Interviewing Jon Unal

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a registered counsellor and the founder of Conscious Beginnings – Mindfulness & Psychotherapy I work with people struggling with stress, anxiety, trauma, depression, and self-esteem issues. In addition to my psychotherapy private practice, I facilitate a variety of different mindfulness workshops. My passion is to help others to overcome life’s challenges and become the best version of themselves.
I currently live in Brisbane with my wife and really enjoy the relaxed vibes here. Prior to Brisbane, we were based in Sydney for 7 years. In 2014, we took 16 months to travel around the world – mainly in South East Asia and South America. After this incredible journey, we needed a less hectic life-style and moved to Brisbane. You can also read about our travel adventures at

 Do you have a formal meditation practice?
My first introduction to mindfulness was through a 10 day Vipassana meditation, which was over 10 years ago. At the time, I was at a very low moment in my life. I had family and work related issues, and was depressed. During the 10 day retreat, I felt a shift in my being. Since then I kept a formal practice.
My routine today includes 2 hours of meditation, yoga, and gratitude journaling. The practice of mindfulness helps me to live in the moment and be fully present with the people I work with.

 What are the benefits? What do you struggle with?
I have seen amazing benefits over the last 10 years. I am definitely more relaxed and less anxious. I am also more aware of my emotions and manage them in a much better way than before. I used to struggle with anger and negative self-talk a lot in the past. Nowadays, I am more compassionate with myself and with the people around me.
I want to highlight the fact that mindfulness only works if we practice it. For me the biggest struggle was to establish a practice routine. I would meditate for a week or two, then would fall back into my old habits. Determination and dedication is the key to create a healthy routine.

Do you have an informal practice such as moving meditation (yoga, running) or a passion or an interest that requires your attention and takes you away from everything else? How does this benefit you? I love yoga. I have been practising it since 2010. I think it is a great practice for the body and the mind. As mentioned before, I do yoga at least 30 minutes everyday. I also love walking. I often go for 45 minute walks in the afternoons in a nearby park before my client sessions or group workshops. It clears my mind, connects me with the nature and calms me down.                                                                                                                                                             My wife and I also started a veggie patch last year. I find that gardening can be a meditative practice and I often loose the track of time!

What’s your constant challenge in everyday life?
I see challenges as opportunities to grow and everyday I face new opportunities. It took some time for me to get into this mindset and it helps me a lot when difficulties arise. I see life as a school where we are presented with different lessons to master. Each person or event can deliver a message on what we need to learn next.
When I look at my life, I realise that everything happened for a reason, yet I wasn’t quite aware of it at the time. In fact, the hardest challenges provided me with the biggest growth. So my philosophy today is to treat each moment as an opportunity to learn, improve, grow and integrate so that I can become a whole person.

 What’s your go to self-care practice?
Meditation is definitely my self-care practice. I also love to spend time in the nature whether in a rain forest or swimming in the ocean.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Definitely chocolate and sweets. Although I eliminated refined sugar and gluten from my diet, I still love healthy sweets.

Name three places you would like to travel to, maybe stay for a while and why?
I love Ubud, Bali. My wife and I have been there 6 times already and lived there for 3 months in 2015. I feel very connected with the culture and people on this island. There is also a great community of expats from all around the world who live there and it is one of our top destinations to spend time.
The second destination is Mexico. We visited southern part of Mexico – Yucatan area – during our travels and I am fascinated with the Mayan culture. In addition to this rich culture, the people were very friendly and welcoming.
Spain is also on my list. I have been there many times while I was living in Europe and the Spanish way of living makes me feel alive. There is so much emotion, passion and excitement on this land!


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