15 September 2014

Ian Gawler Blog – A path to inner peace

What if you had it all and it meant nothing? Dr John Kitchen was a neurologist “living the dream” with most things an ordinary person could want – except any deep sense of fulfillment or happiness.

So this week, an invitation to take a few moments when time permits (17 minutes to be precise), make a nice cup of tea, kick back and view a thought provoking film that documents how Dr John took radical action, followed his heart, developed his own unique form of meditation in action and found what he was looking.

Also, some people are experiencing a nuisance with the pop up that appears on the blog suggesting you join the blog email list when it appears every time you visit the blog site. Apparently this occurs if you have your cookies turned off  (don’t you just love some of the language that comes with computers!!!). So apologies if this is the case, but for those with turned on cookies (is that the same as hot cookies???), there should be no problem (the pop up is set to appear very infrequently).

Then details of our next meditation retreat that will support your own inner reflection, but first (and apologies for the language – this is an American quote)

            Thought for the Day

        I am trying to get to the end of my life
       Without becoming an arsehole again


John Kitchen reminds me of a surgeon friend from many years back. My friend had a senior surgeon as a father who explained the purpose of life to him at an early age quite simply. Grow up, work hard, be successful and you will be happy.

My friend bought the package. He worked hard and by 40 he himself was a senior surgeon. Nice house, great car, lovely wife, 2 healthy children. Prestige.

Successful? Certainly on one level, but then the accoutrements. Skin rashes over several parts of his body, stomach ulcer, sleep difficulties, not relating well with the kids, wife distant, himself grumpy a lot of the time. Disillusioned really. Followed the formula to the letter, but where was the happiness?

It is fascinating how some people wake up, do the radical thing, change their life and (usually following considerable effort) find what they were looking for all along.

Then there are the others who resign themselves to their lot, find ways of adjusting to a deep disappointment, see no way through and adopt a range of behaviours that mask the inner discomfort. Then there are some like Woody Allen who so famously quipped, “I just grow a tumour”.

This then is a provocative film. Provocative in that it challenges us to consider what is important. The subject of the film makes radical changes in his life. My friend the surgeon also found the happiness he was looking for, but he did it “merely” by making radical changes in his way of living.

He remained a senior surgeon, just dramatically changed his way of living. Learnt to meditate, found inner peace, learnt to really value his wife and children, made time for them and the other things he did really value in his life.

Dr John, or Slomo as he has come to be known, is a natural on camera. His combination of candor and eloquence and his background as a neurologist legitimizes his metaphysical theories about skating (his new found passion and raison d’etre), lateral motion and the brain.

So again, treat your self. When time permits, take a few moments, make a nice cup of tea, kick back, LINK HERE and enjoy the film.

Finding our true identity

You might enjoy my own biography – a story about doing it the hard way - when life itself demanded, indeed, imposed changes.

The Dragon’s Blessing by Guy Allenby


1. Meditation, Images and Health - Five day retreat – October 13 - 17

Deep natural peace. Profound insight. With over 50 years of leading meditation retreats and a wide variety of groups between us, Ruth and I invite you to join us for this 5 day residential program in the beautiful Yarra Valley that brings together the best techniques for personal transformation we know.


To book: Call the Gawler Foundation - +61 3 59671730

2. The final events for the grand tour are in Adelaide this week but all 3 are fully booked. Once home and the dust has settled, I will file a report on the blog – it has been a marvelous trip!!!

08 September 2014

Ian Gawler Blog: How to manage emails easily

This week a short blog with a really useful tip on how to manage emails while away. Just back into Alice Springs last night after a wonderful 10 days spent with the delightful group that gathered for Meditation in the Desert. Came back to large numbers of emails. What to do? This week, the simple answer, but first

                            Thought for the day

                                       Thinking is harder work
                                       Than hard work

                                                  Leo Rosten

On occasions when I do go away for more than a couple of weeks, and especially if I am leading or on retreat myself, there is an out-of-office reply that seems to work very well for me and those who contact me. It saves me from having countless emails to wade through upon return, and it helps others to be clear if they really do need my attention.

It has amazed me how many people have commented on receiving this response, saying they had not thought of doing it themselves beforehand, but plan to take it on. Probably does not suit everyone’s situation, but I think it could help avoid “post retreat blues” or “back from holidays, email inspired grumpiness”. Would love to see it become office standard practise.

You might like to share this one; here it is (with my latest details in brackets)

I am away ….  (leading Meditation in the Desert) and will not be able to attend to emails again until … (Monday September 8th). Having found in the past that returning to large numbers of emails is really unhelpful, on return I will simply delete all unread emails. 

So please, if you do have something you feel I need to know about, or a question, or there is something I may be able to help with; do resend it on or after … (Monday September 8th)

be well


You may have better, more personally appropriate wording than me, but this out–of–office message makes re-opening the computer a whole lot more pleasant :)

I will put together a photo essay recounting Meditation in the Desert soon - it was magical !
(Images here from last year)

 The view for Meditation in the Desert 
- the Western MacDonnel Ranges

Early morning yoga with Ruth

Sharing stories in the dry river bed

18 August 2014

The Connection

A compelling new full-length documentary film on Mind-Body Medicine - and your chance to attend 2 fundraising world premieres that will benefit the Gawler Foundation. 

This is a very important film; particularly well made and probably the most important in the field of Mind-Body Medicine for many years. I highly recommend it to you.

So this week a review of The Connection, details of how you can attend the premieres and see a preview, then news of our next retreat, but first

    Thought for the day

At times you have to leave the city of your comfort 
And go into the wilderness of your intuition. 
What you will discover will be wonderful. 
What you will discover is yourself.

             Alan Alda

Personal crisis is often the catalyst for major personal change. Sometimes it even leads on to great things.

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and frustrated by her interminably slow response to conventional treatment, almost out of desperation, journalist and filmmaker Shannon Harvey travelled the world in search of the missing link in healthcare.

Fuelled by her own need and recognizing the essence of a whole new way of understanding, Shannon gained interviews with a stellar array of world leading scientists and tracked down people who had remarkable stories of recovery from severe back pain, heart disease, infertility, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

The Connection is the result. A feature length documentary with incredibly high production values, The Connection tells the story of the development of Mind-Body Medicine through the words of many of its pioneers. It then delves deeply into the link between our mind and body – explanations and clarity coming from experts and recovered patients alike.

                Dr Herbert Bedson, therapeutic meditation pioneer                     and author of The Relaxation Response

The film includes interviews and remarkable footage that documents the work and shares the insights of an internationally recognised line up of clinicians, scientists and researchers including Drs. Herbert Benson, Dean Ornish, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Andrew Weil.

The Connection also features compelling true stories, with Professor George Jelinek, the Professor of Emergency Medicine who has recovered from multiple sclerosis and leads the MS programs at the Foundation, Melbourne based Scott Stephens who recovered from recurrent melanoma and speaks so eloquently about the Foundation’s program, and my own recovery from aggressive bone cancer.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, pioneer of mindfulness in the Western world

Dr Craig Hassed of Monash University who many will know from his feature sessions at cancer programs, retreats and conferences with the Foundation, speaks particularly well and provides a major link throughout the film.

The Connection proves that through the way we use our mind we have more influence on our health outcomes than we ever thought possible – and it clarifies how to do it.

The film will be available to pre-order in September but before that the director Shannon Harvey will do a World Premiere Tour of the film starting in Melbourne and Sydney before traveling to the US and UK.

Also to acknowledge one of the Foundation’s Past Presidents, Robert Kirby and Village Roadshow for very generously making the theatres available, and to thank the Connection team for also designating the Foundation to be the recipient of these 2 premieres.

During both premieres, old friends and key people from the film will lead question and answer sessions. Unfortunately, Ruth and I will be on the road still so will miss both events, but if you do live within reasonable distance of Sydney or Melbourne, it will be a grand occasion.

Melbourne Premiere - Monday 1st September, 7.45pm at the Rivoli Cinemas, Hawthorn East. Q&A Speaker Panel: Shannon Harvey (filmmaker), Dr Craig Hassed, Professor George Jelinek and Scott Stephens.

Sydney Premiere - Friday 5th September, 8.15pm at the Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne. Q&A Speaker Panel: Shannon Harvey (filmmaker), Professor George Jelinek, Associate Professor Damien Finniss, Dr Craig Duncan and Scott Stephens.




Five days of meditation and gentle introspection   :     October 13 - 17
- all amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Yarra Valley

Details   :   CLICK HERE

Bookings   :   Contact the Gawler Foundation  03 5967 1730


Next public event is an evening public lecture in Mt Isa, Tuesday 19th August. This promises to be one of the delights of our road trip as if we were not travelling by car it would have been very difficult to get to Mt Isa in a way that would have worked financially for the people there. And it gives us the excuse to travel up to Karumba, Normanton and Burketown - all on the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria!

Then Meditation in the Desert at the end of the month, with the last events of Le Tour being in Adelaide: Tuesday public lecture 16th September and day workshop Wednesday 17th September. 

Masters of mind and body – real life interviews

Ever wondered what real-life masters of mind & body look like? Who they are? What do they do with their lives? How they think, speak and act?

I have heard first hand accounts of lamas that fly and yogis that live naked in the snow. Have you met someone who seems to have mastered their mind? Maybe they live quietly, not into being outwardly "miraculous",  just being useful doing amazing things in their local community. Maybe they are in the public eye; but whenever we do have the good fortune to come across these people, we are the better for it.

So this week, a link that allows you to access some of these people’s inspiring lives and the insights they offer, courtesy of the Mindbody Mastery program. Do not miss one of the most surprising and remarkable answers I have heard for some time to the question “Are you lonely?”

Also, a link to a profoundly moving and insightful interview recorded at the Foundation during the making of the great new documentary The Connection, along with a reminder about how you can attend its premiere, then news of our next retreat and Dr Nimrod Scheinman coming back to Australia, but first

      Thought for the day

   Enlightenment is real, 
   And there are enlightened masters still on the earth. 
   When you actually meet one, 
   You will be shaken and moved in the depths of your heart 
   And you will realise that all the words, 
   Such as illumination and wisdom, 
   That you thought were only ideas 
   Are in fact true.
                    Sogyal Rinpoche

Many will know that a few years ago I helped launch an online meditation program called Mindbody Mastery. This development coincided with me ceasing full time work at the Foundation, turning 60, and realising I had avoided computers and high tech stuff most of my life.

Anyway, Mindbody Mastery has been a wonderful project to be involved with. It has taught me heaps about the net and technology, and happily it does seem to continue to provide a very useful tool for people to learn meditation on line, and even more usefully, build and sustain a regular practice.

Along with daily emails and regular SMS messages, one of the key components of the ongoing support given to subscribers of Mindbody Mastery (which incidentally costs less than $10 per month) is the rather unique monthly blog which anyone is welcome to access.

While the blog does have lots of great content including a history of meditation, overviews and video demonstrations of mind-body practices along with practical case studies of how to apply mind-body practices in daily life situations; there is now a new series showcasing real-life mind-body masters.

This new series records the lives and stories of extraordinary individuals, bringing them a little closer to you, and giving you a rare insight into how they think.


These new blogs will be based on personal interviews and will feature those who demonstrate mastery over their bodies, and those who demonstrate mastery over their minds.

You will see how invariably these mind-body masters have a keen sense of how they can help make our world a better place, and go about their work in their own unique ways - sometimes in the glare of public limelight, but most often just quietly, and with great dignity.

And every now and then you might even come across that rare gem - an enlightened living master. This is what happened for my partner in Mindbody Mastery, Saurabh Mishra recently when he had an unexpected encounter with one while travelling in India, and then made the effort to seek out and interview another.

Saurabh describes the meetings most eloquently. Great reading and make sure to watch the video link for the “lonely ?” answer in part B – fabulous!!!

To connect with
A. Meeting a master on the train   CLICK HERE

B. A rare interview with a spiritual master, including a short video with his answers to
1. What makes you laugh? (and are you lonely?)
2. What do you do about mosquitos?

The Mindbody Mastery blog will feature a new story of another mind-body master each month, so you may like to flag it.


OR TO JOIN,  GO TO    www.mindbodymastery.net 

Well, this week Ruth and I are in the centre - the red centre - Alice Springs - with Meditation in the Desert starting on Friday. What a delight!

Then the last events of Le Tour in Adelaide: Tuesday public lecture 16th September and day workshop Wednesday 17th September.


Five days of meditation and gentle introspection   :     October 13 - 17
- all amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Yarra Valley

Details   :   CLICK HERE

Bookings   :   Contact the Gawler Foundation  03 5967 1730



Mardi Fletcher's Story from The Connection


The Connection      Premieres in Melbourne and Sydney
After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, journalist and filmmaker Shannon Harvey travelled the world in search of the missing link in healthcare. From interviewing world leading scientists to meeting people with remarkable stories of recovery from severe back pain, heart disease, infertility, cancer and multiple sclerosis - this documentary delves into the link between our mind and body. 

The Connection is a film that proves we have more to say in our health outcomes than we ever thought possible. The Connection will premiere in Sydney on the 5th of September at the Cremorne Orpheum.



2. Radical Remission out of stock for a time

While the response to last week's post that focussed on remarkable survivors of cancer and 2 great books was strong, it is sad to say that Kelly Turner's new book, Radical Remission is now out of stock on the webstore. Even sadder, the publishers will only import new stock on receipt of orders; they are not holding stock in Australia, so it will be a few weeks before more of these great books will be available from the webstore.

I will announce when they are available once more and the plan is to keep them in stock as they seem to be hard to get through bookstores now and even other webstores. It is a terrific book and worth waiting for!!!

We will also keep Paul Kraus' book, Surviving Cancer available through the webstore as it too is hard to find locally.

3. Dr Nimrod Scheinman back in Australia

Many will have benefitted from attending one of Nimrod's previous Australian events. He is the Co-founder and director, Israel Center for Mindfulness in Education, and a world authority on Mind- Body Medicine and the use of therapeutic imagery. A great teacher and old friend who I recommend highly.

Here are the details of his Australian tour, with links:

The presentations are on Mindfulness in Education & Mindfulness with Children, and two are on The Clinical Applications of Mind-Body Medicine.

1.   Practical Applications of Mind-Body Medicine -Brisbane, the Relaxation Centre, September 3rd  DETAILS - CLICK HERE

2.       Mindfulness with Children -  Brisbane, The Relaxation Centre, September 3rd - DETAILS

3.       International Conference - Mindfulness, Education and Transformation, NTI Institute, Woollongong, NSW, September 5-7th DETAILS 

4.       Focusing on Our Children's Attention Span – Mindfulness Strategies for Parents. Spiritgrow Centre, Melbourne. DETAILS 

5.       Integrative Applications of Mind-Body medicine, Melbourne, September 14th - DETAILS

6.       An Education in Awareness - Mindfulness-based Learning Initiatives around the World, Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, Melbourne, September 9th - DETAILS  

11 August 2014

Radical Remission – The 9 key factors that long-term cancer survivors have in common

Obviously, no one wants cancer. But if you, or someone you love did happen to get it, how important would it be to know what is most likely to help you to beat the odds?

This week, 2 crucial books that tell you how – one new, Radical Remission - and we hear directly from its US author, Dr Kelly Turner in a guest blog; the other older, Surviving Cancer, but now easily available again. Both must read books for anyone affected by cancer.

Also, news of the new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer going to all the super powers, but first, the longest ever, but very worthwhile

Thought for the day

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. 
An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step-by-step, and needs no imagination. 
That is all wrong. 
The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers. 
                               Isaac Asimov

Long term survivors everywhere!
Travelling the country as Ruth and I have been doing these last few weeks, it is both heartening and inspiring to meet so many long-term cancer survivors.

Some recognise us on the street and stop us to say hello and share their stories. Many have come to the various talks we have given.

So many of them. Each one with a story that warrants a book in its own right. Hardly any that have been recorded in medical journals. None that I know of that have been studied for what their story may reveal that could save the lives of others.

All praise then to Dr Kelly Turner from the USA who has researched these stories in depth and written what I consider to be the most important new book in the cancer arena for some time.

Then there is Paul Kraus – one of Australia’s longest known survivors of mesothelioma and another author. Paul interviewed 28 long-term cancer survivors from the Gawler Foundation and tells their stories in the exceptional Surviving Cancer. This book has been hard to get for some time, so it has been added to my webstore, along with Radical Remission.

I have had the good fortune to correspond with Kelly Turner now for some time, and she kindly agreed to write about Radical Remission. Here is Kelly:

Whether you are dealing with cancer directly or have lost loved ones, cancer is a disease that touches everyone – which is why I was shocked ten years ago when I discovered that no one was really studying people who healed themselves from cancer.

Radical Remission – also called ‘spontaneous remission’ by doctors – is any cancer remission that is statistically unexpected.

This includes:

1)    People who heal from cancer without using any Western medicine at all.

2)    People with cancer who first try Western medicine, but it does not work, so they are forced to switch to other methods, which do work.

3)    People who use Western along with complementary and/or alternative medicine at the same time in order to overcome a very serious prognosis.

After researching more than 1,000 cases of these cases over the past decade, I have learned that radical remission survivors such as Ian have 9 key healing factors in common.

These 9 healing factors, which include physical, emotional, and spiritual elements, are described in my book, 'Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.'

Seven of the nine most common healing factors that emerged from my research were mental/emotional in nature -- which tells me that the mind is so much more powerful than we think.  The radical remission survivors I study very much paid attention to the state of their mind and believed in the power of their mind to heal the body.

This is why they spent so much energy working on releasing suppressed emotions, increasing positive emotions as much as possible, tuning into and listening to their intuition regarding health choices, deepening their spiritual connection to divine energy, focusing on why they wanted to keep living, allowing themselves to ask for and receive love from others, and finally taking an active (as opposed to passive) role in their healing process.

The techniques that they used to achieve these mental/emotional goals differed from person to person -- some people used meditation, others guided imagery, psychotherapy, energy healing, acupuncture, prayer, etc.  However, those were simply techniques used to achieve the mental/emotional goals listed above.

While we may not yet understand all of the mechanisms behind Radical Remissions, the sheer fact that they happen at all tells us that it is possible to turn around even the most advanced cancers - and that it is a fact worth celebrating.

Kelly Turner has set up a research database where new stories are most welcome: www.RadicalRemission.com.


Need more inspiration? Want direction from those who have done it? Want to know what is possible?

For many years, while working at the Gawler Foundation, I gathered stories of remarkable recoveries. Paul Kraus, himself Australia's longest mesothelioma survivor, then interviewed 28 of these people and in Surviving Cancer, warm-heartedly recounts their stories.

These stories are unique in the way they relate healing journeys from first diagnosis to ultimate recovery. Yet behind each person's story there are certain common threads. Chief among these is that above and beyond medical treatment each individual received the benefits of self-empowerment by adopting strategies learnt from the wonderful therapeutic team at The Gawler Foundation.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is full of inspiration, hope and direction. In my opinion Surviving Cancer is a must have book for people affected by cancer. Great to read, then keep on hand and dip into whenever the need for a lift is there.

Reading the accounts of recovery in Surviving Cancer provides a recipe for hope and healing.

You Can Conquer Cancer goes global – again
What do the super powers have in common? Not so much it seems some days, but at least they are all soon to publish the new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer! 

The old edition went into over a dozen translations, and as the new edition is such a big step forward (it is virtually a new book the re-write was so thorough), I must admit to being very pleased that it has been taken up by China, Russia, the USA and the UK. So far, translations/new editions are also set for Taiwan, Hungary, and Malaysia. Fascinating!

The road trip/ speaking tour continues to be a delightful mix of meeting wonderful people, travelling this extraordinary land (this week we are in Cooktown - how cool is that!) while speaking in capital cities and some parts we would never normally be able to get to.

Next public event is a day workshop in Cairns, Saturday 16th August

Followed by an evening public lecture in Mt Isa, Tuesday 19th August

Then Meditation in the Desert at the end of the month

With the last events of Le Tour being in Adelaide: evening public lecture Tuesday16th September and day workshop Wednesday 17th September.