Archive for May, 2011

Spirituality, Leadership & Management: Wisdom at Work

The vision of contemporary business seldom goes further than competitiveness, power and profits. The upcoming Spirituality, Leadership and Management conference asks, is that enough to serve the long-term interests of our society as a whole or our planet, or even organizations themselves?

How could “Wisdom” – an old world term help us in dealing with situations that are entirely new – globalisation, climate change, the internet, mobile technologies? This conference will explore the emergence of new ideas and approaches to complex issues which modern business face.

A post conference retreat will be held in Central Australia with Frank Ansell . Frank is a traditional Nungkari, or healer, who has been chosen by the elders of his community to share their traditional culture and healing practices with others. The retreat will explore what indigenous culture and its wisdom may have to offer the modern world and its leaders who are seeking different ways to explore answers to the issues our society and workplaces are facing.

The retreat will be supported by Gisela Wendling and Sue Gregory.

Gisela brings a longstanding interest in building bridges of understanding and cultural exchanges between indigenous people and westerners, specifically as it relates to westerners becoming introduced to indigenous spiritual healing traditions. Gisela is a humanistic and transpersonal oriented psychologist, organisation development practitioner working with and in organizations and former university professor. Gisela explores the topic of creating transformative pathways in the Aboriginal culture in her blog: Limina Songlines

Sue has been coaching indigenous leaders and organizations as well as introducing the corporate world to the value of listening to ancient culture for innovative ideas to vexing business problems. Sue is an executive leadership coach and organization transformation specialist. Together, she and Frank provide retreats and programs for leaders to reflect on their practice and gain insights from several days in the desert as they receive healing and coaching. Sue’s coaching and facilitation business operates throughout Australia, and she delivers workshops internationally. Sue provides a context for people to suspend belief and learn from ancient traditions in a way that can lead to new insights for leaders and workplace issues.

If you would like more information on the conference:

Closing the Gap

How could I have been so bold? As I watched the aboriginal healer treating a person with a sore leg something strange happened. I watched my hand stretch out and tap him on the arm. Then the words came out of my mouth “Can I learn from you?” Where did that come from? Normally I would not be forward in such a way – but this was no ordinary moment. What I had watched was extraordinary.

The man’s face had visibly relaxed and the tension of pain had left his face. The Nungkari (aboriginal healer) had held his hand over the knee and with a palpable serenity, had begun singing to that knee. The feeling of letting go and relaxing affected those of us around the expo booth who were watching the event.

As an occupational therapist and qualified therapeutic touch teacher I have been teaching energy healing practises for health and aged care industries (Gregory, 2003, 2004, 2005). The effects of therapeutic touch, complementary energy therapy, are known to include relief of pain, reduction in anxiety and settling of agitation associated with dementia. Over the years I have combined therapeutic touch with occupational therapy in the treatment of clients with burns, arthritis, amputation, depression, dementia, to name a few, and taught the technique to nurses, doctors and health care workers.

Thus I was interested in the expertise of aboriginal healing practices that are 40,000 years or more old. I decided to experience them for myself by receiving regular treatments to gauge the effect. The experience of a one hour treatment left me in a deep state of peace that I have only ever reached towards the end of 3 week long mindfulness retreats. This profundity led to deeper questioning.

Occupational therapy philosophy takes into account the power of social and spiritual beliefs and values to influence recovery, healing, and wellness. So the question that arose for me was “How can occupational therapy work together with traditional aboriginal healing practices to better assist indigenous people? And how could non-indigenous people who appreciate a more holistic view to their health care have the opportunity to benefit as well?”

How could I as an occupational therapist support in some small way the acceptance of these ancient healing skills as a powerful ally that can contribute to modern health care practice? And in doing so support the sustainability of these practices in a culture that is fast losing their traditions?

Working in the capacity of occupational therapist, and an executive leadership and life coach in the NT, I have observed the impact of the western medical system upon on an ancient culture whose views of health and illness are steeped in an interconnectedness of dreamtime, spirituality, aboriginal law and belonging to country, These people have a resilience that has survived since millennia as the longest continuing culture in the world. Their knowledge of bush medicine and ancient healing practices has given them resilience to survive in intense heat, drought and extreme desert conditions. They have developed powers of the mind that western medicine is only beginning to explore.

To a degree, at least in the Northern Territory, Nungkari’s are employed in health clinics to provide healing support for indigenous clients. To a large degree, they work unpaid in their communities and hence have to seek others means of employment. And, thus, an ancient tradition is at risk of being lost. If there were sufficient interest and recognition, could nungkaris to continue their healing practices? Could more for employment be created?

With these questions the idea was born to pilot a service combining life coaching with traditional indigenous healing. Sue Gregory and Frank Ansell have created a unique program of modern occupational therapy stress management and life coaching methodologies complemented by ancient traditions of hands on healing, bush medicines made of local herbs, smoking ceremonies and visits into country of places of stillness and peace.

Our offerings so far have included people coming to Alice Springs for a week of individual coaching and healing sessions; healing and leadership retreats where people camp out on the land; and conference workshops such as the International Coaches Federation Australasia conference.

Our experience has been a closing of the gap. Our clients have responded to this unique approach. They express a greater depth of happiness and inner strength. They feel equipped with powerful self-healing strategies that give them know how to care for their body, mind and their spirit. They describe themselves as more well rounded human “beings’ (not “doings”) who have gained a peaceful approach to life and work that has been transformative as well as life changing.

As two human beings Frank and Sue have both developed a greater understanding of each other’s culture and are continuing to learn. As an occupational therapist and life coach I am humbled by the wisdom and compassion indigenous culture has to offer to modern health care.

This is a journey that we have just begun and one we hope will lead to involving many others – both indigenous and non-indigenous to promote healing on many levels. If you would like to learn more or be a part of what is evolving we are happy to send you a free e-report with more information at

Gregory S & Verdouw J 2005 Therapeutic Touch: Its application for residents of aged care Australian Nurses Journal 12:7 23-25 .
Gregory S 2003 Therapeutic Touch in Aged care (DVD),
Gregory S 2004 Power in your hands (DVD)

Welcome to my blog where I will share insights into how you can energise your self and your workplace through creating passion and drive by learning how to control your mind, change your beliefs, and using your intention and intuition.
- Sue Gregory