09 September 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: Mind-Body Medicine in daily life – the big 3

We hear so much about the wide-ranging benefits of Mind-Body Medicine these days. Relief from stress and anxiety, mind made healing, the power of the mind. So many possibilities.

The recurring question I have been asked over many years is “How do I apply this in daily life? What works best? Where do I start? What next?”

Well, it comes down to three things. So this week we examine the big three with the intention of making clear how Mind-Body Medicine can bring comfort and ease, along with chronic good health into a busy, modern life.

Then details of new events along these lines in Melbourne and around New Zealand; but first

Thought for the day
Recent definition of meditation

Learning to focus our attention 
and suspend the stream of thoughts 
that normally occupy our mind

from the (USA) National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine 

The Big 3 of Mind-Body Medicine
Yes, simple old relaxation. Well perhaps quite not so simple in that Mind-Body relaxation involves relaxation of body and mind.

But a major principle. Based on many years of experience, it is my view that many people, books, even institutions fail to recognize the importance of physical relaxation. The point?

The basic tenet of Mind-Body Medicine is that the mind and the body are connected. A tense body equates with unhealthy changes in the body’s biochemistry and physiology. If we want to have a healthy body, we need to be free of physical tension.

Now, it is possible to be mindful in a tense body. It is possible to do creative imagery or meditation in a tense body. And yes, maybe enough mindfulness, imagery or meditation does enable us to let go of tension. But in my experience it can take years and some never seem to get there. What about you? Ever met a tense meditator?

The answer? Take time to learn, practice and become proficient at relaxing the body and the mind. Start with the body, allow it to flow into the mind. Number 1 taken care of!

For simplicity we will include mindfulness, contemplation, and imagery in this process of training the mind. All are useful. All warrant serious attention with more time dedicated to learning, practicing and become proficient.

Number 2 taken care of in 3 lines! Could take a little longer in practice, but well worth the effort.

Yes, good old positive thinking. So under-rated. So misunderstood.

When I speak of positive thinking I speak of studying how the mind works and using it intelligently to best advantage.

Clearly it is the mind that changes everything and in Mind-Body Medicine we recognise that the mind decides what we eat and how much of it, what we drink, whether we smoke or exercise, how we manage our relationships, our own mind and our spiritual life.

At the very least, positive thinking is about how we make decisions and how we follow them through. So there is a huge difference between “wishful thinking”, which is when you hope for the best and do nothing about it; and “positive thinking” which is when you hope for the best and do a lot about it.

Positive thinking is not just a state of mind, commonly it is an invitation to quite a deal of focused hard work!

So Number 3 is using the thinking mind intelligently.

Again the common question: Where to start? Well, I usually suggest meditation. Meditation that takes Mind-Body Medicine into account and so begins with a focus on relaxing the body and calming the mind. Instant relief from stress and anxiety. A rapid calming and clearing of the mind so that decisions seem easy to make and the confidence is there to follow them through to conclusion.

Sure it makes good sense to develop all three, but meditation is at the heart of Mind-Body Medicine.

Ruth and I are fortunate to be hosting a world authority in Mind-Body Medicine during October. Dr Nimrod Sheinman has taught mindfulness and creative imagery techniques in a wide range of settings – including Universities, schools and hospitals. He and I will present a day seminar in Melbourne, then combine with Ruth for a 5 day retreat/training for individuals and health practitioners in the Yarra Valley.

In November and December, Ruth and I travel to beautiful New Zealand for a series of seminars, evening talks and retreats – see below for details.

We hope to re-connect with those of you who live locally at one of these events. Please help others know about them by sharing this blog post.

NOTICEBOARD - for full details, CLICK on the highlighted sections

1. With Dr Nimrod Sheinman
i) MIND-BODY MEDICINE in DAILY LIFE. Sunday, October 20th - day seminar
Relaxation, meditation and creative imagery for health, business, healing and wellbeing

ii) IMAGES, WORDS and SILENCE  October 28th - November 1st
Five day training/retreat for those interested in mind made healing – either for personal use or as a health professional.
With Dr Nimrod Sheinman, Ruth and myself in the Yarra Valley.

       Evening Public Lecture: Medicine of the Mind.  Thursday November 14th.
Let go of stress, activate healing, maximise performance in all you do. The power of the mind at work in everyday life.
       Weekend workshop: A New Way of Living
Saturday November 30th: Meditation and the power of the mind
Sunday December 1st: Living Well, Being Well –
A way of living that generates good health, profound healing and log-term wellbeing.

iii) Rotorua: Health, Healing and Wellbeing – Saturday November 16th - day seminar
The essence of what Ian has found most helpful.

iv) Christchurch: Inner peace, Outer health. Sunday November 24th.
A free event - find peace and clarity amidst troubled times.

v) Nelson: Mind-Body Medicine in Daily Life. Evening of November 26th.
Relaxation, meditation and creative imagery for health, business, healing and wellbeing

vi) Meditation Under the Long White Cloud. December 2nd – 8th. Seven day meditation retreat – the first from Ian and Ruth in New Zealand - at Mana Retreat Centre.
Ian will detail how to deepen your understanding and experience of relaxation, mindfulness and meditation; then he and Ruth will guide you into the direct experience of inner peace.

vii) Five day follow-up cancer program.
Specifically for people who have attended a CanLive program in NZ, or Gawler Foundation program. November 18 – 22 at Wanaka out of Queenstown - one of the most beautiful environments there is.

My books, CDs and CD downloads are all now available once more on line: CLICK HERE
Downloads going to all parts of the world!

Ruth and I are leading
Meditation in the Desert
in the incredible, meditative
Central Australian Desert
so there will be no new post for 2 weeks.


  1. Hi Ian, what about nutrition, the food we eat and the water we drink...do these play a role in mind body medicine. We are currently debating the quality of the water we need to drink in our home and all the systems that are available. What would you recommend the average householder should do about filtering their water and do we need to alkalise it, once we take out all the chemicals?

  2. Mind-Body Medicine is all encompassing. It does include attention to the mind, and sees the mind as crucial as it is the mind that changes everything through the decisions it makes; but then it also takes real account of the physical and the spiritual.
    On the question of water quality, the obvious reason to have a water filter in suburban areas is to remove the chlorine that is essential in the first place to treat any adverse bacteria in the water, but is then linked with higher cancer rates. On alkalinising water I am not so convinced, given that people are eating an alkaline diet as I would recommend.
    Most water filters seem to work pretty well according to the evidence.
    Happy drinking!