Susan’s Story

My Spiritual Journey

In the mid 2000’s my son’s primary school welfare officer introduced a short ‘easy ‘exercise program to get the stay at home mums active. Really I was already walking to and from school each day, but I was in a ‘bad’ mental space and taking anti-depressants. Medication kept me like a zombie and I didn’t feel like I was improving much, just going through the motions really. It wasn’t until I went to a dear friend’s funeral and virtually didn’t cry that I knew I had to do something different.

Rita was in her mid 30’s and had just quit her full-time job to start her own business - Mind and Body Focus. She had been involved in the fitness industry for over 20 years, mainly aerobics and high impact exercises until a knee injury forced her to look at alternative therapies. She was using a studio from home and trying to build her business by going out into the suburbs.

Me, I was very skeptical of ‘eastern’ practices, and did not think very highly of any ‘hocus-pocus’ but I was willing to give it a go.

The first class was held in the school’s multipurpose room and I was the thinnest participant! We began by standing in a relaxing pose and gently rolling and stretching our tense necks and upper torsos. We used a ‘chi’ ball and gradually progressed to the floor and continued stretching. We also danced ‘Bollywood’ style and had a lot of fun. Then we had a warm down and short meditation to end the hour.

I had never done meditation before and I was amazed how calm and relaxed I felt even in this short (about 20 minutes) time. So of course I couldn’t wait for the following week to carry on with my ‘therapy ’I continued to attend each week’s class until the all handful of participants dropped off and Rita found the class was not viable with only 2 or 3 of us. Then I commuted to Pascoe Vale, then Glenroy each week to ‘de-stress’ and relax, the classes contained a mixture of practices including qigong, Pilates, yoga, feldenkrais, mindfulness and tapping.

I no longer attend weekly classes but I enjoy an hour and a half meditation each month. I am the resident ‘cook’ and take a plate of bite sized treats to enjoy with a refreshing tea at the end of the session. Each month is different but we have enjoyed fennel, jasmine, peppermint and lemongrass teas to go with our sweet treats. Each new session brings a day-long retreat to pamper yourself or a mid-season ‘mini’ to recharge the batteries.

I have learnt about ‘Chi’, the vital energy and the balance needed to keep healthy and live well. I have learnt about yin and yang, meridians, chakras, seasonal elements and breathing.

I think I am now a calmer person. I have learnt to love with some of my demons. I no longer ‘sit’ on a problem, I ‘let it go’ (or at least I try to!). Rita taught me to live in the now and get rid of any ‘baggage’. This is very hard to achieve when you have a lot, but you need to or it will gradually drag you down. I try to think clearly and practice mindfulness, which is sometimes tricky, and I don’t commit to anything I don’t want to do. It took me a very long time but I learnt to say ‘NO’. It meant looking after ‘me’ for a change because I realized that no one else was going to do it. We all need ‘me’ time and I do not feel selfish at all. The key is balance and making it work for you. To feel renewed take a spiritual holiday. You don’t have to go anywhere except inside yourself and away from the obvious.

Some Mantras to think about
•    One of the simplest ways to stay happy is letting go of the things that make you sad.
•    It’s what you let go of not what you hang onto.
•    The hardest part of letting go is finally realizing that there wasn’t much left to hang onto
•    Change is sometimes difficult to accept but it is always a constant in our lives. Let go of what no longer serves you.

12 Methods for a Positive Relationship
1.    Think, speak, and feel positively about yourself, others and situations around you. Believe in your own worth. Happiness is your decision.
2.    Always visualize yourself and your life the way you want it. Dwell on what you want, then you will gravitate towards that.
3.    Set goals, but remember you need goals not for what they get us but for what they do to us. What you become is more important than what you get.
4.    Throw away the labels you hang on yourself. Don’t place limits on yourself. The biggest limitation is the thought ‘I can’t’.
5.    Slow down. You’ll have fewer accidents and you will avoid hurting yourself and others by accident.
6.    Discipline your mind and intellect. You are in control. You decide what you put in there, you determine what you get back. Knowledge is the essential nourishment for the intellect.
7.    See problems as opportunities to learn. You will continually be faced with great opportunities that disguise themselves as unsolvable problems. You have been designed to solve problems and find new ways of doing things.
8.    Tackle disasters one at a time. Then they are not so disastrous.
9.    Treat yourself well. Make time for yourself as a necessity not an objective. Pause on your past, just like ‘music is the space between the notes’
10.    Surround yourself with good people. People who support you in your efforts to change.
11.    Have an attitude of gratitude. This ensures your attention is on what you want.
12.    Realise how valuable the present moment is. Make the most of every moment.

The above comes from the Y.O.U. Inc "Returning to My New Normal" Panel Discussion (February 2017)

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