From Russia with Love
by Judith Pennington
The IAM community is well-acquainted with Russian transpersonal psychologist and newly certified Awakened Mind Practitioner Oxana Bondarchuk, who has brought us together through our webinar program and the "Eureka Times" newsletter. Read this fascinating story of her life in the USSR and beautiful Byron Bay, Australia.
Born in Moscow, newly certified Awakened Mind Practitioner Oxana Vladimirovna Bondarchuk grew up in a close-knit family in one of the most culturally rich and politically tumultuous countries in the world.
I was curious about her life in the USSR, how she found the Mind Mirror, and why she works so hard to create and sustain the IAM Community. She obliged me with this colorful fireside story, as Graham stoked the wood stove to warm us on a chilly autumn evening in early June, down-under.
Back in the USSR
Even before the dissolution of the Soviet Republic, Oxana explained, "Most people experienced some deprivation due to difficulties in buying good, high-quality meats and good winter boots. European imports were channeled to managers and directors of shops and the political elite, so you had to know the right people for access to goods and luxury.

"Our family experienced no deprivation. My mother's father was a war veteran and had won medals from the Communist Party, so he was entitled to some benefits. At Christmas, we received packages of caviar, buckwheat, and other delicacies not available to other people.

New Year Sets

Novoyasenevsky Avenue, Moscow, 1979
The apartment where my parents lived was given to my grandfather. It was state-owned, and he was at the head of the queue.

"For Russian standards, it was a good three bedroom apartment in a green, ecologically clean district of Moscow. It was considered to be spacious and comfortable, not elegant, but basic and standard. It overlooked the forest. I felt totally taken care of and had no discomfort."
Her father, born in the Ural Mountains, worked as a technician for the Russian Institute of Radio and TV. Her mother, a chemical engineer and expert in rare metals, was 50 years old in 1991, when the USSR dissolved into Russia. She went on to work as administrator of the Russian Language Department at the Russian Economic Academy, a university which Oxana would attend.
As a child, Oxana was very quiet and shy, so much so that she was afraid to go to the shops alone. Back then, all stores were over-the-counter, and everything was state-owned. "People were rude, in general, when I spoke quietly. The shop assistants (big Russian women we have a special word for "tyotka") would shout at me to speak louder, scaring me to the extent that I could not say a word at all and had to return back home without the bread or milk I was sent for," she said, still surprised by this so many years later. "I was shocked by people's behavior."

Over-the-Counter Trade in Times of Deficit

In a School Uniform, 2nd Year
All schools were state-owned as well, and by a providential twist of fate, Oxana's neighborhood school was converted to a special school of very high standards with a specialization in English. From age 7, she had daily classes in English. She had finished school with only 2 "good" marks; all the rest were excellent. She had successfully qualified for the "silver medal" of academic scholarship, but by some quirk in the system did not receive it.

Industrious and determined to excel, during her last two years of high school she attended an "Entrepreneurship" course at a business school, taking evening classes in Informatics, Accounting, and Marketing. She was fascinated by Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which she encountered in an economics class, but would not return to psychology for several years.
The Real Things in Life
At age 17, Oxana passed stringent exams to enter the Russian Academy of Economics. Due to her high marks and fluency in English, she won the tenth of only 10 tuition-free seats in the prestigious International Business School department of the Academy. This was a double-degree diploma course in which students simultaneously attended programs in the Russian Academy and the International Business School, both in English. Two extra foreign languages were a program requirement (Oxana studied French and Dutch). A semester as an exchange student in an international partner school was also a part of the program. Oxana worked as an English tutor to save enough travel funds to study for five months in Groningen, Holland.

"With the breakdown of the USSR, lots of state enterprises collapsed. My mom had lost her job as a Chief Engineer at the State Institute of Rare Metals by then, and I had worked three years at night to help my family. I had several private students. These were very tough times when sometimes I had to give all the money to my mother to buy some food."
The economic depression that followed the breakdown of the USSR was devastating for most people. "One hundred rubles might have been someone's savings for a funeral, and suddenly it was not enough to buy a loaf of bread," Oxana remembered. "The end of state ownership meant that all apartments were privatized. People didn't understand how capitalism worked, so they traded their apartment deeds for food and bread. They ended up homeless.

"People were selling their belongings in the streets and traveling to Turkey to sell in the markets there. We would see a Ph.D., no longer employed as a scientist, selling in the market. The Russian intelligentsia was no longer in demand. Because of inflation, money was devalued, and people lost their savings. At that time, students chose well-paid professions."

Street Traders
A final requirement of the university was to complete an internship with an international company. By 1997, six years after the dissolution of the USSR, Oxana was 20 years old. Corporations were flooding into Russia to build factories and businesses in Moscow and across the country. While applying for internships she realized that companies were more willing to offer her a full-time job. As a result, she decided to self-study and take most of her fifth-year school exams in advance. She signed on with Coca-Cola full-time as a Marketing Assistant, working five days a week and attending classes at her school on Saturdays. She took days off from work to complete the last twenty percent of her studies. In 1998, she graduated with a Russian Diploma in Finance from the Russian Economic Academy and a Bachelor's Degree in International Marketing Management from the International Business School of Hanzehogeschool, Hoheschool van Groningen, the Netherlands.

Coca-Cola Refreshments Moscow
"My salary at Coca-Cola was larger than that of all my family put together," she said. Her family was able to purchase a new stove, make house repairs, and renovate the apartment.

Every three months, Oxana traveled for a week with a female friend who worked at a bank, and they managed to visit most of Europe, United States, India, Tenerife. But three years into her six-year stint with Coca-Cola, she realized "that I was an alien in an aggressive corporate environment. It was very competitive, with extremely highly standards, and very high-pressured."
Transformations of Consciousness
Bored and stressed, sensing that something was missing from her life, she paid her own way to study psychology and psychoanalysis in The Russian Institute of Psychoanalysis (a commercial affiliate of Moscow State University). In 2003, she was part of Coca-Cola's office downsizing. Her leave-package allowed her to complete her last year of psychology studies without worry about finances. While preparing for her final exams in psychology, she searched for and tried out all of the alternatives to traditional psychology the world then had to offer: holotropic breathwork, hypnosis, NLP, and yoga.

Oxana decided that psychoanalysis was outdated. She was more interested in the work of Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Karl Rogers and Stanislav Grof. Instead of completing the last six months of her specialization in psychoanalysis, she attended workshops in transpersonal psychology with one of Stanislav Grof's first Russian students, Vladimir Maykov. It was in Maykov's classes that she encountered Anna Wise and read her High Performance Mind book, which had been translated into Russian. She had never meditated before and found herself deepening into a welcome quiet filled with personal insights and inner unity.

"I was very impressed," she said, her eyes filled with pleasure. "When it was time for my final thesis in psychology, I said I was interested in consciousness transformation. For the practical part of the thesis I talked about modifying brainwaves. I got excellent marks for my work and got a diploma in traditional/classical psychology as a Teacher of Psychology. Plus, completed extra courses to obtain diploma to be able to have a private practice in Transpersonal Psychology."

In general, regular psychologists "didn't make much money" in Russia at that time. Upon her graduation from the Institute of Psychoanalysis in 2004, Oxana took a job as a business trainer for Tefal, an international appliances and cookware company, and for a year traveled throughout the former USSR, teaching groups of six to 200 people. Workshops and presentations for the company and its partners were often followed by special incentive programs and entertainment events that Oxana was in charge of organizing. She also performed the functions of a public relations manager, working with journalists and magazines.
In late 2005, having grown tired of the constant travel, she switched to another domestic appliances company, this time a Russian company, Vitek. Soon after, she moved to Kyiv to work for the company's new office there and got married. Her husband's friends were migrating to capitalist countries. Oxana decided to go too, and applied for immigration to Australia. Her economics diploma qualified her.

She and her husband landed in Melbourne, where she embarked full-time on her personal transformation of consciousness.


The Template Gallery, Byron Bay
Very soon she heard about the Template Ceremony, a light-body activation with sacred geometry and music. During one of the ceremonies she had a kundalini awakening. "I didn't associate it with that, but the consequences and results were profound. I ended up working for the Template Gallery in Byron Bay," where she met Graham, her life partner.

"After moving to Australia, I knew there was no way back to corporate work. This was my chance to find my true destiny and explore my possibilities in Psychology." She was certified to teach psychology in Australia, but did not resonate with the system. Living in free-spirited Byron Bay, she decided to plunge into her real interest—consciousness transformation with the Mind Mirror. She searched online for Anna Wise and found the Institute for the Awakened Mind.
One year later, in 2014, I visited Oxana at her home in Rosebank, above Byron Bay, to teach her Seminars 1 and 2 of the certification program. Staying in their relaxed and happy home, suffused with their open-hearted warmth, generosity, intelligence, and multidimensional awareness was a rich experience then, as it was again in June of this year when Oxana completed Seminars 3 and 4 of her training.
Another Day in Paradise
Graham and Oxana live on several acres of farmland surrounded on three sides by a cold, winding creek filled with the raw crystals that draw people to this vortex of higher consciousness. Tall trees beckon koala bears, kookaburras, and other exotic birds whose loud chittering, clattering, clacking, and whistling songs are quite comical.

Kangaroos peek out of the woods, and birds fly over in huge flocks all day long. A gaggle of three geese honks their way through the yard at will, courtesy of their owners: New Age hippies who live across the road on green, hilly properties. Graham's chickens provide fresh eggs each day, and Oxana cooks with fresh vegetables from their garden and fresh, ripe fruit from their mandarin, orange, and lemon trees.

Each morning two years ago and again this June, I stood on their wrap-around veranda with a cup of ginger, lemon, and honey tea in hand, and greeted the day with my mantra: "Another day in paradise."

Oxana and Graham do indeed live in what this writer and perhaps you too would consider paradise. Friends who live in their isolated, commune-like neighborhood visit regularly to cadge breakfast, lunch or dinner. Oxana is a master chef who quickly prepares elaborate meals with fresh, organic foods, mostly from their own gardens. They farm and sell turmeric. The sun rises and sets on their home with gentle light and soft winds that whisper, "You are home."

If these descriptions seem overly romanticized, consider visiting Oxana for an Awakened Mind training and see for yourself. But wait until after their son is born. That will be in late July or August this year.
Inspiring Community
After I taught Seminars 1 and 2 to Oxana in 2014, she come across the work and made friends with a Russian physician and scientist, Dmitry Shamenkov, and the community and shared goals that he teaches through his System of Health Management. "I was inspired by his ideas," Oxana remembered, "so, while working on my independent case studies (for certification), I offered to facilitate the webinar program. I wanted to know what others were doing with this work and how. I found the Zoom platform then created the website, then "Eureka Times." (Interestingly, one of their mailing addresses is in the town of Eureka.)

Graham will help with their baby so Oxana can continue her work with the webinars and "Eureka Times." Unsurprisingly, now that she has received her certification as an Awakened Mind Consciousness Trainer, she has big plans for Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and maybe Europe.

"I plan to do group and practitioner trainings," she said happily. "The possibilities include a retreat center here in Byron Bay and teaching practitioners in Russia. I will put up websites in English and Russian, and will record meditations in Russian also. They are already translated in Anna Wise's book!"

She expects to work with people privately and in small groups. "If you look in my background," she went on, "you can see that I could be a corporate trainer as well. I have the psychology degree and know how to organize events and trainings.

"It's all coming together. I want to give myself a chance to be myself, to rediscover my needs, interests and place in life. That's what Australia and this work allow me to do. There will be certain challenges. This is new territory for me." Just as in Russia, during the hard times, "You have to be smart, flexible, and find ways to organize what you want to do and make them work for you. I'm not in a big city. Right now, I'm putting bits and pieces together.

"I've been waiting for a long time, so I am more than ever ready and willing to work. I am ready to give. I am impatient to work and play. This is my core interest in life and part of my nature—deep work. That's why I've chosen this."

Why is it so important to her? Awakened Mind training "takes in the spiritual world, beyond ego," she said, "because it's not about earning money. It's about something more profound and much deeper."
To see Oxana's profile on IAM Practitioners directory, go to:

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