FREMANTLE has a unique and welcoming “settler spirit” which could do with reigniting after Covid’s disruptions, says a German adventurer who fell in love with the city and now wants to bring people together through meditation.
Hedda Konig will be leading free sunrise meditation sessions on Bathers Beach each Saturday morning at 6.45am, with the launch set for today (June 4).
They’re part of a movement known as The Sit. which was founded by entrepreneur Jason Partington on Avalon Beach in 2018 in response to a spike in suicides around Sydney’s northern beaches, and has now grown to 20 locations.
Ms Konig says the sessions are aimed at increasing people’s mental fitness, while meditating together in nature helped forge “true human connections”.
“I feel like we have to reignite that because as humans we are herd animals, we want to be surrounded by others and like-minded people,” she said.
“How easy is it to numb yourself by playing music all the time, scrolling through Facebook, drinking that beer or wine every night; I’m not against any of all these things, but you have to be aware of what you do and how much of it you’re doing.
“It’s easier to numb yourself with these things than to sit in stillness and be present and ask yourself ‘how am I actually going, do I have the right people in my life, am I in the right job, do I eat the right things’.”
She says the sessions are a simple breathing exercise, after which participants are pretty free to approach the meditation their own way.
“We are not wanting to put anything into any particular box that someone might not want.”
Ms Konig finds 10-15 minutes each morning to meditate before the daily distractions of phone pings and news streams start up.
“It just gives you a certain calmness that sets you up for success over the whole course of today,” she said.
Ms Konig first came to Fremantle in 2001 as a globe-trotting teen and says its unique atmosphere stayed with her.
“I noticed that the first time when I ever set foot on this ground, so to speak, where people would stop in the street and say, ‘hey, how are you, where are you from, what’s your story’ – people were interested in that.”
She got a two-year return trip in 2006 on a media and communications scholarship to UWA, but not being someone to “linger” without certainty she returned to Europe when it ended.
In 2006 Ms Konig took a job with a medical device company in Sydney, where she lived until Covid hit.
“Last year when Covid hit, Sydney became a bit daunting. Everybody’s now competing with each other for the next car park, for the coffee queue, for the next job, for the next apartment, it’s really a different vibe, and I just thought ‘I want to make the impossible possible and find a job and go to Perth and ultimately, live the dream of where I’ve always wanted to be’.”
She said isolating was more challenging than she expected, as she’d scored a friend’s house in South Yunderup and wasn’t burdened by bills or being stuck in a hotel.
“And I thought of myself actually as a strong character that wouldn’t have any issues whatsoever. But once you’re two weeks by yourself, Jesus, it is not as easy as it sounds, you know?”
She’d already been aware of The Sit from her time living at Manley, as her home overlooked the beach and she could see a small group meditating every week.
With her experience through Covid it encouraged her to reach out to Mr Partington and discuss expanding the movement west. He was due to fly in for this morning’s launch.
Ms Konig says people living in Fremantle might not realise how special their home is “because they are not looking from the outside in.
“Here it is really still slow-paced, but beautiful and more .. caring … yeah, more caring and more Australian as well … far more Australian.
“I hope people come and enjoy this little venture of random, interested like-minded people coming together for a meditation session and enjoy the beauty of the beach and the nature and the sound of the waves in the ocean.”
by STEVE GRANT