Setting Personal Boundaries as a Form of Feedback

Friends: in dialogue recently with two great souls this reflection emerged. I wanted to share this and trust that it might speak to you.
Giving constructive feedback to one another in our social ecosystems is essential to the ultimate health of our friendship groups, families, teams and communities.
Setting and communicating one’s boundaries are not only a form of self preservation they are a way of letting others know of their impact on us. Without this type of communication, folk are excluded from the opportunity to understand their impact and are deprived of the possibility of seeing the world through a fresh perspective.
The social self residing in us, is often responsible for this lack of feedback. The social self preserving face offers us safety from judgement or recrimination of others.
The damaging ripple effect to the social ecosystem arising from not giving feedback (constructively) is mostly caused by talking to others about the person in question in the form of judgement, complaint, blame or accusation. In the very least, talking about them and not to them, disables a feedback loop from being established.
When we complain about one another with judgement we are complicit in cocreating ill social health. We are blind to our own part in firstly not setting our boundaries and secondly in not giving the feedback that, although uncomfortable, will, if done well, become one of the greatest gifts we can ever give one another.
To this day I am immensely grateful to those in my life, who have with strength and kindness given me the feedback of my impact on them. Humbled with fresh perspective and understanding, they have enabled me to learn and grow toward becoming a more conscious contributor to the social field.
If I may ask you some encouraging questions: What is the boundary you need to set in relationship to a person in your life who comes to mind? What feedback do you need to give to this person? How might this help them see what they have not yet seen? And, how might this ultimately enrich the health of your social ecosystem?
With love
Martin 🙏
August 2020

Personal Power and The Intuitive Knowing Voice

Acutely aware of how often I’ve given it away or lost access to it in the past I’ve been contemplating the subject of personal power, both it’s source and how to tap into it. 

This contemplation has led me to really understand that the source of personal power is connected and related to the part of me that is intuitive, still and quietly knowing; centered and grounded.

I think of it as the Intuitive Knowing Voice that is always speaking to me when I’m ready and able to listen.

It has a certain quality. You might recognise something similar for yourself. For me, it’s clear, immediate and visceral. It sits right at the centre of my solar plexus: a quiet loving gravity. If I get out of my own way sufficiently, it’s always there and ready to guide me.

I believe this to be vital in maintaining a strong sense of self in connection to the whole, to the greater Self.

And so I ask, what beliefs, behaviours and choices do I make that disconnect me from my personal power? 

One clue is that I notice the ability to listen diminishes when my ego becomes crusty and shell like. When this happens I see judgmentalism creep in – separateness and otherness often turn to dislike, distrust or distaste. When I catch it I become critically aware of how disconnected and out of sorts I’ve become. Grounded and centred I am not. 

When I’m open, malleable, soft, attentive and curious I see my listening attune to that source and what comes with it curiously is a greater sense of personal power.

As this practice deepens it becomes the most potent reference point for me in any given circumstance. Thoughts, choices, behaviours and beliefs can all be guided by pausing to reference the Intuitive Knowing Voice. 

From small examples such as undoing unhealthy eating habits or abstaining from alcohol for the time being, to making life choice decisions, or setting personal boundaries and expectations. The opportunities to practice continue daily.

And as this steadily becomes a daily practice I’m increasingly grateful and comforted by the fact that softening has become the way of strengthening and listening a way of knowing. 

With love 


Does the subject of my thinking bring me suffering or peace?

Friends, here is another piece that emerged this morning – I trust these writings are useful.

Does the subject of my thinking bring me suffering or peace? Consider any topic you spend time thinking about and ask yourself this one question: Does the subject of my thinking bring me suffering or peace? It would seem that some forms of thought perpetuate suffering and some forms of thought bring us to peace, resolution and understanding.

In contemplation I ask myself three further questions.
  • What makes these forms of thought different?
  • How can I characterise the difference?
  • How can I increase my ability to choose between them?
To the first question, when I reflect on the difference I see the following. In suffering thoughts I run an enemy narrative – I believe something or someone has the power to take away my power.
In most cases I have given it away and continue to give away my power in these situations.

In peaceful thoughts there is a co-creation narrative – I see my part in the play.
To the second question, when I reflect on what characterises the difference I see that: In suffering thoughts, there is much judgment, blame and accusation.
In peaceful thoughts, there is empathy, curiosity and compassion.
To the third question and with the above in mind, as I consider ways to increase my ability for the latter of the two – naturally, practices like meditation, loving kindness and mindfulness come to mind.
Too add to these I’d like to share a recent practice that has been helping me get to peaceful thoughts and reduce suffering thoughts.
I believe this practice is about taking full ownership of my part in the play.
To explain.
I am working from the premise that Life is constantly co-creating itself. Life is in co-creation with itself and everything physical and non physical is connected and in relationship.
Using this premise I then ask myself: What if everything that causes me to perpetuate hurt and anguish is, at the deepest level of significance, an opportunity to see my part in the co-creation of the hurt and anguish itself?
And further, What if everything I judge and is causing me suffering is signifying, a blind spot?
What might this mean?
Well firstly, it means I’ve got work to do.
Today my work is to catch in myself the voices of judgment and fear, the physical contractions, the mental narrowing on the problem, the ruminating, in fact anything that takes me down the rabbit hole of suffering thoughts.
The first part being to recognise this.
The next step is the kicker and its where I turn the ‘what if’ questions to statements.
I do have a part in this, I am responsible for that part. I have a blind spot.
Then I’ve been taking it one step further.
Whatever I judge in another I reverse it. For those that know Byron Katie’s work, I’ve been inspired by what she calls ‘the turnaround’ – turning the judgement back on oneself.
What I’ve discovered is not only the neutralising effect this has on the ‘suffering thoughts’ this reversal also takes me directly to ownership of my part in the interplay and begins to illuminate a blind spot.
To give you a recent example. I judged a person close to me for their lack of grace and consideration of others. Happily I caught the judgment and then proceeded to explore when lacking grace and being inconsiderate of others was true for me. Taking full ownership I saw very clearly that there were times when this was true.
Talk about a way to extinguish self righteousness.
In continuing this practice I’ve never yet found a moment where what I’m judging in another is not also true for me and/or where I’m playing a part. Of course when I’m hot with emotion and feeling wounded this practice feels impossible. In waiting for the heat to cool I can usually get there in time.
It works for historic incidents as well. Many years back I felt betrayed by two work colleagues – and you could say there was good justification for this. However even years later without doing this work I’m still suffering. So I applied the reversal of judgment and saw that in their eyes I had betrayed my colleagues in terms of their expectations as we’d never had clear and constructive conversation about any of the undercurrents at play. Voila – peaceful thoughts of acceptance.
Another example – I recently judged a family member for ‘throwing me under the bus’. When I reversed the judgement, guess what – in their experience I’d done the same. Suffering gone. Blind spot lit.
Ownership plus blind spot illuminated = ego reduction. And therefor with ego-mind reduced an eco-mind is enhanced and from this comes more peaceful thoughts. I’m excited about this practice because it allows me to really see what is being co-created when I show up with contracted – suffering thoughts. I perpetuate the suffering by not taking ownership and falling into the trap of the enemy narrative.
I’m coming to understand that this is tapping into a universal truth or natural law.
What I judge is what I fear and this points me to where my work is.
With love
© 2020

Reflection on Quantum Thinking

Inspired by Danah Zohar

In fear and the defensive state
Comes binary thinking
The instinctual brain so wired
Flips from friend to foe
And hell becomes justified

In fear and the defensive state
With quantum thinking
The instinctual brain so wired
Is guided toward an holistic embrace
Where curiosity and compassion necessitate


When the hit comes, the body will experience the hit and almost instantaneously contract defensively through an instinctual readiness for self preservation.

What the mind does next is the critical piece.

With binary thinking the mind accepts the premise of the hit and is triggered to deal with it in binary terms. A defensive stance faces outward viewing the world through the narrow corridor of right-wrong, good-bad, flight, flight or freeze and acts accordingly.

With quantum thinking the mind embraces the whole body-mind experience and deals with the hit in quantum terms. A centred and grounded stance faces both inward and outward: inward looking, it takes care of and holds the centre through breath and mindfulness, outward looking, it stays open to the premise by balancing agency and advocacy with curiosity and compassion, and acts accordingly.

Through dedicated, consistent quantum practice it is possible to move from reaction to response when one is triggered. We are not at the mercy of our instincts.


Martino © 2019

The Choice We Made to Kill the King

You just ran over a snake   she cried
The ute tyering heavily across the leaf strewn bitumen on the way home
I pulled up immediately to look into the rear view
And there it was flaying the air
Struggling for the fluid movement it no longer possessed
Such a creature – magnificent light brown – sleek powerful and known to be deadly
A two metre adult King Brown snake

We sat and watched it curl and recurl
Unable to move beyond the road
One third down its back had been crushed – what to do for this writhing being?
I’ll go home to get the shovel and come back    I said
Should you just leave it    she asked  –   my darling Jan concerned for my wellbeing
Yeah I have to – can’t leave it to suffer and die a lingering death

I returned five minutes later to the same spot
The shadows across the road making it hard to see the Brown and it’s broken magnificence
I picked up the long handled shovel and stepped carefully out of the car
I stood for several minutes perplexed – what was the right thing to do?
Kill it or leave it – which was more humane?
A voice in my head reminded me that most people bitten by snakes are trying to do them harm at the time they’re bitten – I checked myself
A cocktail of emotions bubbling inside my gut
sorrow – pity – fear – concern – wonder – guilt – maybe grief
the wounded king who was once magnificent now broken by my wheel

I stood immobilised unable to decide
And then returned home to call my cousin Chris – I needed his counsel – his brotherhood
Chris is a man of the earth – a wiry wiley soul – his hair often spiked with the dried salt licks from his last surf – his eyes full of spark and purpose – a man to trust – a man to turn the soil with

I called him and we spoke for a bit – probably should kill it he said – yeah probably best – I’ll be up the hill in a bit – I’ll bring my gun he said as he hung up

A little later he pulled up – I jumped in beside him and his gun – better bring your shovel he said – so I did

We drove the two kilometres back to the spot – the Brown had not moved beyond the place of its crushing
You can hardly see it in the shade   Chris said    no wonder you ran over it
Can’t use the gun – too close to the houses he mused

Without hesitation Chris drove again over the deadly king – there was no more deliberation – what had to be done had to be done

We left the car – it’s head is still moving     I said
Carefully, carefully in full regard  Chris inched forward and delivered the death blow with the shovel blade behind its head

The snake was dead

On the way back to the house we talked about the snake with great reverence – a creature of the wild that we admire and for the most part fear

Chris shared that a snake of that size would feed a family for a few days – we reflected on how this country’s first people’s – our indigenous brothers and sisters have a deep relationship with all its creatures and would have given thanks for this King’s ultimate surrender

Chris dropped me at the front of our place
Thanks for your help bro – I said – such a shame about the snake
Yeah he said – it happens
It was the choice we had to make

I waved him down the hill

Yes it was – and I will never forget the day we had to make it

The choice to kill the king.


Martinos © 2018

Within What is Possible

for GB & GB


Two powerful leadership questions to ask myself.

Through my actions and leadership presence:

What happens when I make it socially and relationally safe for others
to speak their truth and be themselves?

What happens when I encourage action beyond where others
thought they could go?

Might it be that, in contribution, I:

Inspire trust and confidence

Liberate potential

Facilitate an inherent response to

what the system is calling for

ultimately, creating a setting for what wants to be born



Martinos @ 2018

Essay on a Melbourne Sunset

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Protest in Peace – Leshia Evans



  • Woman who was captured in iconic arrest photo from Baton Rouge has been revealed as 28-year-old Ieshia Evans
  • Evans, a licensed practical nurse and mother to a five-year-old son, was attending her first protest on Saturday
  • Friends said she was arrested as police tried to push demonstrators back from their building
  • Evans found their actions unjust, as the protest was peaceful, so crossed her arms and stared them down
  • She was held for 24 hours but has now been released and is recovering in a hotel room before traveling home 
  • Evans said she was glad to be safe and the moment was ‘the work of God. I am a vessel! Glory to the most high!’
    Source – Daily Mail


The Art of Noticing – Using Feelings as a Source Code

The Observation

I’d been watching a student rehearse his monologue for several minutes when it suddenly struck me how disengaged I’d become. I’ll call this student Tim. I placed my attention on what I was feeling. My eyes were tired and it was a struggle to focus, I had a dull ache at the back of my head, my mind was wandering and I couldn’t connect with anything he was saying. Was this disconnection about where I was at or was it to do with the way he was working or was it a combination of both?

I checked in: no I’d worked with a student in the previous session and had felt focused and effective so I put that to one side for the time being. I decided to ask Tim some self-reflective questions to see if I could deepen my understanding of what it was I was feeling and what indeed he might be feeling.

The Conversation

M. Tim, how were you feeling as you worked just then?
T. I guess I felt a little nervous and tense and I suppose right now I’m feeling a little frustrated and dissatisfied with my monologue, I’m not really in it at the moment.
M. You say you’re feeling tense. What is the source of the tension?
T. I think I’m feeling tense because I worry if I’m making the right choices and whether or not you think it’s any good.
M. What’s a “right choice”?
T. Something that works. Something that gets me in the zone. A choice that I know you’ll like.
M. What do you mean by something that works?
T. It’s when I feel strong and connected and inside what I’m doing, fighting for my objective and not worrying about my acting.
M. And why is it important to you that I like it?
T. I guess because if you like it I’ll feel like I am doing a good job and that other people might like it too.
M. OK I understand that, so let me ask you this: when you’re doing your piece, how much of your attention is on the work itself and how much of your attention is focused on watching yourself as you work? Let’s call the first part, the actor part of you and let’s call the other part of you, your watcher.
T. Putting that way I reckon about 30% is actor and 70% is watcher.
M. OK good, so how does it feel to be 30/70 split when you’re working?
T. It feels a little frustrating, incomplete and I guess dissatisfying.
M. Do you feel that the state of tension you mentioned earlier is connected to worrying about getting it right and if I like your work, and that this is related to the 30/70 split?
T. Yes I think it is.
M. Yes I think it is too. OK so what do you want to feel when you’re working? How much of the actor/watcher split do you want to have?
T. That’s simple I want to feel secure in my choices and I want to be 100% actor.
M. OK so is it possible that the energy you’re using to watch yourself is a form of self-protection, guarding against you feeling insecure? And that this energy is actually holding you back and contributing to the dissatisfaction?
T. I can see that this is possible.
M. As I understand what is happening it’s the habitual mind interpreting the situation as an occasion where you need to be protected because you may be setting yourself up for criticism. The habitual mind says that because you’re being observed you need to be more watchful and outwardly aware, like a soldier on guard at a campsite. The dissatisfaction comes because there is another part of you that deeply desires to get into the piece you’re doing and connect and commit to the action of the character, and it’s not getting that satisfaction. As you said you want to really be ‘in it’ but it ain’t happening.

Earlier you said you wanted to feel secure, engaged and deeply satisfied in your work, lets say you want to be immersed, you want an immersive experience that gets you closer to the 100% you want to feel. What do you think you need to do to achieve this? What do you need to let go and what do you need to find?

T. From what you’ve explained already I probably need to let go the need to please you and the feeling that I have to get it right all the time.
M. Yes this would be a good idea. Is it possible for you to do this?
T. Yes I suppose it is.
M. Then let’s call this a process of acknowledging something in order to be able to let it go and then naming the things you want to find. Let’s make up an exercise where you can freely go about the room expressing your thoughts and feelings spontaneously. Name out loud the things you want to let go and state your desires in finding the things you need.
T. OK. I’m letting go of my need to get it right. I’m letting go of the need to please Martin. I’m letting go of the pressure I put on myself. I’m letting go of watching myself work. I’m letting go of being so protective. Hey I feel lighter already.
M. Keep going.
T. I’m letting go of censoring myself. I’m letting go of caution. I’m letting go of listening to my words when I speak.
M. And what do you want to find? What is it you want?
T. I want to be free. I want to make strong choices. I want to feel secure, to engage, to connect to others, to see my images. I want to experience the monologue. I want to fight for what I want. I want to be immersed in the experience. Hey it feels so great to say all this out loud.
M. Good. How are you feeling?
T. Lighter. Freer. Less serious about this acting stuff.
M. Good. Now we need to go back to the monologue you’re doing. As an actor you want to feel secure when you’re working, but the character you’re playing doesn’t feel secure at all. What do you imagine the character is going through?
T. My character is afraid and desperate. He is terrified of being caught for a crime he committed and is appealing to his friend for help.
M. Is it possible for you to imagine yourself in this situation, pleading for help from a friend of yours? Can you see your friend sitting in front of you? Can you work to experience the fear of getting caught, the regret for doing a crime? Can you involve yourself ‘as if’ this were true for you right now?
T. Yes I can.
M. Are you able to work from a secure place as an actor in order to experience some of the discomfort and insecurity of the character?
T. Yes I am confident I can.

The Rehearsal

Tim proceeded to explore the monologue with different choices. He involved himself deeply in the person he saw in front of him. He did not work to get anything ‘right’ or please me in any way. He fought hard as his character to get his friend to agree to help him avoid prosecution. Tim began to explore the monologue experientially. He immersed himself in the struggle ‘as if’ he were fighting for his own life. He proceeded to make discoveries about his character and about the relationship he had with his friend. He found deeper tangible links to the situation even though he had never committed a crime. He made deep human connections to the situation and the need.

The Realisation

Suddenly I realised my eyes were no longer sore. The headache had gone. I was completely caught up in the story. Could this be the same piece Tim had been working on a few minutes earlier? His involvement and commitment to the piece had me completely engaged. I had started to care about the characters and was interested to know what happened next. And I realised we had both used our feelings scientifically. We had used them in such a way to determine what felt more and less satisfying. We had used our feelings as a source code to determine what needed to be de-programmed and what needed to be re-programmed.

The Follow-Up

M. How do you feel after exploring your piece with greater freedom?
T. Fantastic. I felt really connected like it was personal. I really needed his help. I saw him struggling when I confessed the crime. I saw how conflicted he was and I experienced deeper conflict myself. I made discoveries about my character. I found out things I never thought about before. I discovered how uncertain and uncomfortable he is. How he truly feels he can get away with it if only he can convince his friend to help him.
M. Yes I am very happy for you and very happy that you experienced so much freedom to immerse yourself in the piece and on top of that make deeper discoveries about situation, relationship and character. That is a real testament for going to that deeper, experiential place. I must thank you for confirming for me the value of such an organic process. One we undertake without the constraints of rightness and correctness. It is such a beautiful irony that we achieve security and engagement in our work when we trust the experience of the immersive state over the tentativeness of the protective state of watchfulness and guardedness. We make bold choices, when we personalise the need and when we engage our audience through immersion.
T. Thank you for deepening my understanding, Martin.
M. And thank you Tim for deepening mine.

Martin Challis © 2006/2015

Why Wait for a Crisis

My father lay dying. It was 5am in the morning. I leant down and kissed his forehead. I love you dad, I whispered not sure if he registered. I walked over to my mother who had been standing a little away from his bed and held her in my arms for a good while. The taxi would arrive any minute. The plane back to Brisbane departing at 6 am. Whatever happens you’ve done your best mom, I told her. I could see she wasn’t convinced. She had loved this man for over sixty years. A dutiful devoted wife. He is my life she told me. With that I kissed her on the cheek and left her tending to her waning paramour. My mother had nursed him for almost 5 weeks single-handed and as his health declined over that time so had hers. She looked tired and frail. She was afraid.

Before leaving I had counselled her to call for medical assistance. Because of her faith she had not yet done so. Ultimately it was her call as Dad was by now incoherent. As much as I disagreed with her position I respected it was her decision.

Returning to Brisbane that afternoon, I received a phone call from a family friend. He informed me that my mother had finally conceded she was no longer able to care for my father at home by herself. She also conceded that it was time to seek medical assistance. She had called a doctor to the house and he had acted immediately calling an ambulance, which rushed my father to hospital. My friend told me the doctor took one look at him and said; call an ambulance.

Five weeks earlier it turned out, he had experienced kidney failure and that had been the main reason for his demise. He was saved at the last minute by miraculous medical intervention and ultimately recovered in hospital, albeit with some complications. For a man in his mid eighties he did very well and as I  heard, gave the nurses plenty of cheek whenever he got the chance.

Why did my mother and father take so long to call for medical assistance? The reason is that they are practicing Christian Scientists. Part of their faith is that they use the power of prayer for healing. They do not believe in medicine.

Please know that I am not going to get into any derisive commentary about their faith or the way they practice it. I am also not going to attempt to fully explain their convictions or the current practices of this religion. What I do want to discuss is the paradigm of what I perceive to be: a closed mind or a fixed belief causing harm. As you can imagine there has been a lot of soul searching in my family around all this. You can probably imagine the conversations. The polarity occurring between the belief at one end and the non-belief at the other. So much so that for some including my mother there is extreme guilt for calling in medical assistance. At the other end there is extreme anger for her not doing so.  Another polarity is that once medical assistance has been called then all prayer through Christian Science must cease. One excludes the other. I do not understand this and I have to ask, why?

What I do understand is that our thoughts are a powerful source of energy. In a sense, we are what we think. Thoughts can change the world. One has only to attend an Anthony Robbins seminar, listen to Esther Hicks or read the ideas supporting Quantum Physics to appreciate this. One has only to practice it oneself to realise it. I do understand the reasoning behind attending to good thoughts, to working to keep positive attention and in the case of Christian Scientists to read the bible and the Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker-Eddy to affirm and deepen scriptural knowledge.

What I don’t understand is why a practice or faith has to become non-inclusive of other practices or faiths. Especially when in the case of Christian Science, holding exclusively to a belief, clearly had detrimental consequences.

It is certainly a human trait to lock into mindsets and beliefs, which is most likely an attempt to create security in what is perceived as a world of insecurity where anything can happen and usually does. Somehow it seems that we believe that our fixed beliefs will keep us safe. How often does it happen that we hold a fixed idea about something only to have it wrenched from us at the point of crisis? Why wait for crisis?

Some would say this is an ego state that attaches to fixed beliefs in the vain hope crisis will be averted through the enforcement of certainty and control. Controlling beliefs.

To the fixed state it appears that even when the flow of life is interrupted the indication that something is calling for our attention is not regarded as a signal for inquiry or change.

If a more open state of mind is developed to foster sensitivity to the interruption of ‘flow’, might it be possible to also keep ideas about life in a more fluid state? Perhaps it might be possible to move from controlling beliefs to ‘operating beliefs’? Beliefs that represent our values and yet are sensitive to change, to new dynamics, to interruption.

This is not to imply that we should dissolve all morals and ethics, rather, to see that when disorder and disease arise it most likely is a sure-fire sign that something needs our attention.

What I want to say to Christian Scientists is that—is it not possible for a faith that was born around 200 years ago to evolve? Is it not possible that the practice of Christian Science and medicine, be it eastern or western, can become mutually inclusive? Of course there needs to be respect and consideration for different needs. However what I have always experienced as a young man growing up around Christian Science is that medicine and matters to do with the material world became a source of fear. Not to be talked about. Not to be discussed. In my experience the very act of wanting to talk about or discuss this conundrum was shunned. Avoidance won the day.

I realise I am not going to resolve all the issues around dogma and fixed beliefs in one short reflection. I do want to share my experience around this and trust my family will respect the discussion. What ever happens from here I do know this: there has to be a basis of mutual respect and love when dealing with different faiths and beliefs. If my parents had decided not to call for medical help and my father had passed away I would have been very sad of course but ultimately would respect this as, their way. I do not agree with it and would urge anyone in this situation to encourage an alternate course of action.

In my heart I see that it is not about faith-to-faith or intra-faith exclusion, where one practice cannot work with another. I see that the flow of life is inclusive and inter-connected. Perhaps we will all know this one day soon enough. Perhaps even this last statement might constitute an ‘operating belief’.


MChallis © 2015