Love of It says the first step in loving meditation is to kindle a genuine interest, a relaxed curiosity, about what you’ll find when you turn inside. Sally says to take the attitude of an explorer, meditating to discover the pathways into your own being. She encourages people to take a playful attitude toward their practice instead of being terribly serious about it all. In other words engage the sense of humour and explore our inner selves.

What I like about her approach is our practice needs to be one that helps us to touch into the experience of essence, the inner self, the field of clarity and presence in our heart.

With practice we can return to this place all the time and it becomes more real than our emotions. So our inner self becomes a refuge from our thoughts, emotions and everything really. We are not our minds, we are not our emotions, we are not our bodies, we are consciousness, energy, spirit, however we want to describe it. Having a lightness about our approach and giving ourselves permission to be playful really appeals to me.

Again, what are your responses to Sally Kempton?

Tami Simon from Sounds True says Sally’s book is the best she has read on meditation. And Tami started Sounds True and has listened and read everything on meditation

Finally, Eckhart Tolle, says on his website that “the realm of consciousness is much vaster than thought can grasp. When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are”.

Isn’t that a relief? To find out who we really are requires finding a practice that connects us with our inner being, whatever we want to call it.

Most of us who have followed Eckhart know that the Tolle view of meditation and its ultimate essence is realising the precious spaciousness that is available in every moment.

Tolle says to be really here now requires practice, like any other skill worth learning. Meditation deepens the realisation of our essential nature – the unified consciousness that lives in all things. Meditation gives us freedom from the illusion of separation from the outside world.

The challenge of our time is to reconcile the inner movement towards stillness and being, and the outer toward action and doing.

What he is saying seems to be saying is the universe not only wants outward movement, but it also wants inward movement – the return movement to the One. Every human being also embodies these two movements. It seems that we are torn sometimes between the outward movement into form, and the inward movement to the source where it all started. The Source was never really lost, it is because it is timeless, and it is within us. We feel drawn back to that, and that is the pull toward spirituality, peace, stillness.

Not one or other is right or wrong. It’s only perhaps if we totally lose ourselves in one or the other. Perhaps this is the challenge, to reconcile the two movements, rather than to have them be separate.

I don’t know about you, but I can find something in all three perspectives.

The challenge for all of us is to find what works for us and just practice.

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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Just Choose to!

Just Choose to!

This morning I was at the clothes line with a full basket of my daughter’s wet washing.  I noticed that she was inside watching reruns of ‘How I met your mother’. Next I noticed that the basket seemed to contain every single sock, pair of undies and top with the one sleeve the wrong way out that she owns. I envisaged at least 20 minutes getting it all on the line… and I began to feel resentful. Very resentful.

My mind was going over and over how inconsiderate teenagers are, how hard I work, how little time I have… get the picture? Busy mind caught up in resentment thinking going around and around and around.

At that moment I stopped and somehow I managed to pluck a tiny piece of awareness out of my overworked and resentful brain and I said to myself … “just choose to do it”.

Wow! Like a whack to the head and in an instant, it was like someone turned on the sound!

Birds whizzed past singing, chirping, squawking and generally communicating loudly and joyously with each other in the trees above me and in the distant bush. “Did they just arrive?” I asked myself. I could hear traffic in the distance, smell the clean washing, I noticed my gorgeous puppy at my feet.

I realised that in the moment I chose to be there and I took my attention away from the busy, busy mad monkey mind and arrived in the moment, my attention immediately went to my senses. I noticed and heard the wildlife, felt the cold, wet fabric and smelled the fragrant, native bush. I could feel my fingertips! Plus I was unexpectedly and gratefully filled with inner joy.

I got to thinking …“What else might I choose”?

There are so many things that seem ‘un-choosable’ but I am going to challenge myself to ask the question more often and especially if I notice resentment creeping in.

Have you had any success or insights with this question? I would love to hear your experiences. Until then, wishing you all many happy ‘hanging the washing out’ moments like mine…

Love

Margie

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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‘what is the book this week’ that has changed my life?

‘what is the book this week’ that has changed my life?

The book that changed my life… Is there one important book that changed your life? It is hard to choose one because I could really answer ‘what is the book this week’ that has changed my life? However, if I had to choose just one it would be: Gerald Jampolsky’s ‘Teach only Love’

From the moment I read the title, I thought to myself… “that resonates so deeply with me. I have to read that book!”

The twelve principals of attitudinal healing contained within this wonderful book capture, for me, the essence of my life purpose which is to teach love. For me, there really is no other lesson. Once this lesson is understood, everything else fits neatly into place like a jigsaw piece into a puzzle. To teach love one has to learn about love and this is not a lesson that ends with a certificate or degree. Rather it requires lifelong learning to both learn and to ‘teach only love’…

The Twelve Principles of Attitudinal Healing
1. The essence of being is love.
2. Health is inner peace.
3. Giving and receiving are the same.
4. We can let go of the past and the future.
5. Now is the only time there is.
6. We learn to love ourselves and others by forgiving rather than judging.
7. We can become love-finders rather than faultfinders.
8. We can be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside.
9. We are students and teachers to each other.
10. We can focus on the whole of our lives rather than on the fragments.
11. Because love is eternal, death need not be viewed as fearful.
12. We can always see ourselves and others as extending love or giving a call for help.

Thank you Jerry for your wisdom and generosity… So what is the book that changed your life? Click here to learn more about Jerry’s work

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The Placebo and Nocebo Effect

Continued……Read Part 1 here.

The Placebo and Nocebo Effect

The power of the mind to affect health has been known to the medical community for a long time and goes under the guise of “placebo effect” and the “nocebo effect”. The placebo effect is any beneficial change to a person’s health as a result of their belief in a treatment, irrespective of the efficiency of that treatment. Yet ironically, it is often seen as a nuisance, particularly in clinical trials, rather than a powerful tool. Despite this, it has been observed in many areas of medicine – from mental health, where it was recently estimated that the effect of a large majority of anti-depressants is mainly due to positive patient beliefs  about treatment [2], to  relief of arthritic pain in the knee where a sham surgery resulted in similar levels of pain relief as the real surgery [3]. This is not to say that belief will cure all. Instead it seems that a significant placebo response is generally observed in about 35% of all patients. However, the placebo effect clearly demonstrates the ability of our mind to improve our health and therefore should be an important part to our tool kit to health.

A tool can be used for good or evil. Our mind is a tool and is no exception to this rule. Negative beliefs can be detrimental to our health, in what is termed the “nocebo effect”. There have been several well documented cases to the power of the nocebo. The majority of these cases involve a person in a position of perceived power, such as a medical doctor or spiritual leader, giving a negative message to a patient who then incorporates it into their belief and live out message. One such case was recorded in a cardiac ward at a large catholic hospital in USA, where a cardiologist observed that one of his patients had taken a turn for the worse  and was about to die. A priest was called to administer last rites, but by mistake he went to stable patient next to the dying man. With an impressive air of authority he gave the last rites to the wrong man, who promptly died within 15min. The dying man survived for another 4 days [4].

Those in authority are not solely responsible for our health, as it is our own belief in their prognosis that gives power to the placebo/nocebo. Indeed, research has shown that we have the same ability to cause a placebo or nocebo response with our own health. Chemotherapy has a dreadful reputation and will often make patients feel violently nauseous. However, it seems that those who expected to be sick before starting treatment experienced the worst nausea during treatment[5]. Furthermore, nausea often starts before the treatment is given; a clear sign of nocebo.

In all these situations of placebo and nocebo the only cause was a change in belief, a change in both our unconscious and conscious minds. Indeed, the stronger your belief the greater the effect.

Your mind and Your health

Understanding that our mind has an effect on our body is one thing, but it is our health that is our concern. So what can you do?

Firstly, be aware of the effect that others have on you. Having a doctor telling you that you have 6 months to live may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. If your clinical support is overly negative or didactic, then find other doctors who support you. Similarly, be aware of friends and family and how you feel around them. If you find yourself increasingly negative around them, then try to surround yourself with those that uplift and support you.

Secondly, be aware of your own thoughts and feelings. They can have a huge effect on our physiology. If you are like most of us and your mind is constantly digging up past experiences or painting a horrific future, then do not despair. Instead try a guided meditation or some of the more physical meditative practices like yoga or Chi Gong. These will help quieten your conscious mind so you can direct it towards healthy thoughts.

Remember that the conscious mind trains the subconscious mind, and the subconscious instructs the body. With regular practice you will be able to consciously direct your body towards a healthier path.

May peace, love and health be with you on your journey.
Astley Friend

References:

1.               Ranganathan, V.K., et al., From mental power to muscle power–gaining strength by using the mind. Neuropsychologia, 2004. 42(7): p. 944-56.
2.               Kirsch, I., et al., Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS Med, 2008. 5(2): p. e45.
3.               Moseley, J.B., et al., A controlled trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. N Engl J Med, 2002. 347(2): p. 81-8.
4.               Spiegel, H., Nocebo: the power of suggestibility. Preventive Medicine, 1997. 26(5 Pt 1): p. 616-21.
5.               Colagiuri, B., et al., How do patient expectancies, quality of life, and postchemotherapy nausea interrelate? Cancer, 2008. 113(3): p. 654-61.

Astley Friend

Astley Friend is both a traveller on his own cancer journey and a medical scientist with a keen interest in the relationship between our self, our mind, our body and our health.

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Move the 'C' and Reacting becomes Creating

This writing, from the Positive Thoughts  blog, describes well what it means to move from a Reactive perspective to a Creative one… something that not many adults achieve.

This shift, from Reactive to Creative is central to the Take a Stand for Life Program at Quest for Life which is starting on September 19, 2011. We are currently taking expressions of interest for this program and it will be confirmed once minimum numbers are met. In this program we explore what it means to move from reactive to creative, but more importantly; we explore and practice the skills on how to do it.

When children learn that giving is more rewarding than taking; when they learn that they can’t control everything, but they are masters of their own souls; when they learn to accept people whose difference they fear, and that pleasure is found in the power in helping others; when they learn that the value of one’s life is best measured not by possession acquired, but by wisdom shared, hope inspired, tears wiped, and hearts touched; when they learn that happiness and lasting contentment are not to be found in what a person has, but in what he or she is; when they learn to withhold judgment of people, knowing that everyone is blessed with good and bad qualities; when they learn that every person has been given the gift of a unique self and the purpose of life is to share the very best of that gift with the world. . . . When children learn these ideals, they will no longer be children–they will be blessings to those who know them, and worthy models for all the world’s children.

David L. Weatherford

To exist is to change, to change is to mature,
to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.

Henri Berson

StJohn Miall

StJohn Miall

StJohn Miall is the co-founder of Keep Evolving, an organisation the facilitates Leadership and Personal Development Programs that has it’s focus on the development of Wisdom, authentic Power and Compassion.  His focus is 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, spiritual 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.

Along with his wife Alexia, he facilitates ’Meditate for Life’ and eight week program run in Sydney to learn all about meditation and how to establish a regular meditation practice.   StJohn and Alexia also Facilitate the ‘Take a Stand for Life’residential program held at Bundanoon which is specifically for people looking to further develop their skills for a meaningful and fulfilling life.   You can find out more about StJohn’s activities when he’s not at Quest, by visiting the Keep Evolving website.


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