Training & Qualifications:
Bachelor of Visual Arts: BA. (S.C.A.)
Health & Martial Arts
Taiji & Qigong: Senior Instructor of Yang Style
Hapkido: 4th Degree Blackbelt (A.H.A.)
Hapkiyusul: 3rd Degree Black Belt (H.Y.S.K.)
Wu Shu: 2nd Degree Blackbelt (W.T.M.K.F.A.)
Soo Bahk Do: 1st Degree Blackbelt (K.S.B.D.A.)
Integrated Somatic Psychotherapy: Diploma (I.B.P.)
Hi, I’m Shirsha Marie. Welcome to Heart Mind Centre.
I founded Heart Mind Centre in downtown Byron Bay in 1986. At that time I established the Centre as Byron Bay Martial Arts and enjoyed 30 years of teaching both soft and strong martial art styles to a great many dedicated students.
Nowadays I teach the internal martial art of Tai Chi, the healing exercise art of Qigong, and my new warrior exercise art – Qi Power. I also give Body Psychotherapy sessions and with this inclusive approach my work offers a well-balanced path to self-care.
With over 33 years of experience in a broad range of personal growth modalities and martial art styles, I am a seasoned teacher and therapist.
I have extensive training in traditional lineages as well as modern practices, with comprehensive knowledge of the body-mind system and the cultivation and transformation of vital life energy.
I particularly love to work with the correlation between Eastern systems of body-mind-energy development and Western psychotherapeutic processes. I find this helps develop a much fuller experience of body, mind and heart.
With an integrated approach to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development, I offer you holistic and practical skills for contemporary living. Come and join me for a heartening journey into cultivating your life-force.
by Shirsha Marie
I have always been intrigued by systems which cultivate body, mind and energy – drawn to the mysteries of meditation and evolving consciousness, and captivated by the dynamic spirit of Asian cultures with their mastery of refined form, harmonious movement and inner stillness.
In my early 20’s, after four years studying visual arts at Sydney College of the Arts, I began exploring further methods of self-development and meditation. While living in a personal growth community, I dived into the active meditations of Osho Rajneesh along with a range of intensive psychotherapies based on freeing up emotional energy, liberating self-expression and finding deeper layers of truth, love and connectedness.
These early years of emotional exploration enlivened me with greater expansion, connection and full bodied pleasure. Eventually however, I needed to develop more internal strength and focused direction in life. I found an expression of truth in action in Eastern martial arts and mindfulness techniques which access deeper layers of body and mind and offer a well-structured path to self-mastery. This new focus became an empowering adjunct to my therapeutic processes.
At age 25, I began daily training of the Korean martial art style of Hapkido – The Art of Co-ordinated Power, in Sydney with Master Sung Su Kim. I connected strongly with this empowering body-mind system and received great inspiration from Master Kim’s dynamic energy and generous warrior spirit. After just one year of training, he invited me to open my own Hapkido Dojang (school).
At first I was reluctant to establish my own Dojang as I didn’t really identify with being a martial artist, and considered myself to be more of an embodied meditator who enjoyed expressing strength through martial art forms. But I finally accepted on the condition that my school would serve the purpose of training people not to fight, but to prepare the body and mind for self-enquiry and meditation. Grandmaster Kim gave his full endorsement and so I became his sole instructor who created a Dojang based on an internal, holistic approach to martial arts.
In 1986 I founded my Hapkido school in downtown Byron Bay as the Principal Teacher to a great many dedicated students. This launched a 34 year journey of daily practice and teaching across broad range of strong martial arts styles and Eastern traditions that develop and integrate body, mind and spirit, including the self-healing and meditative styles of Tai Chi and Qigong.
From 1991 to 1993, I went to live in South Korea on sabbatical to be immersed in Eastern culture and full-time martial arts training. During this time I gained additional qualifications in Hapkido, Soo Bahk Do, Wu Shu and Tai Chi. The intensity of the training in Korea extended my understanding of how to initiate movement from the Tanjen Centre, employ fluid circular motion, generate relaxed power and harmonize with incoming forces.
Wishing to deepen further into internal training, upon my return to Byron Bay I began daily classes in both the Yang Style of Tai Chi and the art of Qigong, with the accomplished teacher Roger Cotgreave. I learned much during these years as Roger taught these arts from the inside out with great attentiveness and was kind and generous in his approach. Roger was a colleague of Patrick Kelly, the closest Western student of Master Huang Sheng-Shuan (1910 – 1992) who, in turn, was one of the most outstanding students of Cheng Man–Ch’ing (1898 – 1975). It was Cheng who promoted the Yang Style of Tai Chi in the West.
In 1995 I became a student of Patrick Kelly and under his guidance continue to teach the traditions and training methods of the Yang Style, including the deep mind system of alignment and relaxation, focused awareness and intention, and the internal sensing techniques that are the fundamental training methods of this profoundly authentic style. I began teaching Tai Chi and Qigong in 1999, and have continued developing knowledge since this time.
Since 1986, I’ve given motivation to many hundreds of practitioners of all ages, through programmes which express an extensive knowledge of the body-mind system and understanding of body mechanics and economy of movement. There has been much attention given to the refinement of the Dantien Energy Centres – Upper (head), Middle (heart) and Lower (belly), and the movement generated around these fundamental bio-energetic phenomena. I’ve particularly enjoyed alternating strong Yang action moves with soft Yin stillness, and in this way inspired a dynamic style of meditation which promotes resilience, strength and inner calm.
Systematic instruction in regulated breathing methods, focused awareness, inner sensing techniques and the cultivation of vital life energy known as ‘Ki’ or ‘Qi’ (Chi), has provided an internal focus which is the defining feature of the training at Heart Mind Centre. This balance of inner sensing, full body awareness and outer focus in movement has given much depth and meaning to my students’ experience. My school has been loved by all who’ve leapt in to explore the joy of expanding energy while deepening the mind.
From 2005 to 2016 I trained in Hapkiyusul, the root of modern Hapkido, with Korean Grandmaster Kim Yun Sang. Although this system was technically advanced and I was a skilled practitioner and teacher, it inevitably became too rigid and dictatorial for me. I felt my personal development and inner truth was hindered by such an authoritarian and restrictive approach and I needed to resume a path which fully embraces the feminine.
What I missed in traditional martial arts was a training which promotes more complete personal development, such as: real spontaneity; creativity; allowing responsive emotional truth; natural self-expression; nurturing an open and connected heart; sincere humility and harmony. I wanted to find a body-mind system which encapsulated these heartfelt aspects of being human and came across Core Energetics, a system of Somatic (Body) Psychotherapy.
From 2016 to 2019 I trained in Core Energetics with Andrea Alexander at her Institute of Body Psychotherapy in Brisbane. This work interfaces seamlessly with all my previous training as it incorporates being grounded, anchoring embodied awareness, releasing muscular armouring, unblocking energy blocks, freeing up the flow of lifeforce, regulating the nervous system; building internal strength and centredness, releasing limiting belief systems and behavioural patterns, and liberating natural self-expression.
Since embracing the methods of Core Energetics, I’m enjoying a fuller energetic balance between body, mind, emotions and spirit. My Body Psychotherapy Practice serves the local community with individual sessions that cultivate physical, emotional, mental and spiritual awareness and healing. It is deeply heart-warming to witness this beautiful, compassionate and respectful work unfold within each person, and enjoy the vitality and freedom it brings.
In 2016 I closed my 30 year Byron Bay Dojang and now deliver the arts of Tai Chi, Qigong and Qi Power in classes, workshops and retreats around the Byron Shire and beyond. My teaching continues to be informed by the empowerment of martial arts training and Eastern mindfulness techniques, but is more integrated and fulfilling through incorporating the wisdom of Body Psychotherapy.
My work has now come full circle – from painting to meditation to psychotherapy to martial arts. Then back around to encompass Psychotherapy, with some time for painting. Life is enriched with insight, value and loving connection and I’m privileged and grateful to be able to empower others on their unique journey of personal development.
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