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In conversation with Cynthia Talone

I met Cynthia Talone, or "Mrs T", as a 12 year old at the Conservatorium High School. As a teacher, she was our dynamic, engaging and compassionate PDHPE teacher. She introduced us to meditation, yoga, and various mindfullness practices - constant movement activities pervaded her classroom; with no tables or chairs present, her classroom was more likely to be filled with gym balls, hockey sticks or yoga mats! Later when I left the Con High and continued into Uni, we kept in touch - aside from the fact that Mrs T. is an excellent massage practitioner, she has always been supportive of my work and generous with her time. I thank her, as many of her students would, for imparting to us the importance of self-care and self-love, and I'm so excited to share this interview with you all:

1. A few words describing your mood and where you are writing this now

I’m presently in Mt White 1hr15m from Sydney at our weekender on the Hawkesbury river at Neverfail park. Feeling relaxed and refreshed after a swim and my first induction to crab hunting.

2. Describe your work.

My work has spanned 32 years and has revolved around education, personal development, health and natural therapies. The last three years I’ve drawn on these skills and expertise to enhance massage, coaching and workshop experiences for my clients.

3. What’s in a typical day? I smiled when I read this, as there is no typical day in my line of work any more. This last week was a busy one. Monday night, I ran a 90m Kombucha workshop for the Eastern Suburbs Community College, Tuesday night I massaged 5 of my regular clients @ Coogee Sports & Remedial Massage, Wednesday - Corporate massage & Life coaching @ CBA bank, CBD, Thursday & half day Saturday I dedicate to my regular massage or coaching clients who have a myriad of issues ranging from RSI, Fibromyalgia, back and neck tension, inflammatory issues, anxiety, stress and more. Friday I presented a Stress busting workshop to 180 young teen girls from Sydney Girls High. Phew!!! Some weeks I do half that amount of work and take advantage of the things that bring me joy - gardening, cooking, reading, relaxing, getting a massage and acupuncture, or going away for a few days to recoup. Downtime is “me-time” and it provides opportunities to work on my Corporate or Teen empowerment workshops or plan a coaching session or 2. There’s always something to do and every day is different, challenging and exciting.

4. How did you come to discover this work/(s), and how has it benefitted you personally? I’ve always been active, drawn to natural therapies, and love helping people achieve a sense of peace and clarity. Psychology could have easily been my calling. I do think my vocation(s) chose me in the end. I’ve worked in Education as PDHPE teacher, the Fitness industry as a Personal Trainer, Gym manager, as a guest massage therapist at exclusive retreats and done stints in corporate health presenting stress management workshops. One thing led to another, teaching led to fitness, to massage, to management to self-employment, back to teaching, and back to self-employment as Reactivate Health Management.

The benefits have been many and varied. From the wonderful relationships I’ve forged with former students and clients, to healing and facilitating positive change in the Health and Fitness industry.

I believe we teach best what we most need to learn, so I guess I’m still learning and as I segue into the last stages of my working life, I hope to still make a positive impact to all I meet, treat and work with.

5. What would a lesson with you look like, or involve?

Depending on whether I’m massaging, coaching or presenting, my approach is always professional and holistic in nature and I draw on a bank of skills to treat or educate. A typical remedial massage treatment with me is personalised and all new clients are assessed to determine potential causes of an impending issue(s) - physical or emotional. I then use any one of the following modalities - Remedial, Reflexology, Cupping, Trigger Point therapy, assisted stretching, heat, cold and awesome products, to get the best result possible. If a client is particularly stressed, I may use Hypnotherapy and/or progressive relaxation to help reduce their anxiety. A typical one on one coaching session is solution focused in nature. Once we establish the issue and its triggers and how the issue could be changed, I’ll use strategies, Hypnotherapy or Time Line Therapy to help a client gain a renewed perspective. I have helped teens and women in particular to combat anxiety related issues, improve motivation or confidence and adopt a more resilient mindset. I often include mindful meditation and body-work to enhance a session with me. A typical 3 hour workshop or presentation is usually interactive and tailored to the needs and wants of the group. I offer the following workshops: Learn to brew your own Kombucha; Learn to Massage; Frenemies (Relational aggression - mean girl behaviour), Stress Busting and Fit to Play workshops for musicians (helping musos discover their performance strategy & includes massage, meditation and stretching). Presently I am working on Mums/Daughters workshop I will trial in January 2019.

6. What are some of your experiences working with musicians or other performing artists? I was blessed to work as PDHPE teacher at the Conservatorium High School for 14 years (till 2015). It was the longest stint as a teacher that I have ever worked anywhere. Working with teen musicians was a challenge and it meant modifying my PDHPE program as well as instilling in my students the belief that if they wanted music longevity, much like athletes, their body and minds would need to become their primary instruments. Under the leadership of Barbara Macrae, a Wellness program was born and its focus was to help combat over-use injuries and performance anxiety and included Mindfulness, Meditation, Stretching, Circuit classes and Massage therapy. The program was fully supported by parents and the school community and was seen as quite innovative (even as a potential model for all Performing Arts High schools). The latter gave me the motivation and impetus I needed to become a Master practitioner in NLP (neuro linguistic programming) and that led to me becoming a better teacher and practitioner. As a result, I was able to help so many with performance anxiety as well as their physical ailments and complaints. Pow Wows - (restitution circles) were introduced during my PD classes to empower students to tackle teen issues (bullying, self esteem, confidence and more). To this day, I have many former students who still meditate, exercise regularly, have a performance and wellness strategy and talk fondly about how much the Pow Wows helped to empower them. The experiences I’ve had working with musicians and other performing artists has made me grow in ways I would never have thought possible and I thank Barbara McCrae, David Osland, Trevor Smith and Patricia Morton, from the “Old Con days” for believing in me and supporting the program. It is only now that I can stand back and appreciate what a wonderful opportunity I had.

7. From your experience with teaching musicians, what are some common areas of concern that you get asked about?

I have had so many requests from students over the years to help them with pain management, performance anxiety, performance strategies, wellness strategies, burn out, RSI,tension in neck, shoulders, forearms, strengthen their bodies with weight training, how to switch off their monkey mind, stress management and even with their purpose (personal issues included). I still get asked from time to time via messenger to have a chat about personal issues. It is humbling to think that after all these years, I am still Mrs. T to a lot of them.

8. What motivates you to be in this line of work?

I believe we are all of “service” no matter what profession we choose in life. I stay motivated because the personal fulfilment I obtain when I see, hear and feel a student or client achieve life-changing results and this in turn affirms that what I do does make a difference.

9. What would be your top three pieces of advice for musicians, especially young musicians, in relation to creating sustainable music practice?

1. Your health is an investment, not an after thought, so treat your body as you would your own musical instrument, with respect, with love and with patience. Learn to listen to the signs and if music longevity is what you want, don’t be afraid to ask for help with your performance, anxiety, posture, injuries, aches, pains etc. Creating a “Wellness strategy” that will sustain you throughout your career is as important as all those master classes/lessons you attend.

2. Develop a “Performance strategy” that you use every time you practice and perform. To do this, you must learn to calm your monkey mind through meditation, and when you understand what you need to see, hear and feel before every performance or practise, those voices will subside and your performance will feel effortless.

3. Be yourself and embrace your authenticity. What makes you different is what makes you unique. Rise above the naysayers (including your own critical voice), challenge the norm and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It is through failure and heartache that we grow into resilient and sentient human beings.

10. Where can we find you and/or take a class?

With advanced notice I am available to run my workshops in high schools or for the Fit to Play at any university. I also see private coaching clients for change work, which are anywhere from 6-12 sessions run over a 3 month period and includes massage.* I offer an initial free 20m phone consultation to see if we are a good fit. HICAP’s fast claims are available for massage therapy and I always recommend a monthly treatment for maintenance.

11. Are there any videos or resources you’d like to recommend?

Anything by Prince Eah or Jay Shetty and Ted talks on anything related to achieving your best self. There are so many wonderful educators, speakers and professionals full of inspiration and new learnings right there.

I also highly recommend Alexander or Feldenkrais, Physiotherapy, Mindfulness and Massage therapy.

Books and programs: The Musician's Body: A Maintenance Manual for Peak Performance by Jaume Rosset | Llobet. The Relaxed Musician: CD and Workbook Program | Peak Performance for Musicians.

*Students get 20% off My home clinic is located in Alexandria and availability is Thursday 10-4 and Saturday 8-1 by appointment.

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