27 June 2016

Lumpectomy-or-mastectomy?

Sadly, I often hear of people who when first faced with a cancer diagnosis make choices they later regret - because they did not know in advance what was best, and in the heat of the moment, they made an unwise choice.

As breast cancer rates continue to rise, women faced with that diagnosis are called upon to make many choices. Often, the first major choice is how much surgery to agree to. Is it better to just have the cancerous lump removed (lumpectomy - a smaller, breast conserving operation) or go ahead and have the whole breast removed (mastectomy)?

So this week, important new evidence based upon studying over 37,000 women for 10 years provides important guidelines for anyone concerned by breast cancer, and then more on the Meditation Gateway App, but first



                  Thought for the day

              The intuitive mind is a sacred gift 

              And the rational mind is a faithful servant.

              We have created a society that honors the servant 

              And has forgotten the gift.

                                                 Albert Einstein









First be clear. In cancer medicine, as in all medicine, each individual is unique. So any woman diagnosed with breast cancer requires an individual diagnosis and an individual treatment plan.

What follows is based upon statistics. For any new woman diagnosed with breast cancer, or for that matter, any person diagnosed with any cancer, the statistics are informative but that is all. 

Statistics apply to groups of people. Individual people need individual treatment plans not statistics.

Having said that, recent statistics shed new light on a long standing question that has beset patients and clinicians alike – is a lumpectomy OK for women with breast cancer; does it have a worse or better long term outcome?

This latest large, retrospective, long-term study suggests quite strongly that breast-conserving therapy (BCT), which consists of lumpectomy with radiotherapy, might be a better option than mastectomy for many women.

The results show that the relative risk for death after 10 years was nearly 20% lower in women who underwent BCT than in those who underwent mastectomy alone. The 10-year rate of overall survival was better with BCT than with mastectomy (76.8% vs 59.7%).

In the BCT group, the overall survival benefits were observed despite the tumor size or the number of nodes affected.

This study, conducted in Holland, involved women diagnosed from 2000 to 2004, and is important because it provides 10-year follow-up data. Most recent observational studies, which have also shown better survival with BCT, have been limited to 5 years of post-treatment data, which is "quite short" for breast cancer according to researcher Dr Sabine Siesling.

"The main take-away message is that breast-conserving therapy should be the treatment of choice, especially in small tumors, when it is medically feasible," she concluded.

Curiously, while an American clinician director of the symposium, Dr Carlos Arteaga agreed with Dr Siesling’s message, he stated that the study would not likely change current guidelines. Mastectomy is generally recommended when, among other things, tumor multicentricity is present or the size of the tumor (relative to the size of the breast) dictates.

In the Dutch study, the women who underwent BCT tended to be younger and to have smaller well-differentiated ductal tumors, unifocal tumors, less hormonal therapy, and less axillary lymph node dissection.
 
"We think that radiation therapy may have played an important role in the difference in the outcomes from both treatments, although we cannot prove it with our data," Dr Siesling said in a press statement.

She also explained that, in the Netherlands, radiation therapy is not performed in conjunction with mastectomy.

The study has limitations, Dr Siesling acknowledged, such as potential confounders that could be at play, including the fact that there was no information about the HER2 status of the patients or their comorbidities.

"However, we do not expect these factors to overrule the large impact of all the variables we included in the analyses," she added.

Editor’s Note
What this data probably indicates is that faced with a breast cancer diagnosis, based on current evidence, breast-conserving therapy could well be the treatment of choice. It probably means one would need to be well convinced to do anything else. 

So this is not to say that a mastectomy may not be the best choice, but that one would need to be convinced by pretty good evidence that it was before agreeing to it.

What ever medical choices are made, it is of course an imperative that anyone diagnosed with cancer review their lifestyle and consider who they can minimise any potential side-effects, gain the best from any medical treatments and use their own resources to generate healing from within, to find meaning through the illness and to experience long lasting good health and contentment.

Reference Ten-Year Data: Lumpectomy and Radiotherapy Trump Mastectomy

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) 2015: Abstract S3-05. 

RESOURCES
BOOK : You Can Conquer Cancer

CDs/ Downloads : The Gawler Cancer Program

What To Do When Someone You Love is Diagnosed With Cancer

Lifestyle Medicine/ Self Help Programs : The Gawler Foundation

NEWS : MEDITATION AVAILABLE ON APP

It is a delight to be able to say that very positive feedback has been coming following the recent release of our Gateway Meditation App.

The App makes it possible to access all your favourite meditations via an elegant, easy to use App with heaps of support features. With the App, you also can customise your meditation sessions and even meditate with friends in a virtual group.

The Meditation Gateway is a platform app and while several different teachers and meditation schools are using it already, several more will be doing so quite soon.

I am thrilled that all my key guided practices and teachings from the Mindbody Mastery program are now available on the Meditation Gateway App. 

Easy to use, intuitive in its design, the App has a host of features to inspire, instruct and support you as you deepen your experience of relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, imagery and contemplation.

Available for a modest monthly subscription, you can access all this today using any Apple smartphone or ipad; the Android version will follow shortly.

Go to the Meditation Gateway App. 

20 June 2016

Your chance to be in a meditation research project

Please consider taking a few minutes to fill out a questionnaire that is part of a Monash University study into the experience of stillness within meditation. This is an important study that needs your help to gather data on the experiences of stillness that occur during different meditation and mindfulness practices.

The study is doubly important as it is one of the new generation of studies that is beginning to compare experiences and outcomes that follow from different meditation styles, so please, read all about it below, and take the few minutes to complete the questionnaire – it is actually quite interesting, then more news about the new Meditation Gateway App, but first


       


            Thought for the day



                   Live quietly in the moment 
  
                  And see the beauty of all before you



                               Paramahansa Yogananda





Dominic Hoseman is leading a team of researchers at Monash University. Together, they are currently undertaking a research project exploring the experience of stillness within meditation and its relationship with mindfulness and wellbeing.

For this project, they are seeking a combination of meditators and non-meditators to participate. The research project received approval from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (CF16/1316-2016000696).

Participants are being sort to assist by
i) participating in the study and

ii) forwarding this email/survey link among their networks in order to invite others to participate in the project.

I personally urge you to help. Your assistance is of course voluntary and anonymous.

The study is for research purposes only. It forms part of Dominic Hosemans’ Ph.D. thesis and is being conducted under the supervision of Dr. Janette Simmons, Dr. Tristan Snell, and Associate Professor Craig Hassed.

The study involves completing an online survey, which will take no more than 15 minutes to complete. ( I found it took about 5 minutes)

If you agree to participate in the study, you will remain free to withdraw at any time and to withdraw any unprocessed data.

For more information on the study, and to access the online survey, please CLICK HERE



HAVE YOU TRIED THE NEW MEDITATION APP YET?
Would love to hear your feedback - use the Comment section below...

The meditation Gateway App I have been involved in developing serves two main functions:

1. For your own use, the App enables you to access a complete meditation program including guided relaxation, concentration, mindfulness, imagery and meditation exercises. 

You can access my own teachings and guided exercises in a choice of 4 voices - my own, Ruth's or an American or Indian accent. The teachings are sent to you progressively and will be excellent as a refresher or for those just learning.

You also receive daily emails containing inspiration, new information and support.

With the App, you can customise your own practise sessions. For example you could start with a meditation bell, then combine different exercises such as relaxation and imagery, and include your own chosen length of stillness before ending with the sound of another bell.

You could also arrange with friends to create a virtual meditation group. We all know the benefit of meditating in company, but often it is not so easy to actually get together. So the App enables you to set a time, where upon it will remind you before that time, and you can all meditate to the same track.

And there is much more....

Go the Meditation Gateway App and sign up for one of the versions of Mindbody Mastery.

2. As a meditation teacher, the App functions as a platform. It is designed to enable you to upload your own material - teachings and guided exercises. This service is available at no cost to the teacher; we use a user pay method of funding. What it does mean is that your students can access your teachings through a technologically sophisticated App.

If you are a teacher interested in using the Meditation Gateway App as a platform, write to me at info@insighthealth.com.au. It is very easy to set up and then your students can interact in a very personal and direct way with you and your own material.


13 June 2016

Mindbody-Mastery-Meditation-App

Want the convenience of being able to access all your favourite meditations via an elegant, easy to use App with heaps of support features? How about customising your meditation sessions or meditating with friends in a virtual group? 

Well, all this and more is now possible.

I am thrilled to be able to tell you that all my key guided practices and teachings from the Mindbody Mastery program are now available through the just released Meditation Gateway App

Easy to use, intuitive in its design, the App has a host of features to inspire, instruct and support you as you deepen your experience of relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, imagery and contemplation.

Available for a modest monthly subscription, you can access all this today using any Apple smartphone or ipad; the Android version will follow shortly.

Go to the Meditation Gateway App and join Mindbody Mastery.

More details follow, but first



     Thought for the day

          If your mind is empty, 
          It is always ready for anything; 
          It is open to everything. 

          In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, 
          In the expert’s mind there are few.

                    Suzuki-Roshi, Zen master








Download the App, subscribe to the Mindbody Mastery program


The Meditation Gateway App features meditation programs from different meditation teachers, and Mindbody Mastery program is one of them. Furthermore, we have uploaded all four versions of Mindbody Mastery – in Ruth’s voice, an American female accent, an Indian male, and my own.

Simply subscribe to the program with the voice you prefer; each program has all the features that follow…

Comprehensive meditation instructions 
Ideal for beginners or for revision.

The App will send you all my best teachings in an essentialised form. Ideal for beginners or for revision. Relaxation, concentration, mindfulness, meditation, guided imagery and contemplation; it is all there. And it comes to you progressively over time, at a pace that allows for practice and integration.


All the guided exercises and teachings are available from Day One
While instruction is sent to you progressively, we know many who will use this App are experienced meditators. Therefore, we have made all the exercises, and all the teaching texts available from Day One. This means you can customize your own practice sessions and review instructions whenever you choose.

Customised sessions 
The App allows you to customize your own meditation sessions. Combine any of the Mindbody Mastery guided exercises into your own preferred sequence. What would you choose? Relaxation and mindfulness? Imagery and meditation? It is up to you. Add any amount of silent time before, in between, or after. Like to start and finish with the sound of meditation bells? All this is readily possible, and it too is easy to set up.

Virtual meditation group 

Keep in touch. Support each other. Feel the benefit of meditating in a group, even when you cannot get to one in person.

The Meditation Gateway App and your Mindbody Mastery program make it easy for you to set up a regular, or one off time to meditate online with friends. When you do so, the App automatically updates your smartphone’s calendar and sets an alarm. With a simple push of a button, you can check-in before the start of your session to let the others know that you are in. Then you can create and play a customised session that all your group will hear simultaneously.

Customised imagery
This is a pretty cool feature!

Mindbody Mastery features the very popular gratitude contemplation. The App enables you to easily add images that remind you of things you are grateful for. Use your Smartphone’s camera to take photos that the App or use photos that are already in your smartphone’s photo gallery. The App will then show these photos on-screen during the contemplation at the appropriate times.

Daily messages synced to the teaching content 
This app has evolved out of the Mindbody Mastery program when it was first developed on-line. (www.mindbodymastery.net) The on-line program was the testing ground to develop all this fancy technology and where we learnt some important things. On average, users of the Mindbody Mastery program tripled their reported frequency of practice and maybe just as remarkably, reported that the satisfaction levels with their practice also increased three fold.

It seemed clear that a key to these improvements came through the support, instruction, inspiration and encouragement provided throughout the program. The daily e-mails will continue to be a feature with the App… Enjoy!

“Gaming” 
While not everyone’s choice, “gaming” principles have been shown to be highly effective in helping many people to establish new healthy lifestyle habits.

So “meditation gaming”. If you choose to, you can track your own practice times and then see how you are faring against the leaderboard of all the other subscribers. At the end of the calendar year, the Mindbody Mastery team will offer prizes to the top 3.

Technical support?
Run into a problem? No problem. Send us a message via the App.

Coming Attractions!
Each quarter, a new feature will be added to the Meditation Gateway App. We have some great innovations already being developed for these free add-ons and will continue to respond to user feedback and requests.

How does it work financially? 
You pay a modest monthly fee (US$6.49 or AU$9 for Mindbody Mastery) and in return gain access to this technologically sophisticated, fully integrated meditation program with all its guided exercises and supports. You can unsubscribe easily any time you choose.

Want to try it out?
Join this new meditation community via the Meditation Gateway App now.

Let me know what you think of it via the Comments section below, or via info@insighthealth.com.au.


30 May 2016

Meditation-Gateway-App

To meditate well we need instruction from someone competent who we relate to well, and then we need to practice regularly. Many of us these days are looking to Apps for this instruction and support, but such Apps take a great deal of time and effort to develop and are very expensive.

The  Meditation Gateway App provides a solution. Three years in the making, just about to be released, this is a project my partner in IT Saurabh Mishra and I have been focused on for the last 3 years.

The  Meditation Gateway App has been developed as a platform to make it possible for individual teachers and meditation schools large and small to provide a technologically sophisticated App for their students - in a way that is affordable and easy.

So this week, the details - along with news of a major meditation event coming soon to Melbourne, but first


      
      Thought for the day


         If you forget to eat breakfast, 
         You do not give up there and then. 

         The next day, you go ahead and eat breakfast. 

         Simple.


                     Tara Tulku Rinpoche





Up until now, a technologically sophisticated App has been beyond the resources of most meditation teachers and schools. Many would like to have one, some do, but a really good one is commonly too expensive, takes too much time and energy to develop, and so does not get done.

The  Meditation Gateway App is designed to change all that. This technologically sophisticated platform makes it possible for meditation schools and individual meditation teachers to educate, support and interact with their own students using their own material.

The Meditation Gateway App provides a platform onto which the school or teacher’s own material including branding and logo can be uploaded quite simply. The App each subscriber will use will have all the look and feel characteristic of their chosen teacher/school. Then the teachings and guided meditations can be used in a variety of ways as summarised below.

This app has evolved out of our own on-line meditation program, Mindbody Mastery (www.mindbodymastery.net) that has been a testing ground to develop this technology. On average, users of the Mindbody Mastery program tripled their reported frequency of practice and maybe just as remarkably, reported that the satisfaction levels with their practice also increased three fold.

Mindbody Mastery will be one of the programs available through the Meditation Gateway App when it is released in a week or so.

How can this work financially? 
Users of each individual meditation App pay a modest monthly fee. This fee is then distributed on a revenue sharing basis – some going to Apple or the Android people, some to the meditation teacher/school, and some to us to keep the wheels turning. Simple. The meditation teacher/school has no upfront fees as we aimed to make this all very accessible.

Features of the Meditation Gateway App

1.   Readily accessible content 
Each meditation school will be able to upload its own content (including audio guided meditation sessions and mind-body exercises, audio/video clips of talks, and accompanying text) on our secure site, which the student will be able to access through the app.

Restricted access will be possible to certain material if preferred.

2.  User friendly design
The Meditation Gateway App has been designed to be very clear, very easy to use. After months of testing and further development from the original starting point, we are confident this design has been achieved.

3.  Progressive release of a meditation program
The material each teacher/school uploads can either all be made available as soon as a new member subscribes; or material can be released on a pre-determined schedule, effectively making a meditation course available via the App.

4. Daily emails can be synched to the other content
Again, if chosen, daily emails can be sent via the App to support, instruct, inspire and encourage subscribers to continue to develop their practice, and to practice more regularly.

With Mindbody Mastery, we feel these emails have been one of the very effective ways we have been able to support our users to meditate so much more often. Gentle, positive reminders.

5. Customised sessions 
Each individual App user also will be able to
a) Create his/her own customised meditation session using any of the guided exercises made available by that user’s meditation school in any sequence, with any amount of silent time before, in between, or after. We also provide the sound of meditation bells to add at the start and end of sessions if desired.

b) Access specific pre-customised sessions for dealing with anxiety, pain, insomnia, and other “states of mind” if the teacher/school chooses this option (content provided by Imageryworks and/or the meditation program).

6.   Customised imagery 
Imagery forms the basis of many powerful and popular mind-body exercises as well as traditional sadhanas. Examples include an exercise in which the meditator brings to mind images of very specific things from his/her life (good as well as challenging), and expresses gratitude for each in turn.

This app will enable the subscriber to use the Smartphone’s camera to take photos of the various images featured in the practices with the smartphone, for the App to show on-screen during the exercise at the chosen times.

7.   Virtual meditation group 
With this feature, the subscriber will be able to
a) Make a regular or one off time to meditate online with friends (daily/weekly, etc.) which automatically updates your smartphone’s calendar and sets an alarm.

b) Push a button to check-in before start of session to let others know that they are in (e.g. “Saurabh has checked in”).

c) Interact with the group outside of the sessions via text messaging.
Furthermore, the session coordinator can

a) “Prod” those who have not yet checked in (send an iMessage or trigger a predetermined alarm on their phone), and

b) Create and play a customised session that all participants hear simultaneously.

8.   Interactions 
This app will track usage as well as ask the subscriber for regular feedback about the quality of his/her meditation practice, which will be delivered back to the meditation program’s coordinator (subject to subscriber consent), to help them deliver support interventions.

9.    “Gaming” concepts to increase usage will be available if preferred – e.g. maintaining a leader board of the most consistent virtual meditation groups (each quarter the leading group gets some reward such as a personal audience with the meditation master/principal teacher associated with the program).

While not everyone’s choice, “gaming” principles have been shown to be highly effective in helping many people to establish new healthy lifestyle habits.

10.       The app will collect a monthly subscription fee (specified by each meditation program) from the user. This amount can be determined by each school or teacher.

11. The Meditation Gateway App also provides technical support for subscribers so this necessity is taken care of.

12.  Each quarter, a new feature will be added to the Meditation Gateway platform that will be accessible by all the individual app users. This will continue to build interest and to support ongoing usage. We have some great innovations already being developed for these free add-ons and will continue to respond to user feedback and requests.

So – excited? I am! This is the culmination of years of work and it is planned to be released within the week, thereby also making Mindbody Mastery available to you. 

Hope you like it and find it really helpful, and look forward to your feedback.

Once the Meditation Gateway App is released, we will let you know. Not long to go now….


NOTICEBOARD

Meditation Australia – Past, Present and Future

In her role as President of Meditation Australia, Ruth will be the MC for a terrific meditation event at the Deakin Edge in Melbourne's Federation Square on Thursday 16th at 7pm.

"Meditation Past, Present and Future", will feature a stellar speaker's list including Pauline McKinnon, Craig Hassed, Janet Etty-Leal, Ken Mellor and Kay Watts.


Booking soon is advised as I suspect this event will be fully booked. See you there?

For full details    CLICK HERE

To register    CLICK HERE

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 …

COMING MEDITATION RETREATS
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