|Author: Tiffany Wertheimer | Metro Daily
Tiffany who returned to Australia and now can’t find decent tempura anywhere. A former Tokyoite looks back…
I loved living in Japan.
Not always, I’ll be honest.
Sometimes I wanted to scream, often I cried, but I never regretted leaving my comfy job as a TV reporter in Australia to move to Tokyo and teach English.
My decision to move back to Australia wasn’t an easy one, but I stood by that decision and still do. But what I wasn’t expecting was the struggle to adjust to life back home.While I’d been on this amazing adventure and grown immensely from my experiences—everything at home was exactly the same. The only thing that had changed was me.
I found myself apologising for starting every sentence with “When I was in Tokyo,” and comparing everything to Japan. The honeymoon period ended on the ride back from the airport, when I was quizzed on where I’d work and live—I hadn’t even been back an hour.
Relief came in knowing I wasn’t alone, and many of my well-travelled friends had experienced the same feelings.
When my old friend Rob and his fiancé moved back from Kyoto after living there for two years, they were both shocked at how difficult it was.
“We had created a life there, so when it came time to return to Perth, it was actually much harder than we anticipated—and quite surreal,” he told me. “The first night we were back in our old house, I was lying in bed and Japan felt like a dream—a blink and it was gone.”
A family friend Tony Africano is a psychotherapist and professional counsellor, and assured me feeling displaced and even angry after returning home is normal.
“A lot of people want to feel special because they’ve been away and had amazing experiences,” he said. “They want to talk about it, share their stories and boast about it. But very few others want to hear about it, because it’s not special to them—they weren’t there.”
For this reason, Tony recommended I spend time with like-minded people who have also lived away from home and can empathize with how I’m feeling.
My friend Bernadette spent six months driving around Australia—a free spirit who could stay as long as she wanted in one place, or simply drive straight through.
But coming home was hard.
“Once the initial glow had worn off, I realized I had to start again in terms of finding a job, somewhere to live and reconnecting with all of my friends.
“Six months after returning, things are mostly back to normal, whatever that means.”
For months after I’d returned home, I couldn’t bring myself to look at photos from Japan, but Tony said it’s important not to throw away your memories and experiences.
“Appreciate how valuable the time away was, and make sure you take time to go through your photos and videos,” he said. “Use the skills, knowledge, experience and confidence you gained during that time away to enhance your future back at home.
“The truth is you may struggle, but this is natural and normal, and while it may not be easy, if you understand this, it will help you,” he concluded.
Arguably one of the most profound things living abroad or a big trip can do for you is give you the confidence and motivation to achieve what ever you want.
I often think, “If I could deal with Shinjuku station during peak hour with two suitcases in summer, I can do this!”
Bernadette proudly said, “I still get the urge to get in the car and drive into the outback, the only difference is now I know I can do it.”
And that’s the difference between regretting your decision to return, and using your experiences for the better.
If you’re returning to your home country, be prepared for the reverse culture shock and accept those feelings, whether they’re anger, regret, frustration or boredom—because they’re totally natural.
And boast. Boast to every single person you meet that you’ve done something a lot of people wouldn’t have the courage to do.
But the weirdest thing about moving home is three months on I still think I’m feeling the rumblings of an earthquake.
You can take the girl out of Tokyo…
There are numerous circumstances that can take a child’s emotional and psychological development off track. The following is a list of behaviors that might indicate that a child is suffering emotional difficulties.
• Regular nightmares and difficulty going to bed/sleep
• Highly anxious when separating from primary care giver/s such as going to school
• Difficulty in socialising with other children and participating in group activities
• Very aggressive with other children/siblings
• Extreme and regular bouts of sadness and withdrawal
• Regular experience of feeling overwhelmed with age appropriate tasks
(Please note that the above list is not definitive and is not a replacement for professional help).
Ken Milling conducts his practice from ‘The Lindsay Centre’ in Mount Lawley and has successfully worked with children, from 4 years to adolescence, for over fifteen years. He has found that children often have a greater capacity for change when they are able to articulate their emotional experience in a safe and ‘containing’ environment. To this end, it is always necessary for the analyst and primary caregiver/s to function as a team with the aim of getting the child’s development back on track. The first step in this process is for the primary caregiver/s to organise a preliminary appointment with a qualified therapist who specialises in working with children.
As a Jungian Analyst, registered Psychotherapist and Child Psychotherapist, Ken not only works with children and adolescents but also adults and couples to resolve myriad personal, behavioural and relationship problems. He believes most strongly in the right of the client to strict confidentiality.
As an Analyst he relies on close attention to and interpretation of dreams and symbolic imagery, and the way this and other thoughts and feelings are expressed by the client. Attention is focused on the unconscious psychological links between individuals and society, including the cultures of groups and institutions.
Analysis has for its goal the client’s movement toward psychological wholeness and transformation of the personality to the realization of the individual’s potential, which requires coming to terms with the unconscious, its specific structures and their dynamic relation to consciousness.
As a clinical practitioner and supervisor, Ken is committed to ongoing professional development and regularly attend seminars, workshops and lectures. Additionally, he reads a wide range of journals and texts to ensure that his knowledge remains current.
• Diploma – Analytical Psychology
• Graduate Diploma – Analytical Psychotherapy
• Advanced Diploma – Psychotherapy
• Diploma – Child Psychotherapy
• International Association for Analytical Psychology
• Australian and New Zealand Society of Jungian Analysts
• Psychotherapy and Counsellors Federation of Australia – Reg No. 21246.
• Australian Register for Counsellors and Psychotherapists
For more information or to make an appointment, please contact Ken directly:
Mobile: 0437 632 589
“The mind tends to go off in its own so that it seems to have no relevance to the physical world. At the same time materialistic life can be so absorbing that we get caught in it and forget about spirituality. What we need is soul, in the middle, holding together mind and body, ideas and life, spirituality and the world.” Marsilio Ficino (15th c.)
Ficino’s words may as well have been written at the dawn of the 21st century for they apply equally today as they did back in the 15th century. Perhaps not much has changed in terms of what most people consider a priority in their lives and how most choose to care for themselves and for each other.
It is not uncommon for many of us to spend inordinate amounts of time and money to enhance our body and the image we project of it to the outside world. Whether it’s with the aim of securing our next partner or to achieve that ever-elusive “ever fit, trim, taut and terrific” exterior, it’s very much accepted (even expected) that the body deserves to be the subject and object of desire. So, literally millions of dollars are spent annually on gym memberships, solarium’s and fashion in the name of ‘looking good’.
Perhaps there’s a tad too much emphasis placed on the external? Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with keeping ‘the bod’ in shape and garbed in the latest and finest but what about the rest of who we are and what we are made up of? What about the inside of us? We tend to collectively forget or actively deny that there are other parts of us that are of equal importance and in equal need of care and attention… namely our mind and spirit.
So why is taking care of our mental, emotional and spiritual state often seen as such an ‘uncool thing to do’ and why do so many wait until the literal ‘break-down point’ before any attention is seriously, deliberately or systematically given to the presenting or underlying problem? My contention is simple…. we go to the gym to work on the outside of ourselves and sometimes its wise and fruitful to balance our regime and undergo some kind of ‘interior work’ to ensure we’re not neglecting the very parts of us that seem to make up our psychological and emotional ‘inner world’.
There tends to be a huge blind spot when it comes to what may underlie the most common complaints that we counsellors and therapists hear every day. I repeatedly come across expressions of depression, emptiness, meaninglessness, disillusionment around relationships, loss of values and craving for personal fulfillment.
Thomas Moore in his book ‘Care of the Soul’ suggests that all of these types of symptoms reflect a loss of soul that signal what the soul craves. He goes on to say “We yearn excessively for entertainment, power, intimacy, sexual fulfillment and material things and we think we can find these things if we discover the right relationship or job… but without soul, whatever we find will be unsatisfying, for what we truly long for is the soul in each of these areas. Lacking that soulfulness, we attempt to gather these alluring satisfactions to us in greater masses, thinking apparently that quantity will make up for quality”.
According to the ancient Indian philosophy of Vedanta we are all made up of body, mind, and intellect. The body houses our physical existence, our emotions emanate from our mind and the intellect is perhaps best described as the ‘seat of the soul’, that is, that part of us that is not affected by our neuroses, the ‘emotional and/or psychological baggage of our past’, that sees things clearly and is aware of entirety of ‘Self’ in the spiritual sense of the word.
The intellect is best described with words like ‘discernment, reason, thinking, logic and analysis’ whereas the mind is synonymous with our ‘feelings, likes, dislikes, impulses and desires’. All three faculties are deemed important, though exponents of Vedanta advise that allowing the mind to take indiscriminate control in our life is tantamount to allowing a child to play with matches and live explosives. This is because the mind tends to ramble (between worries about the past and anxieties around the future), pitch up insatiable desires (like a fire burning out of control) and form attachments to what are deemed possessions (including people and material goods). The purpose of the intellect is to hold the mind in place. Strengthening the intellect comes when there is concentration or focus on some kind of “higher goal” and there is commensurate consistency of purpose and action.
You may well ask, so what Tony? What does all this have to do with ‘Health and Beauty?’ Perhaps restating my original contention in another way may help. Health is not just simply about bodily health and Beauty is not just about external, skin-deep appearance. Hence, total ‘Health & Beauty’ is also about paying balanced attention and reverence to all of what’s going on ‘inside of us’; something you may or may not need help with, depending on your capacity to know and care for yourself and your ability to apply wisdom and experience to your present moment.
The aim of all counselling and/or therapy is to align with our deeper understanding of who we are and what we really want. As a consequence of a more healthy, compassionate and enhanced relationship with self we are better positioned to enjoy enhanced relationships with others.
This process of balancing and ‘healing into the present’ must begin with a process or ‘inner journey’ of some kind. The only way to get to know ourselves at a deep level is to begin to explore why we are the way we are and to look at the way we react to life’s events. In this way we develop a way of understanding where our emotional reactions have come from. What we can understand we can influence, at least to some degree, and hence we are in a better position to choose responses that are more skilful or beneficial.
The work of understanding our basic foundations is vital and yet it is often the very process that is avoided; hence, the repetition of outworn, unproductive or in some cases, outright dangerous patterns of behaviour of dealing (or not dealing) with life and its events. The relentless and heady ‘escape into drugs and entertainment’ is clear evidence of this avoidance and we all know what happens when this is left to repeat and intensify without the necessary checks and balances put into place.
To use another analogy, how can you find ‘the treasure’ of say, fulfillment, if you don’t have a reference point on the map? If you don’t know where you are? Without this understanding how can you take the next step in the right direction? Yet most try to find ‘happiness or bliss’ by digging around in the dark, hoping to eventually strike it lucky!
Counselling or therapy is the process of understanding ourselves enough so as to be able to take steps in the right direction or simply be without the pain and suffering. With right kind of balanced approach, we can heal the deep division, in which mind is separated from body and spirituality is at odds with materialism. Perhaps it is no wonder that a constant focus on only certain parts of the self (e.g the convenient exterior image) may eventually lead to a sense of being ‘not quite whole’, of feelings like “I can’t keep it (all) together” or of “I’m falling apart” or “It feels like I’m breaking up… (or down)!”
If we continue to hold fragmented views of ourselves and our existence it should not be surprising that some of us will continue to suffer from feelings of fragmentation, emptiness or a deep-rooted sense of loneliness and isolation. There is sometimes cause to be wary of the image for what lies beneath the surface will eventually need to ‘voice itself’ and you may not like to hear what it has to say! It is at this point that the neglected parts of ourselves awaken and demand attention like a very loud and hungry child. It is at this point that there is often an eruption into various forms of symptoms like depression, anxiety, turmoil within the self and hence, conflict with others. A wise person once said “What is within… is without” This of course is true for individuals as it is for communities, cultures and entire nations.
Perhaps another way out of this ‘split’ is via cultivating a better, more complete and balanced understanding of who we really and what we’re really made up of. It is only from there that we are better able to recognise and care for the soul. I have had the privileged of seeing how developing a more holistic view of self can lead to a deeper and longer lasting sense of health & beauty. You may have met such people, they tend to shine from within and are most likely to be the healthiest and most beautiful people you care to meet, regardless of their ‘body-suit’.
The alternative can be the painful and debilitating process of bumping around in the dark, hoping to find what you’re looking for and being perpetually afraid of falling down a crevice and into the abyss. “And that simply wouldn’t be a good look, now would it!?”
* About the Author
Tony Africano is a counsellor and therapist who runs his own practice from ‘The Lindsay Centre’ in Mount Lawley. He is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors and has undertaken training in psychotherapy with The Churchill Clinic here in Western Australia. He is available for private consultations and can be contacted on 9228 1527.
Understanding yourself and your personal history is a sure-fire way to create less stress and trouble in your life.
The wisdom in the ancient instruction “Know Thyself” seems to be as relevant today as it has been for past millennia. However, it seems that most of us still need a drastic shock or a deep depression to make us face ourselves; explore who we really are and ultimately, what our lives are about.
Tony Africano, principal therapist at The Lindsay Centre in Mount Lawley, believes that because many invest so much of their happiness into ‘outside things’ like primary relationships or career, a loss or major change in those areas can often feel totally devastating and insurmountable. However, he goes on to suggest that this type of ‘shock therapy’ is only ever effective if it indeed breaks old habits, trends and inclinations.
“Unfortunately, humans have a tendency to repeat past patterns, sometimes unconsciously, and this can keep us suffering or stuck-in-a-rut. Often people come to me initially only wanting to deal with a critical symptom like depression or a specific problem like a breakdown in a personal relationship. Of course, at the outset my work is primarily about assisting clients with the immediate crisis, though with patience, time and willingness it is often possible to begin to deal with the underlying problem, in order to move towards healing and a contented future” says Tony.
The process of counselling or therapy can be essential in dealing with the affects, blockages and wounds of your past. Tony suggests, “The aim of dealing with your past is simply to develop more of a chance to live in the present and to ultimately to make the most out of your future.
Taking responsibility for one’s own happiness may not always be easy or palatable but it’s one of the only ways to heal and move on from having to blame the world and/or it’s people for personal problems and limitations.”
Tony believes that balance between your work and personal life is ultimately the key to a vital and successful life. “I find that many people have enormous difficulty in creating balance in their lives. It’s more and more common nowadays to find people who are over-committed and extremely stressed, struggling to find a healthy balance between their obligations and other areas of their lives, like leisure and personal relationships.”
Having to take responsibility for one’s own happiness is central to the healing process. We also need to ensure that some degree of balance and proportion is applied to our lives as a whole. “We do need to look at ourselves carefully and thoroughly. The gentle process of counselling or psychotherapy can assist greatly in this. Then, when we know and understand ourselves at some depth we can begin to live a life that’s more compatible with who we really are.”
Tony’s entrance into the healing profession has been a result of his own personal journey and training over the past twenty years. He believes that a practitioner is best placed to deal with the suffering and distress of others by not only having undergone sound theoretical training but also via thorough knowledge of themselves. As part of the professional preparation undertaken for this kind of work he has undergone hundreds of hours of his own personal therapeutic process. From this foundation he has developed a professional style that many regard as skilled, compassionate and sensitively attuned to individual needs.
Tony holds Advanced Diplomas in both Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Professional Counselling in addition to a Graduate Diploma in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. He is a Clinical Member of the major professional associations governing the profession, including the Psychotherapists and Counsellors Association of Western Australia (PACAWA) and the Australian Counsellors Association (A.C.A).
Tony has also gained accreditation of the ‘National Register of Psychotherapists and Counsellors’ (Registration #20581) under auspices of the Psychotherapists and Counsellors Federation of Australia (PACFA). He is also a Clinical Member of The Professional Counsellors Association of W.A (PCAWA).
The Lindsay Centre is located in Mount Lawley and continues to be a venue for both one-on-one and group counselling sessions. Appointments can be made by calling Tony directly on 9228 1527 or emailing: email@example.com.
Once the domain of religions, the human soul has largely been ignored by contemporary society. The soul does not get a mention in medical texts and scientific journals and when you go to the doctor, you are more likely to take home a prescription for sleeping tablets or anti-depressants than discuss the possibility that what you are suffering from is a loss of soul. And it is this neglect or loss of soul that has led to a vast increase in soul sickness.
Psychotherapist and counsellor, Tony Africano of The Lindsay Centre, Mount Lawley, Western Australia, believes that a loss of soul is made evident in the plethora of mental illnesses, depression, anxiety, stress and suicide that pervades society today in epidemic proportions. He states that violence and wars are also a reflection of a loss of soul which leaves society at the mercy of basic primal drives.
But what is soul? In his book “Care of the Soul”, Thomas Moore declares that the soul is impossible to define. “Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway; the soul prefers to imagine. We know intuitively that the soul has to do with genuineness and depth…”
Tony Africano believes that soul is a very individual and personal experience that underlies our personality and character at a really deep level. He explains that soul is not our body or our thoughts and feelings, which come and go, but that which inhabits the body in a mystical sense that reminds us of the awe and majesty of life. He believes that when people are in touch with their souls this is a pivotal point, a catalyst to transcend their own limitations and afflictions to embrace all things. “Soul is a spiritual dimension within the self that helps us connect to aspects of the world that are greater than ourselves. It is something that enlivens and revitalises us”.
The vast majority of people attending doctors surgeries around Australia today are seeking a “quick fix” to take their pain and suffering away. They believe that “popping a pill” is the answer to their problems. But Elio Frattaroli, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and author of the book “Healing the Soul in the Age of the brain” argues: “We need a science that acknowledges mental illness not merely as a chemical imbalance in the brain, but… as a wake-up call for the soul”.
I asked Tony Africano just how we can alleviate our pain and suffering and get in touch with our souls? He explained that we have to do the work. We need to listen to our souls. We need to pay attention to what is going on inside our bodies. We can do this by working with a psychotherapist or counsellor who treat the whole personal and not just the symptom.
And we can also approach soul consciousness by every day pursuits such as walking, meditation, writing poetry, reading a book, working in the garden or virtually anything that we enjoy and that can help us focus on our inner selves rather that the outside world. Once, as children, we had soul but as we grew, developing unfulfilled lives in work and play, our souls were put on the back-burner until they were lost.
“Nancy”, a lovely lady seeking change in career in the second half of her life, related that overwhelming stress due to intensive study had depleted her immune system leaving her open to a serious middle ear infection which developed in influenza. On top of this she developed tinnitus and insomnia. With constant ringing in her ears and no sleep, she was at her wits end and had thoughts of suicide. Her doctor wanted to prescribe sleeping tablets and anti-depressants but she refused, opting instead to walking herself well. When everyone else was sleeping she would take her Jack Russell dog and walk the streets of her suburb. When the ringing in her ears drove her made she walked, and walked. Deep within her she knew why she was sick, she had overloaded her body and drugs were not the answer. She instinctively knew that her ill health was temporary and she would get through it. She was in touch with her soul.
When the soul cries out in pain through a mass of overwhelming symptoms, it is because it’s deepest needs are not being attended to. Material wealth and temporary coping strategies will not silence the soul. Only courage, strength and the grace to listen inwardly to what your soul is saying. In his work Tony Africano find that soul consciousness has helped him to empathically connect to the suffering of others by providing him with an independent clarity and strength in the notion that we are not just our immediate experience. “And in understanding another person’s inner experience, we have to go to that internal, indefinable place where experiencing happens.”
A human being is more than the sum of its tangible parts. Human beings are so much more that their bodies or their brains’, they have a soul as well. The human soul cannot be seen under a microscope or measured and categorised within a laboratory. It cannot be seen outwardly like our computer screens, television sets or other people, but it is there, deep within us.
Becoming soul-conscious is a deep-seated experiencing, that we can choose to ignore – to our detriment, or we can work with it to find a source of wisdom and intuition that expands our consciousness, bringing with it an authenticity of self that in turn brings access to love, compassion and joy – the source of inner peace.
by Carole Lyden
Published in The Art of Healing – March/May 2008 – Vol 1, Issue 22