23 May 2016

Taming the tyrant of the mind

Just stop. Take yourself away from the busyness of life and stop for a while.
This is the delight that comes with entering into a meditation retreat. It just all falls away. The busyness dissolves, the mind settles, peace and clarity arise.

Just back myself from attend (yes, not leading – attending) a 10 day retreat mostly in silence, it strikes me yet again how reliable this process is. As the mind settles, thoughts come and go. Sure, some are turbulent, some peaceful; but with perseverance – the peace and clarity re-assert themselves. And so often, insights flow.

For me, this recent retreat provided another vivid reminder of how valuable it is to go on personal retreat. In fact, this one will inform, and transform how I present the next two retreats Ruth and I will lead, both of which have the intention of entering the deeper stillness of the essence of meditation.

Then too, a reminder of what can come from attending a retreat. So this week, a heartfelt sharing of a transformative experience involving releasing a tyrant within, sent from one who attended the last retreat we ran where the focus was on contemplation, but first

           Thought for the day

                A mind that is fast is sick

                A mind that is slow is sound 

                A mind that is still is divine

                             Meher Baba

Thank you very much for the great teachings and guidance you gave us all at the recent Meditation Under the Long White Cloud retreat where we focused on contemplation.

I would like to tell you that thanks to these teachings and quite a lot of dedicated meditation for many years, I have found a new level of satisfaction and peace with contemplation as a meditation technique. It has been truly wonderous in it’s capacity to transform my state of mind.

It had come to my awareness that recently I have had a “tyrant” taking charge of my active mind when I feel “too good”. This tyrant came in the form of my thoughts which became like the lashings of a whip constructed by my own mind to punish me for something like just not being worthy enough.

In the days before the retreat, actually for years now, this tyrant had been getting “stuck into me” pretty well as soon as I wake up. After the feelings of sleep had slipped away, it would start with all the “problems in the relationships in my family” and soon a deep, ancient sense of hopelessness and bewilderment pervaded.

This in turn created one thought after another that had the effect of disturbing me and giving me everything from mild longing, to severe felt-sense disturbance in the area of my stomach and solar plexus.

I am reminded that this is very similar to the dementia-ridden state of mind of my loving grandmother. Later in life, she could talk of nothing else, bar in a disjointed way, her sense of unhappy, fractured regrets about her long gone relationships. What tragedy.  At the end of her life she just wept all the time. She was totally in it all the time.

And there but for the grace of you, go I …

What has changed that is so significant? Since the retreat, I have started to use contemplation of the “thinking-mind” to manage these thoughts; and am very glad to say I am making some progress.

I want to tell you that it is really becoming a reliable technique for me to find inner peace and calm. I have been using the “thousand-petaled lotus” technique with alternating stillness periods, and consciously thinking through all these habitual things/patterns of my mind and taking breaks like you taught us to do.

And wow!

Now, after about 30 minutes of this conscious, deliberate, alternating of thinking and resting, a wonderful kind of stillness and peace emerges. All the solidity of the thoughts just kind-of “break up” and become dream-like. Yet, I feel grounded and as if “the tyrant” has been completely disarmed, even vanquished. Dissolving away like a morning mist. I can rest in what feels like natural Great Peace.

Where “refuge” was once “another place” I could go to get away from my agonising mind, somewhere I could escape to; it is different now. It is now like I can examine and explore this mind of mine and then I find it there…. the refuge is actually there in it; in my mind itself!

Thank you deeply from the depths of my heart for helping me to learn to take charge of my mind, and learn to contemplate my mind and find it’s true nature. I now understand why they say this is priceless.

With love and gratitude …

The June retreat, Deepening Your Meditation is fully booked

October 2016 Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand

April 2017 Yarra Valley, Australia

Meditation Under the Long White Cloud - Deep Natural Peace – NZ, 22- 28 October

Keen to learn more and deepen your experience of relaxation, mindfulness and meditation?

Good instruction, a conducive environment and like-minded people help create the circumstances wherein this breakthrough can occur.

        Take time out from the busyness of everyday life
        Indulge in a meaningful holiday
        Slow down, reflect, contemplate
        Regain perspective, clarity, vitality, and balance

Our annual New Zealand meditation retreat is both practical and regenerative, with optional yoga and Chi Gong. The focus of the 2016 retreat will be the profound stillness of meditation.

Dates     Saturday 22ND to Friday 28th October 2016

Venue    Mana Retreat Centre, Coromandel, New Zealand

Register with Mana Retreat at the online secure http://www.manaretreat.com/users/register.php

More details, CLICK HERE

Meditation in the Forest 2017 – Meditation and Contemplation – Yarra Junction

In 2017, the focus of this annual, pre- Easter retreat will be on the practice of contemplation. Because contemplation is not so widely recognised or written about at the moment, and very few lead specific retreats on this theme, I love presenting this material.

Learning and practising contemplation is so profoundly helpful, in so many ways – from personal transformation, to business, to life direction and meaning, to extra-ordinary insights.

Ruth and I heartily recommend this retreat.

You will learn how to think things through, how to overcome confusion, how to develop clarity and certainty in decision-making, and more - how to access insight, intuition and inner wisdom in a predictable and reliable way.

Date          4 pm Friday 7th April until 2 pm Thursday 13th April 2017.
Venue      The Yarra Valley Living Centre, 55 Rayner Crt, Yarra Junction, Victoria, Australia  
Bookings    The Gawler Foundation: +61 (3) 59671730

More details, CLICK HERE

05 May 2016

Meditation on App

At last. After several years of hard work, my meditation – theory and guided exercises – will be available via App. The Mindbody Mastery program is just a few days from being launched. Hooray!

To celebrate, an excerpt summarising how to meditate – the Mindfulness Based Stillness Meditation method - that is at the heart of the Mindbody Mastery program, and details of what the App can do for you.

Details regarding the release of the App, and how to access it will come soon, but first

           Thought for the Day

                   Seek the path

                     That demands your whole being


Many people used Mindbody Mastery in its downloadable form that was first created and made accessed via its specific website. 

The measured results were amazing. On average the system that went with the basic meditation program supported users on average to treble, yes treble the amount of practise they did, and perhaps even more amazingly, treble the satisfaction they reported with their practise.

However, many did find the download system a bit clunky. It took time, required a few IT skills, and was limited in what it could offer.

Enter the App. 

Designed to be ultra user friendly.

Developed to do everything you would hope a meditation App can do.

Easy and affordable.

It has been well tested, put together by an amazing team led by my partner in all this - Saurabh Mishra; and now it is ready for you to use.

I am excited!

The hope is that it will be very helpful...

The new App will make it possible for you to

1. Receive an initial 8 week meditation program. One session is sent to you each week and it will lead you through relaxation, concentration, mindfulness – focused and open, meditation, guided imagery and contemplation.
Ideal for beginners, and excellent revision for the more experienced.

2. You can access all the guided exercises from day one if you choose, or go to them as the weeks unfold.

3. It will be possible to simply use the guided exercises as provided, or create your own meditation sessions using any of the guided exercises in any sequence, with any amount of silent time before or after each exercise; plus you can add meditation bells to start and finish a session as you like.

4. In any imagery based exercise, you will be able to upload personal photos or images to complement the exercise.

5. Want to meditate with friends? The App enables you to create a virtual meditation group with recurring sessions (weekly, twice a week, monthly, etc.) and invite others; or apply to join a virtual meditation group formed by other people using the App.

6. The App will record how much practise you do - unless you prefer it not to – and you will be able to see a leaderboard of how different people and virtual meditation groups have tracked in terms of their regularity of group sessions and attendance of group members.

7. You will receive the daily emails and weekly SMS messages that proved so popular with the initial Mindbody Mastery program, and seemed to be pivotal in encouraging/supporting people to practise and gain more from that practise.

More details and where to access the App next time, and the Android version is in the final stages of being developed but is still a couple of months away; but for now

– an excerpt direct from the Mindbody Mastery program

How then do we do it?  Three of the four elements or steps, we have learnt already in our Mindbody Mastery program. We have already taken time to learn how to prepare well, to relax and to be mindful. Now, all we need to do is to add them together and when we do, they actually flow on quite naturally into the fourth phase, the deeper experience of meditation.

Step 1 : Preparation
We start obviously enough with our Preparation. Choosing a time and place, giving ourselves time, taking up our posture. As we do this, particularly as we get more familiar with the exercise, just by simply sitting with the intention of taking some time out to relax and to meditate, we do begin to relax.

Step 2 : Relaxation
The Preparation flows on into the second step, Relaxation. Now we relax a little more consciously. This phase of the meditation we adapt to suit our own situation and needs. Simply speaking, we do whatever we know will help us to relax in the quickest and most direct way, given the sort of day we are having, our level of experience, and what it does take to help us to relax most effectively.

So perhaps we take the time to go through the longer and more methodical Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise. Perhaps it is enough for us to use the Rapid Relaxation exercise. Perhaps we just take a few deeper breaths and feel ourselves letting go on the out breath. With a little time and practice it becomes easy, almost like second nature. We just know how much time to give to this relaxation phase, and what technique will be most useful.

The aim is to feel the ease of it all. To relax into the relaxation! To feel our body letting go and relaxing; to hold our attention on that feeling of relaxation and to allow our mind to go with it. The aim is to immerse ourselves in the feeling of relaxation. We feel the relaxation all through; through our body and our mind. We allow the relaxation to flow from the body into the mind.

Step 3 : Mindfulness
And as we feel this relaxation, again, quite naturally, we flow on to the next step, Mindfulness. As we relax, our thoughts settle a little and we just simply start to notice what is going on around us a little more clearly.

Perhaps it is the sounds we notice first. We notice any sounds that may be around about us. And we just notice them coming, and going. Maybe then we become a little more aware of the physical sensations in our bodies; and we choose to notice these things more non-judgementally.

We aim to let go of any sense of good or bad; right or wrong, and focus our awareness on just simply noticing what it is that we are aware of. We take up that stance of being an impartial observer; a non-judgemental observer. We are aware; we are interested, we are curious. What is happening right now? We are coming into the present moment with awareness. This is mindfulness.

Out of the thoughts - stillness.

What also becomes obvious is that as we settle a little, as we go with all this and become a little calmer, our thoughts do quite naturally slow down a little. Again, we do not need to do anything more than what we have been doing for this to happen. This is a process based on relaxation, mindfulness and natural ease. We just focus on doing the exercises, go with the flow as they say, and by doing so, we progress quite easily and reliably.

And as we do this and inevitably the thoughts do begin to slow down a little, a remarkable thing.

As we notice our thoughts more clearly, we notice how each individual thought has a starting point, a middle and an end point. Obviously each and every thought we have has to start somewhere, and to finish somewhere. And as we relax more, as we become more mindful, this fact just becomes more obvious. We notice when first we become aware of a particular thought, we notice it passing through our awareness, and we notice when it finishes.

Step 4 – The stillness becomes apparent 
And now, another really useful observation.  As our thoughts continue to slow and we notice them more clearly, we can come to notice that after one thought finishes and before another thought starts, there is often a small gap.

Now in the gap between two thoughts, there is obviously a moment of silence; a moment of stillness.

So now we turn our attention, our awareness, to noticing the gap between the thoughts. And again, when we do this mindfully, free of judgement, just with an open curiosity; not only do we notice the stillness but often enough it lasts a little longer; there is a bigger gap before the next thought comes.

But again we make no effort to force this, or to manipulate it. We just notice it. We are patient. We are the impartial observer. Just simply curious to notice what happens.

More stillness? Another thought? What is it? We take the attitude of a patient, curious, impartial observer and do just that, we observe. We aim to treat this stillness and the thoughts in just the same way. Non-judgementally. With curious awareness. So we notice the stillness. And we also notice if and when another thought comes. We remain aware and undistracted.




A unique opportunity to experience 
the deep natural peace and clarity of profound meditation

5 Day Meditation Immersion with Ian and Ruth Gawler

JUNE 2016 – Monday 6th to Friday the 10th

For details CLICK HERE



Our annual meditation retreat at the delightful Mana Retreat Centre on the Coromandel Peninsula.

October 2016 - Saturday 22nd to Friday the 28th 

Mana has much in common with the Foundation's Yarra Valley centre - beautiful landscapes, great staff, excellent, mostly organic meals - much from their own garden, and an excellent meditation sanctuary to practice in.

Well worth the travel from Australia, or from around New Zealand.

While this retreat will include ample instruction,
the focus this year will be upon direct experience;
finding and immersing ourselves in the deep inner peace,
the regenerative power and the clarity of our own stillness.

For details click here

25 April 2016

To snack or not to snack, that is the question

To snack or not to snack, that is the question. 

Whether 'tis nobler in the tummy to suffer

The slings and arrows of snacking regularly,

Or to take arms against a sea of temptations,

And, by opposing, end them. 

In loving awe of the Bard
 – 400 years dead this year - RIP

Do you eat regularly through the day, or stay with 3 main meals? 
With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, strong new evidence indicates which is the better choice for everyone, and even to how overnight “fasting” for long enough can reduce breast cancer recurrences.

This week, a guest blog from Greg Fitzgerald explains what to do and why, but first

              Thought for the day

I am perfectly happy with all the people 
Who are walking around and just staring at the clouds. 
But I am looking at the ground, 
And I want to fix the pothole 

That is right in front of me before I fall in.

       Linus Torvalds – who transformed technology twice by developing Linux and Git

People today eat more food than ever and eat more frequently than ever
Despite (or because of) this, the problems of metabolism, overweight and blood sugar irregularities are worse than ever. The rates of obesity are climbing, diabetes is epidemic and chronic tiredness is universal.

It is no exaggeration to say that western society is eating itself into a stupor, chronic illness and an early grave, in that order.

Understanding Metabolism: Anabolism and Catabolism
Metabolism is the balance between two biological processes within the body called anabolism and catabolism.

On the one hand the body has to be continually renewed. New tissues, including the skin, the gut, bones and so on are continually rebuilding. This process is called anabolism. Bodybuilders are notorious for taking anabolic steroids to build bigger muscles. Well this is where the word finds its context.

Anabolism means building up and as part of this building up process, the body stores energy. Through anabolism, when food is plentiful, energy is stored in fatty tissues in a way that means it can be drawn upon later if food becomes scarce.

The second process is called catabolism. This is where the body breaks down old tissue, removes waste products and excretes them, a process closely linked to detoxification. Also, during catabolism, the body can release stored energy from those fatty tissues; a vital function when food is scarce.

For example, let us examine the metabolism of healthy bones. One type of bone cell, the osteoclast, clears away old, mottled bone - catabolism. This process is then followed by the second type of bone cell called an osteoblast, which builds new bone - anabolism. All body tissues undergo these processes, some more quickly than others. Thus the entire body replaces itself every few years.

The Importance of Catabolism
If our catabolic processes are compromised or inefficient, the cellular wastes and old, used tissue and materials are not efficiently removed, they accumulate in different parts of the body and we become toxic. What is called toxaemia results. This is where these waste products accumulate within the body tissues, fat and blood.

Toxaemia was officially accepted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in the United States in 2001. It is linked to inflammation, to premature ageing and to many chronic, degenerative diseases. It is an important thing to avoid if we wish to live a healthier, more energetic, disease-free, and of course, long life.

So what Does Snacking Have to Do with Catabolism?

When we eat, and this includes snacking, we promote anabolism, or building up, and we temporarily inhibit the process of catabolism. We divert energy away from the catabolic or clearing processes of the body and focus the body’s energy on building up.

When we do not eat, we rest our digestive system and promote detoxification and catabolism. This helps keep our bodies cleaner and less toxic, allowing our bodies to remove wastes and detoxify materials which otherwise could cause unwanted health issues.

To further illustrate this, catabolism explains why we often might notice a slightly off breath upon arising in the morning. This is because we have spent a number of hours not eating while asleep, and this has allowed the body the necessary rest to initiate its catabolic and detoxification processes. Not only is our breath stronger, but our urine is also a little darker in colour, a result of the kidneys having extra energy to help detoxify our blood.

It is also why we lose our appetite when sick, feverish, very stressed or exhausted. This is called anorexia, meaning lack of appetite. It has important survival value. Animals and young children automatically do it, but many adults and doctors encourage the opposite, which is to eat “to keep your strength up”.

Eat, fast and be merry
It is best to eat and then go without for a while. No snacking. The few hours away from all food allows our bodies to detoxify or clean the system. The body becomes less toxic, cleaner and lighter. Our normal and healthy weight is more easily attained.

Toxic hunger
Many people are on an “eat-all-day” diet. They are forever eating and drinking. Snacking is engaged in frequently. The problem is that rather than being truly hungry, they are governed by what Dr Joel Fuhrman calls “toxic hunger” in his books Eat to Live and Fasting and Eating for Health.

Toxic hunger is not true hunger, but is characterised by feelings of weakness or discomfort, headaches, light-headedness, tummy rumblings and emptiness, which the person mistakenly interprets as hunger. Toxic hunger is really a symphony of withdrawal symptoms from food addiction. Eating relieves the discomfort only briefly, but then toxic hunger reasserts itself shortly after, and more eating is engaged in perpetuating a cycle which is ruinous to health.

To eat and snack regularly this way is to invite trouble: indigestion, reflux, overweight, headaches, fatigue, nausea and later on more serious problems.

True Hunger

True hunger is felt in the mouth and throat, not in the stomach. It is associated with salivation. It is not accompanied by any form of pain or discomfort.

Those in excellent health can miss a meal completely and still feel neutral - not incapacitated by discomfort or weakness. They just feel “hungry”. They go to their meal feeling energetic but “ready to eat”.

In fact, the Native American Indians had a saying: “the hungry dog hunts best!” When hungry, it had great energy and alertness, necessary for its continued survival.

The message? 
Wait until the next meal and enjoy that meal with a genuine hunger. Then you will relish the food.

Science Proves Snacking Shortens Life (at least in Rats):
The National Institutes on Ageing conducted a study published in Science Magazine in 2002, where they fed 2 groups of rats 7,500 calories of the same each per week. One group was fed regularly throughout the day (snacking), while the other was fed only 3 times per day (non-snacking).

At the end of the study, the non-snacking rats significantly outlived the snacking ones.

If Not Hungry, Do Not Eat
When we are not hungry, it simply means our body has no need for food. Pretty obvious really! To eat because of someone else’s opinion that we need to eat a particular amount, at a particular time, or with a particular frequency, is to risk overburdening the body and increasing toxaemia.
There is no adverse consequence to missing a meal when not hungry. The opposite is true. There is great benefit. You will set in motion catabolism, thereby enhancing detoxification.

One Exception
Elite athletes engaging in high-intensity or ultra-endurance sports and training might need to modify this principle, as their routines may require the judicious use of high-nutrient snacks. However, such athletes represent only a fraction of the population.

For the average person not engaged in ultra-endurance sport, it is best to eat and then go without eating. Your health will only improve. Of course, the occasional transgression is not a problem; the problems come when snacking is a routine, habitual part of our lifestyle.

Prolonged Nightly Fasting Reduces Breast Cancer Recurrence
A new study has found that for women with early-stage breast cancer, fasting less than 13 hours per night was associated with a 36% higher risk for disease recurrence as compared with fasting 13 or more hours per night.

A nonsignificant 22% higher risk for mortality from any cause was also observed among women who fasted for shorter periods in comparison with those who fasted for 13 hours or more overnight.

"Prolonging the overnight fasting interval may be a simple, non-pharmacological strategy for reducing a person's risk of breast cancer recurrence and even other cancers," said author Catherine Marinac.

Reference: Marinac CR et al, JAMA Oncol. Published online March 31, 2016.

My Comments
While the usual cautions are being expressed given this breast cancer study is the first of its type (maybe it is not correct???), eating this way has no known risks. Given what Greg has offered above, it seems to make good sense and it is relatively easily to do.

Additional evidence suggests this pattern of night fasting might also help some people with sleep, metabolic health, weight management, or chronic disease risks – it could also be a significant part of a prevention or a wellness plan.

Night fasting does seem to be a relatively simple and useful thing women with breast cancer could do, and it does also seem to make sense for people with other cancers – no risk, quite possibly a good gain.

What to do?

Early dinner, late breakfast. For example, finish eating at 7pm, nothing to eat before 8am; or 6pm and
7am. You need a 13 hour break from food overnight. Most nights. Be gentle with yourself, but do what is ideal mostly. Or all the time if you can manage full on diligent

Early dinner, late breakfast and the job is done. An easy win for the body and good health generally.

Greg Fitzgerald is a highly qualified dual registered osteopath and chiropractor, as well as naturopath working in Southern Sydney. Greg has many years experience supervising fasting.

Link to his website; his phone number is (02) 95440445.




A unique opportunity to experience 
the deep natural peace and clarity of profound meditation

5 Day Meditation Immersion with Ian and Ruth Gawler

JUNE 2016 – Monday 6th to Friday the 10th

While this retreat will include ample instruction, the focus will be upon direct experience; finding and immersing ourselves in the deep inner peace, the regenerative power and the clarity of our own stillness.

For details CLICK HERE

18 April 2016

Do today’s veggies have less nutrients than Granny’s?

My love of gardening really began with my Grandmother. While my mother was a keen gardener and I grew up amidst suburban gardens, my Granny had her backyard filled with veggies, fruit trees and quite a few ornamentals. Helping her as a teenager was a delight; and the veggies tasted terrific.

So how do today’s commercial crops compare? Is the sense many of us have that they are not so good, actually true? This week we examine the evidence and what we can do to ensure we are getting the nutrients we need from our food, but first

           Thought for the Day

       Let yourself be silently drawn 
      By the strange pull of what you really love. 
      It will not lead you astray.


                         My favourite photo with produce                            from our summer garden

Most of us will be aware of the steady rise in the chronic degenerative diseases and the fact that more and more younger people are affected. Many ask me “is it because our food is becoming depleted or denatured by modern farming practices? Have modern farming practices affected the mineral and vitamin content of what we eat?

The raw facts
In 2011, Donald Davis, then a biochemist at the University of Texas compared the nutrients in US crops from 1950 and 2009. 

Davis found notable declines in five nutrients in various fruits, including tomatoes, eggplants and squash. For example, there was a 43 % drop in iron and a 12 % decline in calcium. This was in line with his 1999 study — mainly of vegetables — which found a 15 % drop in vitamin C and a 38 % fall in vitamin B2.

Other studies have shown similar depletions.

A 1997 comparison of data from the 1930s and 1980s found that calcium in fresh vegetables appeared to drop by 19 %, and iron by 22 %.

A reanalysis of the data in 2005 concluded that 1980s vegetables had less copper, magnesium and sodium, and fruit less copper, iron and potassium.

Tomatoes grown by organic methods have been shown to contain more phenolic compounds than those grown using commercial standards. One study compared the phenolic profiles of tomatoes grown using ‘conventional’ as opposed to organic methods. Those grown under organic conditions contained significantly higher levels of phenolic compounds.

The introduction of semi-dwarf, higher-yielding varieties of wheat in the green revolution of the 1960s means that modern crops contain lower levels of iron and zinc than old-fashioned varieties.

Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that organically produced apples have a 15 % higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.

Storage is a big factor
Another study evaluated the nutritional content of broccoli kept in conditions that simulated commercial transport and distribution: film-wrapped and stored for seven days at 1°C, followed by three days at 15°C to replicate a retail environment. By the end, the broccoli had lost between 71 and 80 % of its glucosinolates — sulphur-containing compounds shown to have cancer-fighting properties — and around 60 % of its flavonoid antioxidants.

What is causing the decline?
Part of it may well be related to the broad-spectrum systemic herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) that shall be discussed more in a coming post (that is still being researched).

Also, contrary to what we often read - that there is no evidence of dangers to health from GM foods and crops - peer-reviewed studies have found harmful effects on the health of laboratory and livestock animals fed GMOs. Effects include toxic and allergenic effects and altered nutritional value.

Speed of growth
Davis and others offer a simpler explanation. They assert that high-yielding crops produce more food, more rapidly, but these fast growing plants cannot make or absorb nutrients at the same pace, so the nutrition is diluted.

To test this notion, researchers measured the concentrations of 11 minerals in 14 commercial varieties of broccoli launched between 1950 and 2004. They grew old and new varieties of broccoli side-by-side.

The year that a particular cultivar was released made no difference, however, there was a dilution effect: the varieties with bigger heads – as favoured today - had lower levels of some minerals relative to the 1950 variety called Waltham 29.

But, as the study also noted, Waltham 29 is less tough than modern cultivars and so would be unlikely to succeed if grown in the same way.

The dilemma
So here is the problem. While modern agricultural methods may mean that our vegetables contain less nutrients than those of our grandparents, they have led to a huge increase in food supply. If you are hungry, this is a distinct advantage. For putting food on the table, modern practices are very efficient; there is just a question regarding the long-term cost.

“There is a chance that ready prepared vegetables may have a lower content of some vitamins,” says Judy Buttriss, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation in London. “But if their availability means that such vegetables are consumed in greater quantities, then the net effect is beneficial.“

“The most important thing you can do is eat more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, and cut down on highly refined, human-made foods, vegetable oils and added sugars,” says Davis. “If you’re worrying about nutrient losses from cooking or whether your food is straight from the farm — those differences are minor compared to the differences you’d get from eating unprocessed foods."

Our choice
So how fortunate are we. So many of us have the possibility of growing much of our own food in our own veggie gardens – like my Granny really did do! And if not, we can afford to buy organic produce… A wise choice it would seem. And great for our home – this planet we all live upon.




A unique opportunity to experience 
the deep natural peace and clarity of profound meditation

5 Day Meditation Immersion with Ian and Ruth Gawler

JUNE 2016 – Monday 6th to Friday the 10th

While this retreat will include ample instruction, the focus will be upon direct experience; finding and immersing ourselves in the deep inner peace, the regenerative power and the clarity of our own stillness.

For details CLICK HERE

28 March 2016

Meditation in the Forest – a visual essay

Rest, relaxation, regeneration. Seven days pre-Easter. The deep, natural peace that comes with retreating from our daily life, joining with like-minded people and journeying inwards.

                 This is the meditation

Then there is the Yarra Valley.
Remarkable natural beauty complemented by years of being tended by loving gardeners.

                   This is the forest

So this week, a celebration in photographs and a few words of this annual highlight of our calendar, Meditation in the Forest, plus details for next year but first

  Thought for the day

   We are what we think.
   All that we are arises with our thoughts.
   With our thoughts we make the world.

   Speak or act with an impure mind
   And sorrow will follow you 
   As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

   Speak or act with a pure mind
   And happiness will follow you 
   As your shadow, unshakeable.

                 The Buddha

Each meditation retreat Ruth and I present focuses on the stillness of meditation (good plan for a meditation retreat!), and then has its own specific focus. For 2016, during Meditation in the Forest we gave attention to guided imagery which is the cover phrase for addressing how the active, thinking mind works and how we can use it more effectively.

How do our habits and beliefs develop? How does our memory function? How do we draw on memories and how do we plan for the future? And how do our habits and beliefs assist us in some situations, yet bind us or even work against us in others?

Great material to have a week to consider, and speaking personally, I feel this last retreat was the most effective yet for the people attending. Seems many had significant break-throughs in understanding and went away feeling confident of making significant personal changes in their lives.

So enough words.

      We gather at the Gawler Foundation's
      Yarra Valley retreat centre…

 Some of the locals remained nonplussed…

      Others somewhat indifferent…

But we gathered and discussed the mind and its workings…

       Entered into the purpose built
        meditation sanctuary

        to meditate together regularly
        throughout the day…

   Extended the sitting into walking…

          Some also walked the labyrinth
          with its curious way
          of aiding contemplation…

Some joined Ruth for the gentle stretching of body and mind that is yoga…

      Some explored their body
      and its movement
      through Feldenkrais with Julia...

Some just paused a while, and watched the river flow; the Little Yarra River that is…

      While all experienced the delight
      of sharing with like minds…

Very comfortable accommodation, either doubles with ensuites or more economical shared spaces…

              And the food!

                    Just what people expected!



    much direct from the flourishing gardens…

     That for those who have not been
     to the Centre for a while,
     now extend way up the hill.

                  So productive…

Backed up by a big new hothouse so that more home-grown organic produce is available for more of the year…

    And of course,
    fresh herbs from the magical herb garden...

Then more free time to reflect,
to regenerate,
to experience the peace...

and watch the river flow by some more...

       Rounded off by the wisdom of a tree

                           - you had to be there …

         What a great group of people!!!

                       Deep, natural peace

          Meditation in the Forest…

With thanks to Jane Treleaven for sharing 3 of her photographs from the retreat





A unique opportunity to experience the deep natural peace and clarity of profound meditation

5 Day Meditation Immersion with Ian and Ruth Gawler
JUNE 2016 – Monday 6th to Friday the 10th - Yarra Junction

These days, many people have had some introduction to meditation and the power of the mind. Soon comes the realisation of the extraordinary depth and breadth of it all. And often we get a sense there is more to it …..   More to experience ..…

So while this retreat will include ample instruction, the focus will be upon direct experience; finding and immersing ourselves in the deep inner peace, the regenerative power and the clarity of our own stillness.

This process will be enhanced by being in the wonderful, peaceful and majestic forests of the Upper Yarra Valley, by being supported by the staff and amenities of the Gawler Foundation’s Living Centre, and guided by Ian and Ruth Gawler along with Julia Broome.

For details CLICK HERE

Accelerated healing and peace of mind

Probably my only day seminar in MELBOURNE for 2016

Ancient wisdom combined with the latest research in a way that has immediate application in our modern world.

This workshop brings together the best of what I have learnt about healing over the last 40 years.

Intended for those dealing with illness, those keen to avoid illness and be really well, along with health practitioners and anyone interested in our personal power to heal.

Please share details of this event with anyone you know who may be interested as Ruth and I are focusing more on our retreats this year and there will not be many opportunities like this to join us for day workshops.

For details CLICK HERE