I am a leading addiction therapist, transformational trainer, and meditation teacher. Former faculty member of Jansens Newman Institute. Former Vice VP @ National Association Drug & Alcohol Counsellors (NSW) Film producer. Magazine editor (MODE-Australia) Photo-journalist. Art-director in longterm (29 years) recovery from process addictions.
My own meditation practice began many years ago, when I met Ravi Shankar. The concert at the now demolished Sydney Stadium was an amazing encounter with spiritual mastery. When interviewed post concert, by the ABC Network the journalist asked Mr Shankar “How do you harmonise so well while performing?” he replied ” We “know” one another – we are continuously “tuning-in” and that is how we create music” – I never forget that statement.
After the concert I asked Ravi Shankar about an AHA moment I experienced while he was performing, he gave me the biggest smile and recommended I read The Bhagavad Gita. and go to India. Later I did go to and live in in India as part of an ongoing journey to love and happiness.
Ravi Shankar sparked my love of Eastern philosophy and mythology. I have meditated with His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe, Dadi Janki, Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, AMMA, and Meher Baba’s mandali.
I went to my first silent retreat in Sydney over 45 years ago and continue this practice using Vipassana meditation. I use BrainWave Entrainment to travel, (I am a phobic flyer) which brings me peace of mind. I recommend Anna Wise for people like me – whose need for creative expression works superbly with meditation.
Meditation engages the mind and body connection, helping us detach at a level deeper than sleep and increases the strength and thickness of the corpus callosum: a thick band of nerve fibres, between the cerebral cortex lobes into left and right hemispheres that connects the left and right sides of the brain hemispheres engendering connection, communication and collaboration between both hemispheres.
The corpus callosum stimulates motor, sensory, and cognitive information is based between the right and left hemisphere of the brain. The Left brain loves the past, and is the executive mind-state (self mastery/emotional intelligence) continuously informing our past in the present. Language, critical thinking, analytical, numerical. The right (now) brain is intuitive and instinctive in the present moment: inspirational, creative,connected-ness, optima problem solving/solution focussed.
Over time meditation increases consciousness. Meditation equates a 90 minute power nap. You become more awake and aware. Consequently are able to hold more things in your awareness because there is less need to be “constantly on” as you are aware that you now switch off, detach and let go.
Different types of meditation affect your body and mind differently. Now and zen meditation trains the mind to look within. Learning how to consciously live
My approach is compassionate, informed by evidence-based research into neurobiology of addiction, depression, trauma and stress in informed by the humanistic principles of Transactional Analysis, Gestalt Psychotherapy, Hypno-psychotherapy, and Tonglen Meditation.
Addiction and or addictive behaviours are composed of the following three elements: obsession or preoccupation, a felt sense of being out of control, and continuation of a behavior despite adverse physical or psychological consequences.
What changed for me ? How did I stop using, acting out destructive behaviours, overcome ambivalence and fear of change, being thriving and living?
October 12, 1988 is my sobriety date. On that day in NYC, a profoundly healing cathartic event occurred – I had been relapsing on a regular basis since my short stay in rehab – six months of daily fresh-hell defined my existence.
The quantum leap from chaos to calm occurred in an intervention with a therapist in long term recovery trained in motivation interviewing, she knew what to do, say and suggest. This encounter was profound. And changed my life. What can happened to me was moment of profound clarity – I realised I suffered from the disease of addiction, and if I did not stop I was going to lose my mind. She suggested I go to a 12step meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous near my apartment – I did and I claimed the chair that had been waiting for me for 17 long years of addiction to valium, vodka and cocaine.
I crossed that invisible line of being a problem drinker to an alcohol dependent drinker when aged 17 I could not recall what happened to me when I left the house to go to a party and the next day. I woke up, in my bed, my fabulous party dress inside out and a terrible sense of foreboding… this mindset would become a familiar morning-after panic in failing to recall what I had said, or done. Those lost hours – gone forever.
Through treatment, family, abundant love faith and an unstoppable commitment to living and thriving sustains my acceptance of what changing what can I can and letting go of self-seeking shortcomings.
The elusive existential aha moment I had been seeking my whole life – feeling safe, loved and protected – consciously living consciously – the power of now in which I experienced being enough, getting my needs met, and most of all feeling quietly happy. Calm. Confident. Compassionate. The difficulty would be hold onto this new found freedom from self obsessed fear -and so began one day at a time, each day a new beginning, new opportunities, challenges and much joy.
NYC 1988, I volunteered @ the Manhattan Centre for Living. A life changing health initiative founded by Marianne Williamson & Louise Hay for AIDS and cancer survivors. Connecting with others in healing communities is wonderfully confronting, challenging and life-changing. Cultivating compassion and fearlessness in the face of uncertainty in the presence of people who personified dignity, grace, and humility in the shadows of death and dying.
When a close, long term recovery friend, Lorna Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer her smile lit-up the universe when I gifted her a bold red Chanel Lipstick, and a bright pink scarf to wear to her chemo sessions, and support through the brutal stages of post-op mastectomy: the ravages of chemotherapy.
Feeling negative, promotes a downward spiral into victimisation, Addiction is isolation, disconnection and alienation from our family, peers and community. Recovery is being in community. Surrendering the negativity on a daily basis is rejecting whatever gets in the way of feeling love, happiness and gratitude. So Hum – I am one with the Universe.
Surrender can be considered as counterintuitive to success, wrongly associated with losing face, weakness, and defeat. Surrender is success. Surrender encourages us to become more patient, poised and present. Disrupting a “hurry-up – life script/agenda” enables us to change self-sabotaging habits.
“When you are in the state of surrender, you will reject anything that comes between you and your relationship with God. ” Tommy Rosen founder of 2.0 Recovery. Addiction recovery is sustainable when we continue to practice the art of insight meditation, training the mind to go within. We are social beings, hardwired to connect. In order to thrive we need contact, communication and connection for optimal brain development.
Dr. Gabor Maté observes an extremely high rate of childhood trauma, abuse and neglect in the addicts he works with. The absence of consistent love, compassion, encouragement, instilled in children that the world is an unsafe place. He asserts that it is extremely common for people with addictions to have a reduced capacity for dealing with emotional distress, hence an increased risk of drug-dependence.
Disconnection triggers addictive behaviours: obsession, compulsivity, acting out, dark-net digital dependency, substance/alcohol abuse, eroticised rage, manifest disconnection from reality.
Digital addiction can affect the quality of sleep, too little sleep disrupts the body’s ability to digest, renew and restore itself. When we sit in front of our computers, without taking a break to eat, we are not only not digesting our food, habitually needing the quick-fix preference of processed (carbs) food: sugar, fat and salt. Stress-eating occurs as a result of feeling vulnerable, reaching impulsively for food is a coping mechanism for people who process emotion through their gut and not their mind.
Resetting the brain, rebalancing the emotional, physical and spiritual mind and body connection. Bridging the gap between cause and affect.When we are aware, our perception of the present moment isn’t automatically distorted and or disconnected from reality. I think we can all agree that agree that an emotionally intelligent mindset consisting of awareness, attention and engagement in the present moment is challenging in the beginning to access and over time the awareness muscle is more readily available when relationship ruptures occur in the immediacy of daily life that have the potency to derail us, cause stress and fearful projections of failing.
Self-awareness is a potent. Like a muscle – if you do not use it, you lose it. Become curious. Become present.Self-acceptance is learning to love divergent existence. An engaged mind, body soul is connected to all that is with detachment, and discernment. Focussing on one task at a time – being our best is doing our best.
Mindfulness is a skill-set that time and practice to develop. Mindfulness is being focussed, continuously creating intentionality. Mindfulness is being compassionate. Mindfulness is participating fully. Mindfulness is being non-judgemental.
I recommend do what I do to destress distress: as well as intermittent fasting, eating 80% plant based food, meditation, yoga and walking – I love my family, and friend because I have the opportunity to be the best me throughout the day.
Highly stressed people are over stimulated, “have too many windows open” and no mechanisms to ‘switch-off. ” Stimulus saturation impacts mental health-wellbeing. Seeking intensity disconnection from our essential being and from others. The space between reacting and responding: being in the gap exponentially grows through regular meditation. Committing to daily a restorative meditation practice transform stress into strength of mind and body. experience emotional balance.
Hope. Healthy coping skills. Balancing stressors. Shift in focus and purpose from self-limiting fear-based thinking to creating intentions in the immediacy of daily life.
Awareness of shifting attention between the conscious and unconscious minds and the outer world.The easiest way to understand mindfulness experimentally is the focus all of your attention on your thoughts, feelings, and actions as they occur.
Self-awareness can be practiced by actively observing yourself when communicating with others. This includes your reactions to verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, and the way those reactions influence your responses. This type of awareness also contributes to being able to self-regulate our thoughts feeling and actions.
Lets talk about the impact of work related addiction and mental health problems: Anxiety, Sleep Deprivation, Adrenal Fatigue, Addiction, Compromised Nutrition Syndrome, Anxiety and Depression.
Work related stress is proving to be highly detrimental: personally, professionally and productively. Mindfulness stress reduction retrain the mind/body connection, enhances congruence, cognitive performance, and interpersonal relationships.
Considering how much time we spend on tasks – learning how to be energy efficient with our body, thinking, feeling behaviours is what is available when we commit to a mindfulness meditation practice. You can’t have one without the other. Both mind states strive for unity – this is a way of life that has numerous benefits. Breath-work (pranayama) is the centre piece of meditation and mindfulness. Learning how to breathe differently requires conscious commitment to bring the breath back to centre, realign the physical body. Every time you bring the mind back from drifting , you’re building the muscle of concentration and commitment. The mind wanders off and you bring it back to the breath, again and again. Through repetition you build concentration.
Anxiety triggers shallow breathing. Mindfulness Stress management tools: Breathe. Pause. reflect. Respond helps destress the mind/body connection when unresolved trauma is triggered in the present moment. Renowned trauma expert Dr. Besel vand Der Kolk author The Body Keeps Score – Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma states trauma is a fact of life. He has spent over three decades studying trauma. and transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specially areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust.
He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments: breath-work, holistic therapies, mindfulness techniques, meditation, yoga, and nutrition. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy—and a way to reclaim lives.
Stress impacts conditioned thinking: i.e. when a person experiences a threat to their survival. The limbic brain demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise.” In other words, stress is something we experience when we face a situation and our ability to cope is challenged. We feel we’ve lost control of events.
To find out how mindful you are think about your journey to work today. If you were driving were you “mindful” of distractions from the past…and not focussed on the traffic, pedestrians, etc.. on auto-pilot.
Involves being the observer of your experiences and encounters. Connected. For people with stress, depression, addiction and anxiety it is challenging to NOT be habitually constantly over thinking. Obsessive thinking is seeking certainty.
Is pausing to reflect…then respond. When we reject our thoughts, suppress our needs and wants we are sending others the same message. Often others needs to be seen and heard…however autopilot functioning is waiting to interrupt, talk over etc..realy listening and responding.
Silencing the inner critic – people pickup on being judged, and will disconnect, withdraw and assume a defensive stance. Our mirror neurons are reflecting back to one another how we feel, and what we home others will not detect …so identify fear in your language with others – we choose to personify healthy ways of interacting with others: fear or love?
Cultivating Kindness – positive mental states…we breathe approximately 20,000 time a day. Learning how to breathe in a way that fully opens up the torso is fabulous for an instant vitality burst. Whenever you observe feeling increasingly stressed you can in the present moment you can change how you feel and think. The technique to cease ruminating on the past, or projecting into the future is by focussing on your breath. Remember it takes time, patience and practice to breathe efficiently.
For those of us who live consciously conscious – our faces reflect our inner calmness, acceptance and happiness. I once shut down a discussion about “what is beauty?” by saying the happiest, most beautiful people I know are deeply spiritual, intelligent, compassionate positive people.
Harvard Medical School (2013) study revealed people who meditate daily are happier, live longer, maintain healthy relationships, and have longer telomeres – shortened telomeres are linked to accelerated ageing.
Now and Zen: Daily decompress with a 15-minute guided meditation. I have guided meditations or podcasts on all my digital devices. Perfect for longer distance train or bus travel.
I begin each day with breath work insight meditation in my favourite ego-surrendering salutation-yoga posture: Child Pose. The mind graciously bowing down to the heart. Easing into the stillness anchors me in setting a mindful intention. The benefits are that throughout the day I can bring my mind back to my intention…helps keep me centred, focussed and present.
Raise awareness, inspire change by regularly checking in with where you are holding onto stress in the body. Frowning. Tightened lips etc are instantly distressed by breathing. good breath practice is regularly checking in with YOU…. breathing in deeper, counting up to 10 and down again…for 10 to 15 minutes to revitalise the mind and body.
Allow your breath to find its own rhythm.. slower, easier, visualise sending your breath to that area on your inhalation. Imagine a knot loosening as you exhale. Repeat this cycle with each inhalation and exhalation. Do a body scan for 10 to 15 minutes. Find a comfortable seat or lie down. Close your eyes and breathe, hold the breath for a few seconds, release, and repeat. First, focus your attention on your feet. Notice any tension, pain, or stress. Take deep, slow breaths helps you you focus your awareness on any area of your body that feels tight, and or stressed. As if you are scanning your body with light, move your attention slowly upward.
Bring your awareness to how each part of your body feels as you continue to slow your breathing, from the top of head, the back and sides of your head, your neck and shoulders – particularly when we are sitting at the computer, or in the car/train or plane for long periods of time…I was taught at a very young age the importance of good posture.
Robust digestion: compassionate nutrition means we have a healthy relationship with food, from planning, prepping to making whatever it is we are eating look gorgeous. I love beauty, grace and elegance. We eat with our eyes, my nature is that whatever I am doing: “Let the beauty we love be what we do.”
There are so many ways too reduce stress. Proven to bring instant relief is a mind/ body realignment technique that returns me to a state of happiness in the moment. Pause. Breathe. Straighten my back. Open my torso and instantly be connected, restored and renewed.
Want to look and feel younger, stronger and have abundant energy. Change your breathing. Stress ages our bodies, as does pollution, too much sun, smoking, sugar processed foods and an absence of insight mediation.
Our breath instantly detoxifies us. Releases any tightness and toxins which left unattended to impacts the quality of sleep, and our bodies natural ability to self-regulate. Breathing increases the flow of energy.
We can go without food for 40 days – and without water for three days. When our breath is impacted by sudden onset illness or an accident we have a few minute window in which to get help and even less if we are flying and the plane loses air pressure. Which is why it is always recommend putting on your oxygen mask first, then help your loved ones…
Meditation and mindfulness breath work focus upon the activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which brings us into a safe. comfortable calm relaxed state and soothes the overly stimulated sympathetic nervous system fight or flight mechanisms.
Just remember you can do this. You can heal your life. One breath at a time. One day at time. It is a universal truth that when we are happy we attract happiness into our lives. I create my reality. Love life and it loves you back.
The benefits of the powerful disciplines I found in meditation from that life changing moment of clarity – continue to support my long term recovery. Being in community. Being seen and heard. Having purpose and poise.
Addiction kills people on a daily basis – Many succumb to the impact of trauma and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Surviving in isolation is true hardship.
I founded ADDICTION AWARENESS in 2009 to educate, train and facilitate workshops in complex addiction, prevention and interventions. I have worked in the voluntary and private sectors since 1988 as an trauma informed Holistic Practitioner. I am a Broadcaster. Former Magazine Editor (Mode, Australia) Film/Video Producer and Author.
What do I specialise in?
Prevention. Intervention. Trauma informed interventions. I specialise in holistic psychotherapy that places at its focal point the importance of having the spectrum of feelings known, understood, and held. Sessions explore the ways in which the space between practitioner and client is used as a generative healing realm.
Personal growth is evolving in the stages of recovery from active addiction into a life of wellness. What happens after recovery is accomplished can make the difference for anyone. Recovery is a solid first stepping stone. The next steps are the ones that truly transform it into a well-lived life.
How do I help clients to work on their individual recovery ?
My aim whenever I see a new client is to really try to understand their individual narrative before devising any sort of treatment, I understand the attention to lived experiences is beneficial – simply applying a ‘one-size-fits-all’ guideline is very unlikely to be an effective strategy for long term success.
There is far more to being successful in life than the pursuit of the two traditional metrics of success: the unbridled pursuit of power and money. The global existential crisis in humanity is in the disconnection experienced within ourselves, our family and peers.
Two additional elements that may or may not be present are tolerance (progressively needing more of the object of addiction in order to get the same effect) and withdrawal symptoms.
What addictive behaviours suggests is that what constitutes an addiction has more to do with how the object of addiction impacts a person’s life than it does with the quantity of that object consumed or experienced.
Drawing on evidence based research and scientific findings in the fields of neuro-psychology, self mastery’s profoundly transformational elements identifies the psychological, biological, and social currents that contribute to anxiety, depression, addictive disorders and stress-related illness
I want to teach you how to reconnect to altered mind states and personality traits of consciously living consciously. Stilling the mind is the daily practice of one of two recommended styles of meditation: Engaged one on one silent meditation or Entrained music meditation via headphones. Enriching the universality is being in community – we are ONE.
In the immediacy of every passing moment is the opportunity to pause, reflect and approach the person, event or problem from an open and honest perspective… Self mastery is living life with a daily commitment to doing your best, being your best and letting go the need to know an outcome – expectations are premeditated resentments. I alone create my reality.
While science has done a superb job of mapping the cosmos, mapping the Earth, and mapping the genome, it has not yet created a comprehensive map of perhaps the most important terrain of all: our minds. Over thousands of years, the contemplative traditions have confronted the same challenges in charting the underpinnings of human suffering and what constrains us.
Addiction recovery is a self-renewing continuum of transformative disciplines, Anchored in personal integrity, effortless self-compassion is connecting with WHAT IS happening in the present moment, without fear, and with the permission, potency and protection of your essential being.
Thriving is the ability to directly experience the truth of our lives with a minimum of agitation, distraction, fear of uncertainty and doubt. All somatic therapies begin with the breath. Bringing the attention back to breath…continuously engenders a return to calmness.
The end of suffering: Long-term recovery translates to thriving,comfortable with uncertainty, trust in the process, in flow is transcending negative thinking, fear and doubt. I take many leaps of faith throughout the day…
Meditation disciplines and actions transform fear and doubt into faith and action – It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of addiction that silences intrusive negative thinking.
“You can heal your life”