Shapes of Sanity

This morning I started my day with meditation… it’s wasn’t the popular “mindfulness” meditation, which many of us have heard of. It was’t buddhist breathing, yogic mantra or sufi contemplation .. rather it was a technique conceived of in the 1930s by a local Dr who lived in what is now, ironically, the Watsonia Army Barracks.

Dr Ainslee Meares, was an early pioneer of therapeutic mediation  well ahead of his time.  Later he became a well known Australian psychiatrist writing books such as “Shapes of Sanity”, “Why be Old” and “Relief Without drugs”.


Ainslie Meares’ beautiful neo-Tudor home still standing today within the grounds of the Watsonia Army Barracks

Initially Dr Ainslie Meares described his work as ‘mental relaxation’ and then coined the phrase ‘mental ataraxis’ (meaning absence of disturbance of the mind) Later he adopted the terminology “meditative relaxation”, and then just “meditation” as the idea of meditation became more widely accepted within Western culture.

My morning meditation experience has stayed with me throughout the day and I take a moment now to notice the birds tweeting and wind rustling the leaves whilst I work on my computer. I have enjoyed many different styles of meditation over the years but the fact that I found a “local” technique left me feeling rather amused.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any local contemporaries quite like Dr Meares who are still with us today. But in the age of the interwebs a U.S. based Holistic Psychiatrist Dr Kelly Brogan, is only a click away and promotes what she calls “medical mediation” as a legitimate therapeutic tool. Also a huge advocate of food & mood she’s offers a free e-book here, which I found it an excellent read!


Meditation bench in the Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne.


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