18 December 2017

A-Christmas-Miracle

Have you ever had an experience that was so remarkable, so out of the ordinary, so amazing, that it seemed almost miraculous? With Christmas approaching it seems timely to recount the Christmas miracle that occurred for our family some years ago.

Maybe you have your own story that kindles the wonder of Christmas - the metaphorical birth of unconditional love? Also an opportune moment to send a wish that love fills your life in 2018, but first




    Thought for the day

       Only when you drink 
       From the river of silence
       Will you indeed sing

                 Kahlil Gibran








Some years ago,
a good number of our family gathered at our small farm for Christmas (with 6 children, getting them all together at one time would indeed be a miracle!).

The oldest grandson was of an age where suspicion about this Father Christmas stuff was rampant; so much so that he was keen to tell his younger sister what he was thinking was the truth of the matter - it is all a fantasy. Popular thinking amongst the adults was that she was not ready for this!

Now me being the keen gardener, for many years I have always had a live Christmas tree. When my children were growing up, we had a new one each year and then planted it out. So on our old farm there developed the Christmas tree avenue, made up of all the different pine trees, cedars and like minded trees.

In more recent times, we have grown the Christmas tree on in a pot until it really is large enough to demand planting. So at the time of the miracle, on the current farm there was only one ex-Christmas tree in the ground.

The summer of year of the miracle was very hot and so a good deal of tree watering was required. Having checked the trees on Christmas Eve, I went out to water them on Boxing Day.


Imagine this.

Under the ex-Christmas tree were two deer horns! And yes, that is them in the photo.

Each about 4 – 5” long, or 10 – 15 cms in the new money, and they looked for all the world like baby reindeer horns.

Now you may think I was dreaming, but never having found such things in our area before or since (and I have lived in the area for over 35 years), or even heard of anyone else finding them, what are the chances?



They turned up specifically on Christmas Eve or night, and specifically under the Christmas tree! And they are real deer horns that look just like reindeer horns!

Moral of the story? The grandson was deeply confused but still managed to believed in Santa for another year or two. The granddaughter carried on unperturbed! The adults were content to be amazed and to smile whenever we recount or recall the story.


So, Happy Christmas. Tell some good stories, enjoy some regenerative time amidst the spirit of Christmas, and may 2018 be filled with love, good health, happiness and peace.

NEWS
A post on mammography has been pre-empted, but will be held over until the New Year.

A Christmas miracle seems more appropriate for now...

29 November 2017

Cancer-management-36-years,-4-big-changes-and-some-recommendations

Last week Ruth, Julia Broome, Siegfried Gutbrod, Michael Johnson and myself, along with the excellent team at the Yarra Valley Living Centre, presented the last cancer residential program of my working career.

The first cancer program I presented was at the Melbourne Cancer Support Group in Hawthorn, 16th September 1981.

During the intervening 36 years much has changed in the cancer world, especially for those directly affected; the patients.




So this week some observations around the biggest of those changes and some suggestions, but first


Thought for the day



Every public action which is not customary,
Either is wrong,
Or, if it is right,
Is a dangerous precedent.

It follows
That nothing should ever be done for the first time.


Francis Cornford, academic



FOUR BIG CHANGES 
that directly impact people affected by cancer in 2017 compared to 1981

1. Information has moved into overload
BACK THEN
In 1981 there were very few cancer self help books. A couple on nutrition, Ainslie Meares’ Relief Without Drugs on meditation from 1967, the Simonton’s Getting Well Again was published in 1978 and covered imagery and psychology of cancer; you could read all available in a couple of weeks.



No computers.

No internet.

What was in place was like an underground network where information was shared by adventurous patients and families via letters - remember them - phone calls and the occasional Roneo and Gestetner offering.

When our groups commenced, people came to learn.

They often came with the feeling there was nothing they could do. When they discovered what was possible, it was like a light was turned on. A surge of hope transformed their situation and state of mind and new possibilities opened. Confidence arose and healing was begun.

THESE DAYS
So much information.

A myriad of books.

The internet laden with possibilities. So many competing views.

Of course there is a lot that is good, but amidst the overload, confusion often reigns. People seem overawed by the choices. Many seem to become stuck; unable to sort the proverbial wheat from the chaff, and inaction often follows. Or at best for many, indecision. Uncertainty.

So while many do come to our groups seeking help to clarify what is in their own best interests, so much of this is compounded by the next issue.

2. The power to discriminate has diminished
BACK THEN
People diagnosed with cancer faced simpler choices. If a medical cure was on offer, they generally took it. If there was no cure on offer, they were often told rather bluntly with words to the effect of “there is nothing more we can do for you, you have a short time to live, go home and come back near the end and maybe Palliative Care will be helpful”.

So the choices were stark. If there was no medical cure and yet people still aspired to recovering against the odds, they knew it was up to them. Simple. Because competing sources of information were few, people trusted in what was available, applied it and for many, it worked. Simple.

THESE DAYS
So much information and so many people with an opinion, with advice and highly geared Social Media machines; and often with vested interests based on what is being sold.

Not simple. Confusing. What to do? A difficulty with discriminating further complicated by the next issue.

3. Palliative Care has become Palliative Treatment

BACK THEN
Palliative Care was just emerging as a medical discipline in its own right.

Dame Cicely Saunders started it all in London in 1967; Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published On Death and Dying in 1969.

Palliative Care was all about caring for the dying. Making life as comfortable and meaningful as possible. Minimal treatment, maximum symptom control; aiming for a good end to life, a good death.


THESE DAYS
Some while back, well meaning doctors realized telling people there was “nothing more we can do for you” was not very kind. At the same time, in my view big business in medicine realized they were missing a huge market. Palliative Care moved into Palliative Treatment.

Now most people who do not have a medical cure on offer for their cancer are being offered some
form of active treatment or are yearning to be on a trial.

Of course, much of this is good but there is a hidden cost that does not seem popular to talk about.

These Palliative Treatments by definition are non-curative.

They have the stated intention of what Palliative care used to offer - to extend life and improve Quality of life. But many can observe this is not always the case. The treatments can be demanding, quite often debilitating, and there is a hidden issue.


These treatments may - not always, but may - compete with a person’s own ability to heal.

To discuss this issue seems almost like a taboo in current time, yet surely for those aiming for full recovery, this is a real issue. There is always a balance to strike.

And it is no easy balance. Maybe through one’s own efforts one can transform a treatment whose intention is palliative into one that is curative. But equally, maybe if one is fully focussed on recovery, some Palliative Treatments are not in one’s best interests.

In a world of open-mindedness, these issues would be excellent ones to question, discuss, investigate and research seriously. But then complication of the final issue.

4. Big business has moved into cancer medicine.
BACK THEN
Cancer medicine was somewhat under-serviced and under-resourced. Because there were limited treatments there was a limited market. The influence of Big Pharma was limited.

THESE DAYS
As Palliative Treatment developed so too did the interests of big business.

Investigations became big business.

Doctors were convinced to have less confidence in their very cheap, but previously highly developed clinical skills, and instead to trust in not just X Rays but highly expensive scans and extensive blood tests.

New treatments whilst still clearly palliative in nature, are hugely expensive. Many of the recent “breakthroughs” offer some life extension, quite a side-effect profile, almost irresistible allure to patients and families, and great cost. Many of the new treatments are $100,000 and beyond per person per year.

Maybe these innovations will lead to real cures in the future. Maybe. For now, they are incredibly expensive and there is a limit to how many more the public purse can fund. And how many of us have the resources to fund them privately?

What is clear from the medical literature at present is that many cancer services, both investigatory and for treatment, are being over-recommended and over-utilised. Cancer is very big business.

WHAT TO DO?
Trust in your own capacity to discriminate - or find someone highly trustworthy to tell you what to do.

Ideally work out what you really want. If you are fully intent on recovering from cancer then the number one question has to be “What is most likely to heal me?”

Back in the mid seventies when I was totally committed to recovery, everything I did was put through the first big filter… Will this thing I am considering to do actually help me to recover?” Everything went through that filter. Everything. I was uncompromising.

Everything I did was considered deliberately. Everything was subjected to the discrimination we are talking about. I sought the best advice I could. I read what was relevant. I considered people’s qualifications and experience. I consider the impact of vested interests and big business. I asked heaps of questions. I made notes, lists. I analysed and then I sat quietly to reflect, to contemplate and to seek counsel from my own inner wisdom through contemplation.

Once I made a decision I stuck with it long enough to find out whether it was actually working for me or not and while very focussed, was not stupid enough to keep doing something that was not working.



So my work with residential cancer groups has come to an end.


There are probably many ways of explaining this - many levels - but perhaps the simplest is to say that I trust that inner wisdom, that intuitive capacity we all have and that tells me loud and clear this is the right thing to have done at the right time.


So amidst this awkward sense of knowing there has been so much knowledge and experience built up over the years that could still be helpful to others, there is the comfort of knowing that the Foundation I established is in good hands and going well and that others are spreading this work far and wide. So much more on offer now compared to when we were all that was on offer in 1981.

So my heart will always be with those affected by cancer.

In the longer term, cancer is clearly a lifestyle related disease and the best way to treat it is to prevent it. Much better never to develop cancer than to get it and recover - wonderful as recovering, especially against the odds may be.

I will continue to post blogs and write elsewhere on these issues. Maybe I will be persuaded to do the occasional public event. Maybe. Whatever happens there, my over-riding wish is that you all find long-lasting peace, deep inner contentment and live long and fulfilling lives.

RELATED BLOGS
Cancer survivors? Cancer thrivers!

The Gawler cancer program since 1981

REFERENCE
You Can Conquer Cancer

13 November 2017

The-Gawler-Cancer-Program-since-1981

She propped herself in the corner of a sofa so she could stay upright. Her head wobbled and from time to time her eyes seem to loose focus and wander uncontrollably. The time was the 16th of September 1981; the lady in question had an advanced brain tumour and a prognosis in terms of weeks. The occasion was the first ever meeting of the Melbourne Cancer Support Group and my friend from way back then is still alive.

At 2pm on Friday 24th November 2017 I will conclude my last cancer residential program.

During these past 36 years I have experienced and witnessed so many remarkable things.

People learning how to live well and to die well.

People recovering against the odds.

People combining to help and support each other.

The delight of shared human experience.

So much gratitude for the many outstanding people who contributed to this work. So much frustration with the lack of interest, understanding and uptake by large sections of the medical profession; the welcome and increasing support from those with more vision and base intelligence.

And a blend of satisfaction and disappointment with the slow but steady increase in availability of the programs more widely - happy to see so many groups around the world offering this work; dismay that my own Foundation needed to cease offering the non-residential cancer programs for lack of uptake and now is reducing the 10 day residential program from 10 to 5 days to match demand.

What we can be certain of is that everything changes. It is time for me to change and so this week, time for gratitude; time to acknowledge some of the wonderful pioneering people who have made what has been accomplished so far possible, but first

Thought for the day : The Ultimate Attainment


The past is already past;
Do not try to regain it.
The present does not stay;
Do not try to touch it.
From moment to moment,
The future has not come;
Do not think about it
Beforehand.

Whatever comes to the eye,
Leave it be.
There are no commandments
To be kept;
There is no filth to be cleansed.
With empty mind really penetrated, 
The dharmas have no life.

When you can be like this,
You have completed
The ultimate attainment.


P'ang Yün - 8th century Zen Master



The full list of who to thank goes on forever, but maybe it is possible to thank those who were the first in their respective arenas; the pioneers…

Co-founder
The first to thank is my first wife Grace who helped establish the Melbourne Cancer Support Group and then the Foundation. Grace used her experience of helping me to recover and went on to study naturopathy with Dorothy Hall. She spoke to so many people on the telephone in the early days, led some groups and helped develop the program; a huge contribution.

First publicity
Back in 1981The Age featured my story on its Saturday edition the week before the program started. This informed the public of what was on offer and ensured good attendance right from the beginning.

The first group
Much gratitude to that first group. They trusted me enough and were inspired by my story enough to give what was on offer a go; and in doing so, established that the program was worth persevering with. It all developed from them.

First therapist
Mike Sowerby was a vet student when he developed cancer of the kidney. He recovered without medical treatment, joined us with little relevant training but  used his experience, intelligence and insight to become highly effective. Mike went on to study Jungian psychology amongst other things and continues to work in WA.

So many exceptional, dedicated, compassionate, wise therapists have followed in Mike’s footsteps.

First receptionist/administrator
Barbara Bowman came when we opened our first pokey little office in a suburban shopping strip in Mont Albert and did her best helping us to develop systems to support the program.

Then so many amazingly dedicated staff over the ensuing years; so many.

Not always easy working in the pressure cooker of helping those facing major illness, but so much gratitude for the dedication and the ability to put the needs of those we were helping first and foremost and for creating such a welcoming, supportive and healing atmosphere.

                                                                                                  Staff Christmas party 2009
First volunteer
Not sure who this would have been as many people came forward from the very earliest days with offers to help. At one stage in the late 80s, The Foundation had provided extensive training to a team of around 200 volunteers who provided individual support to every person who joined the Melbourne Cancer Support Group; but then we have relied on volunteers in so many aspects of this work.

First President
In 1983 The Foundation became an Incorporated Association - a not-for-profit, charitable institution with tax-deductible status. First president was Morrie Watts, husband of Bessie who had experienced a remarkable recovery from breast cancer after attending the groups.

Over the years there have been many Presidents, many board members and being those who take ultimate responsibility for the Foundation everyone involved owes them much gratitude.

First patron/ mentor
Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop was father to one of my University friends and took an interest in this cancer work from its earliest days. While never a “formal” patron, Weary launched You Can Conquer Cancer while Patron of the Anti-Cancer Council as it was back then and gave strong support to our work helping people with cancer to help themselves. It was a privilege and a delight to meet with him regularly, to discuss and seek his wise counsel on issues as the unfolded around the Foundation.


First major donors
Dorothy and Ken Edglow, Bill McHarg and David Bardas combined to make the purchase of the Yarra Valley land possible in 1984 and gave the impetus to its on-going development.

It is obvious that without tremendous community support from donors big and small the Foundation would have been unable to help as many people as it has; maybe it would not even still exist today; so these people deserve a great deal of gratitude.




First researcher
Embarrassing, but I cannot remember the name of the man who in the late 80s dedicated 2 years of his time in an attempt to set up a research program for us. (Can anyone help me with this name?) Those were the days when computers were rudimentary, and in the end nothing publishable was accomplished.

It is a deep regret that we were never able to develop an effective research program at the Foundation. To be frank, in the early days we were poorly advised around what to do; in later days when we did employ qualified researchers and collaborated with external researchers, what we were able to accomplish was simply inadequate - mostly due to lack of funding and support from external people and institutions.

I do wonder how expensive the new drugs need to get before someone seriously looks at what we do for so little cost and researches it seriously. It is amazing that over the 36 years, there has only been one really good study on outcome - the Ornish study from way back in 2005; and that it demonstrated singifican t benefits and yet no one to date has even tried to replicate that study. Cannot imagine that outcome if the study had shown the benefits of a new drug!

Maybe one day ….

First business manager
Scott Crisp was the first to take on this role and laid the foundation for many good people to come.


First cook

Dorothy Edgelow set up the Foundation kitchens, established the first menus, wrote the first cookbooks.

Dorothy set the tone for the kitchen catering staff becoming a focus of care and nurturing for all those who attend residential programs.







First gardener
Peter LeRay, a dedicated biodynamic and deeply spiritual gardener set up the Foundation’s first garden at Yarra Junction.

It had a wonderful circular layout; is where the open ground for Chi Gung and yoga is now, and moved up the hill to enable larger scale fruit and vegetable production.

What a great team of gardeners have built on Peter’s legacy!





First masseur/body therapist
I think this would have been Trevor Steele. Trevor was a wonderful, whimsical and deeply caring therapist and an excellent masseur. There has been a wonderful team follow in his footsteps.

First musician
Hans Henzler had a night job at the famous Cuckoo Restaurant in the Dandenong Hills, a wonderful deep bass voice and an infectious warmth that got people into communal sing at our early residential programs.

Since then we seem to have specialized in harpists, but many other musicians have added the meditative healing benefits of their talents.

So to conclude; a profound sense of deep gratitude to all who have contributed to this cancer work, and to repeat

The past is already past;
Do not try to regain it.
The present does not stay;
Do not try to touch it.
From moment to moment,
The future has not come;
Do not think about it
Beforehand.

Everything changes…

23 October 2017

Classic-self-help-and-Mind-Body-Medicine-books-you-may-want-to-seek-out-and-read

Remember the good old days when books were books and readers took time to leaf through them. Nothing against electronics; just that many early self-help and Mind-Body Medicine books have been forgotten or neglected, despite being genuine classics. Simple in concepts, easy to apply; well worth reading and learning from.

So this week an extensive list of early classics with brief summaries. Happy hunting as many may only be available second hand, but first

           Thought for the day

                    What you are 
                    Is what you have been,

                   What you will be 
                   Is what you do now.

                                  The Buddha


BOOKS
Great books are nice to have on the shelf and dip into from time to time. And the fact is, books provide a wonderful, ongoing sense of direction, inspiration and support. What is noticeable is the fact that many books that were early in their field set out the key concepts, the most important techniques and being written as if addressing beginners, are easy to comprehend.

Once fields like personal development, self-help and Mind-Body Medicine have been developed, authors seem to think they need to get complicated – both to say something new and perhaps to impress. As a result… harder to comprehend, more complicated techniques, sometimes even miss the key points.

So here is a collection of books from the early days – the 70s and 80s that I value, those marked with an * being favourites. Enjoy!


Meditation

Arya, R.A., Superconscious Meditation, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Himalayan International Institute of Yoga, Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A., 1977
Meditation manual based on traditional Yoga texts, presenting a good range of specific techniques.

Arya, U., Meditation and the Art of Dying, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A., 1979.
Combination of ancient Indian Wisdom and Philosophy and modern Western understandings—examines who we are and what is the meaning of life and death.

Bailey, A., From Intellect to Intuition, New York, Lucis Publishing Company, 1970.
The five stages of concentration, meditation, contemplation, illumination, inspiration explained. A means of seeking a direct spiritual reality. One of a series of valuable esoteric books; not easy to comprehend at first.

Bailey, A., Letters on Occult Meditation, New York, Lucis Publishing Company, 1970.
Explains mental techniques aimed at achieving specific results—either intense mental activity or stillness.

* Benson, H., Beyond the Relaxation Response, London, Collins, 1984.
Dr. Benson is a Harvard cardiologist. He travelled to Nepal to study Buddhist meditators and evaluate the physiological changes they can induce. He introduces the ‘Faith Factor’, as making the greatest difference.



Benson, H., The Relaxation Response, London, Collins, 1975.

A contemporary of Ainslie Meares, the American Benson examines the effects of stress on our bodies, the use of meditation through the ages and scientific validation of its effects.

Focuses on the benefits of meditation for heart patients but highly relevant and interesting for anyone keen on meditation.




Besant, A., Esoteric Christianity, Adyar, Madras, The Theosophical Publishing House, 1901.
A mystical examination of the essence of Christianity.

* Brunton, P., The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, York Beach, Maine, Weiser, 1941.
One of Paul Brunton’s many excellent books, all worth reading. This one examines the difference between feeling or believing, and knowing, and how to make the transition. Dwells on the great question, Who Am I?

* Cade, C. and Coxhead, N., The Awakened Mind, Hounslow, Middlesex, Wildwood House, 1979.
An excellent pioneering text in biofeedback and the scientific investigation of meditation with EEGs.

Chogyam, Trungpa, Meditation in Action, California, Shambhala, 1969.
An excellent introduction to the practical approach to meditation of the ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition, in a not so easy but modern style. First book on meditation I ever read :)

* Clynes, M., Sentics — The Touch of the Emotions, Garden City, New York, Anchor Press Doubleday, 1978.
A revolution in understanding how we experience and communicate emotion, with a practical meditative method of clearing, stabilising and enhancing emotional responses.

Drury, N. (ed.), Inner Health, Sydney, Harper & Row, 1985.
Health benefits of relaxation, meditation and visualisation, with one chapter by Ian Gawler.

Geshe, R. and Geshe, D., Advice from a Spiritual Friend, London, Wisdom Publications, 1977.
Shows how, by gradually changing our attitudes to ourselves and others, we can quite literally learn to be happy and content in any situation.  Focuses on loving kindness, compassion and wisdom.

* Goldstein, J., The Experience of Insight, U.S.A., Shambhala, 1976.
An excellent guide to Buddhist meditation techniques and philosophies as given at a 30-day retreat. This is the Vipassana style of meditation.



Griffiths, B., Return to the Centre, Collins Paperbacks, 1976.

A series of insightful essays or meditations on the Christian faith from this inspiring Benedictine monk.

Father Bede established and lived in a South Indian ashram that blended Christian and Hindu philosophy and practices.



Humphreys, C., Zen Buddhism, London, Unwin, 1949.
An excellent presentation of Zen by the man who is renowned as probably the West’s greatest early exponent of Buddhism. One of his many worthwhile books.

Le Shan, L., How to Meditate, New York, Bantam, 1974.
A famous psychotherapist’s simple, straightforward approach to the many paths into meditation. Highly recommended.

Long, M.F., Growing Into Light, Marina Del Rey, California, de Vorss,1955.
One of Long’s excellent books on the beliefs of the ancient Huna people of Hawaii. Examines the traditional use of spiritual and mind power.

* McDonald, K., How to Meditate, London, Wisdom Publications, 1984.
Remains as one of the very best introductions to the many useful meditation practices of Tibetan Buddhism by a very lucid, California-born, Buddhist nun.

McKinnon, P., In Stillness Conquer Fear, Blackburn, Victoria, Dove Communications, 1983.
Excellent account from an agrophobic who overcame her fear with meditation under the guidance of the late Dr Ainslie Meares. Pauline has run a centre and taught Stillness Meditation in Melbourne for many years.

Meares, A., Cancer, Another Way, Melbourne, Hill of Content, 1977.
Zen style sharing of a meditative approach to cancer.

Meares, A., From the Quiet Place, Melbourne, Hill of Content, 1976.
Reflections in Zen style, suitable for healing meditation.

* Meares, A., Prayer and Beyond, Melbourne, Hill of Content, 1981.
Marks the steadily deepening spiritual insights that came to Dr Meares through his own practice of meditation and his work with many people gaining from meditation.


* Meares, A., Relief Without Drugs:
The Self-Management of Tension, Anxiety and Pain, London, Collins/Fontana, 1967.

A landmark book; a world first on therapeutic meditation and still highly readable and useful.

A classic on meditation for personal healing.



Meares, A., A Way of Doctoring, Melbourne, Hill of Content, 1981.
A look at doctor/patient relations, silent communication skills, the value of meditation for therapist and patient.

* Meares, A., The Wealth Within, Melbourne, Hill of Content, 1978.
Here Dr Ainslie Meares, psychiatrist, describes in detail his simple yet profound approach to meditation, which he called Mental Ataraxis.

Muktananda, Meditate, Melbourne, Siddha Yoga Foundation.
The guru of Siddha Yogi shares specific introductory techniques to meditation and the philosophy that goes with them.

Ramacharaka, M., Hatha Yoga, London, Fowler, 1960.
A landmark introduction to the basic tenets of Yoga, wonderfully presented by this practical and erudite Indian Yogi. One of an excellent series by this author.

* Ramacharaka, M., The Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath. 23rd Edition, Romford, Essex, L.N. Fowler, 1960.
Looks at the importance of correct breathing in the practice of yoga and how to benefit from it in everyday life and especially in conjunction with meditation. An excellent self-help guide first written around the turn of the 20th century (the 1900s) and here in a new edition.

Rozman, D., Meditation for Children, California, U.S.A, Celestial Arts, 1976.
A simple guide for teaching children to meditate.

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. London Random House 1992.
Comprehensive introduction to Tibetan philosophy and practices that is both readily accessible and quite profound. International bestseller – has sold over 3.5million copies and transformed many lives.

Steiner, R., Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and lts Attainment, London, Anthroposophic Press, 1947.
Introduction to Esoteric Meditation techniques and beliefs aimed at an understanding of the soul and superconscious for the man who established the Rudolf Steiner schools, Biodynamics and Anthroposophical Medicine.

Suzuki, Dr., Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, John Weatherhill, Japan, 1970.
Puts the basically non-intellectual Zen approach into an approachable form - the art of being here now. A classic on Zen meditation.

* Thick Nhat Hanh., The Miracle of Mindfulness, Boston, Beacon Press, 1976.
Vietnamese Zen master’s masterful presentation on the nature of Zen, complete with many practical suggestions and exercises. Excellent book.


Creative Meditation/Positive Thinking

* Bach, R. , Illusions, London, Pan/Heinemann, 1977.

The adventures of a reluctant Messiah and his contact with a man seeking to understand his own reality—a positive delight!

First published in 1977, the story questions the reader's view of reality, proposing that what we call reality is merely an illusion we create for learning and enjoyment.

Illusions was the author's follow-up to Jonathon Livingstone Seagull – and a much more worthwhile book in this author’s opinion.


Bandler, R. and Grinder, J., Frogs into Princes. Moab, Utah, Real People Press, 1979.
One of the basic texts explaining Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a very effective and simple way of creating a positive experience of life.

* Capra, F., The Tao of Physics, London, Fontana, 1983.
A powerful examination of the similarities between physics and the ancient wisdom of the sages.

Corsini, R. et al., Current Psychotherapies: 3rd Edition, Hasca, Illinois, F.E. Peacock Publishers, 1984.
A comprehensive and readable review of the many psychotherapies available in the 80s – still relevant.

* Cousins, N., Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient, Sydney, Bantam, 1981. .
Personal testimony of the united efforts of a patient and physician to overcome the effects of a crippling condition, mainly through the use of positive attitudes and Vitamin C. Cousins examines the role of the placebo effect and laughter in this excellent, readable book. Cousins went on to become one of the Mind-Body pioneers.

Bono de, E., The Use of Lateral Thinking, Ringwood, Victoria, Penguin, 1971.
One of the author’s best of many books on ways of developing creative thinking.

Dyer, W., Your Erroneous Zones, New York, Avon, 1976.
Good practical advice on how to improve self-esteem and take control of your own life.

Frankl, V., Man’s Search for Meaning, New York, Pocket Books, 1963.
The major book of this psychiatrist, survivor of Auschwitz and originator of Logotherapy or Existential Analysis. Often referred to in our groups.

* Glasser, W., Positive Addiction, Sydney, Harper & Row, 1985.
The author urges readers to gain strength and self-esteem through positive addictions rather than negative ones such as smoking and drugs. He recommends running and meditation to help us achieve a better quality of life.


* Harrison, J ., Love your Disease—-It’s Keeping you Healthy, Angus & Robertson, Sydney and London, 1984.

A fabulous book.

Challenging.

Explores the psychological needs for illness- how illness is often our best way of coping, why we often need to be sick and how we can choose to be healthy.


Hutschnecker, A., The Will to Live. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1951.
Shows how to avoid illness by understanding the emotional disturbances that can cause it. Presents a simple and effective plan for healthier, more secure living.

* Jampolsky, G.G., Love is Letting Go of Fear, Sydney, Bantam, 1981.
This is a book about self-fulfilment through giving. By transforming our own outlook on life, we can change how we perceive the world, the people in it and, finally, ourselves.

Le Shan, L., You Can Fight for Your Life, Wellingborough, England, Thorsons, 1977.
Offers insight into why some individuals get cancer and others do not, and gives examples of those who have been able to fight against the disease.

* Levine, S. , Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying, Garden City, New York, Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1982.
A very positive book which gives fresh insights into the process of living and dying. This book has been used as a manual to help many families navigate end of life situations. Levine believes that by being fully open to each moment of life we are preparing for death. Includes meditations on pain control and dying.

* Maltz, M., Psycho-Cybernetics, Sydney, Bantam, 1978.
One of the great – and original – books on positive thinking. Psycho-Cybernetics concerns directing our mind to a positive self-image, to fulfilment as a human being. The author guides us in steps to relaxation and self-acceptance.

Moody, R., Life After Life, Sydney, Bantam, 1976.
Stories of those who have been pronounced clinically dead but recovered and reported having experienced startlingly similar experiences.

Murphett, H., Sai Baba: Man of Miracles, Maine, U.S.A., Samuel Weiser Inc., 1973.
Excellent introduction to the Indian Holy man, Satya Sai Baba, who has been compared with Christ and Buddha for his phenomenal powers and spiritual message.

* Persig, R., Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance, London, Corgi,1974.
The journey of a man in search of himself — full of insights into our most complexing contemporary dilemmas.

Sandweiss, S. H., Sai Baba, the Holy Man . . . and the Psychiatrist, San Diego, California, Birth Day Publishing Co., 1975.
Sai Baba is an Indian spiritual leader who, it is claimed, has superhuman powers. Samuel Sandweiss is a psychiatrist who insightfully describes his time in India with Sai Baba and relates his beliefs.

* Shinn, F., The Game of Life and How to Play it, Marina del Rey, California, De Vorss, 1925.
One of the oldest and very best books on positive thinking. If you were to read just one book on that subject, this may well be the book to choose. The author sees success in life coming through positive thinking and trust in God. Good sections on affirmations.

Silva, J., The Silva Mind Control Method, New York, Pocket Books, 1977.
The text that explains the famous Silva Mind Control program and elaborates on principles of creative visualisation.



* Simonton, O.C., Getting Well Again, Sydney, Bantam, 1978.

Emphasises the power of positive thinking and visualisation in contributing to the better health of cancer patients.

Quotes many patients’ experiences and gives advice to families of patients.

A pioneering work highly recommended.



* Simonton, S.M., The Healing Family, Sydney, Bantam, 1985.
Still one of the best books for patient and family. Most positive and practical approach to helping families come to terms with a major illness and to create the most favourable environments for recovery.

Wilber, K., Quantum Questions, Boulder, Colorado, Shambala Publications Inc., 1984.
The mystical writings of the world’s great physicists. What attracted these great scientists to a personal experience of mysticism?

Yogananda, P. , Autobiography of a Yogi, Bombay, Jaico Publishing House, 1983.
Classic autobiography of a great Hindu yogi describing his search for a teacher and his truly extra- ordinary experiences with the many adepts he spent time with.


COMING SOON

IAN'S FINAL SPECIFIC CANCER PROGRAM

CANCER, HEALING and WELLBEING 

Accessing the heart and science of Mind-Body Medicine
Offering genuine hope for all those affected by cancer

20 – 24 November 2017 with Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler

Located amidst the natural beauty of the Yarra Valley


This life-changing program provides the opportunity to experience the food, practise the meditation and to be in a supportive, positive atmosphere. The program is evidence based, highly experiential and practical. The focus is on the therapeutic power of the Healing Diet, the mind and meditation, emotional health and positive psychology. The aim is to provide clarity, understanding and confidence.   LINK HERE


IAN'S FINAL MEDITATION RETREAT

This retreat is now fully booked with a waiting list. 
An extra retreat from February 19 - 22 is being planned 
- full details soon at www.iangawler.com


Mind and Heart - connecting with the essence

7 days of Mindfulness, Meditation and Buddhist based philosophy

 Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, clarity, vitality, and balance 

 Learn Imagery techniques that unite heart and mind, and guide personal change






09 October 2017

Convalescence-A-missing-factor-in-chronic-fatigue?

When was the last time you heard the word convalescence? Ever know anyone to do it? Ever hear of someone developing chronic fatigue after a big viral infection? Hear of someone having a significant surgery and being back at work a few days later?

Having recently been hospitalized myself, have received a powerful reminder for the need to convalesce; so this week, how to do just that, but first


          Thought for the day

What is compassion? 
It is not simply a sense of sympathy 
Or caring for the person suffering, 
Not simply a warmth of heart 
Toward the person before you, 
Or a sharp clarity of recognition of their needs and pain; 
It is also a sustained and practical determination 
To do whatever is possible and necessary 
To help alleviate their suffering.

                      Sogyal Rinpoche



It is 7am Friday. I have been vohmiting all night and now have diarrhea that is like brown water and can barely move. Ruth says she has seen nothing like it in all her medical days, likens it to what she has heard of cholera and calls an ambulance. I am in no position to resist; in fact welcome the attention.

The Para-medics do a great job. Hook me up to an I/V drip, get me into the ambulance and off to Mahroondah Hospital.

Sadly we do hear many unhappy stories coming out of hospitals these days, but the team that looks after me is exceptional. Caring, attentive, diligent, competent. Faultless. After 3 litres of I/V fluid I still have not peed, but feel heaps better. Tests reveal I have had a severe viral gastro-enteritis. No idea where it came from; but it goes quite quickly and by the end of Saturday I am close to normal once again.

So what next? With the common expectations, back to work Monday as if nothing had happened. Probably could have done that, but I notice something significant. While I do feel OK when up and active, while I have energy and can do what the day requires of me, when I stop and meditate, when I tune in to my body more closely, all is far from well.

Relaxing more deeply to meditate, it is obvious that energetically my body is far from recovered. It has a very unusual “buzz” flowing through it. Best way to describe it is like some jangled, low level but pent up buzz. Clearly an energetic disturbance of some significance. Clearly my body is still affected by the viral assault and the profound dehydration it suffered.

One can easily imagine how if this was ignored, if this was not given time for regeneration, then some chronic condition could follow. I have heard so many people say how their chronic fatigue seemed to begin after a major viral infection; and it saddens me to hear how often people do have major surgery or bouts of illness and expect to be back at full swing within days. Maybe this issue is linked to how many people do get sick when they take a holiday? Maybe when we give it a rest, this stifled energy has its day and comes out.

In simpler times people did convalesce. Images come to mind of rows of cane lounges spread out
across verdant lawns. Rugs in abundance, cups of tea close by and an all-pervading atmosphere of being cared for and supported amidst a very restful time. Just giving simple, restful time to recovery. It does take time.

So in this busy world we currently live in, seems there is a need to revive the lost art of convalescence.






   What is missing in this photo?



          Maybe that would be you?






First thing to do is to recognize the need. The need to convalesce is great! In my view, essential.


Then to acknowledge it takes time. Families need to recognize this. Employers need to recognize this. Our society generally needs to wake up to this lost art and revive it.

As for me, last week has seen more than usual meditation and rest.

Am now feeling ready for this week’s Meditation Teacher Training at the Foundation – the last I will present so another landmark approaching. Then a couple of weeks to our last New Zealand retreat. Lots of endings in sight; lots of new beginnings approaching.

May we all recognize the need to convalesce when it is there, and make time for it.

BIG LANDMARK
In another landmark, this is actually the 300th Out on a Limb blog. Quite an Anniversary. First was way back on October 28th 2010.


COMING SOON


IAN'S FINAL NZ MEDITATION RETREAT 

Bringing Mind and Heart Together  21 – 27th October 2017 Ruth and Ian Gawler with Liz Stilwell

Amidst the tranquil beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula, 2 hours from Auckland New Zealand

A mind with no heart is cold and empty.      A mind with heart is warm, creative and full of potential.

Ready to learn how to use meditation and Guided Imagery to open your heart and bring balance to your mind?                       

Join us for this very special retreat!   LINK HERE














IAN'S FINAL MEDITATION TEACHER TRAINING


The delight of teaching others one of the most useful things possible ...

This training, led by Ian and Ruth personally, is based on a comprehensive and fully documented manual. You will learn how to teach two 4 week programs - one featuring guided imagery, the other contemplation; both covering the stillness of meditation as well. These training have been booking out, and like all our retreats, it is wise to register early.

 LINK HERE


IAN'S FINAL SPECIFIC CANCER PROGRAM

CANCER, HEALING and WELLBEING 

Accessing the heart and science of Mind-Body Medicine
Offering genuine hope for all those affected by cancer

20 – 24 November 2017 with Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler

Located amidst the natural beauty of the Yarra Valley


This life-changing program provides the opportunity to experience the food, practise the meditation and to be in a supportive, positive atmosphere. The program is evidence based, highly experiential and practical. The focus is on the therapeutic power of the Healing Diet, the mind and meditation, emotional health and positive psychology. The aim is to provide clarity, understanding and confidence.   LINK HERE


IAN'S FINAL MEDITATION RETREAT


Mind and Heart - connecting with the essence

7 days of Mindfulness, Meditation and Buddhist based philosophy

 Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, clarity, vitality, and balance 

 Learn Imagery techniques that unite heart and mind, and guide personal change




25 September 2017

Life-changes-Dealing-with-the-inevitable

This week, dealing with the essence of life – the fact that it is changing all the time; and how to flourish amidst unavoidable change.

Just about everything is changing rapidly these days. The pace often seems frenetic. No wonder there is so much stress, depression and anxiety about. Changing my own life in a significant fashion and announcing retirement from leading groups has lead to an almost death-like experience. So many kind words of gratitude – enjoyable but like a premature wake.

And then my dear old friend (in both senses - long term and well aged) Lionel Fifield from the Relaxation Centre in Queensland started a conversation around life changes and the challenges they provoke. So this week insights into change, but first



              Thought for the day

When the mind is at peace,
The world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
Not getting stuck in the void,
You are neither holy or wise, 
Just an ordinary fellow 
Who has completed his work.

     P'ang Yün – 8th century Zen Master


In my youth, things seemed to move more slowly. Trends changed almost imperceptibly, technology was more rudimentary and stable, people’s attitude more predictable. Change seemed to sneak up on us slowly. These days it is right in our faces.

In Lionel’s words change is happening for all of us and nobody is excluded. The art must be to be present with each little twist and turn and keep our judgements to the minimum. Not easy as the changes always seem focussed in where we are most addicted and comfortable and vulnerable. I am sure these retreats help a lot. (Lionel is commenting on me having just returned from a month of retreat, during which the final decision to retire became very clear)

My comment for Lionel was to observe most of the time we attempt to change without really changing. So often we go along with changes that feel comfortable or convenient while doing our best to retain the status quo, even when our health, relationships, life circumstances and wellbeing are suffering. There seems to be an incredible attraction to familiarity and a deep reluctance for real change.

Meditation seems to facilitate an ease with change that makes more real change possible.

So the value in longer retreats and regular practice.

Then too, major events like retirement, deaths of loved ones, major changes in circumstances have this powerful capacity to create a potential turning point, a nexus.

Or is it they put us into a limbo state, an intermediary where for a while the possibility for significant change is more noticeable?
More possible?

Clearly for many, maybe not at the time but in retrospect, these major life changes turn out to be blessings for all the positive change that comes as a product of the immediate trauma.

Personally I have to say it. I love change - it is a sure sign of life. Something did happen for me during my youth. I developed a love for change. Maybe it was moving schools so often, moving houses. Maybe it was simply recognising the fact that every moment, everything is changing whether we like it or not, and deciding to embrace change rather than make some awkward and probably painful attempt to avoid it.

So advice around this? 

Not too sure really. Maybe to contemplate the fact that life is a process involving constant change. When anything is not changing – then it is dead. Simple as that. Might as well embrace it. Change is going to happen anyway.

Meditation definitely helps.

My own reflection and experience has led to welcoming change; even looking for it actively.

Making it happen.

Not that it is always enjoyable.

But over the years has come the realisation change is inevitable and if we stay present and committed then change has every prospect of leading on to something delightful – eventually.

This attitude has made it so much easier to deal with all the big changes throughout my life, as well as the smaller ones.

And one day the change will be that we stop breathing. Now that has to be a really interesting change. Wonder what that will lead to???

But then, every moment, whatever we have been doing ceases, that moment “dies” – ends – and a new moment begins. Therefore, while there are times in our lives when major transitions are very obvious – like when we retire – it is actually happening moment to moment; we finish with one thing and begin something new.

So we do not necessarily need to wait for the big moments, the big transitions to make change that will be good for us. Every moment life is changing; that is its nature. Every moment there is the opportunity to shape who it is that we really choose to be.

So thank you to all who have sent kind messages and I wish you all well – in this moment - and the next…


COMING SOON


IAN'S FINAL NZ MEDITATION RETREAT 

Bringing Mind and Heart Together  21 – 27th October 2017 Ruth and Ian Gawler with Liz Stilwell

Amidst the tranquil beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula, 2 hours from Auckland New Zealand

A mind with no heart is cold and empty.      A mind with heart is warm, creative and full of potential.

Ready to learn how to use meditation and Guided Imagery to open your heart and bring balance to your mind?                       

Join us for this very special retreat!   LINK HERE














IAN'S FINAL MEDITATION TEACHER TRAINING


The delight of teaching others one of the most useful things possible ...

This training, led by Ian and Ruth personally, is based on a comprehensive and fully documented manual. You will learn how to teach two 4 week programs - one featuring guided imagery, the other contemplation; both covering the stillness of meditation as well. These training have been booking out, and like all our retreats, it is wise to register early.

 LINK HERE


IAN'S FINAL SPECIFIC CANCER PROGRAM

CANCER, HEALING and WELLBEING 

Accessing the heart and science of Mind-Body Medicine
Offering genuine hope for all those affected by cancer

20 – 24 November 2017 with Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler

Located amidst the natural beauty of the Yarra Valley


This life-changing program provides the opportunity to experience the food, practise the meditation and to be in a supportive, positive atmosphere. The program is evidence based, highly experiential and practical. The focus is on the therapeutic power of the Healing Diet, the mind and meditation, emotional health and positive psychology. The aim is to provide clarity, understanding and confidence.   LINK HERE


IAN'S FINAL MEDITATION RETREAT


Mind and Heart - connecting with the essence

7 days of Mindfulness, Meditation and Buddhist based philosophy

 Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, clarity, vitality, and balance 

 Learn Imagery techniques that unite heart and mind, and guide personal change