35 years ago, LIONEL FIFIELD, formerly an accountant, set up an organisation called The Relaxation Centre of Queensland, using premises in Brisbane.
I spent nearly five years living in Brisbane, and during that time I must have tasted every kind of course, workshop and seminar that the Relaxation Centre had to offer.
There was only one problem. Attending courses at the Relaxation Centre was addictive.
And I have not found any similar organisation in England – though I believe that it would meet a great need.
Lionel Fifield was an engaging inspirational speaker. He had an entertaining, at times Monty Pythonesque style. And the Australians loved him – and I have every reason to believe they still do.
Here is what Lionel says of himself: “For over 35 years now he has been co-ordinating and developing a programme at the Relaxation Centre of Queensland focusing on managing stress, facing fears, building confidence, improving communication and exploring potential. Lionel likes to talk about his own “funny ways” and how quickly we can separate ourselves from each other and from our own sense of knowing.”
The Relaxation Centre maintains that it advances no one particular religious or spiritual system, and many who teach there have different spiritual outlooks. Spiritual healing, however, has long been on the agenda. I explore spiritual healing in my current work-in-progress, a romantic suspense novel called “A Passionate Spirit”.
BERT WEIR, leader of The Centre Within courseat the Relaxation Centre, was another inspirational figure. Formerly a salesman, Bert was a man full of humour and practical hints. “I’m a very practical man,” he would begin his course, “and I will only talk about things that work.” There was much psychological wisdom, too, in the Centre Within Course, and many practical strategies to combat stress and anxiety and false attitude. Again, The Centre Within Course was addictive. I must have taken the complete course at least four times. And therein lies the danger of inspirational speakers – do we attend purely to delight in the entertaining style of the speaker? Maybe – but we can always hope we are learning something along the way that is permanent!
A third individual stands out in my memories of the Relaxation Centre, and this was a character I shall name only as GREG, teacher of a Dream Interpretation course. Greg again was a very down-to-earth character full of wisdom and humour. Nobody would have guessed he was a spiritual adept in the art of dream yoga – an art he had learned from an old Tibetan lama he’d met in Sydney. Later he was to provide inspiration for my novel “Mystical Circles”.
When I took Greg’s course in dream interpretation there grew upon me this feeling. “There’s something light and bright and fluid and flexible about him… something Puckish, childlike, teasing and infinitely wise and spiritually attuned… he’s like a children’s storyteller, a street corner entertainer.. . he’s mobile, passionately involved and sincere, yet also detached, low-key, non-judgemental.”
It was from Greg that I first heard of the concept of having “a fluid and flexible ego” (mentioned in my novel “Mystical Circles“).
An adept in Tibetan Dream Yoga, Greg possessed the gift of “shapeshifting”. I witnessed his face changing during the course of one of the dream yoga sessions. I later put this experience into my novel “Mystical Circles” when Juliet sees Craig’s face changing. I had by that stage learned that this is one of the arts of a shaman, and part of the skills of shapeshifting. I make no value-judgement at this point; I simply tell you what I have observed, and what has arisen from my own experience.
All these people were way-markers for me. It’s no accident that for me, my spiritual journey began with a mountain and that journey took me to another mountain, in Australia again.
As T.S. Eliot says in his poem “Little Gidding”:
If you live in the UK, have you ever found a centre which runs courses like The Relaxation Centre of Queensland? Whatever you believe, does the work of this centre ring any bells for you? Do you identify with this journey? Share your thoughts and feelings with me about this journey of the spirit. I’d love to have your comments!