My childhood shaped my outlook in life and took me down the path less traveled.
I was born in Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Growing up in the ulu (remote in the Malay language) region of the Rajang River delta inaccessible by land, meant going to school, to town on a sampan (small boat), living in wooded lands, and being attuned to the indigenous culture and tribes of Borneo.
We lived in a big house on 24 acres of land. Surrounding the house were rambling rubber plantations, exotic tropical fruit trees, bamboo clumps, and a shallow pond filled with wild taro plants. There was no electricity; hence no refrigerator, television, microwave oven, or electronic gadgets other than a modest radio that provided some entertainment besides the evening or rainy day story-telling sessions. Answering nature’s calls had to be done in an outhouse a good walking distance from the house.
Grandmother was born in China, in the late 1800s when it was fashionable to have the foot bound! My grandmother however was determined not to have her feet bound. Hence her feet were ‘huge,’ compared to some other old Chinese women whom I knew during my childhood and who had distorted-looking feet—about four to five inches long. Coming to Southeast Asia, her ‘ugly’ big feet was a blessing, for Grandma could walk about easily—from village to village—as a Christian evangelist. Grandma was educated; she recited and composed poetry orally. As children, we’re reprimanded with poetic verses when we’re naughty, although, the beauty of ancient Chinese rhymes fell on our uncultured ears, like ducklings listening to thunder, a Chinese phrase, indicating that we missed the gist of her stern messages.
Two life events crystallized my philosophy
& the way I etched my path in life.
The first was growing up with hereditary eye problem and the second was contracting a serious kidney disease. With failing vision, I often missed homework assignments because I could not see the teacher’s instructions written on the classroom board. Exasperated teachers repeatedly told me to see an optometrist and get better spectacles. Mother took me to see every optometrist in our small town. They all shook their heads. “Mrs. Lau, we can’t fit your daughter with glasses to improve her vision; there’s something inside her eyes.”
I made it through middle and high school in the ‘A’ class. By the time I was studying at The University of Toronto, I had 10 percent vision in both eyes. My world was bleary and several shades darker. However, I chose what I could do—to major in English—as this required me to read at my own pace and write essays. As I could maintain an above average GPA, the Canadian ophthalmologist did not want to use surgical intervention. Later I had four eye surgeries—one on my left eye and three on my right and was still plighted by eye issues and the threat of losing my vision—until I started meditating and cultivating with Falun Dafa (better known as Falun Gong).
I grew up with “You will die!” ringing in my ears.
The second compelling childhood event was contracting childhood kidney disease and having to spend weeks on end in hospital. This was followed by weekly, then monthly visits to the doctor for several years. One out of every two children in developing countries would perish in those days. Thankfully, mother knew about healing foods. Her father was a Taoist cultivator and medicine man. She was really tough especially with the no salt and no red meat regime. I was only about six years old. Keeping to the diet was heart breaking. Oftentimes meal times would stretch for a couple of hours. I remember once sitting under the dining table, with my teardrops making patterns on the dark wooden floors, mother coaxing me to eat each spoonful.
Under the guidance of my mother’s strictly regulated diet, akin to the macrobiotic diet, and the supervision of an open-minded British medical doctor, I was eventually completely healed. Mother spent hours, patiently encouraging me to swallow every morsel of steamed, blanched or boiled tasteless foods. She later told me that none of the other children made it to adulthood, completely unscathed by this debilitating disease.
These two childhood events made a deep and lasting impact that shaped my personal and professional path in life.
NOTE: In 2016, mother departed from this world at the age of 103. I’m grateful for everything she had taught me—using foods as medicine and applying ancient wisdom to modern times. It’s not surprising that I have embarked on the wonderful, fulfilling journey … lecturing and presenting at conferences, and turning to writing and publishing to help others.
Dr. Margaret Trey is a counselor by training. She holds a doctorate degree in counseling and three other tertiary qualifications. In addition, Dr. Trey is trained in the ancient art of Shiatsu, traditional Chinese medicine, yoga, Vipassana meditation, and the Yin & Yang of foods. She is known for her integrated approach towards helping others.
Over the past three decades, Dr. Trey has helped countless individuals in different nurturing roles—as a high-school teacher and lecturer, Shiatsu educator, natural health consultant, counselor, foster carer for Anglicare, and senior youth worker (in child protection services) for The Government of South Australia.
An Australian living in New York, Dr. Trey has lived and worked in five countries—Sarawak, Canada, Singapore, Australia, and the US. She has worn many hats—including as a broadcast journalist, a health writer for a New York-based newspaper, and a wellness speaker at various local community events and international conferences.
Dr. Trey is one of the pioneers (outside of mainland China) in the study of the health-wellness effects of Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese spiritual cultivation system. Since 2001, Dr. Trey has been conducting research on the effects of Falun Gong. She is the author of The Mindful Practice of Falun Gong: Meditation for Health, Wellness and Beyond and is currently working on a second book that examines the impact of Falun Gong in society.
The key to positive, lasting change is supporting change-seekers & change-makers
to cherish & integrate
ancient wisdom into their daily life.
Dr. Trey brings into her communication and professional work a rich repertoire of skills, knowledge, experience, and time-tested ancient wisdom. Her clients and audiences come from diverse background and different regions in the world.
Besides supporting individuals toward change, Dr. Trey travels extensively to present her research findings at international conferences. She has presented at the Healing Yourself Conference in Cairns, Australia, the American Counseling Association (ACA) 2016 annual conference in Montreal, Canada, the 2017 and 2018 International Conference on Spirituality and Psychology in Bangkok, Thailand respectively, the 2017 International Conference on Social Social and Behavioral Sciences in Singapore, and also at the 2018 8th International Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society at The University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Trey has been invited to deliver two training seminars on the mindful practice on Falun Gong at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. She is welcomed to collaborate with the Center for Traumatic Stress Research at Xavier University. She also delivered an online presentation on Applications of the Mindful Practice of Falun Gong to Family Counseling to students at the University of North Carolina, AT & T.