Loneliness The Lone Journey Forward

Loneliness The Lone Journey Forward

Loneliness The Lone Journey Forward Audio Version

by Ponderings Radio

Loneliness The Lone Journey Forward

Words by Montanna Macdonald

The term loneliness is quite often thrown around in daily thought; we have all been there. 

Sometimes you find yourself in a moment of reflection, maybe between your busy schedule or no schedule at all, wishing you had a background ambience, someone to talk to. You may find yourself using a quick fix by turning on the T.V, writing in your journal, playing a podcast or phoning a friend. 

These are all coping strategies we use when we feel alone, but it’s important to point out the difference between feeling alone and loneliness.

Many people enjoy their own company, and moments of solitude can be an important part of our routine. But a disconnection from others and a lack of positive social interaction can have disastrous consequences. 

Loneliness is a normal occurrence that can happen for anyone, but it is more than just turning on some background noise, and you’ll be fine. Loneliness is a mental and physical state that new research shows can lead to concerning health risks. 

Psychology and Neuroscience Professor at Brigham Young University, Julianne Holt-Lunstad believes we are facing a “loneliness epidemic”

Holt-Lunstad academic journal “Advancing social connection as a public health priority in the United States”, provides research indicating that isolation and feeling alone links to an increased risk of premature mortality and a range of disease morbidities. 

Mental illness, as a result of isolation, such as depression, is not a surprising factor of loneliness. Still, the fact that being alone can result in mortality risk is a significant concern.

Individuals relationships and social interactions should be a crucial indicator of determining one’s state of health and wellbeing. Yet loneliness is often looked over, and not spoken about. 

Holt-Lunstads research journal states that the health care system has been “slow to recognise human social relationships as either a health determinant or health risk marker in a manner that is comparable to that of other public health priorities”. 

According to Lifeline, there are common causes of feeling lonely and isolated, such as losing a loved one, lack of close family ties, fear of rejection and lack of purpose or meaning in life. Furthermore, loneliness can result in sleeping problems, lack of energy, diet problems, mental and physical health risks and increased vulnerability to substance use. 

Loneliness spans across all ages of life, but more commonly found in young adults aged 15-25, and elderly aged 75 and above. 

In 2015, a Vic Health survey found that one in eight young people ages 16-25 reported a very high intensity of loneliness. 

Manager of Mental Wellbeing at VicHealth Irene Verins, states “the most effective way to reduce loneliness is to make people feel connected to their community”. 

You must have a support system in place, a tribe of people, to help you combat loneliness. 

If someone you know comes to you in person or online and shows signs of feeling alone, don’t overlook this comment. Make sure you ask if they are OK, and make yourself available for support if you are comfortable to do so, or suggest they connect with family, friends or their doctor. 

And, if you are the one feeling alone, do NOT shy away from reaching out. Sometimes even the most successful, busy and happy people are the most alone. You never know, the person you may reach out to may be feeling the same way as you. 

There are a range of free tools and online programs Vic Health recommend for those who wish to help someone who shows signs of loneliness. 

If there is any way a part I can play in helping tackle loneliness, here is a list of great podcasts to help cope with moments of solitude.

Oprah’s Masterclass: The Podcast 

The Hamish and Andy Show 

Shameless Podcast 

No Filter with Mia Freedman 

Crappy to Happy 

Home Truths 

Mentally Yours 

Table Manners with Jesse Ware 

Hope you have a wonderful day, and hey, after you read this, start up a conversation with someone nearby, send a text, phone a friend you have been meaning to talk to. 

 

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A Nourished Life With Eco Warrior Irene Falcone

A Nourished Life With Eco Warrior Irene Falcone

A Nourished Life With Eco Warrior Irene Falcone

Q&A With Irene Falcone Nourished Life

by Ponderings Radio

When you look up the word motivated, Irene Falcone really needs to be listed. 

The dynamic business woman found a passion and turned it into an empire for healthy living. After suffering from physical symptoms Irene looked at her beauty products and discovered a trove of toxins. Horrified and shocked, Irene started looking for products that DIDN’T contain toxins…it proved to be difficult. The journey began to source products that adhered to a strict code and it only seemed right to share this with the world. Fast forward, and Nourished Life has become one of the most successful online Australian businesses, a unicorn in an industry so very toxic.

 

1) How hard has it been with an emerging competitive eco-market to stay in your lane focused and energised? You really started a platform and opportunity – a unicorn, so now this landscape is changing is it an effort to stay in front mentally and strategically?

Honestly if I ever get stuck, for whatever reason, whether it’s wondering if I should stock a certain product or how I should improve my website, I actually just ask my customers. I have always asked for their opinions and listened because at the end of the day, that’s why I do what I do. I don’t always have the answer or know which direction to go, so I just ask.

2) Did you ever have a gulp moment, and get scared about putting yourself out there, even though you knew it would be successful? If so, how did you move past it and get on with it?

Before I left my corporate job to concentrate on Nourished Life full-time, I was definitely worried about making the leap because it was all such a huge unknown. But at the same time, I knew I was making the right choice. People were following my Facebook page, they were genuinely interested, engaged and wanted more, and I knew I was really onto something. I had a gut feeling and just followed it and never looked back.

3) Do you get excited as technology, nature and science emerge to make personal products more active?

Absolutely, and my goodness, there is some incredibly exciting stuff happening now. There are brands who have literally created their own extraction methods to basically take a plant and put it straight into a bottle, so it’s still full of all the plant’s nutrients. Not only that but there are also massive innovations happening in packaging – compostable and biodegradable packaging, and now we can recycle any other plastic bottles, tubes, almost anything through Terracycle so that they can actually be made into new products like benches, tables and even playground equipment.

4) Is it getting difficult to research companies, and sustainability for natural product – production? Agricultural strain can be an issue with demand, how do you future proof?

Sustainability is incredibly important so I look for products with sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients or materials, usually backed up by certifications and transparent practices. There are some well-established brands who have actually used their own organic plantations and biodynamic farms to grow their ingredients for a long time – they have set an amazing example for the entire natural health and beauty industry, and hopefully even more brands will be able to follow in their footsteps in future.

6) Do you have a quirky habit?

I wake up in the middle of the night and have to get up to check that I’ve turned the oven off… even if I haven’t used it!

7) If you could sum up authenticity in a sentence what would it be?

To me, authenticity is not caring about what everyone else is doing but forging your own path instead.

8) As a kid, what was your favorite play time activity?

Riding my BMX!

9) Do you follow a spiritual practise?

No but I do try to meditate when I remember – it’s a really great way for me to relax, refocus and just be mindful.

10) What is the most important aspect of a Nourished Life team member?

I have a pretty good handle on people’s energy. It’s hard to describe, but I get a gut feeling and I can tell when someone is a perfect fit. I can see their commitment, their passion and their determination and I just know they’re truly dedicated to natural health and beauty.

Irene continues to grow Nourished Life, you can listen to her podcast Talking Clean With Irene  and check out the dynamic platform taking the country by storm and setting the standard for companies Nourished Life. 

We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Indigenous Australian Flag

The Power of Listening

The Power of Listening

The Power of Listening

The Power of Listening

by Wendy Searle

One of my life’s most restorative moments happened in the middle of my biggest heartbreak. My husband had just ended our 15-year relationship and, with no job and three kids, I was staring into a maw of uncertainty.

In this ocean of raging discombobulation, my friend Pip threw me a lifeline. My dear friend’s gift, even better than her chicken soup, was in listening.

Pip listened. She didn’t offer me advice or reassurance. She sat with me, quietly, patiently. If she had somewhere else to go that day, she never let me know. She stayed with me through a long afternoon, into the chill of an April evening. Pip gave me a valuable skill that still serves me well, ten years later. The power of listening without judgement.

I host PodcastOne’s Home Truths podcast where everyday Australians share their extraordinary life stories with me. These quiet heroes tell me of adventures and adversities and of their courage in facing them. They have helped me see that my divorce released me, allowing my own story to evolve unfettered by a relationship that wasn’t working for either of us.

The stories I’m told in Home Truths have struck a chord with listeners, not because of me, but because I offer people the space to be heard. Listeners have told me that it makes them feel as if they have been invited into a private room where an important story from an everyday person is being told.

I use the listening skills Pip gifted to me and which I have used as the foundation for my career. They have allowed me to build authentic connections with others and strip away the veneer that inhibits the growth of trust, the foundation stone in any valuable relationship, personal or professional.

When I sit with another, tune out the noise and turn into the now, it only takes a few minutes to build rapport, to participate in honest communication, whether it’s with a client, colleague, partner or friend.

I want to share with you five skills that I use to listen to build relationships of trust and mutual respect across my life. 

1. Be here now.

By using mindfulness skills, you can set the stage for true engagement. First, remove any obvious distractions. Close the door and silence your phone. Allow enough time. Focus on your breath and relax your shoulders. Deliberately empty your mind of what you have brought with you or awaits you. Pause before speaking and truly look at the other person, meeting their eye. By removing distractions, you will more easily give the other person your full attention peacefully. And you can create a safe communication space to build rapport via Zoom or Skype as well as face-to-face.

I recently arrived in complete disarray for an interview.For HomeTruths, I go to the homes of the people featured in the podcast, which meant driving from Sydney to Newcastle. In school holidays, with three children, who I dropped off at our Airbnb with a bucket of KFC.

2. Show appropriate vulnerability.

I have decided in my life that I will try not to present myself as something I’m not. I don’t always get it right, and I am as guilty as the next person of posting to Facebook holiday photos that show the hour on the boat, not the 10 hours at the airport, but overall I try not to airbrush my life too much.

Time after time, this honesty seems to cut through to build a real connection. And I use this lightly, sharing a small truth without harming anyone else in the telling or making the story my story; it’s more an offering of vulnerability, the first step towards trust. An example of this is the first paragraph of this post, where I tell about my divorce without actually talking about my divorce.

It’s a hard balance to get right, and sometimes I feel that I have exposed too much. And I know that this may feel inappropriate or initially uncomfortable in your professional life, which is why you should show appropriate vulnerability. For example, if you are meeting with someone less senior for a performance appraisal, ask him or her how they are feeling and listen for the answer.

Only respond after truly reflecting on their response. And respond as a person, not some kind of omnipotent other, just because you earn more. Try it. Because how much of your life do you spend in meetings which echo the Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, “People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening?” Isn’t your time more precious than that? (continued page 21)

3. Be calmly attentive.

No matter what is raging outside, any time you have with another one-on-one is a chance to build communication and engagement. Be comfortable and sit appropriately close; don’t be distanced by the width of a desk which establishes a power relationship.

Be open-minded and don’t allow your subconscious to finish the story. You may think you are discreet, but your non-verbal communications will give you away. Let a story unfold at its own pace, and there is no need for you to provide any magical solution.

Two months ago I hosted an event on mens’ mental health with Peter Shmigel, ex-CEO of Lifeline Australia and world champion surfer Tom Carroll. The room was electric with the energy of these two men. Both offered the same hard-won advice on how to help people who are considering self-harm, including suicide, which is the biggest killer of Australian men aged 15 – 44. Pete and Tom told the audience that listening is the best thing we can do.

Without judgement. Without trying to cheer someone up. Just pull up a chair and settle in.

4. Don’t interrupt.

The craft of listening includes accepting that the first step in helping someone is gaining their trust, and listening is the foundation stone on building solutions. We think and speak at different speeds, and to communicate effectively, you have to meet the rhythm of the other person, to find their beat and match it.

When I interview a person for Home Truths, I write two things on my wrist as my crib notes. The first is “ask the question”. This means two things. The first is to keep a question simple and direct, don’t wrap it in a convoluted story, and the second is don’t be afraid to ask big questions.

My second crib note to myself is “shhh”. I never miss an opportunity to say nothing. A pause by someone gives them a chance to reflect and gather their thoughts. You should listen through it.And if you truly want to say something, pause first and consider the purpose of your comment. If it’s to provide clarity or to bring the communication back on track, that’s great.

But wait for the speaker to pause, and tell them you want to understand or paraphrase your understanding. This ensures that you’ve understood the most salient points and lets the other person know that you’ve received and understood their message.

5. Be grateful for the experience.

The story you are hearing is not yours, and there is no need to carry sadness or pain away with you. You can empathise with another, and feel grateful for the experience. But it serves no one if you feel burdened. Focus on the connection built, and if you think the other person needs professional advice or support, absolutely tell them. Their story is not your problem to solve. Listening is the gift you offer.

In Home Truths, I hear stories of people’s experiences that are often extremely challenging, though the stories are ultimately uplifting. I don’t feel traumatised by what I have been told. Rather, I feel grateful that I have been entrusted to share that story forward, and that I am simply a conduit for a story that passes from the teller to the ultimate listener, you, as a member of the public.

My PodcastOne producer, Jen Goggin, was at a conference when another woman sought her out, with tears in her eyes. She told Jen that listening to the stories on Home Truths had helped her on her own journey. Jen spends hours editing each episode. This woman’s praise validated our efforts more than any five-star online review ever could, though we appreciate those as well!

Wendy Searle

Wendy Searle

Journalist and PodcastOne Host

You can find Wendy at HomeTruths  

and on Instagram. 

 

 

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The Concept of Karma

The Concept of Karma

The Concept of Karma

Words by Montanna Macdonald

What goes around comes around, but does it really?

Where does this ideology come from and have we misused it in our Western perception? 

From a young age, many of us are brought up with the concept that we must treat people the way you would like to be treated. This has Christian foundations, based on “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, a biblical concept spoken by Jesus in Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12. There is a Chinese proverb that suggests how you treat the elderly is the way you will be treated when you are old. Even when someone does something untoward and mean to you, often the most common answer is “they will have it coming for them, Karma will bite them back”. 

What goes up, must come down- this idiom originated in the 1800s and came from the physical properties of gravity. If you throw a ball in the air, it will come back down. 

But where does Karma originate from? 

According to Brittanica, Karma, originating from the Sanskrit word Karmas “act”, comes from Indian religion and philosophy. Karma is referred to as the “universal causal laws by which good or bad actions determine the future modes of an individuals existence.” 

Samsara, translation to “flowing around”, is an Indian Philosophy adopted in Buddhism referring to metempsychosis, which in short means the migration of one’s soul after death to another, and being freed from one’s past deeds. Karma, in this sense, is the ethical process of this re-birth, whereby your current actions will determine future activities and situations of re-birth. 

In Indian philosophy, Karma motivates one to live a moral, ethical life and explains the existence of good and bad conceptually. 

The idea of Karma first appears in the oldest Hindu text the Rigveda (before c. 1500 BCE). With a limited meaning of ritual action, Karma continues to hold in the early ritual dominant scriptures, until its philosophical scope is extended in the later Upanishads (c. 800 BCE – 300 BCE).

According to Harvard University, when properly understood, however, Karma is both one’s acts and their consequences—in the world and for oneself. Acts do have effects, and the “law of karma” means that people truly never “get away with” anything. Every action leaves an imprint. The only way to free oneself of the entangling consequences of our actions is to act in the spirit of renunciation. Learning to act energetically, yet without personal or egotistical attachment to the fruits of action, is the challenge of the path to action.

Then when we cross into the science world, we discover an exciting convergence- take Newton’s third law, for example: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

To get more technical; with interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the forces on the second object. 

So, choose what you will, but either way, what you do impacts one way or another. Being mindful of our actions with perceptions in a healthy balance will keep us in good stead (we hope). There can be no doubt of the science of cause and effect. Hmmm. 

Do you believe in the concept of Karma?

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Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti

Journalist

Reading The Play on the Mental Health Crisis

by Ponderings Radio

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

‘Read the Play’ is a mental health awareness and wellbeing program, specifically aimed at kids between the ages of 14 and 16. 

The program is presented at football and netball clubs and fuses fun with education. Games and jigsaw puzzles create a conversation and a safe space where kids can ask important questions.

We sat down with David Langley, chairman of ‘Read the Play’, to talk about the growing mental health crisis, how he created a movement, and what he has learnt along the way.

What is ‘Read the Play’s’ back-story?

As the community director of the Kempe Group, I wanted to change the Kempe sponsorship model and one way of doing this was to create a youth program and through the process ‘Read the Play’ was born, initially teaching kids about alcohol and illicit drugs and it was delivered by parents after an 8 training session with the first program running in 2007.

After running this model for several years, I wasn’t happy with the numbers and parents weren’t comfortable answering questions about topics surrounding mental health. Words like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia were popping up.

 

A new model/program was developed around a games night that would deliver the questions easier. We changed the philosophy to be more about mental health, and professional clinicians were engaged to deliver the program. 

 

The next year we doubled our numbers. We went from around 650 to over a thousand, and then gradually went up to 4,500 kids overall, across Victoria.

 

How successful are the results?

Deakin University is doing a two-year review program. They’ve already done one year. I can’t tell you the results but they indicate we’re making a significant difference. After the second year’s complete, we will have documented proof/evidence that we are making a difference in the communities we work in, which will allow us to present to government for funding. Even though we have great sponsors we require ongoing funding to ensure the stability and viability of the program long-term.

What makes people in business want to support something like this?

It’s for kids. Also, mental health touches 1 in 4 people; it’s everywhere we look. It’s not a hard sell. Some people don’t get it, and I can’t understand that. Mental health issues have touched my family network, maybe that’s the key to getting it. 

I get blown away at times. I get emotional because people are so good, I get angry, because of the people that would rather give money to a club to buy beer which fuels the problems ‘Read the Play’ aims to prevent.

What are the specific components you have learnt about creating a movement like this?

I didn’t realize when I started ‘Read the Play’, how big the problem of mental health was. I think that has staggered me but also been my drive. I’ve realized, we could be helping a lot more kids. So, passion is one component. 

The other is having a great group of dedicated staff and volunteers on board. 

Growth is hard to contain, so we’ve had to change our structure and work out how we can do better.

How do you envision the future of ‘Read the Play’?

‘We’re developing the program for under 17-year-olds, which will focus more on youth suicide and safe partying/driving etc. 

People in Melbourne are interested in what we’re doing and want to run it in their areas. 

Ultimately, my vision is to get to as many places possible across Australia and continue to develop a very professional program. 

I’m chuffed when I look back at the number of stories where we have helped kids. We can’t stop. We need to keep the momentum going.

There were moments during this conversation, where Mr Langley’s eyes would well up. Youth suicide rates continue to sky-rocket, and too many kids suffer from depression or anxiety. Mr Langley and his ‘Read the Play’ team are on a mission to change this. The program’s success is proof that an idea, once put into action, can become a movement that creates phenomenal change. 

 To be a part of the ‘Read the Play’ journey click the link. 

KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800
LIFELINE – 13 11 14
HEADSPACE – 1800 650 890

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Mindfulness: Journey From Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

Mindfulness: Journey From Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

Mindfulness: Journey from Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

by Ponderings Radio

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti

Journalist

Mindfulness: Journey From Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

Are you a master of your mind, or does the thought of mindfulness send you cross-eyed and thought twisted? 

What exactly is mindfulness? Is it enveloping our minds in a eurythmic cocoon of self-awareness and safety? Or is it juicing up the old think tank in a new way? We ponder the medical marvel and its history, while talking with mindfulness expert Dr Craig Hassed, Monash University Professor.

 

The most tragic myth is that mindfulness is easy; you simply sit down, breathe, think, and hum. The truth is, it can be challenging and does not need to be practiced while meditating! Essentially, mindfulness is being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings in the present moment and accepting them without judgement. This can be done at any time; while you eat, walk or even complete chores. Meditation and yoga are merely ways to nurture and expand mindfulness, as it encourages sincere concentration.

Overtime, this ancient religious practice has become the fastest growing health trend in America, with an estimated 200–500 million people meditating worldwide.

Its story begins in the 6th century, when Bodhidharma, an Indian monk known as “The Blue-Eyed Barbarian” arrived in China to teach a special teaching not-written in the scriptures because the teaching is impossible to transmit by words. 

The teaching was Zen, which focuses on achieving enlightenment through meditation.

“What is ultimately behind (Zen), is the annihilation or transcendence of your identity as an individual, and access to non-local, super personal, consciousness,” says Russell Brand, comedian turned human advisor and Luminary Podcaster. There can be no doubt that mindfulness has the power to give anyone a new lease on life.

The 1800s Gold Rush introduced Zen to the western world when Chinese migrants travelled to countries in search of gold. Deep-rooted racism prevented acceptance of Buddhist rituals by the mainstream until, of course, they were whitewashed 100 years later.

Monash University Professor, Dr Craig Hassed, told us, “When the first studies on the benefits of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy came out in 1999, it sparked exponential growth in the research and application of mindfulness.”

Dr Craig Hassed goes as far as to call it “an antidote to the modern world.”

The Monash University professor says, “[mindfulness has] many useful side effects such as reducing stress, enhancing performance, improving mental health, enhancing communication, and fostering prosocial attitudes and emotional intelligence.”

Russell Brand addresses the involvement of modern science in his video, ‘Is Mindfulness a Con’. He says, “the people that came up with meditative techniques, that [modern scientists] are now proving to make your brain waves all groovy and lower your heart rate, already knew [the benefits]. They knew without access to the physicalized technology that demonstrates the efficacy of these techniques.”

In other words, Neuroscience didn’t make meditation ‘better’; it just validated what Buddhists had already known for millennia.

Mindfulness in the western world today, is a hybrid of Zen and the rituals and beliefs of Indian and Chinese Taoism.  The practice has been secularized and become a ‘trendy fad’.

However, the health benefits are irrefutable, and it’s effectively awakening the minds of individuals.

Studies have shown that after meditating for 6–9 months, almost two-thirds of those prone to anxiety manage to reduce their anxiety levels.

Mindfulness has come a long way. From sacred teachings, to medical marvel, to commodity sold by meditation apps and retreats. By acknowledging the origins and its true purpose, mindfulness has the power to create more awakened people.

 

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness, Monash-FutureLearn collaboration is providing a free online mindfulness course. The next one goes live on October 7 and is ranked as one of the world’s top online courses.

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