23 March 2015

Why people with cancer who do not follow an integrated approach are missing out

For many years I worked as a veterinarian. I loved that work and learnt a few things. A dog with a broken leg has a simple health issue to manage. It does not need to attend a support group to learn how to cope with its illness and give itself the best chance of recovery.

By contrast, any person diagnosed with cancer who does not manage their illness in an integrated way, including attending an educational support group, in my considered opinion is severely limiting their chances of survival and of living well beyond cancer.

So this week, lets go Out on a Limb once more and examine the differences between a broken leg and cancer, an why an integrated approach to cancer management is mandatory, but first

Thought for the Day


May you find in me the Mother of the World.

May my heart be a mother’s heart, 
My hands be a mother’s hands.

May my response to your suffering 
Be a mother’s response to your suffering.


May I sit with you in the dark, 
Like a mother sits in the dark.

May you know through our relationship 
That there is something in this world that can be trusted.

Anonymous letter from a young Medical student

Working as a veterinarian, much of it was simple in the relative scheme of things. Take repairing a broken leg for example. The cause was something everyone could agree upon. Little Johnny left the side-gate open, the dog ran onto the road, the car hit the dog. Broken leg. Simple.

Diagnosis was usually simple. Maybe a clinical examination was enough; if an X Ray was needed the benefit far outweighed the risk. Simple.

Then repair would involve immobilization, maybe even surgery, but again, simple.


The healing phase too was straight forward. A dog can eat just about anything and a broken leg will heal. The dog’s emotions seem to be of no concern to the healing process; and what is going on in the dog’s head, its thoughts, just like its spiritual life – no problem. In fact, it is all simple!

Best of all with a broken leg, the final outcome is generally good. They nearly always heal. Well.



In fact, it is common knowledge that as broken bones heal they often over-compensate so that the part that was broken often ends up stronger than the original bone. This fact spawned the New Age healing saying “We get stronger at the broken places”.

Contrast all of this with the complexity involved when a human being is dealing with cancer.




When it comes to the cause, cancer is known to be a multi-factorial, chronic degenerative disease.

People commonly ask after diagnosis

“Why me? How did this happen to me?”

While much is known in answer to the basic question, for the individual concerned, the full story it is usually far from simple.




Then there is diagnosis. Often complicated. Sometimes there are contradictory test results,
interpretations. Sometimes not accurate enough and diagnosis is missed or delayed.

When it comes to treatment it is a sad fact that most current cancer treatments are quite tough on the person involved, and by extension, their families and friends. Clearly, not everyone survives a cancer diagnosis. Around one third die in the first 5 years. Far from simple.

Then when it comes to the healing phase, that phase that accompanies and goes on after any medical treatment, just about everything you can think of has some part to play. What someone eats influences outcome. Exercise. Sunlight. Emotional health. Mental state. Accessing the power of the mind. Spiritual life. Mind-Body Medicine.

All these thing warrant being taken into consideration. For some, the choices they make in this arena can truly make the difference between life and death.

Then there are other things to consider. Complementary therapies. Alternatives. How family and friends are coping. How they can be helpful rather than a hindrance. Financial issues. Finding meaning. Life after cancer. Reconciling death. And on and on.

Clearly, every aspect of cancer management is complex.

If someone diagnosed with cancer were to concentrate on just one aspect of the disease, like the medical treatment, they would be missing so many other important aspects. If someone diagnosed with cancer was to attempt to sort out all the complex issues on their own, how could we possibly imagine they would succeed?

Management of cancer demands an integrated approach. This means approaching the significance of the disease, its personal meaning, and its recovery by considering the body, the emotions, the mind and the spirit.

An integrated approach also involves working with an integrated team of health professionals as well as giving a pre-eminent place to consideration of what the person can do for themselves.

Attending to the latter effectively, learning what to do for yourself, is most effectively accomplished in a group setting. Residential programs are ideal as they provide the opportunity to withdraw from day-to-day life, to find genuine hope, to experience the recommended lifestyle changes such as the therapeutic foods and meditation, to learn from peers, to be inspired, to learn and to make good choices.

Sometimes I do miss the simplicity of my old veterinary days when treating broken bones was a delight. But actually, working with people amidst the complexity of managing cancer, seeing how well people do in body, mind and spirit when following this integrated path, helping to sort out the complexity, finding peace of mind amidst all this; being a part of all this is even more extra-ordinary – and wonderful.

NEWS


The world lost one of its bright flames recently. Many who read this blog will have come to know Jess Ainscough, The Wellness Warrior in some way. I was fortunate to know her over the years and was deeply saddened by her death.

Jane Treleaven has written a wonderful piece on her own reaction/ response to Jess’ death; it is highly recommended. LINK HERE



                  Jess speaking at a Cancer Survivors meeting in Melbourne

NEW BOOK – also highly recommended

Time to Care
Robin Youngson is a New Zealand Anaesthetist who I had the good fortune to meet some years back. He offers a powerful voice for bringing more compassion into medicine and speaks in a way his colleagues can relate to. He is the founder of Hearts in Healthcare.

In today’s beleaguered healthcare system, burdened with epidemic levels of stress, depression and burnout, Time to Care offers health professionals the opportunity of renewal. Here are the secrets to building a happy and fulfilling practice, wellbeing and resilience.

Youngson bravely relates his own transition, from detached clinician to a champion for humane whole-patient care; at times poignant, sometimes funny and always brutally honest.


NOTICEBOARD

NEXT SPECIFIC CANCER PROGRAMS
CANCER and BEYOND  May 2015   Monday 4th at 11am to Friday 8th at 2pm

Five Day Residential Follow-up Program at the Gawler Foundation in the Yarra Valley

This program is specifically designed for those with cancer or in remission, along with their support people who have attended a previous Gawler Foundation program or equivalent such as with Sabina Rabold, CSWA, Cancer Care SA, CanLive NZ, or with the Gawlers

A unique opportunity to meet with like-minded people once again, to consolidate what you already know, to learn more from the combined knowledge, have a real rest, to reaffirm your good intentions, and to go home refreshed and revitalised.

FULL DETAILS Click here

CANCER, HEALING and WELLBEING
Eight day Residential Program in New Zealand   May 15th  –  22nd , 2015

All welcome with a diagnosis or in remission; attendance with a partners and support people welcome.

This program will guide you through all the self-healing principles:
. Therapeutic nutrition
. Practical positive thinking
. Therapeutic meditation, plus the healing power of imagery and contemplation
. Accelerated healing
. Healthy, healing emotions
. Getting the most out of conventional medical treatments and minimising side-effects
. Being most effective as a support person/carer, and to looking after yourself in the process.

I will be leading most of the main sessions, with support from Ruth and 2 exceptional New Zealanders. We live-in for the full program so there is plenty of time for questions and personal interaction.

This program is organized and supported by Canlive New Zealand.

FULL DETAILS Click here


THE CONNECTION – There will be a screening in Melbourne soon of this excellent film length documentary film, followed by a forum with questions, answers and discussion led by Dr Craig Hassed, Prof George Jelinek and myself

Wednesday    April 8th    7pm
Classic Cinemas      9 Gordon St    Elsternwick

BOOKINGS   CLICK HERE


16 March 2015

Has Ian Gawler retired?

This is going to be a somewhat personal blog. Fairly regularly I’m being asked - “Are you retired?” The short answer is no, but maybe the question is coming as I recently passed 65 ? Maybe some people know it is now over 5 years since I did retire from my full-time job at the Gawler Foundation.

And yes, I did stand back for a year after leaving the Foundation and did very little but speak with people who had good ideas, reflected, contemplated, meditated and worked in the garden.

Now, with some new clarity and vigor, I am back doing many things, several of which are pretty extra-ordinary (as in : out of the ordinary). Definitely not retired but doing some different things to years ago, so thought it time for an update.

Also, following on from Paul Kraus’ story last week of surviving mesothelioma comes more good news with a great article in the Melbourne Age recounting Scott Stephens’ recovery from melanoma. Check it out below.

I first met Scott at a Foundation cancer residential program 8 years ago. Now, after a couple of early relapses and perseverance and sustained meditation, good food and smart thinking, Scott has been cancer-free for 6 years and he regularly meets with and inspires cancer groups at the Foundation and elsewhere.  Did you see him on that excellent Mind-Body Medicine documentary called The Connection???

Good news to share, but first




            Thought for the day

              I slept and dreamt that life was joy.

              I awoke and saw that life was service.

              I acted and behold, service was joy.


                                Rabindranath Tagore









In stepping down from the Foundation I had worked in for nearly 30 years, the intention was to make way so that the Foundation could establish itself in its own right, free of this founder; and to give me space to re-think what I had been doing for so long and to consider whether there were other ways to be more helpful.

Retiring from the Foundation when all was going well was a huge personal step, but being very conscious of the limitations of habitual thinking, the retirement was actually more an act of principle than of any necessity.

It would have been easy, comfortable and hopefully worthwhile for me to continue working for the Foundation. But when you have worked in one area of expertise, with one group in a similar way for nearly 30 years, there is a danger of a rut developing.

Personally, I like the idea of keeping the “beginners mind” active, stepping back from the norm regularly and considering what can be done to be most effective, most useful.

Also, sooner or later I was bound to leave the Foundation; either because I was too old, or the proverbial bus came to visit. So there seemed real value in having a new association with it in a well-planned, measured way.

So what is the current state of play?


Speaking personally
Ruth and I have been married 15 years now. Wow! What a treat that is being. Just held my fifth
grandchild, Tucker, son of Peter and Kerrielee. The garden is thriving and abundant and we are currently resurrecting the cottage on our property - countering old termite and water damage.

I am planning to go to France for a secluded 12 week meditation based retreat in July this year. It feels like the right time to do something more personal and intense.





1. The  Gawler Foundation
Ruth and I have a great relationship with all at the Foundation and we are really impressed with the services they provide and the manner in which they provide them.

Actually, I rather do hope they will change the name of the organisation to better represent the actual work they do, rather than their origins, but I am no longer involved with their management, so that stuff is all up to them.

Ruth and I presently lead the residential cancer follow-up programs at the Yarra Valley centre. Targeted for people who have done an initial “Gawler” program, either at the Foundation or elsewhere, and it is good for us to be doing a few less retreats each year so we can prepare extra thoroughly for these programs.

2. Working with Ruth – the retreats we present together
It is such good fortune to be able to work creatively and closely with your partner. Ruth being a doctor, with her special interests in Integrative Medicine, psychotherapy, meditation and yoga is such an asset to our groups. And there is always the feminine perspective……. We balance each other well. What a delight!

We do 2 types of retreats

a) Meditation retreats
For those becoming more serious about their meditation, or for those who already are, there is
nothing that deepens the experience of meditation more than going on retreat. So it is a pleasure to lead retreats regularly!

Our retreats are very much styled along the lines of what we would ideally like to attend ourselves. Middle intensity – enough meditation to have real effect, but not too much that you need a holiday when you get home. Enough stimulation via teachings to satisfy the intellect, but the emphasis is on the experience of meditation itself.

Then plenty of free space to contemplate, reflect, do some yoga or Chi Gong, go for a walk, rest and regenerate. Add in good company, great locations and excellent food. Bloody good combination really!!!

Each retreat has the recurring elements of  lots of practise and time for discussing personal meditation experiences/questions; but then each retreat also focuses on a particular theme.

For example Meditation in the Forest is the annual Pre-Easter meditation retreat we hold at the Foundation, and this year the focus is on understanding just what the stillness of meditation really is and how to experience it more directly and more reliably.

Later, in November, Meditation Under the Long White Cloud in New Zealand will focus on contemplation where we learn how to think things through more completely, to overcome confusion, develop clarity and certainty in decision making; and more – how to access insight, intuition and inner wisdom.

I must say contemplation is probably the most important “add-on” to basic meditation and we particularly love doing this presentation! Actually, we really love doing all the retreats.

b) Specific cancer programs

There are 2 types of these
i) The complete, integrated program for anyone affected by cancer and their partners. We call this Cancer, Healing and Wellbeing. Here we give good attention to living well with cancer, but there is a big focus on Accelerated Healing and what helps recovery – along with minimizing treatment side-effects and getting the best results from any medical or other treatments.

We will only lead one of these programs in 2015 and it is in New Zealand in May, organised and supported by Stew Burt and Canlive.

ii) The cancer follow-up programs. As explained, these are for those who are further down the track and we present them either at the Gawler Foundation Yarra Valley centre, or in Wanaka in New Zealand for Canlive. These too have their own specific themes and are designed so that people can attend them regularly and maintain their momentum.

3. Seminars, workshops, conferences
We have presented many of these in the last couple of years, but just for 2015, we decided to limit them. Aimed for zero, but saying no to some people is not easy, so the day or evening seminars we are presenting this year are for an inspiring and diverse bunch of people.

It occurred to me that if we could get our hosts together for a meal, it would lead to quite some conversations. There is Lionel Fifield - founder of the Relaxation Centre of Queensland and while well into his 70s, still totally dedicated to providing access to, and support for personal growth. Then Ani Rinchen Wangmo - a Tibetan nun working for a Buddhist centre in Cairns; Greg and Dawn Fitzgerald – passionate South Sydney naturopaths intent on curing all people of all things; and Rabbi Laibl Wolf – who supports Spiritgrow a Jewish community centre in Caufield that has a major charter to foster good physical and mental health and wellbeing. Would be some dinner!

4. The net and IT
Some know when I left the Foundation that my computer skills made IT troglodytes seem nerdy. So learning about all this stuff has been the big personal step forward. Blog. Facebook. Webstore. I even own and can use (to some degree) a computer. Still keep the old mobile phone – no Smart phone distracts me as yet!

But also there has been development of the high tech online meditation program, Mindbody Mastery that goes way beyond simply providing meditation instruction online; it provides on-going support via daily emails, weekly SMS and comes with a whole range of other fancy features.

Putting that together with my business partner in the IT adventures, Saurabh Mishra, has been such fun. So much to learn. So much benefit from the “beginner’s mind”. I ask all the dumb questions, and if it can be explained to me and if it works for me, then anyone can do it!

Now Saurabh and I are near to completing the development of a meditation app that will do way more than “just” run Mindbody Mastery (MBM), as many people these days tell us they want all the MBM features via app.

Also we recognized that students at many meditation schools would benefit from having direct access via an app to the specific teaching, practices and support of their own group. Problem is that developing an app that can do all that is a big deal. That we do know!

So, we have developed an app that makes it easy for individual meditation schools to upload their own material and provide their students with all the benefits of a very high tech app for little cost. No doubt there will be more on this soon as it comes to complete fruition – not far away.





And of course there has been development of the Pearl range that provides meditation for stress relief, better sleep and pain control via a mini MP3 player - ideal for personal use or a meaningful gift.







5. Corporate mindfulness and meditation
Recently there has been the opportunity to get to know Rasmus Horgaard from Denmark who runs the Potential Project. In my view this is by far the best corporate program of its type and yes, sharing more on that too soon; also having a small role around the edges of some corporate mindfulness projects has been very rewarding. The response has been very gratifying.

6. Writing
To be direct, with all else going on I have been doing my best to resist committing to another book, but I suspect this will not last much longer. There is one very exciting idea that has been brewing for some time and maybe more on this soon.

So if anyone is still reading after this particular diatribe, it has at least helped to sort out what is going on in my own mind, and no, I am not retired.




RELATED ARTICLE


Scott Stephens story of overcoming melanoma in the Melbourne Age, written back in November 2012 by Sarah Berry, LINK HERE





2015 CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Full details are on the website, click here

NEXT MEDITATION RETREAT
Meditation in the Forest        March 27th to April 2nd  2015

During this meditation retreat, we will be focusing upon the deeper stillness of meditation. We will explore the theory, but moreso, the actual practices that help us to go beyond the activity of the thinking mind into a more direct and profound experience of the still mind.

Deep, natural peace. A calm and clear mind. So many possibilities follow…..

FULL DETAILS Click here

NEXT SPECIFIC CANCER PROGRAMS
CANCER and BEYOND  May 2015   Monday 4th at 11am to Friday 8th at 2pm

Five Day Residential Follow-up Program at the Gawler Foundation in the Yarra Valley

This program is specifically designed for those with cancer along with their support people who have attended a previous Gawler Foundation program or equivalent such as with Sabina Rabold, CSWA, Cancer Care SA, CanLive NZ, or with the Gawlers

A unique opportunity to meet with like-minded people once again, to consolidate what you already know, to learn more from the combined knowledge, experience and wisdom of Ian and Ruth, to reaffirm your good intentions, and to go home refreshed and revitalised.

FULL DETAILS Click here 

CANCER, HEALING and WELLBEING
Eight day residential program in New Zealand   May 15th  –  22nd , 2015

All welcome; attendance with a partner/ support person is ideal but not essential.

This program will lead you through all the self-healing options:
. Therapeutic nutrition
. Practical positive thinking
. Therapeutic meditation, plus the healing power of imagery and contemplation
. Accelerated healing
. Healthy, healing emotions
. How to get the most out of mainstream treatments and minimize side-effects
. How to be most effective as a support person/carer, and to look after yourself in the process.

I actually lead most of the main sessions, with support from Ruth and 2 exceptional New Zealanders. We live in for the full program so there is plenty of time for questions and personal interaction.

This program is organized and supported by Canlive New Zealand.

FULL DETAILS Click here


09 March 2015

Inspiration, Hope and Direction – Great cancer survival stories

Paul Kraus - Long term survival from mesothelioma

There is something incredibly powerful in the sharing of real human stories. Especially when it comes to surviving against the odds.

Sure statistics and research are useful, but stories add so much more. In the sharing of direct experience, personal stories inspire us, they offer real hope and they inform how we might respond if faced with difficulties of our own.

Ruth and I are in the fortunate situation where we meet remarkable survivors regularly. For example, just last week in Sydney during the course of presenting an evening seminar, 3 such people met up with us once more and recounted their long-term cancer survival stories following coming to one of our programs many years ago.

Last week too, I had lunch with Paul Kraus and his wife Sue; Paul probably being the longest survivor of mesothelioma in Australia and the author of Surviving Cancer. Sharing a brief account of his story on my Facebook page led to a huge, appreciative response and it is this that has inspired me to share his amazing story more fully in this post, then to regularly document and share the stories of others in future blogs. But first

              
       Thought for the day

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth,

So a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. 

To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. 

To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over

The kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.


                         Henry David Thoreau 





It seems almost impossible to me to imagine what it would be like to be born in a concentration camp. Not only was Paul Kraus actually born in one of the notorious Austrian concentration camps, but he survived the first 9 months of his life in that most inhospitable of environments.

This fact says so much about what an incredible mother Paul had, but also of his own tenacity and basic resilience. Paul’s mother managed to escape through the camp’s barbed wire before the allies arrived as she feared many incarcerated there would be killed before the liberation.

To eventually ending up in Australia must have seemed like coming to a polar opposite – literally on the opposite side of the world, and a country with such different freedoms and opportunities. Paul converted to Christianity and his spiritual life has been central to all he does. He spent much of his working life as a high school history teacher, having completed a Master of Arts and Education.

In June 1997 Paul was diagnosed with widespread abdominal mesothelioma. The prognosis was very poor – months not years. In consultation with his doctors, Paul gave long consideration to medical treatment options and due to the poor predicted outcomes, decided to decline all, including surgery.

Wife Sue had read You Can Conquer Cancer some 6 months earlier and the two of them joined a 10 day cancer program at the Gawler Foundation’s Yarra Valley Living Centre.


There, at first meeting, Paul made quite an impression on me. Paul was so keen to learn and do whatever he could to recover, but also he had an extremely high level of anxiety.


Obviously Paul consents to his personal details being shared and he has well documented his transformation in his own words, but the main point here is that during the program Paul found the hope he needed.

              Paul and myself early March 2015

Paul had arrived at the program hoping to recover, but with little idea of how that might be possible. Genuine hope is more than just wishing for a good outcome. Genuine hope is implicit upon the fact that what you wish for is possible. Paul realized healing was possible and there was a way to do it.

What Paul learnt during the program set him on a healing path based upon a radical lifestyle change. In Paul’s words

“I adopted a healthy, predominantly raw food diet, juicing, extensive times each day meditating, with special emphasis on healing imagery, as well as prayer and using healing affirmations, not to mention the taking of a number of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, designed to boost my immune function and to give my body an optimal chance of healing.

“We were at the beginning of a long journey that was to have times of trial and testing.”

Paul’s condition deteriorated a little over the first 6 months, not an uncommon experience as the body detoxes, gathers strength and begins to heal. It takes time for a big ship moving forward with a lot of momentum to change direction. It can take time for a big illness to change direction.

Paul persevered. As he learnt more about cancer itself, the self-help options and Complementary Medicine, he steadily added more to what he was doing. Slowly he improved.

Nine months after diagnosis, Paul flirted with a return to work, but this quickly proved counter-productive. He realised getting well required his full time commitment. Over the next few years, Paul had a couple more setbacks coincident with family stresses, but each time managed to regroup and pick up.

Eventually he went back to work as an author, writing a series of inspirational and informative self help books (see below). Paul also started a local healing group and runs a regular meditation group in Newcastle. Very popular!

There have been no more mesothelioma recurrences, but incredibly, over recent years, Paul has been diagnosed and overcome the effects of a meningioma (brain cancer) and prostate cancer.

What a survivor!

I asked Paul recently what he thought had helped him most. He replied “What I did was very important, but really you know, it is the mind that has been of most importance. Training my mind, using my mind, transforming my mind; that has been the most important thing.”

I have to observe that Paul’s presenting anxiety is completely gone now, but that really it has only fully left these past few years. Now even the most casual observer will notice the air of peace and calm that Paul exudes.

My sense is that Paul will enjoy his old age with quite a different view of life than the one he began with.

And also just to mention that I have been also able to witness how much support, strength and guidance Sue has given to her husband. They are quite a team. Many thanks to both of you for sharing something of what continues to be a remarkable life.

Paul’s final offering?

“I remain well and love life. Every day is a gift and I thank God for everything. The world has been kind and I am always grateful that I was given the challenge of cancer back in 1997. It was the means of straightening my life, of taking away the stresses of my 'old' self and it taught me more than any number of doctorates.”

CANCER PROGRAMS IN 2015
Ruth and I really enjoy the opportunity to lead full cancer residential programs together.

We will be presenting the follow-up 5 day residential cancer programs for the Gawler Foundation this year, and we will also present one full 8 day program in New Zealand that will be well suited to anyone who has not done a program with us before, as well as another follow-up program in New Zealand.

The follow-ups always include the key elements of providing a refresher, a deepening of what you have already been doing and the opportunity to meet and learn directly from like-minded people, but then each program focuses on a particular theme - like accelerated healing, sustaining good intentions and so on.

NEXT SPECIFIC CANCER PROGRAMS
All programs for 2015  CLICK HERE

CANCER and BEYOND  May 2015   Monday 4th at 11am to Friday 8th at 2pm

Five Day Residential Follow-up Program at the Gawler Foundation in the Yarra Valley

This program is specifically designed for those with cancer along with their support people who have attended a previous Gawler Foundation program or equivalent such as with Sabina Rabold, CSWA, Cancer Care SA, CanLive NZ, or with the Gawlers

A unique opportunity to meet with like-minded people once again, to consolidate what you already know, to learn more from the combined knowledge, experience and wisdom of Ian and Ruth, to reaffirm your good intentions, and to go home refreshed and revitalised.

FULL DETAILS Click here 

CANCER, HEALING and WELLBEING
Eight day residential program in New Zealand   May 15th  –  22nd , 2015

All welcome; attendance with a partner/ support person is ideal but not essential.
Many join us from Australia for this program and if you have not been there before, Wanaka is one of the most scenically beautiful places there is - very conducive for the program.

This program will lead you through all the self-healing options:
. Therapeutic nutrition
. Practical positive thinking
. Therapeutic meditation, plus the healing power of imagery and contemplation
. Accelerated healing
. Healthy, healing emotions
. How to get the most out of mainstream treatments and minimize side-effects
. How to be most effective as a support person/carer, and to look after yourself in the process.

I actually lead most of the main sessions, with support from Ruth and 2 exceptional New Zealanders. We live in for the full program so there is plenty of time for questions and personal interaction.

This program is organized and supported by Canlive New Zealand.

FULL DETAILS Click here

RESOURCES
PAUL KRAUS' WEBSITE   Click here

BOOKS
You Can Conquer Cancer  :  Ian Gawler – the reference text

Surviving Cancer :  Paul Kraus – 28 remarkable cancer recovery stories of long term survivors from the Gawler Foundation, collated and edited by Paul

Radical Remission :  Kelly Turner - Great new book - lessons learnt from around 1,000 long term survivors!
Surviving Mesothelioma and other Cancers :  Paul Kraus

Faith, Hope, Love and Laughter – Republished as In Good Spirits  :  Paul Kraus – a collection of writings on healing. Michelle Anderson Publishing 2014

Prayers, Promises & Prescriptions for Healing  :  Paul Kraus Ark House Press, Sydney, 2012. More of Paul’s wisdom in relation to healing.

Mother Courage: From the Holocaust to Australia (Yet to be published.) : Paul Kraus recounting his mother’s story.

RELATED BLOGS
Accelerated Healing 101

Your food as medicine

02 March 2015

When does obesity become child abuse?

Saw a child in the street yesterday who was around 6 or 7 and already about twice their ideal weight. My heart sank, feeling for the difficulties we can predict that a child in this situation faces, and it got me to wondering….

Who is responsible? The parents? The kids? Lack of education? The advertisers? The fast food retailers? Our society? Who is it???

Then I thought ....  Is there anything I can do to help? Well, at least I can write about it, so this week lets go way Out on a Limb into what I suspect are somewhat politically incorrect and dangerous waters, examine the state of obesity in children and ponder… Who is responsible ??? And what can we do about it?

Also a reminder of the Sydney evening public seminar coming very soon - Tuesday March 3rd on the topic of  FEED YOUR BODY, FEED YOUR MIND - but first



       Thought for the day

You think you understand one.


You think you understand two, 
Because one and one make two.


But, you must also understand "and".

                             
                                  Sufi saying



When I was young, I remember one or two somewhat tubby kids; hardly ever saw one that was really obese. And obesity in children carries so many health risks – physical and psychological.

The latest figures show that in recent years the number of overweight children in Australia has doubled. Doubled! Now, 25.1% of Australian children aged 2-17 years are overweight or obese. That is one in four! Worse still, the biggest “growth” in this statistic is in the obese category.

Overweight, and especially obese children are prone to multiple problems. Not only are they highly likely to develop multiple short and long-term health issues and not only are they more likely to become overweight adults; as children they are likely to be teased, to develop low self esteem and significant body image difficulties that could easily extend well into adult life.

Also, once obese, breaking the habit, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can be quite difficult.

We probably all know this, but what of the causes? And what to do?

The officially recognised causes of obesity are perhaps disturbingly obvious. They centre on unhealthy food choices, lack of physical exercise, overweight parents and family eating habits.

Genetics play only a small part. Genetic disorders that directly cause obesity are very rare. It may be that there can be a family tendency to becoming more overweight, which means those families have the need to be even more conscious of the food choices they make.



This then is the challenging point.


I do not see many 6 or 7 year olds doing their own shopping.


So I am bold enough to ask

“Who is responsible for an overweight child?”


Consider this. As a society we have no confusion around our children when it comes to cigarettes and alcohol. If a parent were to buy cigarettes or alcohol for their 7 year old, all in our society would be affronted and cries of abuse would resound.



There are laws in place that prevent buying alcohol and cigarettes for minors. Both products are taxed heavily to provide a strong financial disincentive to purchase them. As a society we have gone through a tortuous process of banning cigarette advertising from our media, and that same push is still in progress with alcohol. There are massive awareness campaigns in place, and providing cigarettes or alcohol to minors is quite rightly socially unacceptable.


Who then is responsible for feeding a child aged 2 to 8?  


9 to 12?


13 to 17?

Is it just the parents?

Well at some point in life it may well seem so.


But that would be too simplistic. If we were to take the easy line and say childhood obesity is all the fault of the parents, and that parents exist in a vacuum independently of the society in which they live, then we would be at risk of creating major issues around blame and shame, and missing some very important key points.

Clearly obesity in children is a complex problem. What children eat, what food parents provide to their children is in no small part the result of the society in which they live. So to tackle childhood obesity, we need to do so as a collective society.

At the moment, there does seem to be a tacit acceptance of childhood obesity. What if we did go way out there and regard it like having a young child that smoked or drank alcohol regularly? What if we went even further and regarded childhood obesity as a form of childhood abuse?

Here are some of the things we might be doing when as a society we find childhood obesity socially unacceptable.

1. Fast food outlets must have healthy options and must be coerced to steadily gravitate to fully healthy options. I often wonder what the world would be like if the founder of McDonalds had added one extra line to his company’s principles. As well as making money through selling food, what if he had decided he wanted McDonalds to leave people healthier for eating his commodities, rather than being the sicker for it.

2. Soft drink content and their consumption need to go through a revolution . Maybe like cigarettes and alcohol, you need to be over 18 to buy soft drinks. Now there is a radical idea!


3. Nutritional education gets a huge boost in schools and for parents. Maybe parent education could

be offered through schools as well. Maybe supportive groups will be the way to actually provide effective support for parents and to help them change their patterns. Maybe we need the AA equivalent for the overweight.

Clearly there is quite a deal going on in this area, but there is so much more that needs to be done.


4. Schools take a pride in providing healthy tuck shop food and ban the unhealthy stuff. Yes ban. They do not sell cigarettes or alcohol, how are those that do, allowed to get away with selling junk food?


5. Children’s sporting events are not places to promote fast foods that do not have a healthy focus.

6. Government increases its efforts and budget in this arena. Future projections tell us that on current trends, it is only a few years before servicing the needs of those with Type 2 Diabetes will take all of the health budget. Yes, that is ALL of the current health budget! And that is just diabetes. Cancer treatment costs are spiralling out of reach, and then there is heart disease. These are all chronic degenerative diseases that are preventable conditions fuelled by being over weight. Attending to them in an integrated way is an imperative.

Government needs to use its spin doctors to make tackling obesity a popular imperative that has bi-partisan support.

7. Surely as part of what Government can do, a fat tax is needed. Just like the heavy taxes on cigarettes, every avenue needs to be pursued to overcome obesity.

8. Doctors need support to name the problem and to assist in addressing it. There actually have been ridiculous situations recently where doctors have been sued for descirbing adults or children as obese and suggesting that those adults or parents attend to the problem. That has to change.





9. Cinemas and other kiosk outlets need to change the “Combo” model that encourages eating too much, and they too need to offer healthy, non- fattening choices.







What do you think? Feel? Any more ideas as to how we as a society can help our children to avoid becoming overweight, and obese and to have at least one of the basic planks for a long and healthy life in place.

RELATED BLOG
Your food as medicine  -   a compilation of compelling recent nutritional research that has direct relevance to what we eat on a daily basis.

RESOURCES
CD    Eat Well, Be Well  -  a thorough guide to day-to-day, healthy living - The Wellness Diet

NOTICEBOARD 

FEED YOUR BODY, FEED YOUR MIND
Public Seminar in Sth Sydney with Ian Gawler and Greg Fitzgerald

When?  Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Time?    Registration  6.30pm  Seminar 6.45pm - 10.15pm
Where?  Kareela Golf Club, Bates Drive, Kareela
Register online : CLICK HERE
Enquires : Please call Dawn at Health for Life Seminars on 9540 1962 or 0424246847

2015 CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Full details are on the website, click here

NEXT MEDITATION RETREAT
Meditation in the Forest        March 27th to April 2nd  2015

During this meditation retreat, we will be focusing upon the deeper stillness of meditation. We will explore the theory, but moreso, the actual practices that help us to go beyond the activity of the thinking mind into a more direct and profound experience of the still mind.

Deep, natural peace. A calm and clear mind. So many possibilities follow…..

FULL DETAILS Click here 

NEXT SPECIFIC CANCER PROGRAM
CANCER and BEYOND  May 2015   Monday 4th at 11am to Friday 8th at 2pm

Five Day Residential Follow-up Program at the Gawler Foundation in the Yarra Valley

This program is specifically designed for those with cancer along with their support people who have attended a previous Gawler Foundation program or equivalent such as with Sabina Rabold, CSWA, Cancer Care SA, CanLive NZ, or with the Gawlers

A unique opportunity to meet with like-minded people once again, to consolidate what you already know, to learn more from the combined knowledge, experience and wisdom of Ian and Ruth, to reaffirm your good intentions, and to go home refreshed and revitalised.

FULL DETAILS Click here

23 February 2015

The stillness of meditation – the key to stress-free stress management

Some people suggest meditation needs to be free of effort; that if we make an “effort” to meditate, then the meditation can become just another source of stress. Yet many people seem to work very hard at meditation.

So this week, let us examine how to make sense of effort when it comes to meditation; and the 3 main benefits that flow from stilling the mind, but first



     Thought for the day

To be nobody but your self

In a world which is doing its best, 
Night and day, 
To make you everybody else,

Means to fight the hardest battle 
Which any human being can fight;

And never stop fighting.


           e e cummings 





Some people would tell you that meditation is all about letting go and going with the flow. Some give the impression there is nothing to do; again, just let go and allow yourself to be.

My sense is that this is a bit like saying to a young athlete – basketballer, footballer, runner, whatever – just wish to be a great athlete, no need to work at it, just go with the flow. Look at the great athletes; they make it look so easy!

When I was a teenager, my chosen field was athletics and I marvelled at the natural talent of many of my fellows. While not greatly talented myself, I worked hard. Trained hard. Studied. Listened to my coaches. Did all they told me to do and more.

As the years went on, many of the "naturals", relying on their natural talents, felt little inclination to train hard. So in fact, as we became older, the hard work overcame the natural talent and I began to shine. However, I never became a great athlete. To be that you really need both great natural talent and the hard work.

My experience with my own meditation and with observing thousands of others meditate is just the same as this. Some do have a natural talent for meditation. It just seems to come easily for them. But maybe even more so than with athletes, with meditation, beginners generally benefit greatly from making concerted, intelligent, well-guided effort.

Now, to be clear, when speaking of meditation, I speak of learning to relax deeply in a physical sense and keep still, and then to go beyond the activity of the thinking mind into a deeper stillness. These skills  can be learnt. Reliably. When we work at it.

So why bother? Well one thing that meditation helps to make abundantly clear is that the mind has two aspects - the active thinking mind and the still mind.

The thinking mind is the domain of many skills, including stress. Most reading this post will identify with Shakespeare’s quote


There is nothing either good or bad
But thinking makes it so.

The thinking mind regulates how we perceive things, how we interpret things. It analyses, visualises, discriminates, categorises, conceptualises....etc. In doing so, the thinking mind determines the stress we may or may not experience.

The still mind is beyond all this. The still mind is calm and clear. The still mind is the domain of deep, natural peace.

How then to help the thinking mind let go of stress, to become clear and calm, to become stress free? Meditation! For meditation provides a reliable way to go beyond the activity of the thinking mind and to directly experience the stillness of our mind. And in doing so, meditation offers 3 major benefits: Profound Peace, Natural Balance, and the View.

Profound Peace speaks for itself. There is a natural ease, an inner clarity and confidence that comes with meditation that provides a profoundly effective antidote to stress.

Natural Balance is the inevitable product of this profound peace being combined with deep physical relaxation. This is how meditation diffuses stress and anxiety – with a return to a natural, healthy balance.

Physically our body chemistry and physiology regains its natural balance. But there is more! This natural balance flows on to be experienced as emotional balance as well as mental balance; there is even a deep sense of connectedness, knowing what is right for us, and a natural inclination to be more loving, compassionate and altruistic – a spiritual balance.

And perhaps even more profoundly, meditation offers a new perspective. We begin to see the world, and our life, not just from the perspective of the ever-changing “thinking mind” and it's emotional patterns, but also from a more profound vantage point –the calm, clear still mind.

The View describes our perspective in a very full sense of that word. The View is how we view the world, how we interpret what is happening in our life. What meaning and purpose we experience in this life. Our View is tied up with our values, our ethics, our habits, and our beliefs. How we live our life.

Often times it seems as if we can get stuck with a somewhat rigid view of ourselves, our world, and our place in it. However, when our View changes, there is the potential for everything to change.

If we have a problem, as we see it, and we fixate on it, it is like holding an egg to our eye. With an egg that is very close to our eye, we can see nothing. We cannot even recognise that it actually is an egg and it is obscuring our capacity to see everything.

However, if we change our View, it can be like taking the egg away from our eye and holding it at arms-length. Now there is the possibility that we may recognise the thing for what it is. It is an egg! And as we know, an egg has loads of possibilities, loads of potential.

So meditation offers three great gifts: profound peace, natural balance and the view.

Truly meditation offers a unique pathway to being stress-free.

NOTICEBOARD

Pre- EASTER MEDITATION RETREAT with Ruth and Ian Gawler



Meditation in the Forest   March 27th to April 2nd  2015   Yarra Valley

During this meditation retreat, we will be focusing upon the deeper stillness of meditation. We will explore the understanding, but moreso, the actual practices and techniques. A time to rest and rejuvenate.

All amidst the magnificent big trees of the Upper Yarra Valley.

Accompanied by high-quality organic meals and juices, optional Yoga or Feldenkrais.

Deep, natural peace. A calm and clear mind. Deeply regenerative. So many possibilities follow…..

FULL DETAILS Click here 



A REMINDER

The Pearls are back 

Just the thing for that special, meaningful present, or for your own convenient, take them anywhere use.

Beautifully presented in a raw silk lined box, easily rechargeable, elegant mini MP3 players complete with their own earphones and specific meditations.





       Calm Pearl for stress management



       Sleep Pearl to assist with natural sleep


       Pain Relief Pearl for pain management.


                TO ORDER   CLICK HERE