Posts Tagged ‘nungkari’

Walking Together

Our Walking Together story began 7 years ago when Frank Ansell, traditional medicine man, and I began working together to offer retreats to introduce Australian indigenous wisdom to the modern world.

In conversation one day, we decided to call our journey Walking Together. It has been our experience of learning to combine the best of both worlds – the skills and strengths of our different cultural backgrounds – to create something greater than either of us could have achieved alone. It has required learning from each other, and to listen deeply for those opportunities for trust, understanding and generousity. Little did I know these experiences of Walking Together would one day reconnect me with my Tasmanian roots and further opportunities to Walk Together.

As a child, I did not know any indigenous people, although at a deeper level, I carried grief related to the atrocities to our first peoples. When we were invited to attend the Bruny Island Indigenous Healing Festival I experienced the power of the Tasmanian men’s dances and ceremony they had revived from historical journals. It helped to heal this grief and led to meeting Sheldon Thomas and Tasman Langford.

Not long after, they visited Alice Springs and spent time with Frank being guided in culture to reconnect with the world they had lost. They also invited me to speak with them at an indigenous conference about my experience at their Festival.

A small profit from our retreats enabled Sheldon to attend our retreat and learn the spiritual and practical aspects of running such an event. A company director on our retreat, offered to support them with business knowledge. Now, Sheldon and Tas have set up Tasmanian indigenous cultural tours Thus, the ripple effect of Walking Together is beginning ever widening circles.

As a simple, grassroots process that has naturally evolved, Walking Together has touched others and ourselves with the greater understanding that we are all one spirit.

Perhaps the ripple effect will touch you also and you will, some time, in the future, come to our retreat

Change your Life: Aboriginal Healing Retreat

In the heart of Australia, magic wraps itself around you. This is the place where the country’s spirit can be felt in the tingle
of warm red sand beneath your feet, and in the flooding of your senses as a trillion stars make you light. It is here that your
mind, your heart and your very soul can open up to discover, or rediscover anew, space, peace and purpose in your life – for
you to heal yourself and learn to help others more effectively through exploring indigenous healing.

Frank Ansell, aboriginal Nungkari or traditional healer, and I are now offering experiences for CEO’s,  teams and individuals, to take time out to discover the effortless flow of well being that nestles in the quiet waterholes. It is a chance  to let go of fatigue, busyness and cluttered living for a few days and experience the power of the desert environment and aboriginal healing to recharge, and refresh the wisdom of the mind and the soul. It is an opportunity to look deeply and rediscover the things that really matter to the heart – family, joy, and a sense of well being. The experience of learning from the aboriginal culture has been life changing for me personally. and together with Frank, we  hope that you can join us on one of our retreats to experience it for yourself.

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)

Wisdom – Common Sense?

On our journey into the desert the other day, Frank Ansell the aboriginal healer, and I did not know where we were going. Instead we stayed aware to the present moment, listening to the rocks, trees and breeze- staying open with the senses, allowing the mind to rest its opinion on where we should be going and what we should be doing.

Thus, in the still moments, arose a feeling to head up a dry, white sandy creek bed columned by miles of river red gums. As we rounded a bend of high cliffs of red granite a strong tingling sensation arose. Looking up, there, glistening in the sun was the diamond spray of fresh spring water hurtling 100 meters over a cliff in the midst of this dry, rocky terrain. We tracked through the scrub to its base, at which was a pool of clear, permanent water.

The stillness was compelling and we sat in silence. We began to reflect on the meaning of wisdom, particularly as Frank and I will be involved in a post conference retreat on aboriginal wisdom for the upcoming Spirituality in Leadership and Management conference “Wisdom at Work.” Download Detailed Program Information: Journey into Aboriginal Wisdom.

Wisdom, (according to water hole philosophy!) is the ability to be totally present in the moment where we are in touch with the multiple energy fields of sensory information of sounds, visual impressions, taste, feeling and touch which are within and around us. If we are unaware of them and stuck in our own thoughts and feelings , we may not be able to pick up on the sensory information around us that is necessary to make a wholesome “common sensory” decision or, put simply, to survive in the desert. When all the senses are alive and awake there is a deep inner knowing – an intuitive body felt sense of what action to take.

Perhaps wisdom indeed is ‘common sense’ – still, clear seeing with all the senses wide open. Rocks, trees and the breeze on dry white sandy riverbeds know about wisdom, and, when we are silent and still, we can learn from them. It is the land that heals us.

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