Communications Trainer and Coach
Hi! My name is Alistair McKinnon
I can still be surprised at the gifts that life brings in different forms. The following is 2 versions of the same play, called “Life”, running in parallel:
I was born to a highly-critical mother and a passive and supportive father. I was bullied at school, when I was 26 I experienced both the suicide death of my father and the death of my eldest brother in a car accident. After that year, I went through breakups of my own marriage and relationships, addictions to sex and spiritual experience, failure in my professional life, and I was periodically swamped with depression, collapse and loneliness. I was highly critical of myself and thought I was separate and different from others, that I was never enough...and that there must be something wrong with me.
Contrastingly, I was born into a very privileged middle-class family, and lived in suburban Melbourne. I grew up playing football and cricket in the backyard with two older brothers, and went for holidays at the beach every year. I was privileged to travel to, and live in England as a young boy, receive 4 years’ of private school education, and be university-qualified. I spent 25 years as a chartered accountant and started my own business. Through this time, I was in a ‘successful’ 27-year relationship, and raised two beautiful children (now young adults, becoming successful at what they do). I purchased and lived in a Federation cottage in Canterbury in Melbourne, and embarked on an intense and enriching spiritual journey over 14 years. I later owned a small farm outside of Melbourne (with cows, goats, sheep, geese, chickens, a rabbit, a horse and a dog and cat) where the children could explore to their hearts content. When my marriage failed I moved to Byron Bay to live and work and explore conscious relationship.
It’s no wonder that over 25 years ago, I started trying to make sense of it all. There was much to appreciate and much to suffer with… and a sense of confusion when often, both were here.
Now, with the wisdom that comes with age and many years of exploration of the truth, I can see that life has played its hand this way and it has been inviting me into a deeper connection to itself – to see the beauty, love and blessing present in it all – in both the positive and the negative.
In 1991, I embarked on a 14-year intensive spiritual inquiry to try to find the truth of the confusing state my mind was in. I learned to inquire and ask the deeper questions of life;, “Who am I?”, “What am I here for?” as I began to connect with something more solid inside.
By the end of it in 2005 I had been given many answers and there remained the challenge of living what was known.
In 2011, I trained to be a facilitator of Byron Katie’s work. It deepened my understanding of inquiry and its power to undo knots of misperception in my being, and set me free from some of my belief systems.
Also in 2011, I encountered Compassionate Nonviolent Communication (NVC), as created and taught by the late Marshall Rosenberg Ph.D., and it contributed enormously to helping make sense of how to live life. It transformed the way I had been living and brought much enjoyment of, and connection with, the important people in my life. I have been training others in this work since 2013 and from 2017 to the end of 2019 I was a co-trainer and coach for the clients of EmbodyingNVC.com .
In 2012, I was introduced to Focusing by Jo Kennedy of Focusing Australia. This skill has enabled me to find a new, friendlier relationship with my inner experience and developed my capacity to be courageous with what feels uncomfortable.
In 2014, I discovered the work of Dr Sue Johnson who developed Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) - arguably the world's leading researcher on the subject of intimate relationship - and I began self-studying her teaching and applying it in my life and work.
In 2017, I became an Internationally Certified Trainer in NVC and an Internationally Certified Focusing Professional.
In 2019 I have come out of a committed and rewarding intimate relationship in which I experienced an aliveness and intimacy that was surprising, sometimes blissful, other times painful, but always inviting me to the next level of unfolding. Now life calls me to a period of being on my own which seems to be about learning to love myself more completely and to dive deeper into my own self knowledge.
What is Nonviolent Communication? (NVC)
NVC is a process that supports the creation of connection between people, whether that is in intimate relationship or in an organisation. Its aim is to enrich of life and support those that learn it to recognise their interdependence, power of choice, and to communicate from their heart.
This approach to communication emphasizes compassion as the motivation for action rather than fear, guilt, shame, blame, coercion, threat or justification for punishment. In other words, it is about getting what you want for reasons you will not regret later.
NVC is NOT about getting people to do what we want. It is about creating a quality of connection where everyone’s needs are held to be equally important.
What is Focusing?
To practice Focusing is to open into an awareness that includes everything. Awareness is firstly expanded to connect with the environment and then turned inward to be present to your body’s sensations and finding the ‘felt sense’ of the situation.
Focusing shows you how to pause and reflect on any situation in your life and create a space for new possibilities for carrying forward.
Your body knows more about situations than you are explicitly aware of, so connecting with the body and its wisdom can bring fresh insights and clarity about how to move forward.
With a little training, you can get a bodily feel for the 'more' that is happening in any situation. From that bodily feel come small steps that lead toward resolution.