Dr David Malkin

Clinical Psychologist Perth | Counsellor Perth

Tel: 0409 227 548

Look for the Big in the Small

The novelist and explorer Laurens Van Der Post was a master in describing the universal in the particular such as a cloud formation as a metaphor for the Heavens or a wave characteristic as a description of the essence of the whole ocean..It is exciting to get an insight into the big from the small.Life often seems like a hologram in that a general pattern can be observed in the smallest interaction or interchange or observation.This is a useful idea in an age of uncertainty to try to get some bearings on what the future may hold.Sometimes the inner sense or inner observation is very quiet and easily missed in a world of hurry.Some quiet introspection may uncover a sense or a feeling which is worth paying attention to as a harbinger for a larger,yet unobserved,picture.Learning to pay attention and develop some trust for the inner world can pay dividends as a compass for future navigation in life.Noticing the small patterns occuring in an everyday environment likewise may give much focus for closer inspection and choice.

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Being ordinary is extraordinary

Being ordinary seems to have widespread bad press and can result in many people being very self critical,depressed,and unhappy.The Czech writer Franz Kafka wrote to a friend 'I am dirty, Milena,infinitely dirty'.Kafka turned this into an art form by writing the book 'The Metamorphosis' in which the protagonist wakes up 'transformed into a gigantic insect'.Fortunately,most people are not so extreme in their self judgement.However,striving 'to beat the Jones's' is widespread with self acceptance depending on comparisons with what others appear to have or appear to look like.

It is often heard as a comment that some action or sporting performance is 'pretty ordinary' meaning terrible.This adds to prevailing concerns not to be ordinary in oneself and to have to be bigger and better.The fundamental confusion seems to be a misunderstanding about what it is to be a 'human being' as separate from a 'human doing'.Of course,striving for excellence is a fine attitude but does not have to be at the cost of non self-acceptance.Being ordinary in terms of acceptance of self and others is the most extraordinary recognised quality of people who are most highly esteemed as a  'great person'.The ego inflation is not there in those who are simply being  themselves as no different fundamentally to anyone else.Neither better or worse.This appears to be deceptively simple but actually is not so with all the everyday pressures prevailing in society.'Being ordinary' in the sense of self awareness and fundamental acceptance of self and others can be seen as  an extraordinary achievement in psycho-spiritual development.

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The Golden Rule

In the Mahabharata (Book 13) it says 'one should never do to another which one regards as injurious to one's own self'.In the Analects of Confucius (Book 4 Chapt.3) is the passage 'The superior man does not,even for the space of a single meal,act contrary to virtue.In moments of haste,he cleaves to it.In seasons of danger,he cleaves to it'.In the Old Testament (Leviticus) is the instruction 'love your neighbour as yourself'.This injunction is repeated many times in the worlds religious literature.

Most people know this and try to act on it for reasons of personal values,social expectation,or the pleasure of being neighbourly.Some may act out of enlightened self interest in the expectation of being treated well in return or in obedience to the Law of Karma which basically asserts that 'what goes around,comes around' in this life, or the hereafter if one is that way disposed.

Although this rule is accepted many find it difficult to remember in the hurly burly of daily activities.One's own difficulties,worries and needs can take priority to the extent of others being perceived almost as the enemy.To get back on an even keel of self possession and adult functioning requires space for perpective.One way to do this is to regularly take time for 'spot' meditation or time out for personal reflection,to slow down.This takes practice and can become ingrained as a routine to get outside 'the belly of the whale' of bad feeling and see life more impartially and objectively.Working on effective communication skills to understand others,resolve problems and engaging in self esteem building activities helps to limit resentment or disrespect for others.Then  problems or difficulties can be focussed on with an 'I'm OK-You're OK' attitude. This is a work in progress which is never entirely completed.The possible value of seeing "Tat Tvam Asi'(.Thou art That),as postulated in the Upanishads, is the hope for more cohesion, harmony and balance with associated reduction in stress.

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Dreams have been used for healing purposes since ancient times.Asclepius was the Greek god of healing and medicine.Temples in ancient Greece were devoted to him and people would sleep there and report their dreams to the priest the following day.On the basis of those reports the priest would prescribe a cure.In more modern times the founders of psychotherapy, Freud and Jung, used dreams as the 'royal road' to the unconscious.Psychological healing was attempted by analysing the latent messages carried by the dream whist the dreamer is asleep.Freud used a method of chain associations from a dream image whilst Jung advocated amplifying the symbol but staying close to it.Jung also proposed using archetypal or collective levels of interpretation rather than just personal ones.In essence,the methods are designed to tell the dreamer something which is hidden from their everyday awareness.This awareness then forms the basis for more informed choices,fuller awareness,and emotional regulation.This vehicle was used to attempt to cure a variety of neurotic ailments such as anxiety and depression.

Current day psychologists,counsellors,and therapists continue to use dreams as a medium not only for relieving psychological distress but also for personal growth and self regulation.This can be a value adding exercise to healthy living.Dream work methodology has been extended to include gestalting,or acting out,a dream. Psychodramatic techniques are sometimes used to enliven a dream. Art therapy and modelling can also be used to extract meaning from dreams.Many people feel that dreams are quite meaningless because they often do not appear to make sense.This is because dreams involve symbolic,or associative,logic not everyday sequential logic.Hence,one should not be fearful or ashamed by content that probably is referring to something which is not literal.People in dreams can often represent aspects or qualities of personality.

Although some symbols can have a common meaning,the dreamer themself is the authority on what makes sense to them.The sense of fit of an interpretation or suggestion is very personal and ideosyncratic.Over time the dreamer can become familiar with their own dream code so as to recognise more easily what continues to arise in ongoing dreaming.Working with a therapist who is familiar with dreamwork can be valuable to get started and because some meanings become more apparent when talking out loud to another person.Writing dreams down can become a worthwhile habit together with the date to keep a track of events.Using a bound blank book is worthwhile to keep a record rather than scraps of paper which are easily lost or disorganised.Generally dreams disappear quickly so it is important to have writing materials easily to hand when first waking up without other distractions such as the radio.Dreams are considered to intend to be helpful,even the nightmares.

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Meditation can be practised in many different ways and for a multiplicity of purposes.There can be religious elements including the robes,rituals,and doctrines of Buddhism and other religions and sects.There can be conferral of spiritual energy through Shaktipat (contact with peacock feathers administered by a recognised Guru in the Kashmir Shaivism tradition) and the seeking of 'the Blue Pearl of Wisdom'.There can be insight training with the various nonreligious methods of Vipassana.Also,there can be the enchantment delivered through the chanting of different Mantras and prayers.

Many people are deterred from the recognised health and stress relief benefits of meditation because of fears about the complexity or context of the above techniques.However,in essence many meditation benefits can be derived simply from being 'in the moment'.That sort of feeling arises when spellbound by a sunset,natural scenery,gardening,or other totally absorbing activity.Some people have the idea that they can't do meditation because they think meditation has to be some sort of empty mind.Actually,just noticing one's thoughts,not following them,and returning to a focus can be very effective in producing meditation benefits.Focus can include attention to breaths,a particular image or picture,sound,smell,or sensation such as the pressure of ones feet on the ground.Benefits can be derived from short periods of minutes of practice,not necessarily hours or weeks. 

If you require the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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Tel: 0409 227 548

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1/40 St Quentin Ave
Claremont WA 6010
(Find at cnr Stirling Rd & Stirling Hwy)

PO Box 6247
Swanbourne WA 6010


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