It is one o'clock in the morning and time for my first blog on the interweaving of spiritual and therapeutic ideas on healing, drawn from both East and West psychologies and philosophies.
My hope is to use this site to share, develop and swap ideas on healing and spiritual growth, drawing together the wisdoms developed in the West and in the East, the latter particularly from Buddhist philosophy and study of the Mind.
I will be offering you podcasts of audio and video interviews, discussions, forums, ebooks, meditations and the contemplations of my blog.
First, to introduce me.
My voice is primarily shaped by growing up and living in the West - Scotland, England and Australia. But it is also strongly influenced by the last 27 years spent exploring Buddhist spiritual ideas and meditation practices, and receiving teaching on the training and understanding of 'mind': My mind and mind in general.
I started off my career in London, writing copy for a public relations company. My clients ranged from the large North American conglomerate, Hughes Aircraft, that was providing defence systems for NATO, to Le Creuset Cast Iron Kitchenware and the Dutch Dairy Bureau and their cheeses. It was quite a mix and challenged both my promotional and writing skills. But it had some perks! When my first husband and I decided we wanted to sail around the world on a 42 ft yacht, jointly owned with two other couples, the Dutch Dairy Bureau saw a publicity opportunity and donated several large Gouda and Edam cheeses for our voyage.
Never mind that we only got as far as crossing the channel from Northern Ireland - Belfast, to be precise - to the south west, Cornish coast of England before a combination of furious storms and bad luck forced us to change our minds and fly to Australia instead!
I was 23 then. Now, 38 years later, I have three grown up children and my life has been through several transformations, with complete new lifestyles, roles and accompanying uniforms and trappings. Following the broad-based immigration experience, moving from the U.K. to Australia, there has been the experience of living on an ecologically oriented rural community where we all built our own houses on communally shared land. Mine was mud brick and bush poles, with all the materials hand gathered and crafted. Here I combined the mother role with the craft of making clay pots and managing a do-it-yourself-with-no-money hippy role as I looked after two young children and struggled my way through the break-up of my first marriage.
However, I was fortunate - after only a year on my own - to be joined by the handsome basket weaver, Alan, who became my second husband and father to my third child. Alan was also the person who brought the dharma into my life. Indeed, we consider our relationship to be birthed and held by the dharma as Alan made it clear:- if you take me, this spiritual teaching is really important to me and you have to accept that along with me! It was on his first meditation retreat, alone in a remote cabin in the bush, that it became clear to him that he wanted to come and live with me. Fortunately, I was very ready to join him in meditation practice and was strongly attracted to the Buddhist teachings he spoke of and these teachings and practices we learned from various teachers through the years have been the central theme in our lives.
Three years into our relationship, we became aware that my two children - by now aged seven and nine - were showing signs of stress and confusion, caused by the 'push-pull' effect of moving between two households. So we decided to settle them by taking them on an eight month trip around Australia, with us weaving and selling cane baskets and helping them with their distance education packages. The open-air and rich natural environments of the many national parks we camped in as we wove up new supplies of baskets did indeed heal the children and set us up for some good years back in our home-built house where I returned to making pots and Alan to weaving baskets.
But then we grew tired of poverty and scraping together the dollars to replace yet another old fridge that was refusing to work! Suddenly a, to me, unknown side of Alan came to light as he went out and bought a small computer and returned to his old skill of programming. And I was pregnant again and needed a change of career from the dangers that clay dust posed to small children. So I threw my last pot just before my baby daughter was born and started a degree in social work six weeks after her birth!
The four year degree developed into doctoral research and the last seventeen years of counselling people living with life-threatening cancer or mental illness - or working with people just plain struggling to find happiness in their lives! I still do this, but now quite often by phone - as I have moved across Australia and clients and supervisees decided to follow me, over the airways, rather than face to face.
And now, here I am, in the wee hours of the morning, looking for a way to introduce myself and my burning interest in melding the wisdoms of the West's scientific and therapeutic approach to the mind and healing with the Buddhist, subjective, first hand exploration of the mind, interlaced with spiritual, philosophical, ideas on how to achieve health and happiness.
I have researched how people have used meditation as part of their strategy for healing cancer and their lives in general - and my ebook and hard copy book on this will shortly be made available through this website.
My doctoral research took a broader look than my initial research into the effects of meditation. I took my question on what supports healing, and what supports suffering, to a larger group of people living with cancer. I wanted to better understand how the meanings people make of their illness effects how proactive they are in finding and carrying out a healing plan. I also wanted to see and compare the effects - in terms of suffering or wellbeing - of the alternative, holistic healing ideas and strategies they had chosen compared with more mainstream biomedical treatments, carried out by the medical profession. The original edition of this research 'Cancer as Bad Luck or Warning Symbol? Conducted Meanings of Illness and Healing' is available through this website and I shall be using some of the stories and insights discovered 'to create a series of ebooks relevant to alternative approaches to cancer. So I am very interested in hearing from you if you are interested in this.
... And so this brief potted history describes just a few of the beads on my growing necklace of experience.
I look forward to meeting you ...and hearing what you have to say in the comments section of this website.