Connecting to Transition Streets in Geelong ~ Episode 54 ~ My Conversation with Monica Winston

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Connecting to Transition Streets In Geelong

Mark [0:00] Welcome to the Heart of Connection Podcast. I’m your host, Mark Randall and I’d like to introduce Monica Winston. She is the coordinator of transition streets in Geelong. She was originally a founding member of Geelong Sustainability in 2007. From there went through to coordinate the transition streets in Geelong, which is part of the global transition movement started in the UK. Monica holds deep concerns, trying to help the world transition by starting locally, to not just survive, but to thrive. I’d like to welcome Monica to the Heart of Connection podcast. Welcome, Monica.

Monica [0:39] Thank you, Mark.

Mark [0:40] Monica, just by way of introduction, is there anything that I missed in your wonderful introduction?

Connection to Permaculture ~ my pivot point

Monica [0:46] There are lots of bits and pieces as I’ve have done permaculture training, which has been quite pivotal. The transition movement grew out of a permaculture course that started in their Kinsale in Ireland, actually. In 2005 Rob Hopkins and his students at the Kinsdale Further Education College created the Kinsdale energy descent plan for the whole town. It then crystallized into what became a transition town in Taunton is in the UK. So understanding the principles and ethics behind permaculture, and what’s possible in terms of designing our lives at every level. One of the pivotal things that I did was permaculture training. I’d always been interested in permaculture since I was introduced to it in the 1980s. I didn’t really understand what it was all about. What I love about it is the three ethics and a number of principles that guide design. Whether it’s designing in a garden or a farm or financial systems or community systems. It’s the best thing I found for guiding that process.

Mark [1:56] It’s really interesting, isn’t it watching the movement. Our parents and their parents always had gardens and homegrown vegetables and looked after the soil. Whereas, now after years of industrialized society, we’ve moved away, but when they’re coming back. There is a need to come back to what our parents and their parents used to do, what was natural?

Our family pre and post-war migration

Monica [2:22] Yeah, well, in the main, that’s true. However, my parents were pre and post-war migrants. So they actually – well my father, he didn’t get the chance to do any of that. He left Europe, you know, as a child, and had a very fractured sort of growing up period. When you look back, a lot of that is to do with resources and grab for resources, competition, and economics. It’s interesting when you look behind a lot of the social unrest, it’s often about resources. I like the idea of it was one generation back for me with my grandparents, having had that experience.

Mark [3:20] In terms of connection to yourself – the conversation of Heart of Connection podcast ~ connection to self, others and ‘All That Is.’ What happens for you, when you reflect on that conversation? Where does it take Monica? What happens to her?

Connection to my Awakening Network Community

Monica [3:35] Well, I’ve spent many years connected to or as part of a community called the Awakening Network. The teachings there are not unique to that group. The founders have pieced together a whole lot of things that they found really useful. One of them is this is the idea that the world is a mirror of ourselves. Which at times can be delightful, and other times very challenging. What it does – is it very empowering, really, because once people learn the tools to reclaim that projection, it creates more wholeness, because we’re all connected. If we do our own work, it’s one of the most powerful things that we do. If we don’t, and we continue to be an activist and it’s them and us and that sort of thing, which I have fallen into a lot. I wouldn’t say even in the recent past, I had some of that going on. We can actually strengthen the polarity of the “them and us” and stop the problem from being solved. So it’s really important, we do that.

Noticing my Disconnection(s)

Mark [5:01] When it becomes a connection to ‘them and us’ – what happens? What do you experience happens to the connection to yourself?

Monica [5:12] Yeah, well, it’s a disconnection internally. So being whole doesn’t mean liking everything that pops up. Having and understanding the process and having tools to deal with it, and also not having a, necessarily a judgment against it. Although really, whatever comes up in that process is part of the process to and they can be thoughts or feelings or sensations or memories, or even judgments. If I really – in this seven-day silence meditation workshop that has just come back from a couple of days ago. There’s a series of processes and each day you add another one. So there’s noticing and then accepting. In order to accept what we notice, it doesn’t mean we have to like it. It does allow the unfolding of the experience. That allows us to experience it fully if we’re willing. Then grounding, which is about sensory awareness internally and externally. Then a centering process, and then cherishing process, and then using a mantra that a lot of us have been initiated into. So merely by allowing something that we notice is going on, and accepting it and then really opening up to it. We can release things that have been deeply held for many years, in a fairly short space of time.

My Grounding & Centering Connection

Mark [6:57] When you open up to it, do you notice it heal? Does it help assist the healing of what’s coming up?

Monica [7:04] Definitely you can’t. I mean all of us have got things that we’ve stored away. Most people have had stuff happen at a time in their life. Or at an age where they were, they didn’t have the tools to deal with it.

Mark [7:20] We’ve all got issues (laughter)!

Monica [7:21] Issues, baggage, I’ve got no baggage (laughter).

Mark [7:28] I’ll just protect all my baggage onto the earth.

Monica [7:30] That’s normal. That’s right.

Connecting & Noticing our polarity

Monica [7:35] Then again, it’s not going the other way of making ourselves so not okay, because we’ve got all the problems. Each one is a polarity. The thing is, yes, these things to deal with. It’s interesting what arises for example on one of the days, I was going for a walk in his countryside, where there a retreat was. I justice notice I didn’t like the countryside. So I noticed that. Instead of shutting that down, which I’d normally do and think no – you should like it, its nature, and everybody else is enjoying it and all the rest of it-it’s Australia. I thought, no I’ll just open up to that. So I noticed I didn’t want to really connect with it and I didn’t particularly like it. Then I accepted that even though I didn’t like accepting it either. Then what happened was very interesting. So I allowed the experience of it to really fill me. What came into my memory was going to Europe where my parents are from. It was another part of Europe, Austria when I was a child. We went through Germany and Austria, and we went through the beautiful countryside on a train. There were all these beautiful European, what are they, fir trees or whatever. I think somehow, that’s just in my system, from my heritage. I yearned for that and so that opened me up to the time when I was a child at a time when I was actually had been quite happy. Then I noticed these little white flowers and I immediately thought of that song from Sound of Music, Edelweiss. It just brought a real beauty and then as I went through the process with it, the whole thing just dissolved. I was disconnected from my own past and that time, and so the connection can happen in time, not just in-in this time,

Mark [9:38] As you’re working through that were you then able to if I am sensing it whether – I’m it seemed that you are connecting to connecting back to your childhood.

Connecting to our Light & Dark of Healing

Mark [9:51] Through not liking that space that you’re sitting in, at that point in time. Exactly. So underneath the adversity, some reaction there was a deeper part that you were able to connect to?

Monica [10:03] Yeah, so often, in a well-meaning way. A lot of spiritual teachers or meditation teachers, or, there’s sort of memes on Facebook or whatever. So focus on the beauty and the light and be grateful. Really sometimes it’s about going into those dark spaces and really allowing it – that the real healing takes place.

Mark [10:29] When you reach that point of connection to yourself, what do you notice happens to you and your experience when you connect yourself – to your connection to others?

Connecting to more my Compassion & Open Heart

Monica [10:44] Well, I just become more available, a more compassionate.

Mark [10:49] Are you more open-hearted?

Monica [10:51] Yeah, definitely. I mean, that’s a choice too. It’s our choice, what we decided to focus on, and where we decided to centre and what we do. So, once that experience sort of filled my awareness, I then went to grounding, which is a way to really release ourselves from whatever’s popped up. That is really all about connecting internally using all my senses as much as I can and to the external. That can be simultaneous or it can be alternating those two, and then deciding to cherish whatever arises as well. So, there’s a Buddhist saying, ‘May I have love or may you have love, may you be happy,’ that kind of thing. The love and I can even intensify that by putting my hand on my heart and so, the more I’m able to be there for myself, the more I’m available to others.

Mark [12:14] Do you notice the energy change internally – to increase the flow of the energy within yourself? When you when you hit that space?

Connecting to my feeling of Transparency

Monica [12:26] Yes, although, sometimes the end result is a feeling of transparency, that there’s nothing going on because of actually dissolve and digested. This is another thing, which I think is very valuable through the path that I’ve been traveling. It is not about getting rid of things, there’s life energy bound up in these things. When we actually digest them, that life energy becomes available to us, instead of just – I want that gone from my system.

Mark [12:58] Can you describe what that life energy is like for Monica when she touches into it and releases and connects it? What is the energy like for Monica?

The Energy of Aliveness and Freedom Within

Monica [13:13] Well, sometimes in the process of the digesting I experience the energy moving. I tend to feel the energy. I am working on opening up to experiencing it through all my senses like some people hear energy or see it. For me, it’s often like rain inside, moving. So it can be moving up my body, through my head down through my arms or more my legs. How I understand it, that’s the digesting process and often when that’s been done, there’s just this nothing, there – it’s clarity.

Mark [14:06] Is there an aliveness in that clarity – in that nothingness? An aliveness, freedom, what or how would you describe it?

Monica [14:14] Oh, definitely. There’s much more of me to be present.

Monica [14:22] Yeah, and then if I focus on and I would still do the grounding and be heart-centered in whatever way I used to do that.

Mark [14:37] Are you buzzing when you’re in that clarity, and you’re wanting to just give that gift out to everybody else, and the world. Is that an experience?

Connection to there being no boundary

Monica [14:46] I often just experienced there being no boundary between me and other things.

Mark [14:53] The “All That Is?

Monica [14:56] I think I’ve got to talk about just what I know. I love the idea of some incredible experiences that people have talked about. I haven’t personally had a lot of them. So I can only talk about what I know if you talk to me in a year it might be different depending on how much I’ve practiced.

Mark [15:19] As you connect to that, can you share what is the experience? So far, what are the experiences to the ‘All That Is’ – is there a universal connection to you, the earth, greater than the Earth? Is it transformative?

My Transformative Connection of pure Awareness

Monica [15:39] Definitely transformative and it’s just like being so pure awareness I think. People have it in all sorts of ways. There is a saying that I’ve heard someone’s describing to their spiritual teacher all these amazing experiences they’ve had. After they’ve finished, the teacher says, don’t worry you’ll get over it. (Laughter) because it’s not about all the bells and whistles. is that you that’s the joy and rapture.

Mark [16:16] That’s the joy and rapture and it’s something else to let go of. Jack Kornfield describes he was with his teacher in Thailand. Then he went over to Burma for a few months and Jack was meditating something like 18 hours a day. He had rapturous experiences came back in told his teacher and his teacher, said, “that’s great Jack, that’s something else for you to let go, everything’s of impermanence.”

Mark [16:46] When you’re connecting to others, what do you notice happens to you when you’re in that beautiful space? You’ve dissolved it, digested it and you’ve got that clarity? Do you notice a difference with your connection to others? Is there different energy, a different felt sense? Are you more attuned to the mirror neurons working? What are you picking up?

Connecting to Pure Love for Another

Monica [17:13] Yeah, well at its best, I experienced just pure love for another. As I said, just no real barrier between us just-just this…

Mark [17:36] Is it like a oneness?

Monica [17:37] Yeah, it’s like oneness and whatever is coming back is for me too. I don’t want to sound like on some saint, because I still have a lot of other things that pop up.

Mark [17:53] My experience of oneness is we might hold that oneness for a little while, and then it just some humanoid might a trigger something. I then notice, I’m out of that oneness in reaction to that person and I might overreact. Then I’m definitely when I’m overreacting out of that Oneness. I’d be just curious, in that oneness and that love, how would Mother Earth respond if more of us humans start to awaken to that oneness? Then give out that natural energy that flows from us when we are in that space?

Monica [18:33] I’d actually like to step back a minute to what you said in the end to that previous comment. , because I think that’s really that’s where

Noticing the real gems of vulnerability underneath our reactions

Monica [18:40] I think that’s where the real gems are. When you have that overreaction, it comes out of something. I think people think it’s just a character flaw, it’s my ego or something, but really go into that there’s even more freedom lying on the other side. It can sometimes surprise us what-what we’ve been holding and because a lot of our parenting is, I guess punishment for showing undesirable traits. We learn to shut it, shove it and shut it. So, I just think that’s a really useful thing not to make ourselves not okay for that. Or blaming someone else? Having said that, I’ve done that on and off all my life. So in relation to you, I was busy thinking about that part when he asked me the other question.

Mark [19:44] I agree that when I’m having a reaction if I really explore it, that reaction is protecting something more fragile and more vulnerable. It’s at a vulnerable place in myself, which may have its origins back into childhood or birthing imprint. It’s mine, I need to heal it. I need to keep working with it and that reaction is a sign. Okay, I’m protecting something there, what is, and the more I can learn to heal it and hold it and grieve. My experience of that then, I can take this into the oneness and let it go. That’s the gift, it brings more clarity, more open-hearted connectedness, and more loving-kindness that I want to give out. In that Oneness, if we can come back to that – how would Mother Earth respond if more of us humans start awakening to give back to her?

Connecting to the Subtle Power of Meditation

Monica [20:52] I think the basis of a lot of people’s work in this field of helping people to awaken is about that body of work around the hundredth monkey. Do you know about that? I’m not going to probably repeat it very accurately. As I remember it, it’s about some monkeys that were on an island and there was a critical point where they learned to do something, and then monkeys on the mainland just automatically knew how to do it, and jumped, you know, to that other level. I think the transcendental meditation community does this, and they study it. If they all go and meditate in a particular area, then it changes what’s happening there. So they actually go to places where there’s a lot of conflicts and do that. I think it works the same way that the more people who reclaim these parts of themselves, instead of projecting them out, the more that other people won’t act them out. Like the people, we’re finding really challenging at the moment, because of some people actually out all our projected parts, if they’re vulnerable to doing that, or have a tendency to do that.

Monica [22:13] I think the more we can do this work, the more exponential change that we’re going to see in consciousness. When people experience that connection to everything, it’s actually almost impossible to do anything harmful, because you experience we experience the pain of that straightaway. And I think that’s it.

Mark [22:41] Is Mother Earth in need of healing or is that an understatement? (Laughter)

Owning what we Project onto Mother Earth

Monica [22:48] I think it’s our projection of what Mother Earth is – that needs healing probably.

Mark [22:58] I wonder whether one of the deepest wounds in human consciousness – speaking for myself, there never – it seems to be never enough? If I project that onto Mother Earth, how many holes can I keep digging? Will there ever be enough gold that I can find? Will there ever be enough? I’m wondering whether that’s what we’ve projected that onto Mother Earth, and now we’re needing to, bring it back to more sustainability, more open-hearted care and loving-kindness to Mother Earth?

Monica [23:34] Well, I think there is actually something missing.

Monica [23:36] I wasn’t raised in any religious path, let alone a spiritual one. It is something fairly common for a lot of Australians. I remember being initiated when I was 26, with a Vedic mantra, and I had been looking for something most of my life, and I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I found it. There is a fulfillment that I think people know they don’t have, and until they find what and how to do that. They are, in a way, like a house with all the circuitry but no one’s flicked the light on.

Finding what I was looking for

Mark [24:26] May I ask, wherein your body did you find that point?

Monica [24:32] Well, it was everywhere. When I first was initiated, I remember everything went from looking like blobs, like the table, the tree to everything was vibrant and alive. It was all kind of buzzing and it was all alive.

Mark [24:51] Did your heart open up?

Monica [24:53] Not straightaway? No.

Mark [24:56] That’s been a process to connect to that – to open it.

Connecting to my Opening Heart

Monica [25:00] Yes, it’s also one of the big teachings is what you focus on is what you get. My cultural heritage is really big on suffering. So, I’ve got to make a – I didn’t have to make the shift that I kept getting little reminders or big reminders. What I’m focusing on is going to grow something, and what do I want to grow? Its taken years really, for me to really see that. I think that’s another thing is that, if we’re – you look at what people are focusing on, and if it’s some wholesome and joyous and happy, then they’re going to grow that. If they’re focusing on movies and news and whatever else that is an expression of something else, then they’re going to grow that. So, I think that’s another critical mass thing that the more of us who focus on what’s going well, the joy and the beauty and each word is important. Internally we act out each word that we say. I remember doing mental gymnastics when I was raising my son. I wanted to tell him to walk around the swings because I was afraid to get knocked over. So instead of saying, “don’t walk they knocked over’. I was already being taught this stuff, then and I had to think about how to say it. It felt really awkward, but I said, “walk right around the strings swing, so you stay outright, and you’re safe”. It was very artificial at the time but that’s the sort of thing which I think we’ve got practice.

My Daily Meditation ~ I connect within

Mark [26:52] How do you keep awareness of what you need to change? How do you? Do you have a daily practice of meditation, to help you reconnect yourself, to connect to others, and connect to the “All That Is”?

Monica [27:09] Yeah, the meditating daily is really important. With the kind of meditation that I’ve learned, you can do it pretty much all day every day. You can do it as one or more parts of it, in lots of situations. You can do it while walking, I can use the mantra, anytime. I can be on the bus, or waiting for someone in a queue and then I can always be doing grounding. In fact, meditating without grounding is pretty much useless. So, we often start meditation, getting very grounded, very aware. Eyes open, noticing what I can smell. If I’m doing it, now it’s noticing my bottom on the chair, looking around, at the colors and shapes in the room, noticing the taste, that kind of thing. There are all these different steps in staying awake and becoming more awake, that can be done throughout life, generally till the whole of life is meditation.


There are all these different steps in staying awake and becoming more awake, that can be done throughout life, generally till the whole of life is meditation.
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Connecting to Life as a Whole Meditation

Mark [28:25] Wow, what a lovely place to be, “Life is a whole meditation”. What do you notice when you experience that connection when “Life is a whole meditation”?

Monica [28:39] It’s just beautiful, everything flows. Everything, all sorts of coincidences happen. Things manifest very quickly, often. One of the big things which I heard one of your other interviewees talk about was smiling. That can feel really weird at first. We think we’re smiling and we’ve actually just got a straight line happening. They’ve discovered that if you smile, and it has to include your eyes, like the corners of your eyes ceasing as well. That allows the releases endorphins and it’s a really key part of being happy.

Mark [29:19] If I remember that podcast, I think she said. “her soul smiles”. When her soul is smiling, that’s her connection to the Oneness. The infinite connection to the Oneness. What a gift to be able to give ourselves and not only give it to ourselves but to give it to the universe and to Mother Earth. I believe she’s needing our assistance, she’s needing our awakening to make a change?


The infinite connection to the Oneness.
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We are all One

Monica [29:50] Well, I would I guess there’s a point where you just feel everything’s one. There’s not even a separate Earth. We’re all it’s all together. So, and how we treat ourselves is as important as what we’re doing out there. A lot of activists deplete themselves, and I’ve done that too. Like my own needs and everything are not important, I’ve just got to get this work done. That’s not helpful either. So the more we’re aware and can have fun with it. Like Osho often called Bhagwan or the head of the orange people. He said that laughter is closer to God than prayer and I love that. It doesn’t mean that laughing at anything, (laughter) but we can have fun with it.

Mark [30:55] It looks like over the journey you are having fun with it. There are times where we won’t. How do we accept and just be present to what’s there? Give it the love that it needs or needed back then – to give it to it now. That’s the healing and the more we heal ourselves, the deeper connections to self, others and “All That Is’.

Connecting to our Natural State of Happiness

Monica [31:19] Yes and the other thing that our thing I’ve been taught, is that our natural state is to be happy and loving and fulfilled. Our systems are designed to do it if we just give them the practices to do it. It’s not natural to be the other way. Some of us come from cultures where we’ve been taught that even smiling, it’s really not okay. We’ve all heard about families where you’re not allowed to cry, and you’re not allowed to be angry and that kind of thing. Some families, you’re not allowed to be happy. So to break those cultural and family patterns and taboos are really important. It can feel really challenging. I remember the first time I started doing a full-blown smile. If I forget it for a while, and I do it again, I really have not used those muscles in my face and I have to kind of push it for a while.

Mark [32:17] When you do push it, what do you notice for the connection to yourself? When you do push it, notice it and push it?

Monica [32:24] Oh, it’s just great. It must be the endorphins.

Mark [32:30] What a gift to give Monica.

Monica [32:32] Yes, that’s right.

Advice for young women on their Life Journey

Mark [32:34] Monica, I am just mindful of time. Is there anything else or any other advice you’d like to give to young women growing up, following your generation, any advice you’d like to give to them?

Monica [32:49] Young women?

Mark [32:50] Yes, young women.

Monica [32:56] I think it’s really important to find a path or many paths. Be it a teacher or many teachers, who you feel or you observed to walk the talk – of where you want to go. If someone’s living that – they know how to do it, presumably unless they just have happened to. A lot of people actually who are great spiritual teachers have made their way through a lot of hardship. So they’ve learned how to teach many people. Especially if they have Western training as well in things like social work and psychotherapy. My teachers have that and I found that invaluable. This sort of cookie-cutter thing, maybe it works. I think just go to who you are, wherever you’re intuitively drawn to, and open yourself up to doing things differently.

Mark [34:00] Monica would really like to thank you for your connection to the World Heart of Connection Day. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to connect with you and I thank you for that connection.

Monica [34:11] Thank you, Mark.

Mark [34:12] Thank you very much for this conversation. You’re welcome. Appreciate it ~ Namaste

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