Conversations with Wellbeing Experts

    With winter on our doorstep, it’s the perfect time to direct our attention to looking after ourselves physically and mentally. Luckily, Melbourne’s newest boutique wellness event, Super Bloom Festival, is coming to the Convent on 13 and 14 April, featuring 110+ sessions, 20+ performances and 50+ presenters. Beyond this, the Convent has your wellbeing needs covered all year round with our WellBeing group of highly qualified practitioners.

    We sat down with some of Super Bloom’s presenters, alongside some of the Convent’s WellBeing practitioners featured in the festival, to ask them for their best wellness tips and insights.

    Janine McCarthy, Ortho-Bionomy (Convent-based practitioner)
    See Janine at the Healers Grove at Super Bloom 

    Briefly describe yourself and the work you do.

    I’m an Advanced Practitioner and Instructor of Ortho-Bionomy. It's a gentle, non-forceful form of bodywork developed by Canadian osteopath and martial artist Dr Arthur Lincoln Pauls. I help people recover from pain and stress in muscles, joints, nerves and tissues by supporting them in comfortable positions or movements that create a feeling of ease. We can release pain without causing pain, avoiding deep pressure and instead reminding the body of its natural ability to self-correct. 

    What does wellness mean to you?

    Wellness is being in a state of ease and relaxed presence in body and mind, and being able to return to this state when life pulls you off-balance for a while. 

    What is the one thing you wish people better understood about their health?

    I wish people understood that the adage "no pain, no gain" doesn't have to apply to therapeutic bodywork. When we are trying to heal from pain, the most gain comes from turning up the volume on ease and comfort because it stimulates the body to create more of that. The more ease you feel, the less resistance you hold in your body and the more easily it can find its natural balance, releasing pain and returning to a state of wellbeing.

    What’s your go-to pick-me-up when feeling out of energy?

    When I’m low on energy I either have a nap – so simple and old-fashioned but it works! – or I go out to walk in nature (the local park or the Convent’s gardens and along the Yarra river). My body/mind needs fresh air, daylight and the natural bacterial world as well as the increased blood circulation and oxygenation that movement brings. My thoughts are always calmer afterwards.

    With winter fast approaching in Melbourne, what’s your top tip for keeping well during the change of season?

    Sleep more! Our bodies are in sync with nature more than we realize, so we need to rest more as days get shorter. And have regular Ortho-Bionomy sessions, of course! My colleague Anne-Marie Ezergailis and I swap a treatment every 3-4 weeks. All our body’s systems – immune, digestive, endocrine, circulation, emotional and nervous – function optimally when we get enough rest, and Ortho-Bionomy helps my body do this (as well as napping!).

    Rachelle Unreich, Freelance Journalist
    Presenting at Super Bloom on Saturday 13 April, 10.45am: ‘How Journalism Taught Me Who I Am’ and Sunday 14 April, 1.45pm: ‘Writing It All Down

    Briefly describe yourself and the work you do

    I've been a journalist for nearly 35 years, with my first article published in The Age when I was a teenager. Since then, I've worked and lived in New York, Los Angeles and Sydney, and have written for publications in the US, UK and of course Australia, among others. Although I spent a long time interviewing celebrities – I've done profiles on Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, to name a few – I now freelance from Melbourne, mainly for The Age, Harper's Bazaar and Domain Review.  

    What does wellness mean to you?

    It means different things, the older I get. When I was in my twenties, I had a terrible car accident, and so wellness meant physical wellness – being able to move well and being sporty. Although there's an aspect of that now, my priority is emotional wellness – keeping the dramas of life in perspective and trying to deal with curveballs in the healthiest ways. Right now, wellness means emerging from a long period of grief, since I lost my mother two years ago.

    What is the one thing you wish people better understood about their health?

    I'm certainly no expert, but I do know that the stereotypes of certain mental health challenges don't fit the reality. Once I did an article on depression, and the woman I interviewed said to me, "When my hair is the shiniest, when I have got the biggest smile on my face – that's when I'm probably at the most dangerous low". That was a shock to me, and I've never forgotten it. She went on to tell me that she made more of an effort to look okay when she wasn't, because she wanted to hide what was going on from everyone else.

    What’s your go-to pick-me-up when feeling out of energy?

    Coffee! If I am really, really depleted of energy, I'll meditate. It's something I know I should do more often – I studied transcendental meditation twenty years ago – but I tend to only do it when I really need it.

    Kemi Nekvapil, Personal Coach and Speaker
    Presenting at Super Bloom, Saturday 13 April, 4pm (talk), and Sunday 14 April, 2.45pm (workshop): ‘Leading with Life’s Lessons’ 

    Briefly describe yourself and the work you do

    I am an executive and personal coach, speaker and facilitator. I work with female leaders to unlock the obstacles that prevent value-based leadership and as a facilitator, I design programs and speak for global organisations. I feel deeply honoured to do the work I do.

    What does wellness mean to you?

    Wellness is about the striving to be a ‘well being’, someone who is nourishing themselves consistently and taking time to check in on where they are in life, what works and what doesn’t. It doesn’t need to involve green leafy vegetables, though that helps!

    What is the one thing you wish people better understood about their health?

    This is not my area of expertise but I believe it is all connected, the way we fuel our bodies, our minds, the people we spend time with, the work we do, the creativity we explore, the love we give and receive, it is all connected.

    What’s your go-to pick-me-up when feeling out of energy?

    Anything that involves moving my body, running, yoga, dancing or a good old nap.

    With winter fast approaching in Melbourne, what’s your top tip for keeping well during the change of season?

    I always get into a hot yoga room and I also make a winter music playlist that keeps me warm, toasty and reflective; there has to be some Passenger and Archie Roach in there, with a sprinkle of Lizz Wright.

    Karen McVean, Remedial Massage (Convent-based practitioner)
    Visit Karen at the Healers Grove at Super Bloom  

    Can you briefly describe yourself and the work you do. 

    I made a purposeful life change from librarian to qualified remedial massage therapist six years ago, and joined the Convent’s WellBeing community in 2018. My philosophy is about keeping it simple – merging regular remedial massage techniques with an intuitive approach to tailor a massage experience for each individual. People come with acute and chronic conditions from injuries or stresses sustained from the hurly burly of their everyday life. My intention is that each person I treat leaves feeling relief and feeling better able to enjoy their life.

    What does wellness mean to you?

    I believe wellness is feeling connected; a kind ability to listen and care for yourself; moments of gratitude and inner peace.

    What is the one thing you wish people better understood about their health?

    You are your best asset, treat yourself with kindness and care. I believe we need to develop our ability to deeply listen to our inner self and seek peace of mind, get help, and be teachable.

    What’s your go-to pick-me-up when feeling out of energy?

    Taking a walk in nature, a deep listening body scan, or a few stretches and focused breathing.

    With winter fast approaching in Melbourne, what’s your top tip for keeping well during the change of season?

    Eat vibrant, nutritious food and take some time for your go-to relaxing activity. May you enjoy Melbourne’s delightful autumn season filled with light, fun, colour and the beginning of scarves and beanies.

    Al Jeffery, Community Designer
    Presenting at Super Bloom on Saturday 13 April, 11.45am and Sunday 14 April, 8am: ‘The Art of Human Connection & Cultural Stewardship’ 

    Briefly describe yourself and the work you do

    I am a Community Designer and Presence-Based Leadership Facilitator with a deep curiosity about the role of presence in the ways we live, lead and love. My book, ‘Modern Tribe’ (to be released in early-2020) is the philosophical basis for much of my work regarding connection, stewardship and presence in the modern world.

    What does wellness mean to you?

    Wellness means balance and harmony. For me, I regard all things as relationships on different scales. Whenever there is tension (physically, socially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, ecologically), this might simply mean that a relationship is imbalanced.

    What is the one thing you wish people better understood about their health?

    Much of our healing comes in our ability to accept ourselves as we are. I wish that we had a culture of ‘enoughness’, to give ourselves permission to accept ourselves for who we are. Whilst it is great to have audacious goals, the dissonance between expectation and reality can cause us to feel debilitated.

    What’s your go-to pick-me-up when feeling out of energy?

    For me, movement, dance and journaling always helps. Getting my energy flowing through movement helps shake up any stagnation mentally or physically. I find journaling and getting clear on what my core desires are, my sense of purpose and what is blocking me right now, a great way to build energy emotionally.

    With winter fast approaching in Melbourne, what’s your top tip for keeping well during the change of season?

    Coming into Melbourne’s cooler and darker months, we can also sense something similar happening within. Our attention turning inwards just a little more, that tiny bit more energy required to keep us warm, and it becoming less appealing to go out and connect with others. I find journaling and regular self-reflection helps, alongside regular catch-ups and gatherings with friends. Setting a regular time to connect with a core group of friends can be useful so that you have something to look forward to and avoid isolating yourself.

    Yoko Inoue, Founder, Chef and Owner of Shoku Iku
    Cooking demonstration at Super Bloom on Sunday 14 April, 4pm: ‘Shoku Iku Academy Get Raw: How to Make Delicious Desserts’

    Briefly describe yourself and the work you do

    I am a chef and owner of Shoku Iku, a raw organic food café, and superfoods and super herb online store. We serve healthy, high vibrational foods and unique tonic herbs, and also run regular workshops, classes, themed dinners and more.

    What does wellness mean to you?

    Wellness to me right now is the willingness to listen to my body and soul and welcome the opportunity to nourish different parts of myself and my life.

    What is the one thing you wish people better understood about their health?

    That we are so different. The most important thing is to know yourself. Getting information and help from experts/doctors is good, but at the end of the day you need to be able to be in tune with your body and listen to your intuition.

    What’s your go-to pick-me-up when feeling out of energy?

    Sleep / tonic herbs and other supplements / movement (I love yoga) / meditation / connection with people who inspire me.

    With winter fast approaching in Melbourne, what’s your top tip for keeping well during the change of season?

    To keep your immune system strong, there are a few things that I'd recommend:

    rest/sweat (through movement or sauna), eating healthily (preferably cutting down all refined sugar and processed foods), taking herbs, and exposing yourself to vitamin D.

    Claire Weightman, Clinical Psychologist (Convent-based practitioner)
    Visit Claire at the Healers Grove at Super Bloom

    Can you briefly describe yourself and the work you do.

    I have been a clinical, organisational and community psychologist for 30 years. Ten years were spent in government roles that saw me working in country towns and all major Eastern capitals. Earlier roles were spent supporting children and adults affected by disabilities, needing support. The work I now do as a mind and body integrative wellbeing orientated therapist is about helping reconnect the 'self' to its ideal social and personal contexts for growth, informed by all the practices and evidence I've gleaned and worked with over my career.

    What does wellness mean to you?

    Inner wellness translates to outer wellness! Encouraging wellness means addressing pain, walking uncomfortably for a time rather than blocking it, with hopefulness returning for consolidating the future. Wellness doesn’t allow negative feelings to interrupt one’s innate ability to love, hope, trust or be independent. Emotional and physical needs keep going forward that way. Then you can ‘cope’ and feel well eventually, without fear or over-reliance on outside ‘help’.

    What is the one thing you wish people better understood about their health?

    The competitive or stressed can waste time searching out absented love, socially ‘connecting’ online, but forgetting real laughter, shared conversations, music and creativity. Just dancing together joyfully helps stop ego projecting out hurt and pain. The need for actual human social and community experiences are vital to wellbeing. Over-stimulated, unbalanced, unsettled people may encourage more traumatic aggression in others, damaging gentler, nurturing connective bonding. Human stories told in love and compassion, conversely, calm others.  

    What’s your go-to pick-me-up when feeling low or out of energy?

    Being ‘alive’ means breathing it all in, literally. Natural connection with the ‘life force’ restores and rejuvenates our inner being and person. Being too ‘in our heads’ takes us away from that. I love roving along beaches looking for shells, sticks, flowers and feathers; sitting quietly watching rivers; walking around bush land; sitting and talking with one or two people at a time, or very small groups; watching wild birds, fish and animals. I still miss my ‘soul cat’ who died after about 18 years. Every consciousness is special and unique.

    With winter fast approaching in Melbourne, what’s your top tip for keeping well during the change of season?

    Realise your body interprets cold as naturally needing less movement expenditure. Keep active socially, but also attend to good nutrition, sleep and rest to ward off illness. Slow down, enjoy fire and warmth. Focus on inner warmth in compassion and give more warmth to your kids, or seek out warm pets! Keep human connection in mind with long Melbourne winters indoors. Invite more people over to share long conversations, or visit others more at home.

    Check out the full program of events at Super Bloom on 13 and 14 April, and don't forget to check out the Healers Grove at the festival for 1-on-1 sessions with some of the Convent's Wellbeing practitioners and more. Tickets for Super Bloom are on sale now.