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power to heal it, led to spontaneous
remission from her chronic bronchitis. "I
put down the drugs and I never coughed
from that day."
Louise's own journey to healing
and the insights it has given her will be
one of the keynote addresses at The
Gawler Foundation's annual Integrative
Healthcare Conference, this year titled
"Profound Healing-Sustainable Wellbeing".
The event will take place in Melbourne
on November 19 and 20 and has attracted
such leaders in the field as Dr Craig
Hassed, senior lecturer at Monash
University's Department of General
Practice and well known for his holistic
approach, wholefood nutritionist and
naturopath Janella Purcell, Professor Avni
Sali, Director of the National Institute of
Integrative Medicine, Siegfried Gutbrod,
Therapeutic Director of the Gawler
Foundation, Kabbalah teacher, Rabbi
Dovid Tsap, Dr Vicki Kotsirilos, founder
of the Australasian Integrative Medicine
Association and 33 year old melanoma
survivor Scott Stephens.
Louise Mahler's own experience of
loss and subsequent empowerment has
given her a deep awareness that so many
others are experiencing equal misery -- yet
in many cases, people remained trapped
in their own cone of silence.
"I could see we were all in the same
tribe. We all have different journeys but
we're all in the same tribe. In Western
culture we're not good at handling voice
and don't realise how it is so psycho-
logically connected. We let the emotional
mind run it and run it badly. We accept
that it's almost as if we've been taken
over by aliens and there's nothing we can
do about it. It doesn't get addressed, it
doesn't get discussed."
Determined to find out more, Louise
completed a PhD on how we can use our
voice both in business but also in daily
life, focusing on our relationship with our
voice and how we can improve it.
A key finding that has influenced her
approach is that voice is integrated into the
whole mind/body: "I've found that when
I'm working with voice I end up working
with the mind and the body."
And the starting point with any
new client is always the breath. She has
identified seven areas of blockage that
interfere with an individual's attempts to
produce sound. "It isn't about opening
yourself up in any way. It's actually about
stopping yourself from closing. It starts
with the diaphragm jamming the throat,
that stops the tongue going back, the
mouth closing, closing the body, clamping
the body, holding the body still.....
"It's all about how we block the
breath. Voice is just breath, that's all it is.
Sound is just air."
Working with survivors of Black
Saturday has convinced Louise of the
profound impact of our emotions on
our voice. The terrible circumstances of
their loss of loved ones and property had
robbed many of the survivors of their
ability to express their deepest feelings.
As Louise explains, "I've found that under
trauma, we create these blockages in our
body that block the air. If we hold these
blockages over time, they have long term
effects. Basically, it silences us."
A totally unexpected finding of her
work with the survivors was that 50%
were experiencing hearing loss. While
the specialist medical explanation was a
reaction to the sound of the fire, Louise
was aware that many had escaped the
fire front itself, feeling intuitively that "it
had nothing to do with the fire".
Her subsequent research turned up
the little known Costen's Syndrome,
which affects the temporomandibular
joint that controls jaw function. "It's where
you jam your jaw shut through stress and
it's the stress on your jaw that crushes
the Eustachian tube and sends you deaf."
The cure, Louise advises, is as simple
as opening your mouth! We all know
examples in public, sporting and political
life of people clenching their jaw muscles
in response to stressful situations -- serving
as a timely reminder to loosen up as we
handle life's challenging moments.
Louise's work with the Black Saturday
survivors has touched a deep chord:
she recalls an invitation to be a keynote
speaker at a ceremony to mark the first
anniversary of the tragedy as "the most
honoured day of my life".
Louise's background on the opera
stage is always instrumental in teaching
voice awareness, whether her client is
an executive learning how to handle the
dreaded speeches that come with the job,
people with a medical condition affecting
their voice, trauma survivors or, frequently,
sexual abuse victims whose experience
has closed down their ability to express
"There's a thing in the throat called
the false vocal folds which is part of the
mechanism to stop water getting into the
lungs to prevent drowning.
continued page 17
"If we hold these blockages
over time, they have long
term effects. Basically, it
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