We hope you enjoy the first part of an interview between storyteller and world traveller Kelly Irving and Sue Gregory, Global Leadership Foundation Fellow, leadership coach, facilitator, occupational therapist and energetic healer. In this interview, Sue explains her background and how she came to live in Alice Springs and working with nungkere, Frank Ansell. She also explores current ideas about spirituality and energy in business and her learnings from the indigenous. Sue will be leading a Global Leadership Foundation Leadership Experience this September along with Frank Ansell- details here.
Tell us about your background, Sue.
I’ve been a leadership coach now for 14 years and I also do a lot of facilitation. I have a background in healthcare as an occupational therapist and I have been interested in energy healing for a long time. I’ve taught energy healing in aged care and in hospitals. In one particular case I was teaching a group of carers how to do energy healing so they could settle people in the aged care facility. The remarkable thing was there was a shift in the culture in that organisation over three or four weeks. Staff started to care for each other, the amount of fighting went down and sick leave went down. It was at this point that I realised that this type of energy work we were doing with patients actually had huge implications for leadership and/or organisational change. An example of that would be teaching the director of nursing how to centre and ground herself while giving other people feedback. Another one would be teaching leadership teams how to utilise the energetic power of intent to create a culture of caring across their organisation.
As I moved more into leadership coaching, I found that a lot of my work was actually teaching leaders how to do this. In facilitation I would take people through exercises to become centered and grounded quickly so they would be on the same page, or in resonance if you like. This would be for the work that they had to do in strategic planning and or in one case, a merger of two organisations.
What I’ve done is I’ve combined my knowledge of energy healing, spirituality and indigenous culture with my background as a health professional to inform my leadership and facilitation work in the corporate world.
How did you arrive in Alice Springs and how did you start working with Frank Ansell?
When we came up here on a holiday, my husband and I were at the rock (Uluru) and I had a spiritual experience at that rock that was quite profound and very personal. It was very clear that I had to come up here to Central Australia. I didn’t know why but I trusted enough to follow this intuition. So we moved up here and that meant leaving behind the consultancy that I had in Hobart. I left it behind to go to this small country town, not knowing why. Six months later I was sitting quietly thinking: Why am I here? What’s this all about? And a few days later I was at a Chamber of Commerce event which had a whole lot of different business booths. I could feel this energy from a booth further down.
When I went down to look, there were 3 nungkeres working. One of them took me outside. His name was Frank. He put his hand over to top of mine and all this energy came to me. It was like a power entering my kidneys and I felt incredibly strong. I saw an image of that classic aboriginal pose of a man on one leg holding a spear. That was the same image I’d seen in dreams and even a call home to Australia when working overseas. Frank asked me if I would help bringing this work to the white world. So that’s how it started. I spent quite a lot of time with Frank receiving healings which had a profound effect on me, and I made deep changes during that time. With it was this growing commitment to do what I could do to help dominant culture to value the strengths, the spiritual depth, and the knowledge that comes from a completely different world view. How it can expand the way we think so its broader and utilises cultural diversity to imagine solutions to day to day issues faced by the modern world. We need indigenous wisdom for the issues our world is facing. The opportunity has changed my life so much and I am very grateful.
When you say “energy healing”, what does that mean?
I would describe it as a step beyond mindfulness. Mindfulness is becoming really present to what’s happening with oneself, another and the environment. The next step is the active and compassionate intent of energy flow to others, in a way that can remove emotional blockages, clear pain, settle anxiety, relieve trauma, and remove old patterns that affect the way we think and the way we do things. It can leave you with very clear insights and feelings of profound peacefulness.
Can you give me an example of a time you’ve seen this transformation with a client or in a workshop?
The biggest change I’ve seen is from someone who had been involved in a rockfall in the Beaconsfield mine. He’d been sent to me by his wife and he didn’t want to come. The change was like a complete lifting of post traumatic stress off his body. He was so happy and laughing and felt like he got his life back. This type of occurrence is not unusual. What I have seen occur in people in workshops is a vortex of focussed peacefulness. There’s harmony and a sense of inner well-being that they relax into. They are just able to be themselves. There’s a power there.
What types of businesses and industries have you worked with before?
I’ve coached and facilitated in multi-national manufacturing and mining companies, most of the major banks, as well as heads of agencies and government departments. I have also worked with the health industry, not-for-profits, the community sector, and more recently, indigenous organisations.
These types of organisations, mining and banking, stereotypically are quite masculine and rigid, what do you think is the appeal of this type of work for them? Does “energy healing” not turn them off?
For example, I was working with a head of a health organisation, and I went to see her about coaching and she said to me ‘I don’t want to hear about coaching, I want to hear about the energy healing that you do because I do it too but I can’t tell people.’ Another one was a woman high up in international banking. She was very aware of the subtle effect of energy on her team she said to me, ‘don’t tell anyone, but I use “flower essences” when I’m working with my team.’
In America, “spirituality in business” is becoming a really big thing. It’s only beginning here. I find people have a side of them that they feel is not safe to talk about within the current cultural norm of workplaces. I see this particularly in leaders. Leaders are coming to our retreats who have reached the top of their career or the top of their profession. They’re wanting to expand the quality of spirit in how they work professionally and learning from indigenous wisdom as well as receiving energy healing does gives a depth of support to their work as leaders.