In a moving President’s speech given at Meditation Australia’s 2016 Annual General Meeting Ruth Gawler resigned from the position of President. In the election that followed the respected author Paul Bedson was nominated and duly elected to replace Ruth as head of this rapidly growing organisation.

Presidents Report AGM 2016

This has been a really big year for the Meditation Association of Australia – referred to as Meditation Australia henceforth, on many levels including the growth in numbers by 62%, the highest by far of any year to date.

I’ll start with the big event in June “Meditation – past, present and future” at Federation Square, in Melbourne, which brought close to 300 participants into the city on a cold winters night for a stimulating and engaging convention. Facinating presentations by Dr Craig Hassed (our Patron), Pauline McKinnon (our Founder), Ken Mellor, Janet Etty-Leal and Kay Watts were followed by a forum discussing where meditation teaching was leading to, in Australia, now. This successful event really helped to raise the profile of our organisation and expanded our reputation into new levels of public awareness and the new place of meditation teaching in our secular communities. Organised and visioned by Paul Majewski, with Stephen Penman, they created the right environment and tone for that evenings meaningful talks and discussion.

During this last year Paul Majewski has shown himself to be a wonderful asset to Meditation Australia in his engagement with events and conventions (salons) for our association. And looks to expanding this role to taking events to other places in Australia, interstate, with the involvement of local members.

Stephen Penman has worked more than anyone could imagine to put our organisation into the frontline of meditation teaching in Australia and New Zealand – everything from visioning, understanding and dealing with legislated requirements for changing what needed changing, hands-on website redesign and uploading, logo design and the review of the “face of Meditation Australia” on the internet, practical ideas for moving forward with membership applications and on-line membership profiles, and helping us move to a level of being able to acquire the essential and key new first employed administrator – our Executive Officer- Joanna Joustra. Simply put Stephen has given us all the confidence to move forward and adapt to our changing world, and actually finding Joanna Joustra! Together we agreed to engaging her services with the agreement of our Board.

Joanna has shown herself to be a passionate meditation teacher in her own right with the unusual and remarkable skill-set needed for good communication, administration and IT presence, and has been working 2 days a week – officially, but in fact far more than that, for MA since August this year. We are very pleased to have her generous and creative mind involved with our work. She has the experience and knowledge to actively make a huge contribution and Joanna has raised the professionalism and quality of our service considerably in the short time she has been with us.

I want to also make note of Tim Whiting, our diligent and reliable Treasurer, who brings his own quiet strength to our Board, doing the very necessary task of making sure we are all making decisions with due diligence to the financial responsibilities of our brief. Additionally we extend our thanks to his association with the Brahma Kumaris for their donation of a lovely , convenient meeting place venue in Bruswick for our Board meetings. And their recent hospitality for a social gathering of the Board for the enlivenment and inspiration of our team with lunch last Sunday at the ashram in South Frankston.

I’d like to note two important goodbyes this year – to Lucille Wood and Jan Louis-Him who left in August after many years of dedicated service and generosity to firstly ATMA and then Meditation Australia. Likewise to Ken Mellor, who resigned his position and who had put many hours of diligent study and attention into our membership review, and had formulated our initial foundations for membership. His wise counsel and contributions will always be remembered. Ken was keen to see us include NZ meditation teachers in our membership, which we now have, and would be happy to know that this is on the table ready for more complete recognition.

I’d formally like to thank Janet Etty-Leal, who some will be aware has made a big contribution to mindfulness and meditation in education. Unfortunately Janet cannot attend this meeting because of a prior commitment to a seminar on this very subject that she is running in Singapore (where she had been invited as a leader in this field).

Moreso I’d like to thank the two new Board members, medical practitioner Dr Ranjit Rao and Founder of the Lifeflow meditation centre in Adelaide, Dr Graham Williams for joining the Board, both of whom are experienced meditation teachers, who will make invaluable contributions with their wide experience and commitment.

This brings me to finally announcing that after 8 years of being on the Board of ATMA and then Meditation Australia, and particularly the last 2 years of having the honour and privilege of being the President (after 3 years as Vice-President) I am stepping down. I’m extremely grateful to the wonderful teams that I have meaningfully worked with over these years. I learnt alot and really enjoyed the regular noble company. Personally it feels like long enough for anyone to be on a Board! Time to move out and let some fresher ideas come forward with new energy and vitality.

I am, unofficially welcoming Paul Bedson back as a potential new leader for Meditation Australia, as he has agreed to the nomination for the role of President, if elected by the membership. Paul is well-known to me as a man with authentic relevant experience and presence, a man who can ably guide and eloquently speak for Meditation Australia, having been teaching widely for many decades.

Thank you to all the members for letting me be a part of your vocation as meditation teachers in my roles on this Board. It’s been truly one of the most useful things I’ve ever done in my life and leaves me feeling satisfied, as well as with having some very special memories of great experiences with really well-motivated good people.