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Dr Adriana Giotta, Registered Clinical PsychologistThe vital role of competent and caring guidance and support for young people.

Part 2

Conscious living is the practice of embodying the change we wish to see actualised in the world. The coherence between values, words and actions is also essential and requires deliberate, reflective conscious living, and a continuous choice in the here and now. Walking the talk. The choice in every given moment of now of feeding our wise, rather than our maladaptive, parts is key, to resist the temptation to react impulsively or automatically in the usual manner, rather pausing, breathing, and reflecting, to be able to choose the most adaptive informed response to any triggering situation holding in mind the consequences.

Some readers may think the above approach to life is utopistic, unnecessarily selfless and/or not applicable in our contemporary, competitive world. A pervasive individualistic, materialistic and consumeristic culture has supported this mindset, which can lead to a self-absorbed, self-centred worldview and the illusion of separateness, fostering a “I, me mine” attitude to existence. As humanity, we are in dear need to break free from this illusion and approach to living, as it is causing devastating ripple effects in this world.

Living a life as awakened, conscious healthy role models holds the individual’s and the collective’s very best interests at heart. It is simply a new perspective to which many are not yet accustomed. It is a paradigm shift gathering momentum in contemporary times, as more and more people awaken, underpinned by the fundamental reality that we are all interconnected, interdependent and that a change needs to occur if we wish to preserve the human species and Planet Earth.

A conscious, deliberate and interconnected approach to life is simply the natural outcome of the awakened and fully activated higher functions of our brains, that we often do not tap into as we are trapped in fight-or-flight mode. The higher functions of our brain afford us, amongst other things, expanded awareness, increased consciousness, and the embodied knowing and understanding of the reality of oneness.

It suffices to think about the kind of world in which we would like to see our children grow up and develop. Being out of Plato’s cave of illusions and of separation (Plato, 1943/360 B.C.E.), the higher functions of the brain seek oneness, hold a 30,000 foot vision, see the big picture about what is really best for us individually and as a collective, to truly thrive in this world and in our lives sustainably.

The magical aspect about all this is that I do not need to convince the reader with words, rather the reader may simply wish to engage in practices, technologies of the self and actions that facilitate brain integration and the awakening of the higher functions within it to experience an embodied knowing of the discussed existential dimension. I advocate the inclusion of this empowering knowledge, practices and technologies of the self within the school curriculum to empower children and in turn support Planet Earth.

When the stress response, or fight-flight-freeze system, runs the show the higher functions of the brain simply shut off until calm returns, even though in our fast paced lives we may not experience inner peace too often. Let us pause and take a moment to think about how we spend a typical day, or perhaps how we spent today or yesterday, and take stock: Are we mostly stressed, too busy and/or anxious? If the answer is yes, then it means we are mostly running around with an activated fight-flight-freeze system, surviving through the activation of the limbic system (mammalian brain) and the reptilian brain (brain stem and medulla), thereby we are not accessing the higher functions of the brain as, when the fight-flight-freeze system is on, they are

shut off. That means we are not living consciously, deliberately and we are not tapping into our greater potential that know no scarcity, no separation and no lingering negative emotions.

Instead of remaining trapped in the fight-flight-freeze systems that keep us stuck in fear, shame, a scarcity mindset, greed, hatred, ignorance, guilt and/or envy, those who are able to tap into the higher functions of the brain through, for example, daily practices that facilitate the integration of the brain, as well as the activation and strengthening of its higher functions, such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and emotional regulation techniques are more likely to thrive in their lives and to dream a better world, life and future into reality (Cozolino, 2014; Schore, 2016; Siegel, 2007, 2011; van der Kolk, 2015). They learn from past errors and grow, pioneer, implement excellence, and end the repetition of mistakes and maladaptive patterns (van der Kolk, 1989).

A world of happier, conscious, interconnected people is a world that does not need wars, conflict and division, is simply a better and easier space and place to live and share. It is a better world. We can all contribute to making our lives and people’s lives better and in turn, the world a better place by simply shifting out of the illusion of “I, me mine” into the reality of oneness, “we, us, our”. The journey has to start from within us as individuals to embody that very change we wish to see in the world and work on ourselves with perseverance, such that we can indeed tap into, sustain and expand those higher functions of our brain, as opposed to being permanently stuck in the fight-or-flight system, thus disempowered and deemed to repeat. It is only when we tap into our higher functions that we can progressively embody healthy role models for ourselves, others and for the young.

The first to benefit from a mindset of conscious role modelling are the conscious role model adults themselves. Those who take responsibility for their influencing power and adjust accordingly, embody the reality they wish to see manifested in the world and go beyond their own immediate circles of influence, care and the limited mindset of the “I, me and mine,” also enjoy an increased sense of power, agency and fulfilment by partaking in the concrete actualisation of a better world acting as genuine virtuous catalysts of goodwill and happiness for self and others. This very point has never been more important than in the specific time in which we currently live, permeated by crises, wars, conflict, geopolitical instability, uncertainty, diseases, pandemics and rampant mental illnesses. Young people feel quite despondent about their futures, as a result. Furthermore, with the advancement of technology, the world and humanity is changing at a pace never witnessed before, so the time to stand up and take action is now.

Amongst the benefits of living a life as a conscious role model is the fostering of a compounding virtuous cycle of gratifying human relationships, increased sense of meaning, purpose and belonging. Whenever there is meaning and purpose, whenever the gaze moves away from one’s own navel or little pond into the bigger picture that encompasses others and the world at large, there can neither be isolation, disconnection, loneliness, depression nor despondency. This is a pivotal message for our young to receive from the adults that surround them. It is an inspirational message of hope and abundance that can kindle their motivation to unleash and share the best in themselves.

All the above can be summarised in a nutshell as a mindset of empowerment, interconnectedness and awakened living, for conscious role models recognise that separation is but an illusion and that we are all absolutely interdependent, interconnected and even, dare I say, in dear need of each other.

As a great supporter of the lifelong journey of learning and growing, again at the core of a conscious role model, I have been engaged in a lifelong journey in personal and professional development. In 2014 I founded an institute for higher education – Elephant Training – which has upskilled, and continues to upskill, over 1,000 clinicians and aspiring clinicians in Asia Pacific. I value the opportunity of continuously learning and growing as an individual, driven by curiosity and the desire to pioneer new grounds and I believe that even schools’ curriculums need to evolve and adjust to the fast paced, remarkably changing, times. To that purpose, I advocate the inclusion of topics and related practices such as emotional intelligence, affect regulation, human psychology, mindfulness, the brain and the mind.

I dream of a better world for the young and all human beings, which starts with good parenting from birth, healthy role models for the world at large and inclusive and enlightened education. I dream of an expanded collective consciousness that leverages upon new technologies of the self to access our superpowers, stemming from the magnificent higher functions of our brain.

I am thoroughly looking forward to my journey in support of the Dukes Foundation mission. Together we are stronger in aiming for a better world with great philanthropic ambitions in support of young people and the world at large.

Ad majora!


Plato. (1943). Plato’s The Republic. New York : Books, Inc. (original work published on 360 B.C.A.). Retrieved from:

Cozolino, L. J. (2014). The neuroscience of human relationship: Attachment and the developing social brain (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton.

Schore, A. N. (2016). Affect regulation and the origin of the self: The neurobiology of emotional development. New York and London: Routledge.

Siegel, D. J. (2007). The mindful brain in human development: Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being. New York: Norton & Company.

Siegel, D. J. (2011). Mindsight: Transform your brain with the new science of kindness. London: Bantam Books.

van der Kolk, B. A. (1989). The compulsion to repeat the trauma. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 12(2), 389–411. DOI:

van der Kolk, B. A. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York, NY: Viking Penguin.

Young, J. E., Klosko, J. S., & Weishaar, M. E. (2003). Schema therapy: A practitioner’s guide. New York and London: The Guilford Press.

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