Overcome Burnt-Out State With High-Performance Coach Melo Calarco


Overcome Burnt-Out State With High-Performance Coach Melo Calarco

Felicity Cohen: Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my wellness warriors podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians find solutions to treating obesity and health-related complications. Through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.

My podcast is dedicated to all the people, past, present, and future who has helped shape my journey and continue to inspire me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia in both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy.

Good morning, Melo Calarco. Thank you so much for joining me on my wellness warriors podcast.

It’s an absolute pleasure to have you here with me today, and I appreciate you taking the time out. Sounds like you’ve had a really hectic week.

Melo Calarco: Week or month that it’s continuing on, but, thank you for having me. Nice to meet you and nice to meet everybody out there. yeah. Been a big week, but I’m coming to the end of it. Now it’s Friday, so I can recharge and renew my energy.

Felicity Cohen: You work in a really fascinating space, being a mindfulness coach, a high-performance coach, and working in this whole area of mindfulness, I think that we’ve seen a really huge shift.

Not just over the last few years, but specifically in the last 12 months. And one of the things that I really feel that I’m aware of is that with something like a month, that’s dedicated to focusing on mental health that I feel and correct me if I’m wrong. But I really think that this is something that we’re focusing on so much more, that we’re so much more heightened around.

What does this look like? What does this mean? And why are we so much more in tune with mental health and why we need to actually examine that more closely?

Melo Calarco: I think there’s always been some quite good initiatives here in Australia. We’re quite good with mental health and reducing the stigma with companies like Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute and many other great organisations doing it.

But I think right now people are actually feeling it. That’s actually experiencing mental health themselves, even, even the people that have been busy. What I normally see in my coaching work, I think for over 25 years, I normally meet people in the chronic stress zone where they’re just overwhelmed, overstimulated can’t sleep at night, especially when I’m working with executives and CEOs of companies.

And now that we’ve actually shifted the dial a little bit with the pandemic, the ongoing impact of the lockdowns people are starting to feel more on the burnout side of things. Fatigue. And the very difference that I see in the mental health is usually it’s like too much, too much, too much. And now it’s like, I’m done, I’m tired.

I can’t keep doing this anymore. I need some help. I need I’m exhausted. So it’s a very different mental health feeling right now. So people are reaching out more. And some of the seminars that I do, there’s 500, 600, even a thousand people on things that people are dialing in to look after their mental health, which is great.

Felicity Cohen: I’d love to learn more about that. But before we dive into that space, I’d like to learn a little bit more about you and how you actually ended up in this area of work that is so important. 25 years, you’ve spent as a mindfulness coach and as a high performance coach, what took you into this area of work? And how did you get to where you’re at today?

Melo Calarco: It’s a good question. And it’s a bit of an evolution in progress to be honest. It’s been an organic journey for me. So many years ago, around 30 odd years ago, I entered meditations through martial arts actually. So I found meditation and I was in a period in my life where I was a little bit lost and working in all sorts of jobs that weren’t satisfying me just to, to make money and pay rent and all those sort of things.

And then I found martial arts and I entered meditation through there. And I very quickly realised that the power and the strength of the mind was as important, if not more important than the power, strength of the body. So that led me on a three decade journey of self discovery and immersing myself in the spiritual aspects of meditation.

And then I actually cycled around the world on my mountain bike, as you do. And I lived in monasteries and temples and immerse myself quite deep in the practices. And so that really was the catalyst for me to discover the power of meditation and the power of actually learning some of these skills and being able to still the mind and to stay calm under pressure.

And then that evolved into a whole thing through my career. The beginning, I was working more with physical therapy. So I was working in mental health clinics, delivering programs around movement based therapies and incorporating things like Tai Chi and mindfulness in that. And then that slowly kept evolving and evolving.

And now I’m working in the corporate sector, working, teaching mindfulness techniques for performance or productivity, for stress resilience right now, obviously for, for mental health. It’s been a constant evolution and progress that I, and I love what I do every single day. And working with the variety of clients from corporate CEOs to Olympic athletes, to mental health clients, to the, to the whole range there, which it drives me and motivates me every day when I’m working with.

That’s been a natural evolution and it’s still evolving to be honest, it’s still evolving as I work. And I’d like to just follow that path and, and share my, my knowledge and experience with mindfulness. Whoever I can share it with my mission is to share it with as many people as possible on this planet so they can benefit.

Felicity Cohen: The key thing there for me is loving what you do every day. And I think, you know, if you do love what you, what you do, it does drive you and gives you that motivation to excel. So I share that with you in what I do every day. I think it’s so important to have that passion and to wake up and feel excited about what you’re doing and the work that you get to do and to share with others.

Cycling around the world. what possessed you to get on a bike and actually ride around the world? How, how long did that take you?

Melo Calarco: It took a few years. So I had actually six buddies of mine planned this cycling trip around the world, and we sat around the table and we planned all these off-road routes around Africa and India, Asia, and America.

But unfortunately one by one by six buddies dropped out on me , as we started planning the journey, it was, this is too dangerous, Melo. I’m not sure if I can do this. So it turned into be a solo event. And, and I’m glad that it did because then I met people along the way and wouldn’t have been the same with other people.

To be honest, I was never alone in any way. Cause I was always meeting other people and communities and. Loving it. So I just wanted to do something and it just challenged myself and, you know, put myself out there and learn from other cultures and being other parts of the world. And, yeah, it’s a lot, there was a life-changing experience from near-death experiences to learning about other indigenous cultures.

And most of the time I was leaving and staying with indigenous cultures. So learning some of the deep spiritual aspects. Just learning from those communities. So an amazing experience, there is a book to come. I’m now in the pipeline of putting a book together there. But if you ask me, that’s what I learned my lessons on mindfulness and resilience and all these things.

I mean, I do have a piece of paper that says I’m a mindfulness facilitator from the university, but I learned my lessons on resilience or trust on the lesson that you learned on the road. So, and when I, and when I do seminars and workshops, a lot of these stories. So it’s a very experiential and a bit different to just learning the facts and the figures and the dots it’s coming from experience.

So yeah, a lot of it. So it did cause they asked me and I’m so glad I did because it changed my life and and it also compounds and helps out the people around.

Felicity Cohen: I can only imagine the mental resilience that goes with being in your own head space, being alone for such a considerable amount of time when you’re not in communities and sharing and being with other people, just cycling for hours on end alone, you’re in your own head space.

So you can only deal with your own thoughts. Tell me about one of the near death experiences. What, what was that like and how did that.

Melo Calarco: Oh, there’s a few of them to be honest, but what I did learn along the way while I was talking, so they obviously it’s a dangerous, some of those countries are very dangerous and border crossing very dangerous.

What I did learn, and you hit the nail on the head and you can get caught up in your thoughts and start thinking about what if scenarios, what if this happens? What if that happens? But when you practice mindfulness and meditation, you learn to be present with what is happening. What I did learn is trusting that you always have the resources inside of you no matter what, no matter how difficult the situation, if some of those border crossings are very corrupt and, you know, they want all your money and jewelry and everything to get across the borders, but always trusting that you have.

The resources inside to be. So I just encountered them along the way. One particular one I’ll share with you is actually in Rwanda, where I was traveling the back roads of Rwanda. And actually I was putting my bike up for awhile and I was traveling on the back of trucks. So basically on the back roads of Rwanda, what you do to get around is you just jump on the back of these trucks and everybody just keeps jumping on it.

It’d be like a little Uber taxi system there that you just pay a few pennies and your. And at one particular occasion, I jumped on the back of this truck. I was coming back from some way with other people. And, unfortunately at the time that Congolese president was assassinated. So there was a lot of turmoil, the political unrest, there was, you know, shootings and deaths around the area.

So it wasn’t the best timing to start with. but this particular track that I was traveling. The people that were jumping on with loading was soldiers. And a lot of them, the young soldiers, and I could tell when I jumped on there would be angry and a bit drunk. I could smell alcohol on their breath.

And I thought, well, this is not the right place at the right time. And one of the soldiers decided to humiliate me a little bit and he poked a machine gun into my ribs and is like playing with me. And I thought, okay, Bottle flight. Here’s the, here’s the, you know, typical fight or flight response. Do I jump off the truck and run?

You probably shoot me or humiliate me or capture me, or do I turn around and fight? And even though the national, the thing that’s going to go up against the machine gun. So in that moment, I turn back to my mindfulness practices and I thought I’m going to take three breaths, not going to respond or to take three breaths.

So that’s what the three breaths, which seemed like forever to 3d. Automa got to the third breath, got the answer. You know what? I’m in there. I knew through my travels, that sense of humor goes a long way and patience goes a long way. So I thought, okay, what I’m going to do to get a sense of humor, let’s make fun out of the situation.

So I started playing rock paper. With one of the soldiers in front of me, just that they could all kind of thought and he started laughing and then you have to go on the other side, started playing with it. And before I knew it, the whole truck was playing rock paper scissors with me, and we’re having lots of fun.

And then I noticed that the machine gun coming out of my ribs and he released. Okay, that’s a good sign. So I kept playing and then I noticed a tap on the shoulder and I turned around and the guy that was poking in the rooms with the machine down, and by the way, the machine gun has sticky tape around it and all this very old primal piece of equipment.

And he said, he, he just said to me, can I play? Can I play? So the whole situation, total athletes out of playing rock paper scissors. And I, I learned then that obviously a sense of humor as a big thing, but just creating that space. So instead of, instead of reacting, so the mindfulness practice and the meditation practices taught me to create space between stimulus and response.

So instead of being reactive, I just took three mindful breaths, which by the way, seemed like it lasted forever. but three months breath and then turned around and responded to. Yeah, that’s just one situation. And there’s been many of us where have turned inwards, like instead of, you know, sometimes the world around you is chaotic.

There’ve been in riots in the pool when the, when the president was assassinated, they also, the king was assassinated there, but I’ve always turned inwards than to seek the answer outwards. Instead of getting caught up in that external stimuli, which is a good analogy for now too, what’s going on. There’s a lot of chaos, there’s a lot of disorder going on around us.

You have media and pandemic exposure, but trusting that you always have the resources inside of you as those moments unfold is a great tool to learn.

Felicity Cohen: And an incredible lesson for all of us. And I think how incredible to use humor and to use a simple game like that, to connect, to communicate and to completely break down a situation that could have been fatally moved in a completely different direction for you.

But the converse outcome is that you’ve completely translated that into not just a positive outcome for you, but you’ve communicated something new for all of those people on that. And they’ve left something for me that day as well, which is kind of pretty amazing how you’ve completely flipped that scenario on its head a hundred percent.

I think that’s just incredible. And I love the idea that, you know, when you are faced with some kind of adversity, not just the inwards and breathwork, but also using a sense of humor and trying to find other mechanisms to, to completely change a situation.

Melo Calarco: Yeah, by the end of it, when I jumped off the truck, that’ll all giving me high fives and Hey, by turned into a beautiful situation by the end though, it could have been the total opposite. So, yeah, exactly. And I learned simple humor is a big one in a lot of those situations. People turn toward that sense of humor to, to change the actual heaviness of it. So definitely a lesson I’ve learned.

Felicity Cohen: Amazing. What are some of the lessons that you’ve learned personally through the work that you’re doing throughout this lockdown phase? I know that you live in Victoria, which part of Victoria are you in there?

Melo Calarco: Just move now to Mount Martha, which is on the mornings and peninsula, which is a lovely know, really, really enjoy in the last two weeks, actually.

So loving it out here, the green area around beautiful beach of the road and, the T. Yeah, I learnt a lot of lessons. Definitely. At one thing, I will set it up, learn by coaching and supporting so many people. I was mentioning before that just in the last 18 months alone have reached out and spoken to and supported over 60,000 people through this pandemic in various companies.

And you know, sometimes I’m speaking to Asia and all around the world, Australia, different situations. What I have learned is make sure that I look after me. I make sure I ask myself this question every single day. And this is when it comes to mental health, what have I done for me today? What have I done that fills up my own cup?

What have I done that energises me? So my self care practices are in the morning. First thing in the morning, get up, get out in the sunlight, get the serotonin levels into me. Then get the exercise going. And then I do a meditation practice about twenty odd minutes, sometimes Tai Chi or martial arts. And then I’ll have a healthy breakfast.

So that’s three wins before the day even started, which is just for me, so then I can support other people. So that’s one thing. And that’s one thing I do teach, like, make sure that people are looking after themselves because in this stressful situation, when we can be bombarded by external stimuli all the time, often the things we need the most are the things that slip. I won’t exercise that I am too busy.

Ah, I’ll skip lunch today. I’ve got too much going on or I’ll just eat in front of the computer. And that’s the thing that we need that. So definitely that’s what I’ve learned because I don’t think I could do what I do. And some days like this week alone, I’ve run 18 seminars and pretty much back to back.

And I think I would do what I’m doing without those self-care practices to make sure that I’m looking after me every single day.

Felicity Cohen: That’s vital. And I feel that there’s been a big shift in our understanding that self care is not self-indulgence that it’s good, balance it’s management, and it’s giving yourself the opportunity to actually achieve.

And in your area of teaching people all about high performance, if you’re not feeling your own cart pad, you. Give yourself the opportunity to successfully, you know, empower others because you can’t, you actually can’t. So if you’re lacking in sleep, if you’re lacking in nutrition, exercise, all of the fundamentals, it is really, really difficult to, to achieve.

I think it’s really interesting around about 2007, when the GFC hit mindfulness and corporate wellness programs were probably one of the first things that were eliminated due to budgetary constraints. Now we’re faced with a situation where we’ve seen this massive increase due to the pandemic to some mental health issues and a heightened awareness around the fact that we’ve got to look after people’s mental.

What do you think is currently the stages of how people perceive the need and especially in a health and wellbeing space, is this mindfulness practice becoming more mainstream?

Melo Calarco: yes and no. It’s a really interesting question because when we get buy-in from companies at leadership, when, when the lady, the buying into the concept of wellbeing and mindfulness and looking after their people, it feels really well down the organisation.

And everybody’s on board on the same page. And I see that the most successful programs I run is when I run a leadership program. And teaching emotional intelligence and self-awareness and things like that. And then that’ll filter down. A lot of, a lot of companies do a bit of a token effort towards it, and it’s just like, okay, we’ve got to do something for our people.

And they just throw out a quick little class here and there and it doesn’t get the sustainable change to be honest. So it is becoming more, it’s more a necessity. Now necessity’s the mother of invention. People are really seeing that their people are struggling. So that’s where, you know, Marshall has techniques and things are actually working really well, but unfortunately we don’t always get the right people on board.

And I see that in the work that I do, often HR and directors are running these programs and the people that we want in the programs that the people that don’t count. I’m too busy. I’ve got too much going on. I haven’t got time to sit in a mindfulness class and learn these skills, but the skills that I teach, to be honest, that will help you for the rest of the world.

I often get people years later, so I might run a program or a lunch and learn in the company and then I’ll get someone years later say, oh man, you did that session with us, that X, Y, Z company, or go to Terry that you actually saved. My life actually saved my marriage. and the schools that I teach in these sessions, they get translated and I take them home.

And then I obviously hope. I think we’re still in a bit of a, a limbo state with that, to be honest, there’s some, some companies that are doing great things where they roll out like 12 month programs. So there’s not just a tough point, you know, meditation class or yoga class or something. Just a bit of a token effort is ones that have the consistent touch points that will get the sustainable change in mindfulness is now how a business reviews say that mindfulness should no longer be considered a nice to have, it’s a must have.

And I really liked that, that sort of summarises it. So yeah, people are taking it on board. And what do I typically do in the companies that I work with is first of all, break the skepticism and break the, I usually don’t use the word meditation in the first few sessions, to be honest, because people have these preconceptions, that meditation is all about candles and incense and dreadlocks or whatever it is.

So I need to break that. And then I can break that skepticism and talk about the performance, the productivity, and are usually use words. Like, let’s go train your attention. Let’s go refocus. Let’s go reset. Instead of saying, let’s go meditate because people have those. So, but yeah, getting back to the question there, mindfulness is becoming a lot more popularised, but I still think there’s a way to go through.

Felicity Cohen: Great. Thank you so much. I know that for me, I’ve introduced a Monday morning meditation. and I think that I can see the difference in the response within my team. Those who were here, who were, you know, they’re always welcome to show up, but they’ve reported to me that they do notice a difference in their own productivity.

When they attend that session on a Monday morning. So I’m a great advocate for it and love it for myself as well. I noticed that you’re actually doing a lot of work in the health space in health clinics in health retreats. Tell me about how these environments are embracing mindfulness more and why in that health specific health space and not just the corporate sector, is this such an important part of your work

Melo Calarco: fundamentals? Know, like people need space. People need to go somewhere to actually sometimes get away from their day to day business. I, so I work in mental health clinics also, as I said, and, I know that’s, unfortunately that’s tipped over the other edge of mental, mental spectrum of coming to seek help, but also sometimes just separating yourself from your day to day business and going on a health retreat or go into a critical cornerstone where it’s just enough to just reset the mind and we send them.

Very important sometimes just to step back, step out of that busy, busy treadmill of life and look after yourself. But I also, I also encourage people to do that on a daily basis. Once they learn some of these skills, they might come to a clinic or they might come to a retreat, they learn these skills, then I encourage them to do them daily.

So even if it’s a, I teach a 92nd breath break, for example, just 19. And I’ll say that if you stop for 90 seconds in your busy day at work, and when you’re feeling a bit scattered and you got too many windows on your computer, and you’re not sure what you’re focusing on, stop pause. 90 seconds of breathing can just reset your focus and then your next two hours with people productive.

But teaching these people in, in that, in that environment, getting them out of that busy-ness is first of all staff, but then giving them practices that they can sustain for the rest of the day. We like they don’t have to wait till the end of the year to go on a health retreat to recharge their batteries that can actually renew the energy on a daily slash hourly basis.

And punctuate that with, with attendance and meditation, or even just sitting outside and having a cup of tea, sitting on a bench, you know, just having some downtime. These are really important. So, and unfortunately this world right now that the live environment is, you know, The treats and things that are allow it right now.

So we have to translate some of them virtually, which is a challenge, but it’s, it helps just to step back and do these things.

Felicity Cohen: What have you learned about how you are working with people in that virtual environment and how has it not only impacted your work and the ability to connect with people? It sounds like you’re busier than ever.

What are some of the things that you’ve noticed that have been different or changed for you in this space?

Melo Calarco: It’s pros and cons to it. At first, I thought I’ll never be able to translate. Live in the room into the virtual world, because in the room of I’m quite dynamic, I move around a lot and get people up and moving.

And so I never thought I’d be able to do that, translate that virtually, but somehow, somehow people say that, wow, it doesn’t feel like a virtual session. It feels like you’re here with us. And sometimes, like I said, if we speaking to 50 people, a hundred people, 600 people, but what I have, one of the biggest benefits of it is we can reach more people and, you know, Across the world in this room that I’m sitting in right now and be speaking to more people and impacting more lives.

So, but what I try to do through the sessions when I am teaching virtually is ask people, first of all, to turn off all the other others and beepers of notifications and the things that would distract them. Because unfortunately, when people are learning virtually, they might get a pop up and then they start emailing and then they’re not in the design anymore of learning and taking it in a session.

I asked him to do that, and I just asked it to interact as much as possible. So it’s actually, it’s been a really good win for me in the long run because I can run four or five seminars in one day and reach thousands of people, which I couldn’t do in the, in the real world. I couldn’t be in Victoria. And then in quite a long, and then in Indonesia or somewhere else, only one day.

It’s a, it’s a good thing. I hope in the future, there’ll be a hybrid version. There’s some sort of way that I can do both of these and still reach people globally, but also do some sort of micro work, even Victoria or.

Felicity Cohen: What are some of the techniques that you use in your own teachings of mindfulness? Because I think you use movement and your approach is quite unique and different in itself. Can you tell me a little bit about how you actually practice and what is it that you do that’s different?

Melo Calarco: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a one size fits all when it comes to meditation.

And when I say the word meditation, it’s like saying the word sport. You know, there’s thousands of different sports, right? So I see what works the best for clients. So for example, the high anxiety client that’s really like highly anxious and nervous and even physically shaking and shivering. It’s pretty difficult to ask them just to sit and follow your breath.

So it actually, you get adverse effects quite commonly because all the things would pop up when you ask them to stop. So with someone like that, I’d get them to do some movements first. It might be some walking. And then we stop and we do some physical movement where the hands or the movement, like Qigong or Tai Chi. Those types of things they actually guide the breath.

So we can do the movement and what it does it actually modulates your brain and the movements guide the breath. Then once they do that for a while, they’re happier to sit. So for someone highly anxious, that will be that sort of model. I try to keep it as simple as possible to be honest. Mindfulness and meditation can be sometimes over complicated and I try to just keep it as simple as possible. And use typically breath as an anchor with various different breath techniques to do that.

So someone that has depression, for example, they need a bit more lifting up and need a bit more energising. So I’ll teach them a breathing technique that energises them and gives them more energy and clarity. Someone that’s highly anxious, that’d be the opposite, to suppress them and to calm them, get the hormones going, the chemicals going so they can actually calm down.

So it’s not a one size fits all. And even for myself, to be honest, it’s not a one size fits all, some days I’d need more energising. So I’ll do a practice that actually energises me and lifts me up. At the end of the day, I might need something that grounds me, calms me down. So keep it as simple as possible.

And I also take the practice off the mat, so to speak. So when it comes to mindfulness, there’s the formal practice where you stop, you close your eyes, you do the practice. Whether that’s two minutes or 20 minutes, it doesn’t matter. But that’s the formal practice. But there’s also the non-formal practice, and that’s like doing all the things that you do in your life, but you do them more mindfully.

And likely eating, obviously you in the nutrition space, the eating away from the computer and tasting the flavours, smelling the aromas, engaging with the food. Even when you’re showering, you know, enjoying the water and enjoying the smell of your shampoo and all those sort of things.

So taking the practices off of the mat, and even though they sound simple, but they’re very powerful. Because often we get caught up in our thoughts and our mind. And, you know, research says that 47% of the time, our mind is elsewhere -off task. So when we train ourselves with mindfulness techniques to be more present in what you’re doing, then you can actually enjoy what you’re doing more.

Well, I’ll tell you a quick story in one of the monasteries that I was staying at in Vietnam, it wasn’t a silent retreat. It was more like you could speak a little bit, and it was a mindfulness-like there. And each day, when you did your things that you did, your daily chores, like for example, when you are chopping the vegetables you weren’t allowed to talk about anything else except for the vegetables. So, oh wow, look at the color of my carrots today it’s so nice. And you really enjoy that. And then when you’re eating, you couldn’t talk about the weather or something else. You could talk about the food and the smells and the aromas and the taste and the flavours.

And then even when you’re washing the dishes, for example, you couldn’t talk about anything if you wanted to talk at all, you had to talk about what you were doing. Oh wow, the water temperature on my hands is just right or I’m enjoying this process. And what it did, at first it was really difficult because like really being present with all these things for the day.

But what it taught me was to enjoy every single moment of every single day. And even I remember later on when I was up in the hike in Malaya and camping. The trekking and camping at temples it was minus X degrees I think it was minus 20 degrees up there. And I remember it was my turn to wash the dishes and we boiled the kettle and wash the dishes.

Oh my God, what a beautiful experience this is washing the dishes and feeling the temperature on my hand. I actually volunteered every night after that to wash the dishes because it was such a pleasant experience. So it’s like mindfulness is not only just closing your eyes and doing those practices, it also translates into everything that you do.

Felicity Cohen: I actually loved it. That was not a completely silent retreat because the thought for me of actually going and doing a silent meditation retreat sounds so incredibly frightening. But if I could go to something that maybe you could speak a little bit, even if it’s about the colour of the vegetables, I could probably do that.

Melo Calarco: Exactly. And when I left there, by the way, we got this little four page booklet on mindfulness. It’s like the little Buddhist scriptures and you know what that just summarise to me what it was. Really simple four pages of photocopy of things like you’re doing the dishes just do the dishes, when you are walking the dog, just walk the dog.

And then I came back to Australia about four or five years later, I was working at one of the psychiatric clinics and the head psychiatrist has just finished publishing her book on mindfulness and depression, anxiety. And you know what, when I read the book, I mean, it was a brilliant book. It was well researched, but it actually almost over complicated what simple practice is.

And I prefer my little four page booklet. And then there’s like 55 chapters on what mindfulness is. Sometimes it can get too confusing and we don’t do the practice. Where it’s just thinking, stopping, pausing, breathing, enjoying those things you do in your day more are mindfulness training at its best. And that’s what my job as a facilitator is make the complex simple.

Take the complexity out of it and make it as simple as possible. So everybody in the room can go home and start the practices.

Felicity Cohen: That’s fantastic. And I love the simplicity factor and that it’s approachable that it’s actually something that’s tangible and that people can employ in their own practice on a daily basis. I think that’s so important.

Can you tell me Melo about a couple of really big wins for you. If you could think about, one individual case where you really feel like you’ve transformed or you’re aware, and you know, that you’ve transformed someone’s life, what has that looked like? And then also in a more corporate, larger scale environment, two major kind of changes that you’ve been able to impact.

I’m really fascinated to hear a bit about those.

Melo Calarco: For me, to be honest, it’s actually the little wins that are the biggest ones. So I know that when I go into corporate companies on six week programs, and I know that most people in the group will take away these practices and they’ll transform the way they work and how productive they are.

And I get great feedback afterwards in a big, fantastic, I’ve actually helped that person to work differently, to think differently, to adopt some of these practices, but to be. When I hear some of these smaller things, like I mentioned before, someone comes up to me and says, oh my God, no, that thing that you taught me there, it saved my marriage.

It saved my life. I think, wow, that’s the ripple effect that’s having. There was, there was one particular case. If you want one particular one where I was having a swim at the local Brighton bars when I was swimming and I came out of the water and was jumping into the steam room and one fellow came up to me and says,

Again, I’ve got to tell you that actually you came to my company is one of the major banks. You came to my company and you did this a four week program. And shortly afterwards, I got diagnosed with cancer and he had prostate cancer, very aggressive prostate cancer. And he said, those skills that you taught me in that session really helped me through the breathing techniques, the mindfulness techniques, the mindset techniques, because I also teach about how to manage your thoughts and thought processes.

And. And he said it saved my life. Honestly, I don’t think I could have gone through the treatment. It was quite aggressive treatment. Then you have to go through and he goes, I think I could have gone through without those tools and techniques. And on that note, there’s another case that comes to mind where I was working with another cancer.

Very aggressive throat cancer. And I’ve worked with him through his 49 days of aggressive treatment. And every day I was with him and taking him through these mindfulness practices and also some movement practices and helping him through his mindset. And his oncologist actually said to him, I’ve never seen anybody in my 45 years of oncology working with.

Come out with such a positive mindset and even physically like it actually manifested physically where he, he ate all the way through. And they, they said to him by week two, you’re probably going to be having smoothies by week three. Your throat’s going to be so full, so sore that you, you’re not going to be enjoying life anymore by week five.

So they, they came to this sort of doomsday message for him just to give them the worst case scenario, but he worked all the way through. He ate all the way through. He did everything just by teaching him these mindfulness techniques. So that two big wins there that I think, yeah, I think good heartfelt stories.

Felicity Cohen: Oh, they’re incredible. I don’t call those small wins at all. They are just amazing and it just shows and demonstrates the absolute power of mindfulness and how it can be. Transforming someone’s life. That’s incredible. Congratulations. I know that one of your other major motivations in life is your family. And I believe you’ve got two daughters.

Melo Calarco: I did some research. Yeah. Yeah. Two beautiful buildings and , and now 12 and 10, suddenly 12 and nine. So as time goes, Yeah, that definitely a big part of my life and what I share and share some of these practices within too, of course, and to enjoy life and to live through their eyes because children are naturally curious aren’t they, the children are naturally mindful.

If you want to look for a mindfulness master, just look at your children because they enjoy every moment and they enjoy everything with curiosity and open awareness and wonder. So yeah, definitely.

Felicity Cohen: Beautiful. If you could give us one tip on how to succeed in a high-performance environment, employing or using one technique of mindfulness, what would that be?

What would be your top tip?

Melo Calarco: I think the biggest one is to punctuate your day with renewal breaks. So instead of trying to just charge through when it comes to, when it comes to the high-performance the best club performance that I know, and one that the wife with the clients. Including, like I said, Olympic athletes that I’m working with at the moment is they have healthy rituals.

So they have healthy morning rituals. They’re healthy midday rituals and closing the day rituals. So I say to punctuate your day with renewal breaks, you know, start the day. Well, of course, with all those good self-care practices, but throughout the day, instead of just charging through with more caffeine and energy and sugar, just to keep you going and stimulants, stop, pause, renew your.

Yeah, I do the next couple of hours of hard work. Then again, stop pause when get energy, because if you stop for two minutes or five minutes, like I said, your next two hours would be. A lot of people I know in the fast moving high-performing world world, they either wait to the end of the year to have that big holiday and recharge their energy and they just keep working crazy.

And then they usually crash on that end. They usually get sick on their holiday because their nervous system has a shot or they wait to the end of the week. I’ll relax on the weekend. I’ll renew my engine the weekend. I’ll just work 70 hours and just keep going. And I work with a lot of surgeons, also a coach, a lot of surgeons that do be.

So I teach them to actually renew their energy daily, renew that energy every day, even when they’re washing their hands between patients do some breathing techniques, so they can actually be new their energy. So the shortest answer to that is to punctuate your day with renewal breaks every day. Don’t wait till the end of the week or the end of the day, the end of the year.

And that way we can thrive and survive with no matter what life throws at us.

Felicity Cohen: Thank you. You’ve taught me something because I think I’m probably one of the guilty ones who waits to the weekend and I’m actually going to bring. Think about that and taken on board for myself, but also for the surgeons who I work with and all of my allied health team, I’m going to actually go and share that with them after our conversation, because it’s so important.

I’ve got one last question for you, but for before I get to it, I’ve also got a tip for you that Martha is a beautiful part of the world. And I know that you can catch some amazing Flathead out there. So maybe if you’re into fishing, you could incorporate fishing for Flathead off the beach and Mount Martha, you need little tinny or a boat.

If you haven’t already got one great fishing spot. I had an uncle who spent so much time at Mount Martha, the best fleshed out I’ve ever had. So maybe, yeah, getting into the fishing down at Mount Martha and enjoy your lifestyle down there. I’m a great fan of the Mornington peninsula. Spectacular.

And finally, one question that I love to ask all of the guests on my wellness warriors podcast is mellow. What does wellness mean to you?

Melo Calarco: Oh, that’s a big question to end with. The first thing that comes to mind is more like the holistic nature of that. So there’s obviously mental wellness, there’s physical wellness, there’s financial wellness and all of those pillars of health. So that’s the sort of the generic answer.

But personally, what wellness or wellbeing means to me is so I can go to bed at night and put my head on the pillow and fall asleep and stay asleep all the way through knowing that I’ve looked after my own wellness as much as possible through the day, but also knowing that I’ve helped and supported people and have that sense of achievement and fulfillment and knowing that I’m helping people.

And I know I can go to bed with a clear conscience. That to me, is wellness going to bed and staying asleep and falling asleep and things that, that that’s me, the ultimate sign of.

Felicity Cohen: Thank you so much for joining me. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here on my wellness warriors podcast, and congratulations on the body of work that you empower so many others to employ mindfulness in their lives.

It’s fabulous. And I look forward to a further chat in the future.

Thank you for joining the wellness warriors podcast. It’s been a pleasure to have you online with us. If you didn’t enjoy the series, please leave your review, subscribe and follow it. And we look forward to sharing many more stories with you in the future.

Nutritionist & Dietitian

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