30 September 2016

35 years later – Two remarkable cancer stories made more remarkable by what happened next…

In the last post, we heard of the remarkable recoveries from advanced brain cancer experienced by 2 of the women who joined the very first Melbourne Cancer Support Group on 16th September 1981 – 35 years ago

Jan’s recovery had been uneventful but spectacular, Mary’s was slow and laboured – lots of ups and downs.

To add to Jan’s story - she had rung me the night before we began that first group to tell me how difficult things were and that she was not sure if she would commit suicide or come to the group tomorrow. Then she hung up.

Being new to all this, I had not yet taken her contact details so I could not get back to her. I could only spend a somewhat anxious time before experiencing considerable relief when she did turn up for the group.


Jan was in her early forties and she came with her partner, Michael. Together they quickly warmed to the program, embraced all the recommendations and Jan experienced a swift, uneventful and complete recovery without any medical treatment. Jan was a star patient – or so it seemed.

So this week, what happened when Jan and Mary returned to her lives, but first



               Thought for the day

You have been walking the ocean’s edge
Holding up your robes to keep them dry.
You must dive naked under, and deeper under; 
A thousand times deeper!

Love flows down.
The ground submits to the sky
And suffers what comes.
Tell me, is the earth worse for giving in like that?

                                                        Rumi




A life too difficult to live

Around one year after that first group began, Michael rang me. Jan had been very well but recently was eating more and more things they both knew were not good for her. When Michael questioned her, he was told very curtly to mind his own business.



Michael and I discussed this a little but then a few weeks later he rang again. Now Jan had abandoned her meditation. Michael was increasingly worried; we discussed the situation some more but a few weeks later he rang again. Now the brain cancer was back and this time Jan was completely opposed to meditating, eating for recovery, being positive. I went to see her in person.

Jan was a very intelligent and articulate woman. She was reasonably open and frank with me. Jan explained that before the cancer was diagnosed her life was in deep disarray. Problems abounded in every aspect of her life. A disturbing childhood, difficult past relationships, unhappy in work, conflict in her current relationship; the cancer diagnosis came as no surprise and she had related strongly to the group discussions regarding the cancer prone personality. But the diagnosis changed everything.



Following the diagnosis of cancer, Michael had become more attentive and their relationship flourished. With the cancer, she was unable to go to work. With the cancer she had a ready-made, unarguable excuse to do whatever she liked. So she did. She came to know a new level of happiness. 




Then she recovered.

What now?

She needed to face her life again.

But she did not like it. The job seemed as unpleasant as ever. Now her friends were not so attentive.

Her past felt as if it was crowding in on her.



Jan put it to me quite simply: “Ian, I would rather die than go back to my old life.”

And despite everyone’s best efforts at the time, she did die quite rapidly.



Often the stories that carry major insights or reveal key points are dramatic. Jan’s story coupled with those of other people with similar dilemmas, affected me deeply, caused me a great deal of introspection, led to me studying widely and culminated in a new level of understanding.

The so called “positive approach” worked well as a starting point. It gave people hope and direction and nearly everyone in those early groups who committed to the techniques involved improved dramatically in their health and wellbeing.



But over time, what we came to observe was that on returning to their lives, not all by any means, but significant numbers of people hit barriers to coping with that life and to maintaining their peace of mind. And when that peace of mind was lost, the motivation to look after themselves was lost, and almost invariably, their health suffered badly.

Jan’s story is one of those pivotal experiences that helped to shape the groups we developed and continue to present, and the writing of You Can Conquer Cancer (where her story is also recorded).

With the benefit of many years of study and the cumulative experience of my colleagues and the many thousands of people from the groups, it is possible to categorize the barriers and to set out effective antidotes. Basically, for people like Jan, it is about learning new life skills and particularly finding some elements of joy and meaning in life once again.

But what you may well also find useful is to contrast Jan’s experience with that of Mary.

Mary and the impact of major tragedy
Mary continued to look after herself and she stayed well for around 7 years. Then tragedy struck. Mary’s teenage daughter was found dead of a drug overdose. Mary had been unaware her daughter was involved with drugs, so the shock was even more profound. Her grief was immense. Deep despair followed.

In a situation like this, it would be easy to imagine how as a mother one could have a wide range of painful emotions on top of any normal grief reaction. What went wrong? What could I have done? What did I do? How could I have made it different?

When I spoke to her shortly after her daughter’s death, Mary was clear in a way that was reminded me of Jan. In a calm, detached manner, she told me how she felt life was no longer worth living. She went on to say how she had come to know so much about her cancer - enough to recover - that now she felt sure she could bring it back, and that she felt that was the best way out of her pain.

We continued to talk over the next 2 weeks. Then Mary had a revelation. She told me that it was bad enough that her daughter had died of an overdose, but if she were to die as a direct consequence, that would make things even worse for her daughter and all around her.

So Mary determined to survive once again.

She knew how vulnerable she was.

She intensified her dietary patterns once more, along with her meditation. She sought counselling, reduced her workload, stayed close to family and supportive friends.

The time surrounding the aftermath of the tragedy was very tough for Mary and it went on for quite a while, but Mary chose life and used her supports and her skills to maintain it.

I still see her from time to time; Mary survived, she is still alive. She has done many good things over the years, but she always tells me there is this part of her that still finds life a challenge; that it has never been the same since the tragedy.

Different, but life goes on in new ways.

So 35 years of incredible people like Jan and Mary. What extra-ordinary work to be involved in. No cliché…  this is a genuine privilege. So much learnt from these wonderful people.

Next post 
Some observations on how the management of cancer has changed dramatically in these last 35 years.


COMING RETREATS AND TRAININGS

Meditation Retreats
Ruth and I, with the help of Liz Stillwell, will personally lead our next 7 day meditation retreat in New Zealand :  October 22 - 28.

Next Aussie one, April 2017 in the Yarra Valley.

In NZ, we will give attention to the major experiences of deeper meditation – stillness, clarity and bliss. We will explore these states experientially and examine their relevance in an ongoing and satisfying meditation practice.

This promises to be one of the very best retreats – well worth travelling from Australia to attend, or making the journey to the glorious Mana Retreat Centre from anywhere around New Zealand.

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

Meditation Teacher Training 
The program - October 10 - 14 - may be fully booked already – check with the office.
Next year's dates will be available very soon...

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

Specific cancer residential programs 

8 days In Wanaka New Zealand 
- November 3 - 10
This is a comprehensive program focusing on activating and targeting the immune system, accelerating healing, much more on a therapeutic lifestyle, along with a range of strategies for heightening emotional health and wellbeing.

Again we will have the incomparable help of Liz Stillwell and the amazing Stew Burt - the ideal starting point for everyone affected by cancer.

5 days in the Yarra Valley : November 14 - 18
More designed as a follow-up cancer program for those who have done a previous program with Ruth and myself, the Foundation, or one of its affiliates. Call the Foundation for details of eligibility.

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

19 September 2016

A major milestone - what is there to learn?

Let us travel back in time together. 1981. September the 16th. Thirty people have gathered in a large suburban house in Riversdale Rd, Hawthorn, Melbourne. The mood is subdued, yet infused with a palpable trace of hope. Enough hope for there to be a sense of excitement in the air; as if something extra-ordinary – as in out of the ordinary – is about to commence.

For this is the first meeting of the Melbourne Cancer Support Group. A world’s first where the aim is not just to help those in attendance to cope better with all the challenges cancer is throwing at them, and not just to feel better – although either would be worthwhile in itself.

No, the sense of hope that is in the air is based on a premise that is radical for the early eighties. The premise is that by attending, people will learn how to improve their chances of survival. We will be talking of finding a pathway to a cure when mainstream medicine says there is none.

Radical for then; still radical for now. Patients, the families and friends helping themselves. Not in opposition to the medical mainstream; but not abandoning hope when none is offered from that direction. Instead, looking inwards and realizing the potential for self healing. Looking to gain what we can from our own healing efforts.

On that first day, one woman deliberately chooses the one available couch. She sinks into it and props herself in a corner. This is her way of maintaining her stability. She has advanced brain cancer, a prognosis of 1 to 2 months and is the sickest person in the room; very unsteady on her feet.

This is my first ever group too, and she is so sick, she scares me a little. Most of the others look well despite the fact pretty well all of them are here as a point of last resort – this is something new after all. But this lady actually looks as if she could die during the group session. She scares me a little.

But imagine this… That lady is still alive 35 years later. She, along with another woman in the group with a slightly less difficult version of brain cancer, are 2 of the first I meet to have remarkable recoveries and convince me this new work is worth persevering with.

35 years of lifestyle-based cancer self help groups
So this week, we go way Out on a Limb once more as we recall those two and more from that first ever group that has just passed its 35th anniversary.

Nostalgic for me; not a single photographic record from those early days, but so many good memories, so many amazing people and not the occasional tough challenge, but first

                Thought for the day

          Traveller, there is no path

          The path is made by walking.


          By walking you make a path

         And turning, you look back

         At a way you will never tread again.

         Traveller, there is no road 

         Only wakes in the sea.

                          Antonio Machado


Jan’s uneventful but spectacular recovery
Of the two ladies with brain tumours, the one with the lesser of the symptoms, let us call her Jan, makes a complete and uneventful recovery. She came with her partner, they both embraced the basic message and believed she could recover.

Together, they took up on the therapeutic nutrition with diligence, meditated intensively, took a positive approach to all they did and found new meaning and joy in life through the illness.

Jan made a spectacularly uneventful recovery without any medical treatment. She just got better every week until repeat scans showed she was cancer free.

By the way, Jan had been told by her well meaning and caring doctors that there was no effective treatment available to her, that there was nothing more they could do for her; nothing she could do except go home, get her affairs in order and seek Palliative Care when things got really bad.

Mary’s slow and labored recovery
By contrast the woman in the couch, lets call her Mary, had many ups and downs and nearly did die several times over the next 12 months. I saw more of Mary through necessity and came to know her well.

Mary was determined to recover as she had a young daughter to care for. Amazingly, each time she
fell in a hole, she seemed to find a way through – sometimes via something new she learnt from me, sometimes with help from others. For example, Mary was one of the first I observed who responded well at a critical time to intravenous Vitamin C.

But again, having been given the same story before she joined the group by her treating doctors, “there is nothing more we can do for you”, and having had no medical treatment, around 12 months later Mary was confirmed by scans to be cancer free.

What happened over the next few years to these two women was truly remarkable. One died in extraordinary circumstances and taught me perhaps more than anyone about the need to address a particular aspect of cancer recovery, while the other survived and is still alive despite having had to face the most extraordinary of circumstances.

So next week, Part 2 – What is involved in ongoing, long-term cancer survival.


COMING RETREATS AND TRAININGS

Meditation Retreats
Ruth and I, with the help of Liz Stillwell, will personally lead our next 7 day meditation retreat in New Zealand :  October 22 - 28.

Next Aussie one, April 2017 in the Yarra Valley.

In NZ, we will give attention to the major experiences of deeper meditation – stillness, clarity and bliss. We will explore these states experientially and examine their relevance in an ongoing and satisfying meditation practice.

This promises to be one of the very best retreats – well worth travelling from Australia to attend, or making the journey to the glorious Mana Retreat Centre from anywhere around New Zealand.

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

Meditation Teacher Training 
The program - October 10 - 14 - may be fully booked already – check with the office.
Next year's dates will be available very soon...

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

Specific cancer residential programs 

8 days In Wanaka New Zealand 
- November 3 - 10
This is a comprehensive program focusing on activating and targeting the immune system, accelerating healing, much more on a therapeutic lifestyle, along with a range of strategies for heightening emotional health and wellbeing.

Again we will have the incomparable help of Liz Stillwell and the amazing Stew Burt - the ideal starting point for everyone affected by cancer.

5 days in the Yarra Valley : November 14 - 18
More designed as a follow-up cancer program for those who have done a previous program with Ruth and myself, the Foundation, or one of its affiliates. Call the Foundation for details of eligibility.

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

12 September 2016

Three paradigm shifts that affect us all

It is a remarkable thing to have lived long enough to observe 3 remarkable changes in my working life that represent major paradigm shifts. A paradigm shift is well described as a fundamental change in the way something is thought of and practiced.

So this week, we go Out on a Limb to investigate these amazing changes, and I will ask for your help to share the benefits they offer. The easiest way to do that may well be to simply share this post. The information may even be useful personally!, but first




             Thought for the day

The problems seem huge. 
What we can do seems insignificant. 
Nevertheless, it is essential that we do it!

                      Mahatma Gandhi







1. MEDITATION - from fringe to mainstream

The Change
In 1967, the Beatles travelled to India, met the Maharishi, returned and helped to popularize meditation in the West.

As a consequence, meditation perceptually became a fringe domain widely regarded with suspicion.

It was not so easy advocating and teaching it back in the ‘80s…

Now, in 2016, meditation is clearly mainstream. Widely advocated and practiced, we could say meditation is now trendy.

Certainly looks good on the CV.

This dramatic change has been driven by research and the fact that so many these days know someone whose life stands in testament to the many benefits of meditation.

How you can help
Recommend your colleagues, your clients, your friends and family to meditation.

My wife Ruth, a GP, and I have a combined history of over 50 years teaching meditation. We co-present meditation retreats regularly for those wanting an immersive experience, while my books Peace of Mind and Meditation, an In-depth Guide provide excellent entry points.

Maybe you might like to train with us personally?
We co-facilitate Meditation Teacher Training residential programs regularly.

Or be guided in your own meditation practise using our App?

2. CANCER and the IMMUNE SYSTEM - from useless to the great new hope

The Change
My own recovery from a particularly difficult cancer in the late ‘70s was based on my hypothesis that cancer could be reversed by activating and targeting the immune system.

When I started to facilitate lifestyle-based cancer self help groups in 1981, this hypothesis was ridiculed by mainstream cancer medicine. Back then it was claimed there was no way the immune system could contribute to cancer recovery.

In 2016, another paradigm shift.

New cancer treatments are moving on from where chemotherapy and radiotherapy left off.

New drugs activate the immune system and target them onto specific cancers.

These treatments offer much promise, yet can cost up to $150,000 per person per year, are as yet somewhat unpredictable in their efficacy and are prone to significant side effects.

However, they clearly do establish that an activated immune system does offer much to those affected by cancer.

How you can help
Everyone diagnosed with cancer needs to be aware that they can learn how to activate and target their own immune system - through their own efforts. This is basic. It is relatively cheap, side effect free and empowering. Everyone will benefit from doing this. It is complementary to, and will support any other treatments they have.

People are best advised to take up on this at first diagnosis, not when all else has failed.

Therapeutic nutrition, meditation, guided imagery and so on; people need accurate, reliable information and they need support to implement a therapeutic lifestyle aimed at getting the best from their own potential to heal and to be well.

Please do encourage anyone you know with cancer to become informed and to avail themselves of what is possible.

As you are probably aware, Ruth and I also regularly lead specific cancer residential programs , and my book You Can Conquer Cancer, recently updated, is a good entry point. Or you could refer those in need to the organization I founded - The Gawler Foundation.

3. COMMUNICATION - from clunky to seamless

The Change
In the early ‘80s when our groups began, anyone who was unable to attend or who wanted ongoing
support between sessions used a cassette tape.

Old enough to remember them?

And videocassettes? Then came discs – CDs followed by DVDs; and now social media, YouTube and Apps. All driven by the extraordinary rate of development in technology and the community’s enthusiasm to use it.

How you can help
Maybe you or someone you know would benefit from a meditation App?

I have been involved in developing the platform App The Meditation Gateway that enables teachers of meditation to easily and freely upload their own material and provide it to their students via a technologically advanced App. If you are a teacher, maybe it will be of use for you?

Also, Ruth and my own teachings and guided practices (as on our Mindbody Mastery program) are available via the Meditation Gateway. Maybe you can use this specific program yourself, or simply refer it to friends, colleagues or clients.

Go to the Meditation Gateway App, download it, and select Mindbody Mastery in the voice you prefer – mine, Ruth’s, a US female or Indian male. There is a free 10 day trial on offer :

Life is changing all the time – in big and small ways. All the time. It is quite a delight to have lived long enough to observe these 3 huge changes; and maybe you can be an agent for positive change and help spread their benefits.

 LINK HERE

COMING RETREATS AND TRAININGS

Meditation Retreats
Ruth and I, with the help of Liz Stillwell, will personally lead our next 7 day meditation retreat in New Zealand :  October 22 - 28.

Next Aussie one, April 2017 in the Yarra Valley.

In NZ, we will give attention to the major experiences of deeper meditation – stillness, clarity and bliss. We will explore these states experientially and examine their relevance in an ongoing and satisfying meditation practice.

This promises to be one of the very best retreats – well worth travelling from Australia to attend, or making the journey to the glorious Mana Retreat Centre from anywhere around New Zealand.

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

Meditation Teacher Training 
The program - October 10 - 14 - may be fully booked already – check with the office.
Next year's dates will be available very soon...

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

Specific cancer residential programs 

8 days In Wanaka New Zealand 
- November 3 - 10
This is a comprehensive program focusing on activating and targeting the immune system, accelerating healing, much more on a therapeutic lifestyle, along with a range of strategies for heightening emotional health and wellbeing.

Again we will have the incomparable help of Liz Stillwell and the amazing Stew Burt - the ideal starting point for everyone affected by cancer.

5 days in the Yarra Valley : November 14 - 18
More designed as a follow-up cancer program for those who have done a previous program with Ruth and myself, the Foundation, or one of its affiliates. Call the Foundation for details of eligibility.

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE

05 September 2016

Some of the best advice you will ever get on meditation

This week a very special treat. Bede Griffiths was an extraordinary combination of mystic and scholar – a true Renaissance man. And we have a discourse he gave in 1992 on meditation at the Yarra Valley Living Centre. A real gem.

Born in England in 1906, Fr Bede studied at Oxford under C S Lewis, loved nature, became a profound seeker of truth, joined the Benedictine monks and travelled to India where he lived his years in an inter-faith Ashram that combined Christian and Hindhu values and rituals.

I had the good fortune to come to know Fr Bede. I spent a few weeks in his ashram and he in turn visited the Yarra Valley Living Centre. He was a source of great inspiration.

In 1992, not so long after surviving a massive stroke - which he told me was the best thing that ever happened to him - (and not so long before he did actually die in 1993) - Fr Bede gave the following talk on meditation to a group of people affected by cancer attending a residential program at the centre.

The transcript makes for compelling reading, and you will notice quite a few overlays with what we teach at the centre. Of special note is Fr Bede’s emphasis of the importance of physical relaxation as a prelude to meditation, and the power of love. Fr Bede’s life story is amazing (he was quite a prolific author) and it is recounted in his autobiography The Golden String.

My wish is that the record of this wonderful, heartfelt talk be widely circulated. 
It first appeared in a 1993 Foundation Newsletter, so please do share it wherever you can. 

Then more details of the next meditation retreat Ruth and I will lead in October where we will give attention to the major experiences of deeper meditation – stillness, clarity and bliss. We will explore these states experientially and examine their relevance in an ongoing and satisfying meditation practice, but first


Thought for the day

I liked the solitude and the silence 
of the woods and the hills. 
I felt there the sense of a presence, 
something undefined and mysterious, 
which was reflected in the faces of the flowers 
and the movements of birds and animals, 
in the sunlight falling through the leaves 
and in the sound of running water, 
in the wind blowing on the hills 
and the wide expanse of earth and sky.

Bede Griffiths





I would like to say a word about meditation. It is very central in our lives in the ashram. We do an hour in the morning always, between half-past five and half-past six, and in the evenings from six to seven, and we follow, on the whole Fr. John Mayne. He is an English Benedictine monk from Early in London who taught meditation with a mantra. It was something new in the Catholic church really, and he learnt it from a Hindu swami. He brought the Christian mantra (instead of Hindu) which he uses: Maranatha (which is Aramaic, the language of Christ) Lord come, quietly repeated.

So our method basically first of all is to relax the body. That is the most important thing. In the Hindu tradition of Yoga, (which means harmony of the body) it is extremely important in meditation that you meditate with your body not only your mind. The great problem is we are all in the mind. We Christians do not relate properly to the body. That causes so many problems.
I always emphasize the first thing which is this : relax from tension and stress in the mind and allow the body to get peaceful and become aware of the body.

We teach Yoga Nidra in our ashram as well.

With yoga nidra you lie on the floor and consciously relax all the muscles of the body and commit yourself to simple awareness.

It is very powerful.


Then, of course, the next is the breathing.

This is very important. It is the mediator between the body and the mind. If your breathing is calm and regular, your mind becomes calm. If your breathing is short and sharp, your mind is disturbed and vice versa. Breathing should be from the abdomen.

But when you have calmed your body and your breath, then you have to face your mind and that is the main problem. The mind is always so active. It is so agitated. To bring it to silence for Western people is particularly difficult. Indians - it is not at all difficult. But we are so occupied with our minds, that to stop the mind … (does not finish).

Yoga is the gradual cessation of the movements of the mind. So the method is to sit, and your mind begins to wander and you repeat your mantra, your word, and as you do (it may go on for hours quietly continuing – most people take half an hour) - gradually the mind becomes calm. And once the mind becomes calm and quiet you become aware of the deeper levels of consciousness in your being.

The mind is keeping us in prison all the time. Children today, I believe start at 3 or 4 years old learning their multiplication tables and so on. I started French when I was 4 and Latin when I was 7 and Greek when I was 9. I went on like that until I had almost a break-down, then something deeper began to emerge.

To get beyond the mind is the great problem. The mind is controlling your body. Many diseases come with tension in the mind. Once the mind comes to this quiet calm, you become aware of the deeper self, and that is where healing takes place.

If you can go beyond the mind, which is causing stress in the body, and open it up, you become aware of a healing power. It is inevitable for everybody.

I make the distinction of the body, soul and spirit. The body is the physical organism and our link with the whole of nature. The psyche is the psychological organism with all its thoughts, feelings, desires, fears, hopes, anxieties – all that is in the area of the psyche. Beyond the soul is the neuma, or the spirit, or the Atman; and that is the deep self where you are in union with the transcendent. Truth, Reality, God - whatever you like to term it.

Once the rational becomes quiet, you open upon this deeper mind, this Atman. In Sanskrit the Atman is your real self. You have a physical self, but the Self is the reality.

Who is this self? The master will say “Go and look into yourself in a pool of water”. And the student comes back and says “Yes, I have seen myself.” But you have not. You have only seen your body. And then he says “Listen to your dreams”. And then he thinks his dreams are his real self. But, finally when you go into deep sleep, then you get into the deep centre. But you are not conscious. That is the problem. So the fourth stage is when you enter that deep centre in full consciousness. And that is what you tried to do.

You open your mind beyond the senses, go beyond the mind. You open on this deeper centre which has no name.

You cannot properly imagine it.

But it is simply an experience of deep peace, deep calm, happiness.

Being, Conscious, and Bliss.

That is what we call it – Sachitananda. The being is fully conscious and enjoys this bliss. And that is what we are aiming at.

So, I think we could all start very easily with meditation and lead into the centre. But  everything depends on being able to get into that deep centre. Beyond the mind. Once that happens, it takes over. Your mind is currently centred in your ego, your separate personality. That is where all the problems arise. All separate. As long as ego is in control we can get nowhere. But when the ego goes -  the self-centred personality opens up, then the deep self emerges.

So we try and open our heart, being the ego. It is very important that everyone know that he is self-centred from infancy. It has to grow. You discover yourself slowly. You gradually separate from parents and develop. You become very aggressive. Then you have to learn how to get beyond the separated self. Once you get beyond that separated self, you open onto Love. It is the passage from the separated self to the transcendent. And Love is in everybody but the ego takes over. Love is breaking through the ego, opening to God and to others.

So your whole life changes when you let the ego go, which means all your personality has to go. It is not easy. You have to break with that personality – that thing which you carry around with you and other people observe. All that is your outer self. But to let all that go - when that goes the deeper self is not you.

Body, Soul, Spirit. The Spirit is the point where you transcend your ego and open onto the infinite or eternal. Once you reach that point you are open to this healing power and to wisdom.

We are all in search of that. In Australia and wherever I go people are in search of a deeper level of consciousness – a deeper experience of God - a deeper realisation of oneself. They are different ways of expressing it. But the search is tremendous on every side now. Once we reach that centre, we experience this inner peace.

So many people come with no peace of mind. All are imprisoned in this ego- this rational consciousness. But when you let that go then it opens. And this letting go is the most important thing.

Unfortunately many Christians have been taught to suppress their bad thoughts – anger, fear, hatred, desire. The more you suppress them the more they come up. The more negative they become. It is a terrible disaster. Many get this terrible feeling of sin and guilt and fear and anxiety. You should allow them to come into consciousness. When they remain unconscious they are negative. There are no negative forces which cannot become positive if you open them up in consciousness beyond your ego to the deep self.

So this tremendous healing power comes if we can get beyond the ego and open up to the deep self and allow the healing to come from us. At that point you are beyond your ego – your personal self – and you experience the Divine-Spirit-God-Truth-Love.

Actually the best name is LOVE. Because love is precisely giving or surrendering yourself. When that takes place you meet with this transcendent Love.

I had an experience in 1989. I was completely laid out for about a week. When I came round I did not
have my ordinary consciousness. I could not walk and needed people to support me. But it was an extraordinary experience.

As I came round I discovered that this ego – this mental consciousness had been knocked down - this ego consciousness - and the deeper self had simply emerged.

I began to see everything in harmony instead of everything divided and separate. It was all embracing. A unity. A harmony. And that was the opening of the deep self really. I advise you people to have a stroke or something (laughter).


But there are gentler ways of doing it. Quite honestly, any serious accident in life – a disease - or losing a friend or wife, husband or child – any of those things can break through.

You are living in your world of personal consciousness - quite happy with that and you are working, and then the tragedy breaks through. You can take it negatively and that IS tragic and you feel it is a disaster, or you can accept it as part of Providence - or whatever you like to call it - and you begin to open up and discover this deeper self has emerged.

All these things knock down the ego-accident-loss-disaster and once you get beyond that, this power comes into you. And it has many forms. It can be healing power for the body and it can be enlightenment of the mind.

The Buddhists  call it enlightenment of course. There are many ways it can be experienced. Everybody should get beyond the mind. Everybody.

In every human being this power is present. I think children often have it. They have not got their ego developed. Many very simple people who are living a hard-working life; I think they also discover it. Unselfish love is one of the keys. If anybody is giving his/her life in unselfish love, it can open up this deep centre and then allow this power to come into their lives.

So that is what I give you on meditation. If we can only break through, we can all open up into this deep self - the spirit of God-truth-love. No name for it. But it is there in every human being if we can allow it to open.

So that is what I pray for all of you.

Trust you enjoyed this, and please do share it…

With thanks to the beloved for transcribing this discourse.

COMING RETREATS AND TRAININGS
Ruth and I will personally lead our next 7 day meditation retreat 
in New Zealand :  October 22 - 28; 
next Aussie one, April 2017 in the Yarra Valley.

In NZ, we will give attention to the major experiences of deeper meditation – stillness, clarity and bliss. We will explore these states experientially and examine their relevance in an ongoing and satisfying meditation practice. This promises to be one of the very best retreats – well worth travelling from Australia to attend, or making the journey to the glorious Mana Retreat Centre from anywhere around New Zealand.

Meditation teacher training in the Yarra Valley in October.
This program may be fully booked already – check with the office.
Next years program will be available very soon

Specific cancer residential programs 
8 days In Wanaka New Zealand in November;
5 days in the Yarra Valley in November.

ALL DETAILS – CLICK HERE


29 August 2016

Why margarine is a bad choice : “Its what you do with it …”

Many I meet still seem to think that margarine is a healthy choice. And better than butter. So this week we examine how margarine is made. Once you know about the raw ingredients, and “what they do with it” - the 9 steps involved in its manufacture - you will understand just how unhealthy margarine really is, and what to eat instead, but first


Thought for the day


Every spiritual tradition 
Has stressed that this human life is unique 
And has a potential 
That ordinarily we do not even begin to imagine. 

If we miss the opportunity 
This life offers us for transforming ourselves, 
They say it may well be an extremely long time 
Before we have another.

Sogyal Rinpoche





Ah yes, The Castle.

That iconic Aussie film.

The classic line : “Its what you do with it…

Hmmm.

What you do with it … 

Margarine may look all smooth and glistening. It may come with its attendant marketing pitch of being the healthy alternative, but do not be fooled. Understand the manufacturing process and all will be revealed.

Here are the 9 steps that turn a simple seed into an unhealthy spread

1. The raw ingredients - commonly flawed
Most margarines start out as seeds, from which the oils are extracted and refined. However, some margarines are made directly from animal fat (this is how traditionally margarine was first made).

Of the oils, commonly safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, rapeseed, and olive oil are used. Of these, the only really healthy raw ingredient is olive oil, yet it too has limitations. Safflower and sunflower are particularly rich in Omega 6 fatty acids that are bad news for the immune system; soybean, cottonseed and rapeseed not quite so bad but still not good.

Olive oil is rich in Omega 9 fatty acids that are neutral for immune function, although it does have some other benefits in its own right.

Animal fats, including skim milk or milk powder that is often added to margarine, are all heavily saturated and known to have many health disadvantages. Hence best to avoid butter too.

None of the above oils are rich in Omega 3s that enhance immune function, and quite simply, if you are to eat an oil, why choose one that depletes or is neutral for immune function, when you could be eating something that is easy and pleasant - and actually adds to your immune system?

What to do is coming soon…

2. Oil is extracted from the raw seeds under heat and pressure

 
Oil can be extracted from seeds with pure pressure. This is how virgin oils are extracted.

However, commercially heat is commonly used as that leads to more oil being extracted.

Problem? Oils oxidise under heat and pressure making them rancid. This is bad for short term health, and in the long-term rancid oils are carcinogenic.




3. Solvents are used to extract more oil
You start to realize just how processed margarine is. Solvents are also commonly used as they lead to the extraction of even more oil. Then they are subtracted – hopefully removing the chemicals, but concerns are there for any residues.

4. Oils mixed with nickel catalyst and hydrogen gas in high pressure, high temperature reactor
More opportunities for oxidation and rancidification. So why do it?

Vegetable oils are unsaturated, which results in them being liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are much better for your health than saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature.

So for margarine to be solid, the unsaturated fats are treated pretty harshly. By forcing extra hydrogen into the oils under heat and pressure, they are turn from unsaturated to saturated, from liquid to solid. From healthy to unhealthy.

To be fair, this hydrogenation process is monitored to minimize the amount of saturation while still accomplishing the solidification.

However, the high temperatures and pressures used in this process also have a nasty tendency to create what are called trans fats. These are well known now to be very bad for health; being especially tough on the cardiovascular system.

Therefore, partially hydrogenated fats are used less frequently. Instead more saturated fats such as palm oil and coconut oil are being used as being saturated they are semi-solid to begin with. Problem? Saturated fats are clearly opposed to good health, while palm oil has also been disastrous for the environment

5. Emulsifiers are added
Purpose? Use a soap like product to blend the water and oils into an homogenous mass. Emulsifiers generally do remain in the finished product – just check the labels.

6. Oil steam cleaned again to remove strong, unpleasant smell
At this stage of production, margarine is generally a pretty foul looking, foul smelling sludge. Solution? Steam clean the smell away…

7. Bleaching used to remove grey colour
Strong bleaches are used to produce a neutral colour.

8. Natural colour added, commonly along with vitamins and artificial flavouring
By now what exists still looks and tastes very ordinary, so next step? Add colour and flavor. Probably some preservatives and salt. Maybe citric acid, carotenoids, vitamins and milk powder of some form.


9. Resultant product packaged and sold as a health product

Hmmm.

Healthy for whom?

More like the profit of the producer than the health of the customer.




Variable fat content
Margarines and vegetable fat spreads these days can range from 10 to 90% fat. Depending on its final fat content and its purpose (spreading, cooking or baking), the level of water and the vegetable oils used will vary.

Three types of margarine are common:
Soft vegetable fat spreads, high in mono or polyunsaturated fats, which are made from safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, rapeseed, or olive oil.

Margarines in bottle to cook or top dishes

. Hard, generally uncoloured margarine for cooking or baking. (Shortening – lard or hydrogenated vegetable oil)

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD OF USING MARGARINE

1. Try nothing!
Sandwiches or toast without margarine or butter can be tasty as is; just add whatever spread or fillings you delight in.

2. Use avocado, hummus or another dip as a spread
– excellent on sandwiches.

3. Use good quality oil.
Best is Flaxseed and it goes well on toast or sandwiches.
Olive oil is another option.

4. Learn to cook without margarine or other oils.
Not at all difficult once you begin. Add the oils to things like pasta after the cooking.

Do more sauteing starting with a little water, abandon frying.

Simple rule : take the oils out of the kitchen, have them on the table.

5. Remember, coconut oil is a saturated fat and best not to use it – see the reasons why on this earlier blog : Coconut Oil? Are you nuts?

FINAL MESSAGE
Avoid margarine thoroughly. 

Margarine is a highly processed, highly refined food and there are much healthier, more satisfying options for doing anything it can do.

COMING RETREATS AND TRAININGS
Ruth and I will personally lead our next 7 day meditation retreat in New Zealand in October.
                                                                 Next Aussie one, April 2017 in the Yarra Valley.

Meditation teacher training in the Yarra Valley in October.

Specific cancer residential programs8 days In Wanaka New Zealand in November
                                                                  5 days in the Yarra Valley in November.

ALL DETAILSCLICK HERE