About MeMental Health Advocate, Meditation and Yoga Facilitator, Founder of Blind Tiger Yoga, Creator of Functional Recovery, Commercial Diver/Underwater Explosives Specialist, Army Combat Veteran, Traveler, Story Teller, Forever a Student, and just a regular Australian Bloke.
I can honestly say I’ve lived a full life so far, witnessed some of the best and worst of humanity, and am an old soul.
My lived experience has shaped me to be the man I am now, I will always be a student. My Intention is to learn from as many sources as I can, to grow, to share, assist others where I can, observe, and live a present life.
When I started a “formal” meditation practice, it was a short realization that I had actually have been meditating longer than I thought. In my teens, I started breathing exercises to make myself more present in the water, from here, seeing the benefits, slowly I started to try different modalities/tools for different things. It wasn’t until I was in the Army and needed further tools to assist me, not only to be more effective in my job as a Soldier, but also to assist in extra-curricular tertiary education, all the while being a soldier.
When I started “formal training”, I soon realized I had been meditating since I was a kid. They may have used different terminology that I was accustomed to, and obviously the different styles had their own beliefs, techniques and philosophy, but essentially there were common threads that I could interpret and get on board with.
In the words of Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”
Once, I got to a point where I found I’d either outgrown a technique, a practice, got what I needed, liked or disliked various techniques etc. I changed accordingly to another style, technique or discipline. Having the mindset to grow with the practice as I grew. Over the years my meditation practice has changed in many, many, ways, and foresee it will as I do.
All this while, that I was practicing, I kept it pretty quiet, and most of the time; most wouldn’t have had a clue what I was doing.
Most likely you’re thinking, “Man this is long…” Well that’s the point of this, so I can get it out on here, it saves me the oxygen, and avoids repeat mode. Want to know more keep reading, maybe watch the clip at the end. Not interested? Already heard about it all? Just skip to the PRACTICE WITH ME. Do it… Shhh… I told you I was a storyteller.
During service, I sustained various injuries whilst serving in the Royal Australian Army. After the consequential surgeries that followed, I wouldn’t accept that pain medication and conventional treatments were my only option. I adopted the mindset that I have fostered my entire life, to look for alternative modalities. This is when I stumbled on a Yin Yoga class by mistake, and shortly after, I developed a habitual discipline to this practice; which I haven’t looked back from. From here I founded my own method of FUNCTIONAL RECOVERY.
Post discharge from the Army was a big adjustment. Dealing with a range of physical restrictions was one thing, but the mental health problems were the heaviest weight. Feeling the need to hide in plain sight with mental health problems, just to avoid negative reactions. Like most, I navigated it alone.
Dealing with Depression, Anxiety, Substance Abuse, Suicide ideation and life; all caught with me when I couldn’t use my old methods of coping. Things needed to adapt and I needed to be accountable.
Finding the right specialist, the right methods, the right approach and the right metric to measure my results were all a new and evolving practice, and still is. What worked then, doesn’t necessarily work now, it will evolve as I do.
Willing to fight this stigma and title of Broken, was another mission. Enter the transition into Commercial Diving/Underwater Explosives. After already having extensive dive experience and logged around 10,000hrs, combined with explosives training, I followed one of my passions into the sea. I’ve always had a strong connection with the ocean, growing up around it, in it at any chance, was a natural progression. After completing further specialist training, I worked in a range of roles on and offshore in the sub-sea industry. It took me to some amazing locations and some real shit ones too. I worked with some amazing men and women, and some of the lowest.
One moment I will never forget, is before going on a job, I received a phone call from a mate I served with and quickly told him I was about to jump in the water and I will call him back. Afterwards, I later found that he had taken his own life when I was in the water. I was the last person he spoke to. This was my 13th colleague so far, in a very short space of time. It was in that moment, I had the most overwhelming sense of guilt I’d ever experienced. The guilt came from a place where I felt, as though if I had shared some of the tools that had helped me, to my brothers-in-arms, it might have made things a bit better. From here I founded my company Blind Tiger Yoga. You can find more about it above, a company using various tools to form FUNCTIONAL RECOVERY for Veterans and Emergency Services.
Continuing to put countless hours into this altruistic approach to serve the VES Community, and unbeknownst to me at the time, I had also started to evolve into a mental health advocate. Not one of those flog bag, Self-help, snake oil gurus, just an ordinary bloke wanting change.
I started to be more and more open about the taboo subject of mental health. I had (and still am) learning how to take the best care of my own mental health and openly share with those who were interested. Not like Karen from the local café, who wants everyone to know she’s a vegan and what type of cleanse she’s on, woke, but still needs to speak to the manager. But, with an open and honest dialogue. This is where is starts.
Mental Illness doesn’t have a look. I believe mental health advocacy and the various forms it takes on the spectrum of engagement needs to evolve, just like everything else. From dealing with my own journey with mental health, educating myself from self-study and professional help, openly talking about the normality of it, and thriving with my own mental health. I want people to remember mental health isn’t fight club, we can talk about it… Just like any aspect of physical health.
Every person has the right to access mental health support and I encourage you to do so, seek professional help and take medication if it’s prescribed. Whether you have a mental illness, intellectual disability, there is assistance in your personal and professional goals. You just need to find the right fit for you.
So, I want to challenge the stigma, discrimination and prejudice that is related to mental health and use my voice and teachings to encourage change. Educate the community on the matter and advocating change in the behavioral system. With this intention, I want to assist people in getting themselves organized, assist in moving legislation and changing policy.
All being said, through lived experience, I bring a light-hearted normality, through evidence-based practices, dedicated self-practice, continuing education and evolving innovations to mental health.
I am and always will be a student…
In school, I can’t say this to be true. Well at least not for the school curriculum. Fast forward to now, completing several Diplomas, Undergraduate degrees, and Post graduate degrees and studies, with an insatiable desire for learning. I have knowledge in a vast array of topics, fields and disciplines, however, I will always be a student. I could name them all, but there already is enough d**k measuring in the world.
My studies and certifications in Yoga, Meditation and other Alternative Modalities, are expansive, broad and have taken me around the world, which I will always seek and explore.
Some teachers, I will continue to go back to for as long as they teach. Others, I’ve taken what I need, with much gratitude, I still hold in high regard, but have evolved. The thousands, upon thousands, of hours in my chosen areas of study, will always continue, as it is not just me who benefits and grows from them, but my students also.
I have a deep passion, for Yin Yoga, which I would like to acknowledge Paul & Suzee Grilley and Bernie Clark for sharing knowledge and teachings with me so openly and also the world. Meditation, Yoga Nidra (Sleep-based meditation), Somatic movement, philosophy, literature, anatomy and physiology. Listing and acknowledging all teachers and disciplines individually, would take more time than to get through this long spiel.
Outside study, personal development, practice and teaching…
I keep my life private, my friendships and relationships to myself, enjoy my isolation, but also enjoy being present and extremely grateful when in the company of others. Who I let into your tribe and circle needs to be selective, life is too short.
I love anything to do with the sea, diving, reading, movies (Not TV), music, motorcycles, a good whiskey and cigar, travel, grappling, and cherish my time with my dog. “Never trust a man that doesn’t like an animal, but always trust an animal that doesn’t like a man.”
And in the words of Forrest Gump; “That’s all I have to say about that.”
The following is a video that was completed in association with Lululemon a while back. Truth be known, being in front of a film crew and a camera, takes me out of my comfort zone, I struggle with it and working on it; but got to share a snippet of my journey with yoga. Please, don’t get stuck on the story, or yours for that matter. It is just a point in time and just a chapter, not the whole book.