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Woman: When I finished school I went to university, Melbourne University, and studied

science, a bachelor of science . I then did my honours degree and after that I worked in a
heart disease research institute.
Man: In Melbourne?
Woman: In Melbourne. It is called the Baker Heart Research Institute. So I worked for a
year, a bit over a year on cholesterol and the metabolism of cholesterol in the body.
Man: How the body breaks it down?
Woman: How it is actually transported. So I was looking at a protein, that determines
how the cholesterol in the blood is modified and delivered to cells and how it is returned
back to the liver..
Man: Right.
Woman: …to be broken down into bile. So we were working on that and then I wanted
to have a break so I went traveling and I traveled through western Europe and ended up in
London and I worked at the Guildford Surrey County Hospital in an immunology lab and
that was more diagnostic work. It was quite interesting. And after that I moved to
Finland. Helsinki.
Man: Wow!
Woman: And I did my PhD there.
Man: In Helsinki? In English?
Woman: In English. Every student who is doing their PhD; they have to write their PhD
in English.
Man: Right.
Woman: And the seminars are given in English.
Man: So you were in Helsinki for like five years.
Woman: Five years.
Man: Do you speak Finnish?
Woman: Not very well. I can understand a bit, but it is quite a difficult language and
because English was my mother tongue they wanted to practise their English.
Man: Right.
Woman: And preferred to speak English with me. But yeah I did take lessons and try and
learn it…and that was all… So the PhD was all metabolism and transport.
Man: Right.
Woman: And after that I decided to move back to Melbourne so I took the trans-Siberian
train.
Man: Wow!
Woman: And went that direction into Beijing.
Man: Into China, yeah.
Woman: Yeah. Then got back to Melbourne and I started my post-doctoral research
which was in a different field. It is blood diseases like leukemia and I was researching
stem cells in the bone marrow and a signaling pathway…
Man: Stem cell research; that is illegal in some places, isn’t it?
Woman: It is. This is adult stem cells. Not embryonic.
Man: Right.
Woman: So we all have stem cells in our bone marrow and they are constantly re-
populating the marrow and providing us with our whole immune system.
Man: Right.
Woman: But they are normally dormant or “quiescent” as we call it. And they only go
into division when they need to produce certain cells. So I was trying to figure out or
understand what controls; like what signals they get to move them from quiescence to an
active state
Man: Right.
Woman: So that was three years and that was in Melbourne. So I just published the work
from that and decided to travel…
Mark: So what is meditation?
Alec: Hmm..good question. Well meditation is a huge variety of techniques that are used
to move people into the moment…or to use a cliche, the “here and now”.
Mark: Hm-mm what kind of techniques? For example, can you give me an example?
Alec: Well…yeah…there are Buddhist techniques. There are many different types of
Buddhist techniques but some of the main techniques are to do with using your breath so
that you are focusing on your breathing and you’re bringing your mind, your thinking
mind – what they call the aahm…what is it…the crazy monkey, is it?…or the mad
monkey? The mad monkey mind…and you are bringing that… redirecting that…
commanding the attention of your mind…your thoughts…and bringing it to the breath,
focusing on the breath.
Mark: Focusing so like…controlling your mind and focusing on the breath.
Alec: No you don’t control your mind. That is impossible…you just have to gently
redirect it…continually redirect it…towards focusing on your senses. So in a way…
meditation – a big part of meditation – is using your senses to go…what do they call it?…
beyond your senses.
Mark: And how long have you been meditating?
Alec: Since I was a teenager…and in my early twenties, you know. I started to
meditate…I got hold of this…
Mark: So that is a hundred…
Alec: That is a thousand years ago.
Mark: Ha ha ha…
Alec: You know, several lifetimes ago. No, I was really into trying to work out what the
hell was going on…because I…I had a lot of hang-ups…still do I suppose, but I can work
with them much easier now.
Mark: You went to India, is that right?
Alec: No, no, no, I will just explain. I went to India very recently by comparison. When I
was about twenty…ninteteen, twenty, I was reading one particular book I remember
which really influenced me was by Alan Watts who wrote a lot of books about West
meets East…
Mark: Um-hm
Alec: …which was very big at the time…it still is, you know…that…a lot of people were
looking into the mystical philosophies of the Eastern way and I remember reading this
and practicing it just sitting. I remember choosing…my first try at meditation was
choosing various comfortable seats. I had my back straight and I was very relaxed and
then focusing on parts of my body for example my hands…just to focus my attention just
on how my hands felt…the sensation in my hand…or my whole body sometimes…and to
focus on what occurred and by working on that…on a continual basis…it is a very
transformational thing.
Mark: Mm.
Alec: So meditation is very very transformational.
Mark: You have done guided meditation with me before. What do you think we go
upstairs and you take me through a guided mediation?
Alec: Yeah, ok, that would be great.
Mark: (Do) you want to do that now or later?
Alec: Whenever you want to because really aah…
Mark: Let’s sit here and talk a little and we will do that a little bit later.
Alec: Ok
Father: Ok, you can open your eyes now, and I want you to look at each picture and tell
me what you see and how you feel about it. Let’s look at the first picture. What do you
see?
Daughter: I see a tiger city with trees and all kinds of houses.
Father: And what’s going on in front of the city. What do you see there?
Daughter: I see trees on the tiger’s cheeks.
Father: Oh really?
Daughter: Yeah.
Father: And what do you see near the tiger’s eyes?
Daughter: Lights and streets.
Father: Interesting. Would you like to live in that little tiger city?
Daughter: Maybe not because it moves.
Father: It moves?
Daughter: The tiger mouth. The tigers move, so I don’t want to stay there. It’s an
earthquake always.
Father: Let’s look at the next picture, ok?
Daughter: Ok. Wow!
Father: Describe that picture for me.
Daughter: It’s a guy and he has a little nest on his head with a blue bird and seven eggs.
Father: Seven eggs.
Daughter: Pink eggs.
Father: Pink eggs.
Daughter: And then he’s feeling happy because they’re going to hatch soon and he can
have new friends.
Father: Why does he have a nest on his head?
Daughter: Um, difficult. I think accidentally, when he was rocking in the forest it
dropped.
Father: And it landed on his head?
Daughter: Hm, and he doesn’t notice, but he hears the birds, so he’s keeping it on there,
so he can make new friends.
Father: Interesting. Do you think the bird is happy?
Daughter: He looks happy, kind of.
Father: The bird. Do you think it’s a he or a she?
Daughter: I think it’s a she because the males go get the food and the females stay in
their nest so they can protect the eggs.
Father: Let’s look at the next picture. What do you see happening there?
Daughter: Hm. It’s about a picture in the night with an…a city in a hat, with a Buddha in
the little palace. And then, all the way to the back there’s mountains and trees, but they’re
different. The trees are different. And, and on one side of the picture the moon is round,
but on the other side of the picture it’s almost going to be gone. So, the guy that has the
moon that’s round, he’s happy because it’s lucky – a day. But the other guy, the other guy
on the other side with the moon almost going to shrink and be gone, he’s sad about it
because he’s lucky.
Father: Interesting. Let’s look at the next picture. Talk about this one. What is it?
Daughter: It’s a rabbit with a hat on that says 2011. This year is 2011, so maybe, and,
2011 is the rabbit year, so I think this picture is about the rabbit year of 2011.
Father: Interesting. Very good. And what is the rabbit looking at?
Daughter: Us.
Father: Really. How does he feel?
Daughter: I think he feels happy because it’s his own year.
Father: Let’s look at the next picture. Talk about this one.
Daughter: On the bottom it looks like it says, “floating.” From his nose, it looks like a
beard, but it’s blood coming out of his nose. And from the chin there is fire coming out,
but it looks like a beard. And his hair, it looks nice, but it might be blood coming out of
his brain. And he looks kind of, um, really sad. But his mouth looks like he’s talking
about something. On the bottom it says, “floating,” so maybe he’s saying, “I’m floating.”
Father: Ok. Let’s look at the next picture. Talk about this one.
Daughter: It looks like a two-headed human with four eyes, one nose, and one mouth.
And it looks like, that, he got another person’s head, about right where almost his nose is
going to appear, but one guy cut it and put it on his head. And that guy, that got cut off, is
wearing a hat. But the guy down below doesn’t notice because he was bald and he didn’t
have no hair, but now he has hair with two more eyes and a hat.
Father: Wow. Ok. Let’s look at this picture.
Daughter: Oh! That picture…it looks like he’s on a camp, and he’s, and then he is sitting
and on the back of there, there’s bugs and maybe the mind is playing tricks on him to
make the bugs bigger and the animals creepier and much more bigger. And then, he’s
holding his food and he’s thinking about, “Don’t take my food. That’s my food.”
Father: How does he feel?
Daughter: I think he feels, just, really angry, because maybe…a crab is back there, and
the other is a beetle, and maybe they’re trying to get back there, so maybe he’s talking
with his mind.
Father: I see. What is he looking at?
Daughter: He’s looking straight. But, it’s a picture, so I don’t know. Maybe he’s looking
at the people that’s looking at him.
Father: I see. Ok. Very good.