From the drug culture to pranayama meditation.

The Best Easter Meditation Retreat Australia Has.

Plus Benefits Of Other Long Weekend Meditation Retreats At Flametree.

My journey from the drug culture to pranayama breath meditation.

Flametree’s meditation 4 class video course, & 10 LIVE classes.

At University in Canberra in the 1970’s, there were already plenty of drugs about.  It was way before any possible in-studio or online meditation retreat in my life. And way before I (Stuart), had even heard of a pranayama retreat. Now, in contrast, I’m planning to be part of the Flametree’s Easter meditation retreat Australia wide. But again, my meditation journey started way before I’d ever had the chance to even search for anything like a meditation class near me.

Instead, back in the early 1070’s, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and others even at my university had already died from recreational drug overdoses.

Meanwhile, at home, back in Darwin, it was still on the so-called hippie trail to and from London by the overland route. Many did a drug filled trip from Amsterdam, to Kabul, to Darwin.

LSD and mescaline were popular, due to their alleged transformational “trips”.

Just outside of Darwin, you’d often see long-haired folk earnestly walking through paddocks filed with cows, and cow pats. They were looking for, finding, and using, the famous Blue Meanie or Goldtop mushrooms that had an hallucinogenic drug in them.

There was nothing new about the drug culture of that era. It followed on from the opium dens of the earlier decades. It just had a louder counterculture associated with it, plus some new, synthetic chemicals.

At the same time, working as a young lawyer in Darwin, I also knew a good number of folks who, by their 40s, had brains that were seriously impaired by the after work, (and lunchtime), drinking culture.

Neither alcohol, nor illegal drugs, were better than the other. They both damaged brain, body, performance, and longevity. Sometimes, they also brought out the worst in people.

easter meditation retreat

Jim Hendrix died tragically from an overdose. I thought there had to be a better way to get a transformational experience. That sent me on my pranayama meditation journey. 

Canberra meditation classes

In my final days at University in Canberra, I (Stuart), had already decided to check out whether meditation could deliver any of the effects people were after with their use of  transformational drugs.

Maybe my decision was influenced by my earlier years, where I had been impressed by the book “Autobiography Of A Yogi”, by Paramhansa Yogananda.

In any case, I looked for whatever the meditation Canberra services could offer.

First, I learnt a type of sound based meditation taught by Ananda Marga. At the time, somewhat before the infamous Hilton bombing in Sydney, I knew nothing about them, other than they taught meditation.

I soon moved on to a meditation course in so-called transcendental meditation. It was taught by the followers of the Indian Guru Maharishi. (The same guru who the Beatles hung out with).

Among other meditation classes, I spent some workshop time with a transcendental meditation Adelaide class.

Flametree’s meditation 4 class video course, & 10 LIVE classes.


Maharishi devised a simple mantra based meditation for spreading meditation. It was called transcendental meditation.

Benefits of meditation were actually huge

Although none of the meditation groups would tell you this, I found that both meditation methods were actually similar. More importantly, both were effective and useful.

Both types of meditation used a so-called sound mantra. With much secrecy and ceremony, they’d give you sounds like the conventional AUM.

At the time, and afterwards, they gave you some simple instruction and guidance, such as how to avoid headaches, and increase motivation to practise.

The transcendental meditation people group also shared a lot of the scientific research they had on the very positive benefits of meditation. They were also very focussed on building a better world, including world peace.

To my sceptical surprise, I found that both of these meditations improved my effectiveness, energy, sleep, and more.

The effects were similar to, but much better than, the candle meditation that I had already tried.

Nevertheless, due to its greater benefits, I kept doing the transcendental meditation. To my surprise, I now have almost 50 years of daily meditation under my belt… not that I was counting.

LEARN MORE about Easter Meditation Retreat, & at other long weekends

Chris Lalor

My pranayama meditation journey began in earnest at Flametree Yoga, with Chris Lalor (Pictured doing Bhramari pranayama). Flametree’s next pranayama retreat is 4 introductory classes over 4 days. They’ll give you a convenient in-studio or online meditation retreat, followed by 10 free weekly pranayama classes. Follow the link above to Flametree’s Easter breathwork training and pranayama course. Based on my experiences at Flametree, it will be the best Easter meditation retreat Australia has. 

My pranayama meditation journey started slowly

So, in more recent years, as I got back more into the Iyengar yoga that I did in my twenties, I was in no rush to try pranayama, or so-called breath meditation.

I thought I had all that covered.

My view was that I was getting what there was to get from a type of meditation on sound. (In other words, from the transcendental meditation that I already practised).

I also knew that pranayama took a bit more time, and like everyone, I still had too little of that to spare. Instead, I raced on through life, using meditation to improve effectiveness, as best I could.

In addition, in the yoga school in Melbourne where I practised, there was little focus on pranayama, explanation of how it worked, or the various types of breath meditation available.

meditation retreat australia

Blankets to extend the chest when you do pranayama breathwork lying down. This makes pranayama more accessible than sitting up. Flametree’s upcoming pranayama retreat is an in-studio, and LIVE online meditation retreat. It’s aiming to cater for wherever you’re based, whether it’s Darwin, or far beyond.

Pranayama meditation was mysterious to me

The use of the term “pranayama”, or pranayama yoga, also made it mysterious to Westerners, and difficult to fathom.

Due to being very familiar with meditation on sound, I realised that pranayama essentially involved various types of meditation on the breath. In other words, there was firstly a focus on the breath, rather than a focus on sound (such as an AUM or OMMM).

It’s worth noting that some types of pranayama breath meditation did involve some sound meditation, such as so-called Bhramari, or Bumble Bee Breathing.

But again, given my existing practices, I was in no hurry to also explore breath meditation or pranayama.

Only later did I learn that passing the breath through different nasal channels, and even just breathing through the nose, was also an important part of how it worked.

I was also to find that it worked better than just sound meditation, but I’ll come to that.

Meanwhile, a fashionable new focus on so-called breathwork arrived. It was backed up by more research about breathing through the nose, and various types of pranayama.

So, I realised there was a bunch of newer research about the many healthy and calming benefits of pranayama. I still choose to call it breath meditation, simply so it was less mysterious.

Yet, I still procrastinated about going to pranayama meditation courses.

LEARN MORE about Easter Meditation Retreat, & at other long weekends

meditation retreat near me

After I had an accident, and got a temporary head injury, I  (Stuart) could not do inversions (at least for a long while), but I could certainly do pranayama meditation. More importantly, the research showed it was especially good for my brain… given it’s recent trauma. 

The accidental benefit of 2 holes in my skull

Out of left field, I accidentally knocked my head, and ended up in the Darwin hospital Emergency Department.

The brain surgeons told me I needed serious neurosurgery. It included doctors drilling two holes in my skull, about the diameter of my little finger.

The holes, now covered with skin, look and feel a bit like the hole in the top of head of a new-born baby. (It’s not far directly through to the brain!).

A dentist drilling holes in my teeth was familiar. But drilling holes in my skull was a very different dimension of trauma.

Post operative recovery was and is a slow and steady process. Months later, my skull is still sensitive from how the operation disturbs too many nerve endings.

Fortunately, my brain returned to full functionality almost as soon as the surgeons used the holes to drain out the blood that had bled into the cavity between my brain and skull.

But, I also realised that anything that promised to help my brain more was worth a try. I already knew from pranayama research that it had a good track record with helping brain functionality.

So, I went to the pranayama breath meditation classes at Flametree Yoga Studio.

I learnt and practised breath meditation techniques like Ujjayi (Ocean Breath), Viloma (Staircase Breathing), Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing), and Bhramari (Bumble Bee Breath).

pranayama online course & online pranayama classes

Pranayama breathwork can also be done in a chair. For example, use a belt for support, as Chris Lalor, from Flametree Yoga, demonstrates.

A host of pranayama meditation benefits

Almost immediately, again to my surprise, I got a new and vastly improved range of meditation benefits.

For instance, there was a large and sustained increase in energy and clarity. After a pranayama session in the morning, these powerful effects lasted through the day, and even over several days.

I was also calmer, and less grumpy. As a result, my partner also found me easier to live with!

As you may know, a major benefit of yoga is that it quietens the mind. I found that pranayama quietens the mind, and mind chatter, to an even greater extent than anything else I had tried.

Obviously, it’s also another reason why yoga and pranayama work so well together.

The pranayama meditation session in the morning takes anywhere between 30 and 50 minutes. So that’s more of a time investment than the 20 to 30 minutes that I’d become used to with the sound meditation I had been using for decades.

But the greatly improved benefits of meditation using the breath definitely was a very useful and powerful game changer.

As I mentioned, I had, for many years, resisted doing pranayama because I thought I did not have time for it.

Flametree’s meditation 4 class video course, & 10 LIVE classes.

online meditation retreat

The Easter meditation retreat and pranayama course will mostly be one in a lying position, such as you see in the this picture. Flametree’s next pranayama retreat is 4 introductory classes over 4 days. You’ll get a convenient in-studio or online meditation retreat. Learn more. 

My increased efficiency made the time investment very worthwhile

Instead, once I started regular pranayama meditation, I found that my improved efficiency gave me plenty of time for both pranayama, and more of the other things on my “to do” list.

In addition, pranayama helped me reduce my habitual procrastination.

On the days that I started with pranayama meditation, I immediately then sat down and got on with tasks that I’d been putting off for days, weeks, months, or years.

These days, if I have the time and quietness for daily pranayama, it has an even more powerful effect. In other words, I find each pranayama session seems to build cumulatively on earlier sessions.

So, doing pranayama meditation, or yoga pranayama (whatever you want to call it), is ideally worth doing at least several times a week.

The pranayama benefits I too easily forget

My partner read the first version of this story about my yoga and pranayama. Then, she said: “when you talk about pranayama, you say it gives you even more benefits than you’ve mentioned. So, what the ‘more’, or other benefits”.

She went on to say that she finds I’ve become more reflective and insightful.

In addition, she says I have more compassion for myself and others.

As I think about it, and discuss it with her, I realise what she says is true.

In addition, I have a sense of gaining a greater distance from whatever is going on in the moment, so that I can view anything in a more wholistic and dispassionate manner.

All this is not due to any particular vast power unique to me. With regular pranayama practice, it’s the benefits that pranayama meditation delivers to anyone.

Again, my teacher points out that it comes from the fact that pranayama is a process of experiential knowledge. In other words, you learn from doing.

It also means that, until you do pranayama, you can’t know what it will give you.

The guidance of a pranayama meditation teacher helps

As I’ve become more adept at pranayama, I also find that even a relatively quick 30-minute session will still give me heaps of benefits.

So, I do shorter sessions on the days where it seems I don’t have time for more, or when I know someone else in house will wake up soon.

By the way though, as my pranayama teacher has taught me, any feeling or process of urgency in how you do your pranayama, will almost certainly give you a headache.

Even if you don’t get such side effects, “going at” pranayama like you are time poor, will almost certainly not give you the benefits you’re looking for.

A good pranayama teacher can also give you many other tips as you go. For instance, when I was first doing Ujjayi lying down, some advice from my pranayama instructor on the best height of the blankets, made a huge and instant difference.

pranayama retreat

Simple yoga poses initially extend and strengthen the chest, thereby making pranayama breathing easier. To come to the best Easter meditation retreat Australia has, you’ll need to have first done 3 months of yoga.  

Sound meditation still useful, just not as good as pranayama

I still use sound meditation. For instance, in the middle afternoon, if I’m running low on energy, or my brain it getting scatty or inattentive, a 15 to 20 minute meditation session will give me new energy, clarity, and focus.

The sound meditation is good to have, especially if I’m in a hurry!

But the pranayama in the morning provides a sustained energy and clarity that I’ve never experienced with other types of meditation.

Of course, it’s worth noting that in the traditional 8 limbs of yoga, pranayama and meditation are separate. I haven’t delved into such things sufficiently to understand the distinction they’re making.

All I can report is what has worked for me, based on almost 50 years of daily meditations of some type.

These days, I can already see that pranayama has become a major and ongoing part of my personal practices. I don’t see that changing.

As I delve further into the existing and growing research that supports my own findings about pranayama benefits, I’m sorry that I did not explore pranayama meditation much earlier.

Instead, in my stubborn, resistant way of being, it took brain surgery to shake me out of my Western skepticism!

No difficult posture needed!

In pranayama meditation, no particular meditation postures are needed, as long as your back is straight.

So build it into your daily life, starting with our short courses like the Easter meditation retreat. This short breath meditation course is also run occasionally at other times during the year.

An in-studio or online meditation course is a first step towards the many pranayama benefits I’ve mentioned.

meditation retreat australia

Relaxation pose after online pranayama meditation. If you’re searching for things like “Meditation class near me”, then try an online meditation retreat, and / or an in-studio pranayama retreat too. And consider the best Easter meditation retreat Australia has, at Flametree Yoga.

In the course, you will learn different meditation techniques.

Flametree’s next course, or pranayama retreat, is 4 introductory classes over 4 days, at Easter 2023. Check also the Flametree schedule for any upcoming long weekend, such as the King’s Birthday long weekend.

The classes will give you a convenient in-studio or online meditation retreat, followed by 10 free weekly pranayama classes. Follow the link to Flametree’s Easter breathwork training and pranayama course. (It’s called a retreat because it’s an intensive over the Easter period, or similar long weekends).

More on Flametree’s VIDEO meditation course

Flametree’s meditation 4 class video course, & 10 LIVE classes.

In 2023, Flametree ran an Easter retreat, both online and in-studio, in Darwin NT. The online part aspect was extremely convenient, as you didn’t need to worry about issues like single rooms, double rooms, or whether to choose single occupancy in your twin room, or whatever.

The good news is that it’s now available in a 4 class VIDEO course, in a package that also include 10 FREE LIVE classes too.

The daily class schedule (captured in the videos) was 4 days of 45 minute introductory breath meditation. It was followed by a mixed level hatha yoga class. So, it was an easy, non-demanding retreat schedule.

After each video, you can enjoy your new found inner peace for the rest your everyday life.

With the mix of meditation and / or yoga you choose for the course (or retreat period you may be using it for), you won’t need any particular yoga nidra in order to sleep. In other words, you’ll sleep very well from either the breath meditation, or yoga, or ideally both.

In addition, for maybe the first time, your inner self will dwell in a new type of noble silence. By the last day of the 3 or 4 video classes you watch, or whatever period you can “attend” for, you’ll find that the course has indeed been a special time for you.

You can, of course, also watch the videos many times over. In the process, you’ll be learning and practising four major, and powerful, styles of breath meditation.

LEARN MORE about Easter Meditation Retreat, & at other long weekends

online meditation retreat Darwin NT

At Flametree’s in-studio and online meditation retreat, or with its meditation videos, you’ll learn some so-called “mudras”, like this one. Remember, are aiming to cater for wherever you’re based, whether it’s Darwin, or far beyond.

Morning meditation for your personal development & practical wisdom

Depending on your orientation, you may choose to see all this in a truly spiritual way, or just see the meditation and / or yoga retreat as a good thing to do for whatever of the reasons mentioned above.

From the depths of your own heart, you’ll know the best answer for you.

For example, by the end of the retreat, matters in the realm of the heart may be the best thing you get from the several days of introductory breath meditation.

You’ll know what is the most powerful force that makes a meditation practice work for you. The perfect place may be a spiritual path, or it may simply be the sort of every day effectiveness discussed above. Wherever you’re coming from, getting more of a path of compassion will always be a bonus for you.

Again, as mentioned above, Flametree has chosen to call this course a mini-retreat (that is non-residential). But you may, of course, be simply doing this course as 4 days of classes (or the corresponding videos) at Flametree.

In any case, to get on with making it happen, just get out your debit card, and go to the link for the 4 videos from the Meditation Retreat.

Retreat programs at Flametree Retreat Centre

Except for Flametree’s week-long retreats in Bali, nearly all of Flametree long weekend retreats take place at Woolner, Darwin, NT, and online.

The studio, or your own home, are perfect places for Flametree’s kind of silent retreats, or silent meditation retreats. You just need to be able to hear the guided meditation instructions from Flametree’s highly trained meditation teacher.

Bali yoga retreats, and any other longer retreats, include regular meditation too.

The upcoming retreat at Easter in Darwin (and online), and the videos of it, is a kind of retreat to access some ancient wisdom, deep meditation, peace of mind, personal growth, and the other benefits outlined above.

The video program fee for this type of teacher-led retreats, at just $49 for the 4 sessions, is a rare opportunity to kick start your breath meditation skills.

Even those in New Zealand, Byron Bay, or anywhere else across the Pacific Ocean, can access Flametree’s online sessions, including the Bali residential course.

Access is not limited to Flametree full-time students. The course schedule is open to all in the outside world beyond Darwin, Australia.

meditation retreat australia

Join Flametree from the convenience and privacy of your own home. Pranayama works extremely well online. Try our 4 class video meditation course.

Best meditation retreats

Retreats by Flametree yoga studios work well whether you’re looking for personal retreats, group retreats, wellness retreats, residential retreats, or a spiritual retreat, a silent retreat, a mindfulness retreat, or mindfulness meditation.

The reason is that you can use the skills and deep breathing you learn at Flametree meditation centers (and wellness centers), to access the particular practice of meditation that works best for you.

In addition, given that Flametree meditation sessions work so well online, you can access them from your own private rooms, anywhere on the east coast of Australia, or beyond.

If you can, use the retreat opportunity to check out the natural beauty, and variety of activities, of the Darwin NT region. You’ll enjoy the many beautiful gardens of the tropics, as well as outdoor pools and outdoor activities at nearby Litchfield National Park.

In addition, Flametree studio is itself a beautiful place, where you can also access all of Flametree’s fitness center facilities.

Plus, you’ll meet and spend time with delightful, like-minded people.

A meditation retreat is one of the incredible experiences of life. So don’t miss it. Check out our 4 class video course, with 10 LIVE breath meditation classes.

Yoga practice matters at Flametree retreat center

Flametree’s yoga teachers, through their yoga teacher training, are all trained in the practice of pranayama, the formal practice of yoga, breathing exercises, poses to improve blood circulation, pranayama theory, yogic philosophy, and yoga asana.

Their yogic practice may also involve some spiritual practice, or spiritual practices. (But every pranayama class, and all asana practice at Flametree, are done in a secular, non-religious way).

Instead, Flametree encourages you to use even a short daily practice, involving control of breath, to liberate your vital energy.

In turn, it will transform your work time and free time, including any type of holiday, or rest day, that you have.

Accessing more of your own vital force and flow of prana (energy), will reduce negative emotions, calm your nervous system, balance your emotional states, and give the benefits outlined above.

With pranayama sessions, whether in Flametree retreats or classes, you get more in touch with the source of our universal life force.

So, please take the next step in your yoga journey, and book for our meditation retreat, or pranayama retreat, or get our 4 class video course now.

Micheal in relax

A bolster often helps expand the chest for better breathwork practices.

Online retreats, or at-home retreats

Even Flametree’s day retreats are usually online programs too. These LIVE sessions are excellent to build your mindfulness practice, or mindfulness meditation practice.

Flametree’s virtual retreat program, and even it’s week courses, or 5-day retreat practice, can easily be built into your likely busy schedule.

To attend Flametree’s online meditation retreats, you don’t need to have come to a previous retreat.

Of course, if and when you can come to Flametree’s in-person retreats, it’s a wonderful experience to meet members of the community at Flametree. There are always things you can learn from sharing experiences with a fellow participant.

Whether you can attend online or in-studio, Flametree’s breath meditation and mindfulness retreats are special events from which you’ll get a great deal of additional support from the different practices you’ll learn.

In particular, Flametree’s group meditations, like Bhramari pranayama, are a wonderful opportunity to reduce stress level, build your mindful awareness, and learn practical ways to pursue your inner exploration.

Check Flametree’s 4 class breath meditation course.

Beginner packages (including an online meditation retreat)

Flametree’s meditation 4 class video course, & 10 LIVE classes.

For beginner meditators, Flametree short meditation courses or retreats are a great way to start.

You just come along, and you’ll learn new skills in a sequential manner.

The teacher adjusts course material for whoever is in the actual class on the day. So the class it always a level suitable for you.

Best of all, online meditation classes (or via video, or in retreats), are more convenient (and cheaper) than finding a local studio (even if one is available at all). The same is true of the online meditation retreat (when it runs).

The online meditation class is done simultaneously with the in-studio class. The teacher can see you, and hear you, and you get LIVE feedback.

By the way, in another post, Chris, the Flametree pranayama teacher, also wrote how pranayama, in her view, keeps her sane!  Check it out for more about the benefits of pranayama and breath meditation.

Alternatively, just come along to the next and best Easter meditation retreat Australia has, or check out the schedule for other long weekends.

Ongoing non-beginner pranayama meditation packages and class times

All non-beginner packages, including ten class passes, at Flametree Yoga, include pranayama breathing meditation weekly classes.

In the non-beginner timetable, the two existing breath meditation classes are at 6.30am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

The two weekly pranayama classes are both LIVE online or in-studio. Pranayama works especially well online, and is extremely convenient.

Pranayama is taught by Flametree’s popular & certified Senior Yoga Teacher, Chris Lalor (pictured above). She’s been studying pranayama, and doing pranayam, for over 25 years.

If you wish, check out the many very positive reviews and stories from students about Flametree yoga and meditation.

If you’ve never done any yoga at all, please ideally do about 3 months of beginner yoga before you start pranayama breath meditation, including our short courses. See and hear more about the  beginner poses that are taught, on Flametree’s TikTok page.

The objective of the beginner yoga is to develop your strength and flexibility (including in your back), and to strengthen your lungs, so to allow you to then practise the breath meditation.

On this page, you’ll also find our most popular packages for both beginner and non-beginner yoga.

LEARN MORE about Easter Meditation Retreat program, & at other long weekends

pranayama online course & online pranayama classes

Using a belt for easier sitting meditation. Try an online meditation retreat, & studio pranayama retreat too.  Flametree’s next pranayama retreat is 4 introductory classes over 4 days. You’ll get a convenient in-studio or online meditation retreat, followed by 10 free weekly pranayama classes. Follow the link above to Flametree’s Easter breathwork training and pranayama course. It’s the best Easter meditation retreat Australia has. 

One Reply to “From the drug culture to pranayama meditation.”

  1. Evelyne WAGNON says:

    A pity I am so far away at the moment! I would have been very interested!!

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