Ian is married to Dr Ruth Gawler, a GP with a special interest in Mind-Body medicine. They live together on their own property at Yarra Junction where Ian's love of gardening is manifest in their large orchard and abundant vegetable garden.
As a young veterinary surgeon and athlete, Ian developed bone cancer (osteogenic sarcoma). His leg was amputated in 1975. Later that year the cancer returned and at one point, Ian was expected to live for only a few weeks. Ian then developed an effective self help program with key principles: good food, positive attitudes, meditation and loving support. Ian had a remarkable recovery that was first reported in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1978 by Dr Ainslie Meares, and then again 30 years later by Prof George Jelinek and Dr Ruth Gawler.
Not content with just surviving, Dr Gawler began to share these principles with others. The cancer support group he began in 1981 was the first group in Australia to actively address the needs of patients and their families in coping with, and attempting to overcome, the many challenges cancer presents.
The Gawler Foundation was formed in 1983 as a non-profit, non-denominational body to further this work.
Insight Health Services produces Ian and Ruth Gawler's CDs and DVDs as well as organising many of his interstate, country Victoria and international public talks and workshops. Insight Health Services is a company which functions independently of The Gawler Foundation and is directed by Ian and Ruth Gawler.
Both organisations work synergistically to promote Integrative Medicine and health education.
The emphasis of Ian Gawler's work is on improving both quality of life and survival times as well as preventing illness and developing maximum levels of health and wellbeing.
The benefits observed are often dramatic and achieved by:
- Adding the benefits of self-help techniques to, and co-operating with, medical treatments so that the best possible results are achieved.
- Teaching self-help techniques that generate good food habits, the power of positive thinking- now being called Mind Training, and the benefits of relaxation, stress management and meditation; all in a caring and loving supportive atmosphere.
- Transforming fears and grief into positive action.
- Generating good communication levels.
- Helping people to find purpose and meaning in their lives.
- Assisting the dying to do so with dignity and in peace.
Currently, The Gawler Foundation continues to run a variety of groups which meet each week in Melbourne and Yarra Junction. Residential programs are conducted regularly on The Foundation's property at Yarra Junction. For those affected by cancer these programs run for ten days and cater for people coming from throughout Australia. There are regular New Zealand and other overseas visitors. These programs are reinforced by a range of resources including telephone and individual counselling. The Foundation has also assisted in the formation of similar, autonomous, active support groups throughout Australia. Ian has trained cancer group leaders as well as teachers of meditation regularly since 1988.
The Gawler Foundation is an Incorporated Association with tax deductable, charitable status. It is run by a voluntary Board and 50 staff. As well as Ruth being on staff at the Foundation, other doctors regularly contribute by leading particular sessions in The Foundation's residential programs.
While active cancer and MS support is at the heart of The Foundation's work, a large part of Ian's work has been devoted to helping basically well people to prevent illness, to find peace of mind and to realise their full potential. Meditation has been a key in this process.
Ian Gawler has studied meditation with Dr Ainslie Meares, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche as well as other Leading Buddhist, Indian, Zen, Christian and other Western Meditation Masters. He is a long term student of his main teacher, Sogyal Rinpoche, the author of 'The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying'. Ian's teachings combine the intellect of the West with the insight of the East. In workshops and groups around Australia, Ian has provided an introduction to meditation to over 100,000 people.
Ian is the author of four best sellers 'You Can Conquer Cancer' (1984, revised 2000), 'Peace of Mind' (1987 - revised 2001), 'Meditation - Pure and Simple' (1996), and 'The Creative Power of Imagery' (1997), all by Michelle Anderson Publishing. He has edited seven other books on Mind-Body Medicine. His biography 'The Dragon's Blessing' was written by Guy Allenby and published by Allen and Unwin in 2009. In 2010, he co-authored with Paul Bedson and published through Allen and Unwin a comprehensive work on meditation - 'Meditation - an In Depth Guide'.
Ian speaks around Australia and is known for his clarity, inspiration and good humour. He has appeared widely in all aspects of the media. In 1987 Ian was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his services to the community and he holds a Masters in Counselling and Human Services from La Trobe University.
Ian Gawler has a very positive health related message to share with the community. As a long term cancer survivor himself, teacher of meditation and leader of self-help groups for nearly 30 years, Ian shares his experience and knowledge with authority, integrity, clarity and humour!