BORIS von RECHENBERG
“It’s become clear to me that there is much that can be known, but not understood.”
I am a transformational healer.
I came to Australia when I was 14 from Sweden, where we lived after Germany. As a boy, I wanted to be an artist, but I didn’t do well on the theory side of art, so didn’t get the grades to get into art school.
Instead, after dropping out of a marketing degree, I went to work for Stephen Dattner in his Hoddle St store. In the late 80’s it was the place to buy fur and leather.
That gig lead to a friend’s father offering me a job managing his new luxury goods store that was to be opened in the newly-developed Como Centre. At the time, there were huge plans for the Como that included a man-made lake that connected to the Yarra, a really exclusive shopping mecca designed to attract the Asian high-rollers who were starting to come to Australia.
Laszlo Puzsar had good reason to have big hopes for his new store, but -before we even opened- the recession had hit. To make matters worse, within a few short months of ‘Puzsar Jewellery & Duty Free’ opening its doors, the airline pilots’ strike of 1989 hit. The developers of the Como went bust, and it was finished much more modestly than originally planned.
Our store was opposite Maxim’s restaurant, and during the opening the who’s who of Melbourne were there.
We sold furs, leather goods, diamonds, $1000 bottles of scotch. We used to get international acts like Bono, Tom Selleck and BB King who stayed at the Como when they visited.
Still, Mr Puzsar never really recovered from the damage of the recession. He was a wonderful boss, a lovely man, and it really pained me to see his stress as he struggled to survive.
Eventually, he opened another store in the city, in the Welcome Hotel in Swanston St, that was aimed at the more ‘budget’ Asian tourists, and for a while I also worked there as a manager.
After about three years in total with Laszlo, I decided to quit and do something else.
I had my first taste of holistic healing practice during a trip to Byron Bay, so when I came back to Melbourne, I enrolled into a healing course at the Pancha Tanmantra School of Chinese Medicine.
I studied full time for a year. Aside from Chinese medicine, I also learnt the Pancha Tanmantra Martial art, which is an ancient form of Kung Fu, and like Tai Chi, can be practiced slowly.
I had a vision of finishing my course and instantly becoming this amazing healer and starting a lucrative practice, while creating art on the side.
Fantasy soon gave way to reality.
I had just met my now wife Diane, and we were living at a small place in Ripponlea. After the course I had to get a job in a poster shop in Chapel street to pay our bills, while running some healing sessions from home on the weekends.
After about a year of that, I had to stop because the results I was getting were somewhat mixed. I realized I did not have the emotional maturity to be a healer just yet.
At the same time, I started a lunch business. Working in Chapel St, I saw that the food options were very limited at the time, you either had to shell out big or be happy with greasy dimsims and soggy foccacias.
So I quit my job and started making sandwiches at home using King Island cheeses and sourdough bread.
I didn’t really plan, or budget – I just started! It was totally unsustainable. Initially, I probably had a 50% cost, which is ridiculous. But the customers loved it and I soon learned how to manage costs.
That was 1996, the year the government brought in the laws that demanded safety in food preparation and handling and proper accreditation. Suddenly I couldn’t make the sandwiches at home.
I found a Greek function centre that leased me their kitchen during the week. Together with Dianne we grew our lunch business to the point where we had 5 delivery rounds going, and had to hire staff to help us.
All the food businesses in Chapel tried to stop us, one guy even tried to run me down! Clearly we were doing something right.
After a few years, the Greek function centre got sold, and I took out a loan to buy a commercial kitchen. I found the perfect one, but what I didn’t realize when I was buying it that it was also a function business called Botti Grande.
We honoured the bookings that came with the business and started booking our own functions. That’s how Sixteen Ellis Street was born. Once I saw the potential of the functions, I stopped the lunches and concentrated solely on that.
Over the next nine years I grew Sixteen Ellis Street into a really unique and successful function venue. It became a beautiful space and we ran an award-winning bar within it.
We had magnificent, talented staff, amazing chefs. Many people I am forever grateful to.
However, it was a hard slog, with a lot of pressure. Dianne and I had three kids, but I was working 70hr weeks. Building a business from nothing, meant that even though the venue was popular, I spent years trying to keep up with cashflow and GST payments.
In 2008 I finally decided to sell the business.
Following a successful sale, I imagined I would invest the funds into income-producing ventures, while concentrating on creative endeavours myself.
Instead, what followed was a series of projects and ventures, that although exciting and ambitious, lead me to the brink of bankruptcy.
Parallel to Sixteen Ellis, I also ran an event venue called Swan Lake studios where we hosted concerts, fashion shows and openings. Through that, I also started a company called Live Visuals with my business partner Michael, that created the digital content to be projected during these events.
It was with Michael that we came up with the idea for the Disco Ball music concept.
This was 2008, and mobile ringtones like the Crazy Frog were huge. In that pre-app world, you couldn’t just download whatever you wanted, you had to buy these ringtones.
We created a cartoon character called the Disco Ball, who sang an up-beat, positive song about peace and dancing around the world. We recorded the song in 6 languages, and produced a slick music video.
We travelled to Europe to meet with publishing houses who had interest in our concept. Through an acquaintance, I was even able to secure a meeting with the international marketing director of Universal.
Unfortunately, Universal didn’t want to buy it as it wasn’t ‘hookey’ enough – they wanted another Crazy Frog.
Whereas I wanted to do something catchy, but with a positive message and meaning.
I was convinced we were onto a winner and our concept song had the potential to explode worldwide. I spent over a hundred thousand dollars on that project. But in the end, nothing happened, which was a huge disappointment.
I also invested in several hospitality ventures that ended up losing money. There was a cafe in Port Melbourne that I funded, but didn’t see profit. There was also a concept bar in AC/DC lane called 24 Moons, which was a wonderful design project for me. It actually started being successful, but had to be closed when the short lease ran out.
The last straw was my investment into the Bohemia Cabaret and Burlesque bar in South Melbourne.
I went into a partnership with a friend and two Cabaret and Burlesque performers. Unfortunately, running a business with conflicting visions proved a disaster.
By the time I managed to extract myself from that partnership, I was $100k in debt, on the verge of bankruptcy. Against professional advice, I decided not to go bankrupt however, and to service my debt (which I am still doing!)
Here I was, with a five person family, gone from a fairly comfortable lifestyle to losing nearly everything.
It hurt. I went through a period of feeling hard done by – by life, by fate, by the universe.
For 2 months, I just moped around the house, bruised and gutted.
But it was a great opportunity to enjoy my family, to reconnect with them in some ways. One of my children was having an emotional issue, and based on what I knew and saw, I decided to take them to a hypnotist.
And though that experience was not that amazing, it still sparked something in me.
It’s not that I wanted to be a hypnotherapist, but I was really fascinated by the interplay of the conscious and the unconscious mind, and wanted to know more.
To backtrack, I have to say that throughout my years at Ellis St, I never stopped self-study.
I kept a solid meditation practice, I read a lot of books, learnt yoga and went on many retreats to immerse myself into these practices. I continued with Pancha Tanmantra Martial Art and studied Vajrayana Buddhism.
So it felt like a natural thing to explore further studies in holistic health.
I looked online for a holistic hypnotherapy course, but none seemed right. It quickly became apparent that many of them were incomplete and shallow. People can do a three day workshop and then practice as a hypnotherapist, which is ridiculous.
Eventually I found a newly written holistic hypnotherapy course offered by the Phoenix Institute, which was known for teachings based on Transpersonal Psychology, which posits that people do not need to be fixed: everyone is whole and contains all the resources they need. That resonated with me, and I enrolled.
The course was meant to be 500 hours, but proved far more in-depth and intensive; ending up taking a year full-time to complete.
Hypnosis is not so different to a meditative state, so essentially I was meditating 4-5 hours a day, in these really deep states. I was starting to have visions. I saw all sorts of things.
Towards the end of my course, we did an inner guide exercise, which was when I first saw a divine being. This being was just light. It gave me all these gifts and empowerments.
It told me it’s name, which was Archangel Ariel.
I didn’t believe in any of that stuff up until then, I thought it was akin to a gentle form of schizophrenia. But my experience was undeniable. It was like liquid light flooding me, physically and mentally. I knew my very DNA was being altered.
Part time work was not an option, due to the intensity of the course, and so I pulled through by selling off items and borrowing money. It was a very rocky period in my marriage, as I had promised Dianne that I would work and support our family while doing the course: a promise I didn’t keep.
In the end, I pulled through the last semester by the skin of my teeth.
I started out as a hypnotherapist, even though through earlier meditations, I knew that was not the exact path I’d follow.
What I did know, was that I was good at guiding people, helping them find their own path.
Besides my prior work as a business consultant, my work at Ellis St meant I regularly sat down with my staff to go over their job and life goals; talking them through finding the path to fulfilment.
As I started working, I realized that the best inductions, which is when people are guided into the state of hypnosis, were the ones where I was moving my hands. Like energy healing. And so one of my colleagues, Denise Haffenden, who also did the course with me, offered to teach me Reiki to the level of Reiki master.
When I started learning Reiki, I started having even more intense visions.
Can you imagine something as bright as the sun, sort of circular – and it’s a being. And it’s shimmering there, totally alive, totally present – just for you.
Speaking to you, but not in words. And it gave me a symbol to share with the world.
That symbol was a star of David with a circle around it and a dot in the middle. The next day, at a friend’s place, I saw a book with that symbol on the cover. I’d never before seen that symbol before…and here it was.
It was an esoteric acupuncture book.
It turned out that it was the symbol for the heart chakra, the point at which all the chakras can be centred and united.
I know it sounds kooky, but let’s just say that all these experiences and visions combined had a really profound effect on me and showed me how tied in everything in the world is, how connected.
What became clear to me, is that there is much that can be known, but not understood.
A lot of people come to me wanting to affect a change, but they’re not sure what kind.
They don’t feel happy within themselves. Maybe people start realizing that they are compensating for their unhappiness with sweets, or food, or wine, or chasing big experiences, sex, drugs.
I came to realise that inner trauma always finds expression as outer drama. People can acquire trauma, but I was shocked to see that people also inherit trauma.
In transpersonal holistic therapies, there are both counselling and psychology elements.
The reason why I don’t limit myself to practising just hypnotherapy, is because hypnosis is used to bypass the conscious state, in order to reach the unconscious; which is where you can discover whatever trauma is causing pain, dissatisfaction, dysfunction or disease.
The problem is, entering the sub- or un-consciousness is like entering a deep sleep. And once you wake up, you may not remember what you discovered. This I find is a missed opportunity and potentially dis-empowering.
So although I respect and honour hypnotherapy, what I do is guide people into a state of whole being, in which the person not only accesses their sub- and un-conscious, but enjoy a relaxed whole-minded state.
Their body may be asleep but the whole mind is awake.
Once people are in that state, they access a tremendous potential for transformation, healing, habit-release, pattern-resolution etc. People have the most amazing insights; some can vividly remember their childhood, or embody gifts from their future selves.
And it is very empowering, because there is a recollection of the experience.
In my opinion, all true healing is in actual fact self-healing, we all have the potential, and we should all be taught to do it.
I must add, that although I apply skills I have studied and developed over 25 years, and which have all been tested and honed by my own direct experience, the transformative energy which suffuses each session with grace, is not of my making.
Ultimately, I work in an ’embodied state’ in which I am an instrument for the universal spirit.
This universal spirit (which goes by many names in various religions and spiritual paths), guides me and informs the healing.
Yes I show up, yes I establish trust and rapport which honour the person, and yes I apply skills, but ultimately the work is done through me, not by me.
I run practices from centres in Williamstown, Port Melbourne and Fitzroy, as well as my own home.
Two years ago I started writing for Living now Magazine. I am also exploring a partnership with an international healer to take workshops and group healings around the globe.
So many people want to know more about everything I’ve learnt, my experiences. I feel strongly I have a book in me!
I’m not great at self promotion, never have been. Because everything I do is so connected to the heart and soul, I feel it’s more appropriate if people find me organically, through referrals or side projects like writings and workshops – that’s when it feels really right.
What I do, is help people awaken to their true nature, to discover their real whole self. This is what I was lucky enough to realise for myself, and it now informs everything I do, into the future.