27 July 2015

Important information you really need to know – and share

Most who read this blog will be aware I am in the midst of an extended meditation retreat. However, after a fairly intense 3 weeks, during a free day two new pieces of research came to my attention that I feel must be addressed. They highlight a situation that has caused me increasing distress over recent years.

Fact is this is information you may will benefit from knowing and reflecting upon well in advance as the evidence shows people who are unfortunate enough to get into this situation, in the heat of the moment often make the wrong choice with serious, adverse consequences. Please do share this information with those you care for,

But first

     Thought for the day

            There is no way to not do this practice                              perfectly

            It is just this…
            Sitting; 
            Open;
            Spacious; 
            Aware;
            In the present moment.
            Just this

                         From the retreat


It is hard to say how often I have heard this, but it is very common. “We could try some chemotherapy…. “

Patients with end-stage cancer often receive chemotherapy, under the assumption that it will improve their quality of life or may even extend survival. However, 2 new major pieces of research have found quite the opposite – quality of life was worse with no benefit to overall survival.

For years it has been disturbing to watch as people in reasonable health but with advanced cancer were doing OK, only to be offered chemo. Often the statement was “You are doing so well now, why don’t we try some chemo”.

Understandably, it is extremely difficult for many people to resist this offer. Commonly it comes with big pressure from family and friends who, according to experience that is backed up by research, are like many patients and mistakenly believe the chemo will extend life as well as improve quality of life.

However, the American Society for Clinical Oncology recently identified end of life chemotherapy as one of the “top five” practices that could improve patients’ care and reduce costs, if stopped. This is confirmed by these two important research findings which themselves confirm earlier research.

The first, in the British Medical Journal concluded chemotherapy given to terminally ill cancer patients months before death was associated with no improvement in survival times, higher levels of intensive medical care (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, or both) in the last week of life, higher probability of dying in an intensive care unit and less chance of dying in preferred place of death, like at home.


This is something we need to know of well in advance, because in the heat of the moment - at the end of life, people often opt for chemo and suffer unnecessarily.

Not to say chemo is not useful at other times, but there is a need to be very selective late in life.

In fact, the statistics show most chemo is given palliatively.


The lead researcher Dr. Prigerson believes that the use of chemotherapy at the end of life, and conversation about it, needs reforming. "The term palliative chemotherapy is disingenuous," she told Medscape Medical News in an interview. "There is a negative side to chemotherapy; it makes you sicker."

The second piece of research just published in JAMA Oncology adds more vital information. Lead author Prof. Holly G. Prigerson from Cornell said "If this so-called palliative chemotherapy is given to improve their symptoms, then these data should give them pause that it's not going to help."

Of particular significance, these findings indicate that patients with good performance status (this is medical speak for being reasonably well) were the ones most likely to receive chemotherapy near the end of life, she said in an interview.

"In our study, 100% of the patients who were feeling well and asymptomatic were being given chemotherapy," Dr Prigerson explained. "So the question is, why? Why would a person who was functioning well be given chemotherapy?"

Charles D. Blanke, MD, and Erik. K. Fromme, MD, suggest "If an oncologist suspects the death of a patient in the next 6 months, the default should be no active treatment. Let us help patients with metastatic cancer make good decisions. Let us not contribute to the suffering that cancer, and often associated therapy, brings, particularly at the end.”

EDITORIAL COMMENT
For years I have seen people adversely affected by this and now it seems a much needed correction may be coming...


I first wrote of this in 2006 when research began to emerge that reflected what was being observed amongst people in our groups (one short article and one longer, highly referenced one that was used as a basis for presenting at 2 major medical conferences that same year. They are on my website in the Information section and are still relevant - links below).

People who were managing their situation well with lifestyle therapies – good nutrition, positive thinking, meditation, working on their emotional health, relationships and state of mind, were being told they were doing much better than expected, so “Why don’t we try some chemo now? Do you want it?” Hard to resist in the climate we live in.

But then people would often be overrun by the side-effects. Eating well became problematic, meditation harder, state of mind affected, harder to be positive. And one medical intervention commonly led to another, often leading to tough last days.

So please share this information. While it may not be what some would like to hear, and maybe it is not a popular topic for conversation, it distresses me deeply to observe how often people who are managing advanced cancer well go into chemotherapy, only to be wiped out by it and die in difficult circumstances.

By contrast, there have been many people who have managed symptoms really well and died well, having carried through with the lifestyle approach and finding the stability and comfort that comes with consistent meditation.

Of course it would be wonderful if everyone survived cancer. But is highly possible to die well from it, in good circumstances, feeling that life has been completed. When this happens it makes it so much easier and better for family and friends as well.

Please share  ….

REFERENCES
Wright A A et al, Associations between palliative chemotherapy and adult cancer patients’ end of life care and place of death: prospective cohort study, BMJ 2014;348:g1219

Prigerson HD et al, Chemotherapy Use, Performance Status, and Quality of Life at the End of Life, JAMA Oncol. Published online July 23, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.2378

Chemotherapy: how much does it contribute to 5 year survival?  

Cancer, lifestyle and chemotherapy: A documented examination of the benefits and side effects of lifestyle factors and chemotherapy.


NEWS
The retreat goes well and I will write something of that at a future time. Many useful things to share coming from it…

NOTICEBOARD

NEXT MEDITATION RETREAT

Meditation Under the Long White Cloud   24 - 28 October 2015

7 day retreat at Mana Retreat Centre, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand



         Take time out from the busyness of everyday life; spend time with your self
      Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, vitality, balance and clarity
Deepen your understanding and experience of mindfulness, contemplation and meditation.

The special focus of this meditation retreat will be the theory and practise of contemplation

Full details, CLICK HERE



SPECIFIC CANCER RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS

CANCER and BEYOND     October  2015     Monday 12th to Friday 16th 

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




FULL DETAILS  Click here 



MIND-BODY MEDICINE and CANCER    November  2015    Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th

         Five day Residential program in the beautiful surrounds of Wanaka, New Zealand
            - an easy drive from Queenstown airport and very accessible for Australians



FULL DETAILS Click here




13 July 2015

Mind-Body Medicine and cancer

Cancer is best regarded as a potentially reversible, degenerative disease that is fuelled by inflammation. 


Everyone diagnosed with cancer needs to know this because it is within their potential to convert “potentially reversible” into “actually reversed”.

This week we reaffirm how this is possible and remind ourselves of how we can help others; maybe even save a life or two.

Also news of the next Mind and its Potential Conference coming up 27 -28th October in Sydney. This is a fabulous annual event and one I heartily recommend. With me having spoken at the conference several times, and being a conference partner, you can register before July31st and save 20% on the fees (around $4 - 500) - see the details and necessary code below, along with some news of my retreat, but first


         Thought for the day

            When your fear touches someone’s pain
            It becomes pity.

            When your love touches someone’s pain
            It becomes compassion.

                       Stephen Levine


For anyone wanting to use the best of their own potential to overcome cancer, the answer is surprisingly simple. The fact is that Lifestyle Medicine offers the real hope of reversing the very nature of the cancer process.

Lifestyle Medicine teaches how to activate a highly therapeutic, highly anti-inflammatory, highly regenerative process. 


However, experience tells us that putting this “simple” fact into action, is often not so easy. The challenge is that to get the best out of what Lifestyle Medicine has to offer, means changing one's lifestyle, changing one's habits.

To have any real prospect of accomplishing this people need inspiration, good information, a clear sense of direction, and on-going support, but most of all they need to be in a good state of mind.

Lifestyle Medicine enables us to benefit from those things that are within our own capacity to take control of.

What we eat and what we drink. And how much we eat and drink. How much we exercise; how we manage our relationships and spiritual lives, and crucially how we manage our minds.

What choices we make and what state of mind we follow those choices through in – grumpy resistance or a welcoming embrace.


The mind is the focal point for Lifestyle Medicine. 

For it is the mind that decides what we do. Indeed, it is the mind that changes everything.

So this is where the more specific benefits of Mind-Body Medicine are called for. Mind-Body Medicine enables us to reverse destructive states of mind – the adverse impacts of stress, unhealthy habits and ways of thinking. Mind-Body Medicine also provides the means to move through any times of apathy or stagnation, and to benefit from all the constructive, healing powers of a mind well directed and engaged.

Mind-Body Medicine is at the heart of a healthy, healing lifestyle.

People have been telling me for over 30 years that they believe stress was a major factor that brought their cancer on. Certainly, for anyone who was not stressed beforehand, a diagnosis of cancer is of itself a major potential cause of stress. Some studies indicate that over 50% of people develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a cancer diagnosis.

If stress is left unrecognised, and worse untreated, then it means anything positive that is done will be undermined.



Happily, there is so much that can be done once we address the mind.

And the key?

Learn how to embrace whatever we do. Not just go along with. Not just put up with. Not even just tolerate. No, much more than this. Embrace. Welcome. Commit. Persevere. Develop resilience. Engage wholeheartedly. Flourish.

For these are the attributes of long-term survivors, and these are attributes that can be learnt.

Most people who first come to a cancer lifestyle-based program, are somewhere along a spectrum of engagement with what will really help them that ranges from ignorant indifference to full on commitment.

Good news. Once one knows what works; once one has been convinced that this Lifestyle Medicine stuff does actually work, then one can learn and be supported to put it into place. The trick is to begin.

So how to be convinced that Lifestyle Medicine works? 

Evidence in medicine is based upon what comes out of the research and what is known from clinical experience.

Through over 30 years of work with the Gawler Foundation (where most people know that these days I only work as a consultant, not on staff or on the Board) and all the wonderful colleagues there, more clinical experience has probably been gathered in this field than at any other centre in Australia, quite possibly around the world.

Add to this all the exciting new research that is building rapidly to confirm so much of what has been learnt through all that clinical experience, and there are grounds for a high degree of confidence.

So what to do?
Many who read this blog and are dealing with cancer are well on-track. The issue is to stay there. To not be worn down by our own old habits or the influence of society, friends or even family.

Getting well from cancer and staying well requires life-long healthy habits. Sadly, there are so many vested influences in the commercial world that seem bent on us continuing to be good consumers and to maintain unhealthy habits, that staying well can be a challenge. 

This is another good reason to go on retreat at least once each year. Take time out, sit back a little. Reflect. How am I going? Am I on track?

Of course, a retreat can be inspiring, informative, regenerative; but this need to re-assess, to be reminded of what we know and to be supported to keep on track, is one of the high points of attending a retreat.

For those new to this, for someone you might like to help – to inspire, to inform, to get started on the road to healing, the best thing I suggest is to offer You Can Conquer Cancer. A book is easy. And this book contains all the information people need to get started (many people have told me how they simply read the book, did it all and got well). People can dip in and out of it at their own pace and find out whether this is something they can commit to for themselves.

Truth is, as I am sure we all know, what we are talking of is not for everyone. But maybe a word at the right time, maybe a book at the right time, might just get someone started. Might just help someone to save their life…

RELATED BLOG
Cancer Self-help Residential Program - a photographic essay

RESOURCES
BOOK
You Can Conquer Cancer This is an ideal introduction for anyone affected by cancer who is interested to know what they can do to help themselves, or how they can help the one they love.

CDs or Downloads
The Gawler Cancer Program: Outlines how cancer develops and how this self help approach can help the healing.

What to do when someone you love has cancer: Essential listening providing clear guidance for those supporting people affected by cancer, whether family, friends or health professionals.


NOTICEBOARD

NEXT MEDITATION RETREAT

Meditation Under the Long White Cloud   24 - 28 October 2015

7 day retreat at Mana Retreat Centre, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand



         Take time out from the busyness of everyday life; spend time with your self
      Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, vitality, balance and clarity
Deepen your understanding and experience of mindfulness, contemplation and meditation.

The special focus of this meditation retreat will be the theory and practise of contemplation

Full details, CLICK HERE



SPECIFIC CANCER RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS

CANCER and BEYOND     October  2015     Monday 12th to Friday 16th 

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


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

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

FULL DETAILS  Click here 



MIND-BODY MEDICINE and CANCER    November  2015    Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th

         Five day Residential program in the beautiful surrounds of Wanaka, New Zealand
            - an easy drive from Queenstown airport and very accessible for Australians


This program is open to anyone affected by cancer.

While the focus of this program is on therapeutic meditation and nutrition, the power of the mind and emotional health, ample time will be given to answering any questions you may have relating to the Gawler program - exercise, positive thinking, healing, balancing medical options, successful ways of dealing with setbacks, sustaining your good intentions and the relevance of finding meaning in life to healing and recovery.

Health professionals interested to learn more of this work are also welcome to attend.

FULL DETAILS Click here




NEWS
Many know by now that I am on an extended meditation retreat in France which began July 1st. We have just emerged from the last 10 days spent in silence which for me has been a very stabilising, settling time. Starting to feel as if the busyness of daily life has been left well behind and can ease into the retreat schedule.

There are several hundred on the retreat at present, with more arriving, especially in August where the numbers will swell to over 1,000. It is wonderful to receive teachings directly from such a great meditation master as Sogyal Rinpoche, and already I have realised new ways that should be helpful to present meditation in the retreats Ruth and I present. And there is nothing like having a good block of time to deepen your own practice.

What a treat to be on retreat!



29 June 2015

Meditation retreats – 4 good reasons to go

Meditation has a multitude of benefits. Basically, we meditate daily so those benefits can flow into our daily life. Why then make the effort to go on a meditation retreat?

This week, we examine why it may be worthwhile to take time out from daily life, to go to a secluded place and enter into a meditation retreat, and as I embark personally on a 3 month retreat, I will share some of my own personal motivation and experiences, but first

          
              Thought for the day 

To meditate is to make a complete break 
With how we “normally” operate, 

For it is a state free of all cares and concerns, 
In which there is no competition, 
No desire to possess or grasp at anything,
No intense and anxious struggle, 

And no hunger to achieve 

An ambitionless state where there is 
Neither acceptance nor rejection,
Neither hope nor fear, 
A state in which we slowly begin 
To release all those emotions and concepts 
That have imprisoned us 
Into the space of natural simplicity.

                           Sogyal Rinpoche




So why take a complete break” and join a meditation retreat? Four good reasons:


1. Immersion

Dive in deeply.

Leave behind the activity and the distractions – both good and bad - and dive in.

On retreat we can be shielded from day-to-day events. Not that they are unimportant, its just that time out can be more than useful, more than a relief, more than a chance to regain balance; diving in can lead to a deeper experience that will last with you.

Many people tell me how their daily meditation practice helps them to maintain their poise and balance. But in reality, for many of us, it can be a bit like keeping our heads above water.

Life can be so busy these days that as we work at fulfilling all our obligations it can be challenging to make real personal progress.

Taking time out and immersing ourselves in a suitable retreat gives the opportunity to learn more, to deepen our experience of meditation, to reflect on where we are at in our lives and to return home refreshed and better equipped for the rigors of modern life.

Speaking personally, life has been very full these past few years. Lots of wonderful things; but very full - and rather continuous. So the opportunity to remove myself from all the activity, to defer everything in my working life for 3 months will be a rare opportunity and one I look forward to with the excited anticipation of an unattached meditator! Whoopee!

2. Learning
Most retreats will feature teachings that provide the means to deepen our understanding of what meditation really is, how we can practice it and if we are so involved, how we can help others as we teach and share it.

I am fortunate to have been a student of the great Tibetan teacher Sogyal Rinpoche for over 30 years now. If you have felt some benefit from my teaching, it will be largely due to what I have learnt from him, along with my first important teacher, Dr Ainlsie Meares, along with all I have garnered from the people who I have been attempting to help to learn to meditate over the years.

Sogyal Rinpoche is a great teacher, very familiar with the Western mind and what we Westerners are dealing with, and someone who brings humour along with incredible knowledge, wisdom and experience to his teachings.

In part, what I am going to will be like attending a Summer school on meditation; along with plenty of practise.

3. Deepening experience
Ever noticed how if you sit to meditate for a longer period of time, how towards the end you seem to settle a bit more and enter into something deeper? Going on retreat offers that opportunity in a very direct way.


Also, when a retreat is held in an inspiring, beautiful environment, in buildings that have been
designed for the purpose and had a good deal of meditation practised within them; and when you are in like-minded company being supported and led by an experienced teacher; then all is conducive to relax, to let go and enter deeply into the practice.

Happily, the memory of that deeper experience is likely to stay with you and inform your practise at home.

It becomes easier to return to a deeper meditative experience.



4. Reflection
Life can be so busy these days it is easy to get caught up in all the day-to-day happenings. Years can go by until one day, it is as if we wake up and think “What was that all about?”’ “Where did all those years go?”

So it seems almost like a necessity to make the effort at least once a year to step back and take time to reflect. Where am I in terms of my life path? Am I on track? Am I distracted? What is important? What are the priorities?

Speaking personally again, I am now 65. I love the work that I do; leading retreats with Ruth is such a wonderful thing to be able to do. We both thrive on leading meditation retreats as well as offering to help people with cancer on the more specific cancer residential programs. And we are involved in quite deal else as well.

However, it is always good to stand back and re-assess things. How can I be most helpful? How can we be most helpful?

The last time I took time for a major reflection, the hold world of IT opened up. The blog. The website and webstore and then the Mindbody Mastery on-line meditation program that will soon be available as an app.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode   …..

NOTICEBOARD
COMING RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS
Currently, Ruth and I are concentrating much of our working time on preparing and presenting residential programs.

MEDITATION RETREATS
We lead meditation retreats for anyone interested in a more immersive experience of meditation. Whether as a beginner or an experienced meditator, there is nothing like taking time out from the busyness of daily life, receiving some instruction, being guided into meditation and then having a solid period of time to develop and deepen your own practice.

These programs can be well suited to people who teach meditation and want to learn more, or for those aspiring to become meditation teachers. Attending our meditation retreats may count towards the requirements to become qualified as a member of the Meditation Association of Australia (the re-named ATMA), please check for the specific program you are interested in.

CANCER PROGRAMS
We also lead more specific programs for people dealing with cancer. Again, whether you are dealing with cancer personally, or are supporting someone going through cancer, it can be invaluable to take the uninterrupted opportunity that a residential program offers to learn and experience what can be done through your own efforts.

All the important Lifestyle Medicine factors are addressed in depth – therapeutic nutrition, suitable types of exercise, healthy, healing emotions, the power of the mind and of course, meditation, mindfulness and guided imagery.

Two types of cancer programs are presented. The first are open to everyone affected by cancer and are held in New Zealand. These programs are comprehensive in that they cover the full program and are suitable for people new to this approach or the more experienced. There is an 8 day and a 5 day version of this program to choose from.

Then there are more specific follow-up programs that we present for the Gawler Cancer Foundation in the Yarra Valley. These are tailor made to meet the needs of people who have attended a previous “Gawler” program, either at the Foundation itself, with Ruth or myself, or one of the groups linked with the Foundation that is presenting its style of program.

THE VENUES

We have gone to some lengths to ensure that all these residential programs can be presented in beautiful environments, where the amenities are suitable and where the food is consistent with our principles and prepared lovingly with great taste. As we know, healthy food is not only good for you, but can taste terrific!

So details of the programs coming up in the not-to-distant future are below, while more comprehensive details are on the website: www.iangawler.com/events.

NEXT MEDITATION RETREAT

Meditation Under the Long White Cloud   24 - 28 October 2015

7 day retreat at Mana Retreat Centre, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand



         Take time out from the busyness of everyday life; spend time with your self
      Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, vitality, balance and clarity
Deepen your understanding and experience of mindfulness, contemplation and meditation.

The special focus of this meditation retreat will be the theory and practise of contemplation

Full details, CLICK HERE



SPECIFIC CANCER RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS

CANCER and BEYOND     October  2015     Monday 12th to Friday 16th 

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


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

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

FULL DETAILS  Click here 



MIND-BODY MEDICINE and CANCER    November  2015    Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th

         Five day Residential program in the beautiful surrounds of Wanaka, New Zealand
            - an easy drive from Queenstown airport and very accessible for Australians



This program is open to anyone affected by cancer.

While the focus of this program is on therapeutic meditation and nutrition, the power of the mind and emotional health, ample time will be given to answering any questions you may have relating to the Gawler program - exercise, positive thinking, healing, balancing medical options, successful ways of dealing with setbacks, sustaining your good intentions and the relevance of finding meaning in life to healing and recovery.

Health professionals interested to learn more of this work are also welcome to attend.

FULL DETAILS Click here

22 June 2015

The getting of wisdom – how learning contemplation brings insight and confidence

 Who am I? Where am I going? What is life? These are the 3 big questions that philosophers and mystics down through the ages have sought direct answers to through the practice of contemplation.

So this week, we will learn how these age-old techniques of contemplation remain relevant for self-reflection, but can also make a major contribution to ordinary, every day problem solving. We will learn how to contemplate what is best to eat - for us and for those we love.

Also to mention that contemplation will be the special focus of our 2015 meditation retreat in New Zealand, Meditation Under the Long White Cloud, set amidst the delightful landscape of the Coromandel Peninsula out from Auckland -  Aussies welcome! - so details of that too, but first

       


            Thought for the Day

                  Tell me and I will forget 

                  Show me and I may remember

                  Involve me and I will understand


                                        Old Chinese proverb







Learning contemplation provides us with a reliable doorway into understanding and wisdom. Contemplation helps us to make sense of our life, our world, and our place within it. Contemplation provides the clarity and insight to make good decisions, and as such, naturally generates the confidence and commitment required to follow those decisions through to conclusion.

Getting to know ourselves, who we really are beyond the obvious facts of name, family status, job, address etc.; getting to know who we really are requires some introspection.

For many of us when young, life was full with plenty to do, plenty to occupy us, plenty to distract us. So for many, it is not until older age that we pause for some self-reflection.

True, for many this looking inwards to make sense of life and its circumstances is propelled by the pressures of adversity – major life changes, major health issues. But for a happier few, maybe it is just that yearning feeling that there is more to life than all that is obvious on the surface. Maybe the recognition of how extra-ordinary it is to be alive, how precious life is, and the resultant urge to make the most of it all.

In truth, it is not just a cliché; what does it all mean?

So when this urge for the search for meaning dawns, how to proceed? Is the answer to read a particular book? Speak to a particular person? Go to a particular place?

Well, all of these things can be useful of course, but ultimately the answers, the truly satisfying answers, lie within. Contemplation provides a reliable means to search for meaning. To seek answers. To find our way.

And while contemplation has been taught in all the great traditions, in more modern times, these same techniques have proven to be highly effective for problem solving.

Speaking personally, contemplation was at the heart of my own recovery from cancer as I faced a myriad of complex questions and difficult choices in my quest for healing. More recently, contemplation has guided me in my personal, family and business life.

While I have written at length on contemplation in several of my books (see below), here is a simple problem solving contemplation practice as a starting point.

HOW TO CONTEMPLATE
Using the example of contemplating what way of eating suits you best:

1. Identify the object of your contemplation (e.g. to clarify your food choices) and determine to reach a conclusion.

2. Do the research
Use your intellect. Read the books, speak to the experts, discuss it with friends, listen to tapes.  Ideally make notes.  This person said that, this book the other, etc.  With food it is usually easiest to write lists of the different recommendations.

3. Set a time for the decision to be made
There are two ways to do this. If you were to buy a new washing machine, probably you would wait until you gathered all the relevant information. Presuming you have determined your price range, you could find out all the makes and models available and collect all their details within a reasonable period of time.

However, with food you could collect information indefinitely.  So you probably need to say to yourself something like ‘I will collect all the information I can in the next two weeks (choose your own timeframe) and then I will make the best decision I can.”

4. Give yourself time and space to contemplate
Half an hour to an hour is usually sufficient, and ideally go to where you meditate regularly (or any quiet area).  Make sure you are freed from the telephone and other possible distractions.  Take with you any notes and other material you have gathered.  Also take a pen and paper as it is often helpful to record your insights.

5. Begin by reviewing your research material
Refresh all the knowledge you have of your subject. If you do not have any written material go straight to the next step.

6. Consciously relax your body and calm your mind
This will be a familiar process if you have some experience of meditation.  The aim is to elicit the Relaxation Response so you are in a better state of mind to progress into the contemplation.

7. Consciously review the facts as you remember them and think them through
So, in our example, you might recall the style of food you have been eating, the broad issues relating to why you are considering changing your diet, what different people have recommended to you, what you have read in different books and so on.

If at any stage you become distracted or your mind wanders off onto other thoughts, as soon as you recognize this, be gentle with yourself and simply come back to concentrating on issues relating to food and diet.

This first part of the process then is clearly a rational, left brain exercise. You actively think about the topic and all issues relating to it.

What happens next, as you continue to concentrate on the topic, is that at some point your mind willautomatically shift into more abstract, intuitive, right brain contemplation.

It will be as if all the facts you have been reflecting upon and analyzing, all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle as it were, come together and now you can clearly see the bigger picture.

This will give you a new sense of comprehension and understanding and usually leaves you with a clear sense of what to do.

This can all come with a moment of clear insight, almost like an ‘Ah Ha! I’ve got it’, moment of revelation.

The more you practise this technique, the more reliable it becomes.  It is a wonderful and dependable way to solve problems, develop creativity and lateral thinking. As another aside, this is an excellent way to prepare for and complete creative writing.

8. Once clarity dawns, write the insight down
I always do this exercise with pen and paper close by and as soon as the answer begins to form – write it down.


This contemplation technique can be used to address any problem.  It leads to a clarity that is backed by a deep sense of your own inner wisdom.  As a result, the directions that come with it, the goals that emerge from this exercise, will feel very ‘right’ for you.

People often ask “how can I trust the result of an exercise like this?” Well, if you come out of this exercise with no clarity and are still clouded by doubt; all that has happened is you have spent time simply thinking about the issue. No harm done, but no insight either!

The insight we are talking of has as one of its features the confidence of certainty. It comes with a deep inner knowing and no doubt. No one else will need to confirm such an insight for you; it will be easy to feel confident about, easy to commit to and it is highly likely to work well!

LEARN MORE OF CONTEMPLATION ON RETREAT
During each meditation retreat Ruth and I present, we cover the techniques of meditation generally, do a good deal of practice together and also give particular attention to a specific theme.

So In New Zealand in October, as well as having the opportunity to deepen our meditation together, we will explore the theory of contemplation and practice several key contemplation techniques - the problem solving ones, as well as the ones for introspection such as  “Who am I ?”

All accompanied by great food and great company. Deeply regenerative.

And a hint – speaking personally, this is one of the best retreats Ruth and I present; I love this topic and have seen it help people profoundly. Highly recommended!

FOR FULL DETAILS, CLICK HERE

RESOURCES
1.  BOOKS
Meditation – an In-depth Guide – with a comprehensive section on contemplation

The Mind that Changes Everything – with very practical advise as to how to use contemplation for problem solving

You Can Conquer Cancer – Also includes a section on contemplation

2. CD and MP3 Download
Inner Peace, Inner Wisdom – clear instruction and guided exercises for contemplation

RELATED BLOG
Time to retreat?

NEWS
Later this week I am setting off to enter into an extended meditation retreat
I will be participating in a meditation based retreat at Sogyal Rinpoche’s retreat centre in the South of France until late in September.

This comes as a great opportunity to learn more of meditation and related mind training practices, to possibly deepen my own meditation experience and to come back with more to help others.

For the first time in our 15 years of married life, Ruth and I will be apart for a significant period of time, as it seems I am at an age where this extended retreat will be very useful, but Ruth has other commitments including attending to our work.

So while I will be off the air for some months, blogs have been prepared in advance that will be posted fortnightly until the retreat is completed. For the next post, I will write something on the intention behind attending a retreat.

May we all find inner peace, along with a calm and clear mind.


NOTICEBOARD
COMING RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS
Currently, Ruth and I are concentrating much of our working time on preparing and presenting residential programs.

MEDITATION RETREATS
We lead meditation retreats for anyone interested in a more immersive experience of meditation. Whether as a beginner or an experienced meditator, there is nothing like taking time out from the busyness of daily life, receiving some instruction, being guided into meditation and then having a solid period of time to develop and deepen your own practice.

These programs can be well suited to people who teach meditation and want to learn more, or for those aspiring to become meditation teachers. Attending our meditation retreats may count towards the requirements to become qualified as a member of the Meditation Association of Australia (the re-named ATMA), please check for the specific program you are interested in.

CANCER PROGRAMS
We also lead more specific programs for people dealing with cancer. Again, whether you are dealing with cancer personally, or are supporting someone going through cancer, it can be invaluable to take the uninterrupted opportunity that a residential program offers to learn and experience what can be done through your own combined efforts.

All the important Lifestyle Medicine factors are addressed in depth – accelerated healing, therapeutic nutrition, suitable types of exercise, healthy, healing emotions, the power of the mind and of course, meditation, mindfulness and guided imagery.

Two types of cancer programs are presented. The first are open to everyone affected by cancer and are held in New Zealand. These programs are comprehensive in that they cover the full program and are suitable for people new to this approach or the more experienced. There is an 8 day and a 5 day version of this program to choose from.

Then there are more specific follow-up programs that we present for the Gawler Cancer Foundation in the Yarra Valley. These are tailor-made to meet the needs of people who have attended a previous “Gawler” program, either at the Foundation itself, with Ruth or myself, or one of the groups linked with the Foundation that is presenting its style of program.

THE VENUES
We have gone to some lengths to ensure that all these residential programs can be presented in beautiful environments, where the amenities are suitable and where the food is consistent with our principles and prepared lovingly with great taste. As we know, healthy food is not only good for you, but can taste terrific!

Details of the programs coming up in the not-to-distant future are below, while more comprehensive details are on the website: www.iangawler.com/events

NEXT MEDITATION RETREAT
Meditation Under the Long White Cloud   24 - 30 October 2015

7 day retreat at Mana Retreat Centre, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand




                 Take time out from the busyness of everyday life; spend time with your self
           Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, vitality, balance and clarity
      Deepen your understanding and experience of mindfulness, contemplation and meditation

Full details, CLICK HERE


SPECIFIC CANCER RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS

CANCER and BEYOND     October  2015     Monday 12th to Friday 16th 

Finding peace in the Healing Process

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


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

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

FULL DETAILS Click here 

MIND-BODY MEDICINE and CANCER    November  2015    Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th



Five day Residential program in the beautiful surrounds of Wanaka, New Zealand
- an easy drive from Queenstown airport and very accessible for Australians

This program is open to anyone affected by cancer. Health professionals interested to learn more of this work are also welcome to attend.

While the focus of this program is on therapeutic meditation and nutrition, the power of the mind and emotional health, ample time will be given to answering any questions you may have relating to the Gawler program - exercise, positive thinking, healing, balancing medical options, successful ways of dealing with setbacks, sustaining your good intentions and the relevance of finding meaning in life to healing and recovery.

FULL DETAILS Click here


15 June 2015

Telomere length predicts illness and mortality – what you can do to reduce your risks

Regular readers will be aware by now that telomeres are the protective caps on the end of our DNA strands. A large new study has confirmed that shorter telomeres are associated with increased risk of major illness and death. Happily, this new research tells us what we can do to support our telomeres, save ourselves many potential problems and quite reasonably expect to live longer.

So this week, courtesy of an old friend who I studied veterinary science with, Dr Trevor Chatham, details of the study along with confirmation of why a healthy lifestyle makes so much sense and how it works in a biochemical sense to actually make so much difference in our lives.

Then news of an exciting movie premier to benefit the Gawler Foundation that has been made possible by our friends at Village Roadshow, but first

Thought for the day
          Relax without laziness

          Focus without tension

          Perceive without projecting 

         Witness without judging

         Enjoy without craving

         Reflect without imagining


        Love without condition

        Give without demanding

        Receive without possessing
        
Serve without self-seeking

        Challenge without dominating

        Meditate without identity




Correct without blaming

Overcome without pride

Laugh without cynicism

Cry without pity

Confront without hatred

Guide without superiority 


Be without self-defining

Live without arrogance

Enter without self-importance

Depart without regret


Be one with God


Mooji


In April 2015, a Danish study was published that tracked 65,000 people over a median of 7 years. The bottom line was that telomere length robustly predicts longevity, even after factoring out the effect of age, smoking, exercise, blood cholesterol, BMI, and alcohol consumption.

This adds immensely to our knowledge of telomere length and its predictive power.  For perspective, the original [2003] study by Cawthon detected the relationship between telomere length and mortality based on fewer than 200 subjects.

The new data set is large enough to show trends over all of the health-related lifestyle variables. Smoking, inactivity, weight (body mass index), and alcohol consumption all correlated negatively with telomere length.  So it should not be surprising that blood pressure and LDL choloesterol also correlated negatively with telomere length, and it is then a foregone conclusion that mortality must correlate negatively with telomere length.

This demonstrates without a doubt that unhealthy behaviours lead to shorter telomeres, as Epel and Blackburn have been telling us for a decade.



They have also emphasized the converse:

Healthy life choices lead to longer, healthier life through the medium of longer telomeres.

The references are well worth checking out:

Reference 1
Reference 2
Reference 3
Reference 4



The bottom line of this new, large study is the extra predictive power of telomere length, even after all these other lifestyle and indicator variables are factored out.  Correcting for smoking, correcting for age, correcting for weight and cholesterol and exercise habits, there is still a powerful negative correlation between telomere length and mortality.

The shorter your telomeres, the greater your chance of dying.  The 10% of people with the shortest telomeres were dying at 1.4 the rate of the 10% with the longest telomeres, a result that was overwhelmingly statistically apparent (p<2×10-15)

Dr Trevor Chatham BVSc

MAIN REFERENCE  -  LINK HERE

Editor’s note. Research into the role telomeres play in health is accelerating at quite a pace. It is becoming clearer that one of the most direct ways to explain the connection between how an unhealthy lifestyle actually increases the risk of developing any of the chronic degenerative diseases and of dying early, is that the unhealthy lifestyle prematurely shortens telomeres and that is associated with higher risks of adverse events.

What to do? This research confirms that a healthy lifestyle protects telomeres. Other research by Dean Ornish has even shown that a healthy lifestyle can increase telomere length over 5 years.

We also know meditation is associated with increasing telomerase levels and as Ornish showed that translated into longer telomeres, maybe meditation does that too.

We also know some herbs protect telomeres and may increase telomerase, so we are far from powerless!

RELATED BLOG
Service your car? Of course! Service your telomeres? What?

NOTICEBOARD

Awake  -  Charity premier film screening – highly recommended 

Support the Gawler Foundation and see an inspiring, uplifting film

Many readers will know of the great Hindu yogi Yogananda and his landmark book Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda came to the West from India in 1920, taught Kriya Yoga and played a major role in popularizing meditation, yoga and its philosophy.

Autobiography of a Yogi has been in print for over sixty-five years and translated into at least thirty-four languages. It is a book I have recommended for decades, being an extraordinary introduction into the world of the yogis.

Now a feature film has been made of Yogananda’s life and the Gawler Foundation will screen a charity premier at the delightful Rivoli Cinema in Hawthorn, courtesy of our friends at Village Roadshow, in just a couple of weeks.


Awake - The Life of Yogananda

Special Gawler Foundation Fundraising screening

When: Monday 29th June, 6.45pm for a 7pm start

Where: Rivoli Village Cinemas, 200 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn East

Tickets:$20  BOOK HERE 

PRICELESS VITALITY
An exciting new website is being launched tomorrow in Melbourne and you can attend!

PRICELESS VITALITY helps people around the world gain access to health care and support at a price they can afford. Finding innovative and sustainable ways for people to share healthy products and services through our online marketplace and community activities.











MEDITATION POSSIBILITIES IN QUEENSLAND – Coming soon

Cairns weekend meditation intensive – June 20 and 21 – Non-residential

Meditation is the greatest gift you can give to yourself, or someone you care for

Date              Saturday, Sunday 20th and 21st June. Starts 10am (arrive 9.30) to 5pm
Venue           Khacho Yulo Ling Buddhist Centre, 348 Severin Street, Cairns
Enquiries      Call  07 4041 5556    or email   info@yuloling.com
Bookings      Online, go to :  www.yuloling.comwww.yuloling.com      or call Rinchen    07 4041 5556


Medicine of the Mind – Cairns Evening Public Lecture – June 23

For everyone interested in the power within

Date                Tuesday 23rd June, 2015      Starts 7pm (arrive 6.30) to 10pm
Venue             Khacho Yulo Ling Buddhist Centre, 348 Severin St
Enquiries        Call  07 4041 5556    or email   info@yuloling.com
Bookings        Online, go to :  www.yuloling.com     or call Rinchen    07 4041 5556