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Yoga Me Well Blog Archive

Well, Well, Well

The End of Zen…?

Well, well, well. . . it’s sadly ironic that complementary health practitioners serving the rapid expansion of the `wellness’ industry are on the cosmic trail to burn out.

Melody Jansz, director of spa industry recruitment agency SpaPeople, watches the Zen sap from their altruistic intention: “It’s not unusual to see candidate resumes that list four to six-month average lengths of employment due to poor pay and burn out”.

Kylie Saunder, a business consultant to the wellbeing industry, conducted an internet poll via Linked In to find that one in two yoga and pilates instructors and personal trainers experience physical and emotional exhaustion.

It doesn’t help, says Saunder, that many wellness professionals are stuck in “poverty mentality”, feeling obliged to heal the world for free, and struggle as micro-business operators with few business skills.

Energy healers (reiki, kinesiology, emotional freedom technique) and physical therapists (massage, yoga, personal training,) are also leaving home-based offices, community centres and parks for higher profile wellness centres, studios, shared shop fronts and gyms, where working conditions are often lacking.

I’ve worked for one corporate-style wellness centre whose altruistic philosophy was as thinly applied as the paper of its promotional brochure. Then there was the massage centre sanctuary whose office manager and therapists were either burning-out or despairing and hollowing with resentment over conditions – high rent and brand-marketing costs, anchored to shifts despite few appointments, working nights, weekends and back-to-back appointments without breaks to make up for slow weeks. A common story, they said.

The reliable churn factor and Medicare subsidies that keep medical clinics viable is no business model to emulate given the “six-minute medicine” and drug prescription-driven GPs it creates (see media report).

Let’s hope the wellness industry finds a better business model before its shining star fizzles to cinders.

Meditation Kids


At Geelong Grammar School, meditation teacher Janet Etty-Leal takes a glass jar filled with water and glitter and shakes it well, creating a chaotic whirlpool of colour. Grade 4s watch as the glitter settles and water clears. “That’s how we feel on the inside sometimes,” she explains, all churned up and messy, but when we meditate, everything becomes still and clear again.

Why on Earth would kids need to meditate? Preventative health, for one: the last national survey of mental health problems among children in 1998 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) showed 14 per cent of adolescents suffered from mental health issues.

Etty-Leal’s students use her techniques to get to sleep, to face the goal posts on a tricky kick or for vaccinations. They say they focus better in class.

To prove the efficacy of her mindful meditation program, Etty-Leal joined with Dr Andrew Joyce, from the Department of Health Sciences at Monash University (and co-authors), to publish a peer-reviewed report on a 10-week mindful meditation pilot program delivered to 10 to 12-year-olds at two Melbourne primary schools.

Children were assessed before and after for behavioural and emotional problems such as hyperactivity, inattention, emotional symptoms, depression and anxiety, and peer relationship issues. Post program, those who fell into borderline or abnormal categories in the forementioned areas showed a significant decrease in those behaviours.

Says Etty-Leal: “. . . they need to learn how to build up mental health . . . basic self awareness skills. A lot of our attention gets taken up with things we have to deal with in the outer world. There’s often a deficit of inner knowing . . . [which] is really an imbalance . . . for children, their cyber self is often stronger than the authentic [inner] self. . .”

Etty-Leal is publishing a book about her program called Meditation Capsules: A Mindfulness Program for Children. Worth a read!

Meditation `Cheats’


If you fall into that category of recalcitrant meditators as I do, here’s hope! On rare moments during meditation, I linger in the empty corridors of my mind, but more often, I wonder who cancelled the cleaners. Clutter everywhere. We can look beyond forcing ourselves to sit in a candle-lit room to access that meditative state. Here are a few that have worked for me: being fully present as I nurse my purring ginger cat; watching the cloudscape shift; close-up observation of flowers and bugs (nice ones); stopping to admire street-side visual vignettes; feeling the pulse on the inside of the body and following it to become aware of 1000 tiny little pulses in the nostrils, toes, belly, behind the eyes…

Wise up


“The difference between somebody who does what they love and someone who doesn’t is that the former identifies their fears and has a strategy to break through them.” Dr John Demartini, The Breakthrough Experience.

Liv Mitchell

Liv Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.