About NeLi Martin – My Journey To Mindfulness

Neli Martin

NeLi Martin

When I was 2 years old I started to ask “why?” My mother says I never stopped with that question. I guess it drove her to distraction. It drove me to a life fuelled by curiosity and exploration into life’s mysteries.


The curiosity got me to university where I discovered the discipline of psychology encouraged my questioning into everything. I first registered as a psychologist in Qld in 1991 and have worked in child protection, juvenile justice, domestic violence and organisational settings in Queensland and in the UK.

Now I integrate my psychology training with many years of Buddhist Dharma Mindfulness study and practice together with Yoga Teaching and practice as well as Dance practice.

From my study and direct practice experience, I believe we humans have great potential for living a free and vital life. Our values and our pain are poured from the same vessel. Deep connection to our struggles and pain with authentic acceptance and compassion allows a transformation that opens us to this deep joy, happiness, gratitude and vitality – guided by our values; what we care about deeply.

I have studied, practiced and taught Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) since 2007. I have also studied and practiced Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) since 2011. Both of these evidence based approaches in psychology are part of the 3rd wave Mindfulness based Cognitive Behaviour Therapies.

See the Association for Contextual Behavioral ScienceFunctional Analytic Psychotherapy and Act Mindfully  for more information on these approaches.

For more on NeLi
And the day came when the risk to remain in a bud was greater than the risk it took to blossom - Anais Nin


I have trained with:

and many others at ACT and FAP conferences and workshops in Parma Italy, Washington DC USA and around Australia.

I have also led a number of one and two day workshops on ACT for the public, and trained other professionals since 2010. I supervise other psychologists and have led the ACT discussion group in Brisbane and Buddhism and Psychology Interest Group in Queensland and Nationally in Australia. I have run a number of 6,10 & 12 week ACT courses for professionals and others since 2011. I have worked with people individually, in couples and groups on a range of issues including depression, anxiety / panic attacks, stress, anger and rage, relationships, addiction, schizophrenia, eating disorders, grief and loss, chronic pain, self esteem and confidence, performance enhancement, work stress, leadership, motivation, emotional intelligence, performance pressure. I am often inspired by the courage and persistence of people I work with.

The serenity creed sums this work up nicely:

“Grant me the serenity to
Accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can; and
Wisdom to know the difference.”

This work is about the development of that wisdom.


I remember my first yoga class in London in 1992. I left the studio to drive away and had to adjust the rear view mirror; noticing my spine significantly taller and feeling stronger and lighter. This romance and fascination with yoga has never really ended. As a young psychologist and therapist, I was burdened through the system, by responsibility for my clients; on my way to burn out. Yoga had a hugely positive impact on my own physical and mental health from the beginning. At some point I realised yoga was helping me more than any supervision or therapy training. I wanted to find a way to offer this to others. I have been teaching yoga since 1998. I completed my teacher training with the British Wheel of Yoga in England and Wales. Initially influenced by Alexander technique and Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bihar and Viniyoga traditions, my integrated approach to teaching yoga was inspired for ten years by the work of the late Vanda Scaravelli. This work is strong and gentle. My main teacher was Bill Wood. I also attended workshops with Diane Long. See my blog post on being inspired by Scaravelli. Since 2011, I have worked with Julie Smerdon and teachers from the Anusara tradition; finding new delight in the precise alignment and joyful approach.

Dharma Dance

Dharma Dance leads us into meditative awareness, planting seeds of intention, exploring breath, structured and fluid movements of yoga that journey beneath the surface of the mind. The focus is on how it viscerally feels, less about the form of postures. Music helps us transition into free movement, moving from the inside out, expressing our essential selves. A shared journey into rhythmically induced meditation.

The first time I taught a Conscious Dance practice, one of the dancers told me that he had never felt so much joy and freedom in his life. He used to wonder at people dancing wildly at festivals, assuming they were all on drugs. Now he finds his own embodied freedom through movement in time to rhythm; it’s called dance.

Look out for Conscious Dance Noosa on Events page. Dharma Dance is every 3rd Wednesday of the month.

Neli Martin


Neli Martin

My interest in sitting meditation came initially from yoga, but has been more influenced by the Buddhist traditions. My main influences have been western insight teachers and a secular approach to Buddhist Dharma Practice. I have been a Dharma practitioner since 2000. Mindfulness is the core practice of Vipassana or Insight tradition.

I lived in the UK for 13 years. I sat many long and short retreats at Gaia House in Devon UK. I was a manager at this retreat centre over a couple of years. This centre is affiliated with Spirit Rock in California and IMS in Massachusetts, USA. Most of the founding teachers at Gaia House and the sister centres were influenced by Theravada traditions, particularly the Tai Forest Tradition. However, Stephen and Martine Bachelor (now based in France) were more influenced by Korean Zen (and Stephen also by Tibetan). Stephen now considers himself a “Secular Buddhist”.

I began teaching meditation in 2005 being mentored by Catherine McGee, who teaches at Gaia House and other places in the UK, NZ and Israel. I also have guidance to teach from Stephen Batchelor’s Secular Buddhist perspective.

I also spent 6 months as Roshi Joan Halifax’s assistant at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is a Maezumi Roshi, White Plum Sangha – a synthesis of both Soto and Rinzai Zen traditions. Roshi Joan Halifax has been a regular contributor to the Mind and Life Institute in USA .

I initially sat with a Tibetan Rigpa group and attended retreats with FWBO – Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, but I know less about them and don’t currently practice in these traditions.

Currently in Australia, I sit with a variety of teachers. I have sat and taught with Geoff Simpson and attended the Dharma Facilitators Program lead by Radha Nicholson and have sat retreats with Patrick Kearney and assisted in organising Stephen and Martine Batchelor’s visits to Australia in 2012 and 2014  (there are plans for 2016). I have attended a number of Dharma Yatras led by Victor von der Heyde and Ronny Hickel and recently assisted teaching yoga on 2015 Summit to Sea Yatra.

I am very interested in how the science of Mindfulness can be applied in the Western world and look for ways to integrate it into my life and the life of those I come in contact with. I have trained and supervise other psychologists and psychotherapists in approaching therapy from a secular Buddhist framework and using Mindfulness techniques. I have taught units for Sophia College on the Graduate Diploma of Buddhist Psychotherapy and have run retreats for psychologists and others wanting to deepen their personal practice of meditation and Buddhist teachings in order to better facilitate their clients.

NeLi (Janelle Louise) Martin

Psychologist (Fully Registered in Australia with AHPRA, MAPS)
Yoga and Meditation Teacher (Senior Teacher with Yoga Australia)

Formal Qualifications

  • 1984 – 1986: Bachelor of Arts, University of Queensland, (double major in Psychology)