Magic: Welcome to a magical life health, wealth and weight loss. I’m your host, Magic Barclay, lead practitioner at Holistic Natural Health, Australia and number one bestselling author. In this podcast, I aim to give you practical tips on how to accelerate and sustain your health, increase your financial, spiritual and emotional wealth, and to look at something that haunts many of us needlessly weight loss. In some episodes, I’ll have guests available to give you even more tips, but in others, the floor is yours. Drop us a line at A Magical Life podcast on Facebook and let me know what you would like to know more about. Now sit back and enjoy because it is time for you to create and truly discover a magical life.
Welcome back to a magical life. Podcast. I am your host, Magic Barclay. And today I’m joined by Karen Austen. Now, I normally abbreviate the BIOS that people send me before they come on, but I’m going to read you the whole one because this is absolutely fascinating. Karen is a behavioral change expert, mental health and wellbeing mentor. Specializing in trauma, tension and stress release. She’s a professional and accredited trauma release provider, heart math provider, life coach, reiki, master wheel of consent, facilitator, interplay, leader, performer and storyteller. Operating in Australia, she works with individuals and groups to facilitate healing, creativity, innovation and freedom to all who are ready to change their life. Now wait for it. Karen’s bio gets even better than that. Utilizing wisdom gained from living life to the full. A diverse career in the criminal justice system, along with extensive training and accreditations, Karen brings an authentic and inspiring style to personal transformation. She provides her clients with tools to change their life and helps them find the courage to make and sustain the changes they’ve always wanted to make. Karen has a wonderfully, rich life story of overcoming adversity, abuse and trauma and is a living testament to the transformation that is possible with a commitment to healing, discovering oneself and remembering freedom. In both her career and personal life, she has been an advocate for transformation along with being a facilitator of change, healing and growth in her clients on individual and group levels. A career in criminal justice, including senior positions in legislation and policy, corporate development and training, leadership and management positions in community mediation centres. The registrar of many courthouses around the state of New South Wales has provided the perfect opportunity for the career development and personal transformation and success of many different people. Leaving criminal justice with only a 20% chance of working again provided the perfect impetus to discover her own passions, joys and fulfillment. Karen has the capacity to be and do whatever she puts her mind to, which has included a global journey and a deep inner journey. She has successfully implemented and managed large multi week, multi day and multinational events on three different continents. And now, more recently, Karen has had the opportunity to play an instrumental part in supporting people recover from the catastrophic fires recently in Australia. This has enhanced her own personal growth and provided her with a wealth of personal reference points and experiences to offer to her new clients. Karen’s gifts lie in helping individuals to identify their own passions, live with purpose, and release the words, thoughts, actions, behaviors, and beliefs that no longer serve them. Karen has a down to earth approach which appeals to people from all walks of life. She offers a safe and non judgmental personalized service to her clients to help them grow and develop with freedom. What an amazing bio. Thank you, Karen. Welcome.
Karen: Thank you. Thank you. It took me on a journey when you were reading it out. That was extraordinary.
Personal Transformation & Healing
Magic: Yes, definitely. We were just chatting offline before we got started with this episode, and we’ve lived, like, some similar pathways there. Tell me about your transformation from the desperate times to now.
Karen: Yes. Well, if people had have met me 15 years ago, they would have found me in a room on my own, because I just couldn’t bear to be in the same room as another person, like, one other person’s energy was too much. And having that diagnosis or whatever, saying that I only had a 20% chance of ever working again, I thought, well, okay, I may not be out there working again, so what can I do for the planet? Okay, I can be the healthiest person that I can possibly be. That will be my contribution to the planet. And just having that intention was an extraordinary start to an amazing global journey. And I only see that looking back now, I thought, okay, I’m just going to be the healthiest person I can be. And there was a whole year that I didn’t sleep. I just couldn’t sleep. And I would be in bed and rest, and then I would go and walk on the beach because that was what I could do. And I thought, okay, I’ll pick up rubbish. So there was always a part of me that wanted to contribute in some way. And then one day I’m walking along the beach and I see an orange piece of paper and, oh, my God, it was a $20 bill. There’s my 20% chance of working again. I just realized it. And I thought, okay, I just got paid for cleaning up the beach. What I realized too, okay, if I’m going to be operating at this level of existence, my intention is to be the healthiest person I can be. Okay. I have to find things that give me joy. And I’ve always loved storytelling and interplay. For all your listeners, magic interplay is the wisdom of the body. It’s an improvised movement and storytelling song and stillness body of work created by these people in the Bay Area of San Francisco. And I had been doing this work for a few years, and I thought, right, that gives me joy. I’m going to San Francisco. And they had this dance space in this apartment block, and they had a room upstairs in the apartment block that was not furnished. And so I went to the second hand store, and I bought a saucepan and a fry pan, and they gave me a mattress, and I would sleep, and then I would go downstairs and do a class. And then I would go back up and sleep, and then I would go back downstairs and do a class. And I stayed there for three months, which was extraordinary. So just allowing the body to move, allowing the body to have sound, allowing stillness on a level that I had.
Magic: Not experienced before, that sounds absolutely amazing.
Karen: Yeah, it was extraordinary. And funnily enough, a couple of years prior to that, I had been reading Indian fiction. And I had never been somebody who wanted to go to India. I had never been considered a spiritual journey or anything like that. But I had read five books in a row, and they were all Indian fiction. I thought, I must be going to India. I ended up in Melbourne, and I went to a storytelling workshop. And it was storytelling as a healing art, looking at all the organs in the body and giving them protagonists and antagonists. And funnily enough, while I was there, I met an Indian doctor, and he took my pulse, and he said that these are the things that are going on in your body in 30 seconds. And it had taken me years, like two or three years to figure out following the little map of symptoms. And he told me if I went to his clinic in India, it would change my life. And I thought, okay, I need a life change. It’s going one way or the other right now, so let’s go. So I’ve always been one that had say yes. Yes to something and figure out how to do it when I got there.
Magic: I love that. I do that, too. I have a decision, like a quick thought, and then I make a decision. I start doing the thing, and then I start thinking about whether it was probably the best thing to do.
Karen: Absolutely. And funnily enough, it’s a perfect example of throwing your hat over the wall because you figure out how to do it.
Karen: And so I go to India, and I’m in this clinic for six weeks. And there’s two books in English there. One is autobiography of a Yogi. And I’m reading this book. It’s blowing my mind. And out of nowhere, I thought, I must be going to the Himalayas. And then six months later, I’m coming to a friend’s wedding in Sydney, and someone sends me a meditation invitation for the following night. I thought oh, okay, I’m in Sydney. Why not go? And it’s a guru. I’m going to a meditation evening where there’s a guru sharing practices and meditations and things like that. And of course, I did everything wrong. I wore the wrong clothes. I just didn’t have the context of this. What I did have was an incredible healing experience, and it was exactly the same as in India six months before. This illness, this 20% chance of ever working again, got me in touch with my joy, with my intuition, and then my soul. My soul had been tapping me on the shoulder for, like, decades, I’m sure. But it wasn’t until I got to this insane level of ill health or actually nervous system dysregulation, that I was still enough to get the message.
Magic: I think many people’s souls are tapping them on the shoulder, and they just don’t know what that means, what that feeling is, or what it means you need to do next. And I think for many of us, when we get to a point of pretty much the end, like, for me, it was my cancer. And you get that tap on the shoulder and you’re like, well, what the heck? What have I got to lose? But it’s the tap that you’ve ignored for years.
Karen: That’s right.
Magic: Not until the buckets are completely empty. You go, oh, what the hell, I’ll do it anyway.
Karen: Yes, exactly. And I went on this crazy and amazing healing journey. I did end up in the Himalayas. I ended up as a chef or the cook in an ashram. I ended up being this was in Colorado. I ended up being the ashram manager. I ended up being the production and event manager for some of the huge events that we had in Colorado, in Chicago, in India, in Brussels, in London. And so, bit by bit, I was able to master my mind. I suppose it took me a while, because if you imagine we have this autonomic nervous system, this part of the reptilian brain, and it’s our first brain, and it’s still there looking out for our survival. And if it is dysregulated, if our nervous system, our peripheral nervous system, is dysregulated, it is the things that controls our words, it controls our beliefs, it controls our thoughts, it controls our actions and behaviors.
Magic: So true. Now, I’ve spoken about the reptilian brain to the listeners before, but to give them just a quick reminder, it’s the first checkpoint. It’s where we seek pain or pleasure. So it’s where the brain actually decides, is this thing going to kill the person or is it going to help build this person? So it really jumps in. It’s where we feel hot and cold. We feel fear or freedom. It makes those split decisions before the other parts of the brain can come in.
Karen: Absolutely. And how cool it’s been there to forward our evolution as a species. And then there became a moment in time where we forgot how to downregulate we forgot how to downregulate that nervous system. And so many of us, for many of us and me, very clearly that mobilization, that fight or flight that looking for the threat and that hyper vigilance that was on in hyperdrive. But then also the other part of it, the freeze part, how many times I mean, I’m sure yourself magic and maybe some of your listeners have been frozen in the spot at times. They’ve not been able to speak up, they’ve not been able to move. A lot of people out there are blamed when they’ve been sexually assaulted that they didn’t fight back. And that’s an even higher level survival function. And so you’ve got these two parts of the brain. One has you mobilized and the other one has you frozen. And if they’re not down regulated, it’s like the brake and the accelerator are stuck on. And some people may have these symptoms of overworking, people pleasing, even procrastination or irritability things that we’re doing more of. Like, we might be more withdrawing. We might be having more fights in our relationship. We might have more really bad or poor eating habits. We might have more episodes of burnout or headaches. Like all of these little symptoms are things telling us our nervous system has not downregulated, has not come back to this beautiful rhythm that we have as human beings. So if you can imagine, all we really are is an amoeba, like a jellyfish. Imagine a jellyfish in the ocean. It’s in its natural element and it’s expanding and contracting and it has this beautiful flow. And we have the same capacity to pulsate. We expand and we contract and we’re in our natural element, this incredible energetic environment that wants to serve us. But if we’re stuck in contraction, so many opportunities for connection, for love, for even building wealth and health just pass us by.
Magic: That is so. You know, we were talking about being in an abusive relationship and I was saying to you, Karen Offline, that the registrars at the courthouse were my saving grace. They were looking after me. And that was because I was in my reptilian brain so much. I was frozen. And people from the outside would say, you are so unhappy and you’re in so much danger. Why are you still there? For 14 years I had people say, why don’t you leave? I could not leave. I was just stuck in that moment of existing. And at that time, existing was all I thought I had.
Karen: Exactly. And what many people who say why don’t you leave? Don’t understand is when we go into those fight, flight, freeze modes of being and behaviors, there’s a deep contraction of muscles in the body, the SOAS muscle. And it is a muscle that mobilizes us into fight, flight or freeze. So there is a movement in the muscles. The blood flow changes so that these muscles can fight or flight, which is absolutely perfect. What we need to be able to do is bring that mobilization out, discharge. So when the brain sends out those chemical communications to the muscles. You need to run, you need to hide, you need to do this. All the adrenaline, the cortisol, just goes throughout the body for us to take an action. If we don’t take that physical action, those chemical communications get stuck in the muscles. And then if it’s stuck in the SOAS muscle, although the SOAS is not physically connected to the brain, they do have a communication connection. So if the SOAS muscle is still really activated, it is telling the brain, we’re in danger, we’re in danger, we’re in danger. The brain is sending out the chemicals. Take the action, take the action, take the action. But what happens if we don’t release those deep contractions in the body? We get these tension patterns, and those tension patterns rearrange the personality. It’s amazing. The mind and the personality have to readjust and rearrange themselves to fit in to a tense body. And it rewires the brain.
Magic: It totally does. And you were saying about the personality. I look back now at the person that I was when I was trapped. When I was stuck, I don’t even know who that person was. I became someone that wasn’t me simply for survival.
Karen: Absolutely, that’s it. And that was the clue for me. When I’d done so much mental work, I’d done so much emotional work. I was living in an ashram and I was safe, but I didn’t feel safe. And I would have these overreactions still. Like someone would open a door and I didn’t hear that they were there. And I would just jump out of my skin automatically and someone would say something, and I would just react with this level of anger. And I thought, there’s still fear in the body somewhere, and I don’t even know how that came to me. And then one day I saw this doctor and she sent me a book. And I read the book in one weekend. I taught myself the exercises because it made so much sense to me. There was still fear in the body. My nervous system was still locked in my behaviors and words and thoughts could not change until I could downregulate the nervous system. So I wrote to this doctor and I said, thank you so much for this. And she said, he’s teaching here in Phoenix next week. I said, Right, I’m in. Because I was in Phoenix. My spiritual teacher had told me to go to Phoenix. So I did. And I was in a room with 50 people and we were all learning this practice. And it was too much for me to learn it that way because my nervous system was so dysregulated. And so I created a way to learn it for myself that really worked with me. Some people can just go and learn this by a book and they’re done. Some people can go and learn it by a tre provider and they can do three sessions and they’re done. Because this body of work is a paradigm shift in how we deal with trauma. It’s to put the healing in the hands of the individual when they’re ready, when they can regulate themselves. So I thought, great. I’m tired of always having to go somewhere to be healed. I want some autonomy and agency around who I am as a being.
Magic: That sounds so good.
The Journey to Feeling Safe
Karen: Yeah. So, of course, I trained to become a provider of the work. I wanted to share this message with everybody. You don’t have to be stuck. You can find safety in the body. And when you feel safe, when you feel safe in the body, the world is your oyster. It really is. I’m not sure about you, Magic, but did you ever wander around the world thinking there was a movie running?
Magic: Yes, I actually did. And even not just wandering around the world, but wandering around Melbourne. When I first came to Melbourne, after leaving my abuser, I would wander around and just look at things and going, am I really here? Is this really happening? Or am I in a movie scene and someone’s going to cut and everything stop? I was just completely out of body for a while.
Karen: Yeah, absolutely. I used to wander around Bronte, my favorite beach, and I’d see all of these people having picnics and barbecues in the parks, and it was like I was observing from another planet and there was such a deep sense of aloneness and what’s wrong with me? How is it that I’m not seen, I’m not heard? How is it that I just feel so much like a reject? Am I the only person on the planet that is a reject and they forgot to throw me back?
Magic: I felt like that when I would see my friends in relationships and they’d be holding hands with their significant other, and I’d just go, yeah, I don’t believe that I’m seeing it, but I don’t believe it because my inner story had been something so different for so long that I would actually get angry when they would be all lovey dovey with each other if we all went out for dinner or something. I go, Are you for real? Like, really? You have to do that now? I am so angry because I know it’s fake. It’s got to be, because my experience for 14 years has been the opposite.
Karen: Yeah, absolutely. Understandable. Understandable. I had to travel the world and stay in other people’s homes so that I could get a picture of what home is. And so I’ve got amazing homes all around the world. My friends, I’m just part of their family. Yeah. It was like, oh, okay, so that’s what it looks like. Okay. And still, for a long time, I didn’t think it was possible for me until I found the answer around what it takes to feel safe in the body and how to bring the nervous system back.
Magic: That brings me to an important question, Karen. What can your expertise with tre and with your life experiences do to help people accelerate their health, be it emotional.
Karen: Spiritual, or oh, magic? It is magic because what it does very gently, it’s like very gently. So I normally see people for four sessions, either in a group or individually. And what I do is I teach them about their nervous system. We have a look at what parts of their nervous system they may be more dominant than not, because there’s some very specific behaviors and thoughts that relate to the different parts of being social, being able to connect, being in the fight mode, being in the flight mode, and being in the freeze mode.
Emotional Literacy: Mind-Body Connection
Magic: What else can you teach them about their body? So we’ve talked about the physical, about the homeostasis. I know that you talk a lot about emotional literacy. Can you tell the listeners what that’s about.
Karen: Yes. So emotional literacy took me a long while to get it in my healing journey, I feel like I’ve had to go through every single class on mental, physical, emotional and spiritual learning.
Magic: Just on those intense feelings and emotions. We’re in a very strange time at the moment, Karen. We were talking about that earlier. And people are living in fear. Yes, fear imposed by the government, fear imposed by the media now. Fear imposed by their neighbors. Dobbing people in? Like anyone would think we’re in Nazi Germany again.
Karen: Yes. Fear is really debilitating for the it really is. And to be able to be with fear safely is really important. And some people will be able to do it with ease and then some people will be able to do it with support. So it is certainly able to be navigated.
Magic: And look, Karen, we do talk about one other thing here, and that is weight loss.
Embracing Emotional Literacy for Weight Loss
Magic: What would be the thing that you tell listeners that they need to address in regards to weight loss.
Karen: I know I’m probably sounding like a broken record because I’m going to come back to feeling safe. If you don’t feel safe in your body, weight loss is not going to happen.
Magic: That is so true. I used to say back in the days when I had a gym, which I started because I had my own weight loss issues, I used to say that the fat was like an armor, like a suit of armor. If you don’t feel safe, you won’t lose weight because you’re going to build this armor of protection around you.
Karen: Yes. And the autonomic nervous system is the peripheral nervous system. A part of it is the peripheral nervous system. And so it goes to the digestion where you can have a cold, wet blanket over your metabolism. It goes to the immune system, so it suppresses the immune system.
Creating Financial, Personal and Emotional Weath
Magic: Exactly. I’m so glad you said that. Now, Karen, what are your top three tips to creating wealth? When we’re talking wealth, we’re talking not just financial, but also personal and emotional wealth.
Karen: Finding safety in the body, feeling safe. When you feel safe in the body, you have the capacity to see all of the opportunities in front of you and create and innovate.
Conclusion and Gratitude
Magic: And those three things will create your wealth. I love the analogy of the tree not just seeing the life that it has, the life force, but when you’re looking at the bark of a tree, you can see the story it has to tell you even see like a colony of ants climbing up it, or a glider sitting up in it or something. But it will have its own story.
Karen: Yes. And the tree has a symbiotic and an obligatory relationship with the plants around it, the insects around it, the birds, the little critters that live in it. It’s a whole information system, a whole communication system.
Magic: Thank you, everyone, for listening today. That was episode 23 feeling Safe with Karen Austin. Episode 24, you have me talking to you about shadow values, and a lot of our speakers and guests till now have spoken about shadow values briefly, but we’re actually going to explore them in depth, so that’s going to be an episode really worth listening now for.
My life has been quite an adventure, and along the way, I’ve come to a profound realization: as humans, we seem to have forgotten how to dial down the fight-flight-freeze response that our primal brain triggers when we encounter stress. In this episode, I’ll share my personal journey and guide you through some techniques that can help us release the built-up tension, paving the way for a healthier life.
The initial step in my approach involves assisting my clients in connecting with and acknowledging the subconscious physical responses to stress. It’s what I call “emotional literacy,” where we delve into the primary emotions that precede conscious thought. I work on unraveling these reactions before they transform into something else, giving my clients the power to discharge these emotions. I help people cultivate their own understanding of how to handle intense emotions, sensations, and feelings.
When you establish a sense of safety within your own body, you unlock the capacity to foster creativity, innovation, and ignite your passion. The ability to regulate your mind and emotions, especially when they seem immobilized, and then realign them with your personal values, is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself.
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