27 July 2020

The Joy of Giving

This promises to be somewhat of a self-indulgent post – about the joy of giving something valuable away for free. About money and how it carries so many deep-seated habits, conflicts and confusions around attachment, values and our capacity to be generous.

And maybe a gentle prompt to reconsider your own relationship with money, especially amongst these times of a pandemic when there is a natural tendency to tighten up and hold onto whatever we already have. Where does generosity, a sense of community and sharing come into all of that?; but first

             Thought for the day

     Work is love made visible. 
     And if you cannot work with love, 
     But only with distaste, 
     It is better that you should leave your work 
     And sit at the gate of the temple 
     And take alms from the people who work with joy

                            Khalil Gibran

Not many will know that when I started the work with people affected by cancer way back in 1981, my initial thought was to offer it freely and rely upon donations for it to progress. Truth is I was talked out of this by my first wife and especially Dr Ainslie Meares. Ainslie, that renowned psychiatrist who introduced therapeutic meditation to the Western world, advise me people in the West only value what they pay for.

So that work evolved into a charitable foundation where fee for service was supplemented by a strong fundraising program. For decades we raised about 25 – 30% of the annual turnover of the foundation and used much of this to offset the program fees.

Amidst this there were plenty of examples of people’s relationships to money. Wealthy people who cried poor and insisted upon discounts. Seriously disadvantaged people who gave a little but in a way that what they gave was highly meaningful – and valued. Wealthy people who gave more but relative to their worth was very little and hence not so meaningful.

Experiments with offering programs by donation and regularly receiving around 25% of what would have been the standard fees if it had been a fee for service event.

Fascinating conversations before and after free events…
“How much is the donation?”

A : :There is no set amount, it is up to you…”

“Yes but how much is it?”

Flying Faith Airlines. This is what we called the principle of proceeding with an important new venture when the money for it was not yet to hand. Proceeding with Faith and expecting the money to follow. Getting into financially difficult situations (quite regularly over the years), only to be bailed out by a major gift or bequest.

Significantly for me, never feeling stressed by money. A deep confidence that with the right motivation held by the bulk of our staff, it would all work out well. And it did

But now a new App – Allevi8. To charge or to offer for free?

What a relief. My business partners agree – it has to be offered freely.

Now to be clear, a huge amount of time and money has gone into developing this App. And yes, the 3 of us are in the fortunate situation where we are not dependent upon income from this particular App to keep us alive financially. And yes, we would like to make a profit.

However, there is such a delight in offering it for free.

The joy of giving.

It is such a good feeling not to need to “sell” the product.

We have made it the best we can.

We offer it freely.

If people respond to it, appreciate it and want it to become available to others, then yes, please do pay it forward and contribute.

And notice this.

When something like an Allevi8 is offered freely, it frees you up. There are no barriers. No need to consider “can I afford it?”. “Does this represent value for money?”. “Is it worth $5 a month? $10?”

No, it is simply. Download it. Try it. If it is of no value, no harm done. If you like it and just want to use it for free, no harm done – and please do feel good that other people are making it available for you. If you like it and want to Pay it Forward, no harm done! But maybe a good feeling.

The Joy of Giving

13 July 2020

Allevi8 – the new, free meditation-based App

My heart goes out to everyone confronted by major illness. Stress, anxiety and mental illness can follow a diagnosis. Sleep can be disturbed, emotions challenged. I experienced enough of pain myself; and then how best to heal, how to make sense of it all?

With this in mind, Ruth and I have contributed to a new, free App - Allevi8 - specifically designed to provide meditation-based answers to all these related issues. And in this challenging time of the pandemic, it seems many others may well benefit as well. Allevi8 is easy to locate and download in the Apple and Android App stores; and it is free.

So this week, all the details including news of regular guided meditation practice sessions on Zoom, but first

           Thought for the day

     What lies before us  
     And what lies behind us
     Are small matters
     Compared to what lies within us.

     And when we bring 
     What is within us
     Out into the world
     Miracles happen.

              Henry David Thoreau

There are many meditation Apps around these days. Over the last 10 years I have partnered with my good friend Saurabh Mishra as we worked on various versions ourselves. Safe to say we have learnt heaps amidst a tough IT environment.

A specific App for people in need
What we realize is there are few if any specific Apps designed for people affected by major illness – to be clear, chronic, degenerative diseases like cancer, MS, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer’s.

Having worked with people affected by these challenging conditions for decades and having seen over and over how much meditation-based practices can alleviate the symptoms that so frequently accompany these conditions, it seemed natural to bring together all we have learnt with Apps to make these specific techniques widely available.

We have been fortunate to gather a great team to make it all possible...

Allevi8 is offered freely
All of us involved with Allevi8 have felt the benefits of these techniques in our personal and professional lives.

Therefore, we are keen to make the practices freely available.

We figure that if like us, people value them (after using them and feeling the benefits) then they may well be inspired to donate a small amount, “Pay it Forward” as it were, keep the App going and help make it possible for the next person to use it freely.

Available in the voices of Ruth and myself 
Ruth and I have recorded specific practices to provide deep relaxation, guided mindfulness, contemplation and meditation, as well as guided imagery.

Five challenging needs addressed 
We have specifically addressed 5 main areas that our research highlighted are the areas of most concern amongst people affected by chronic degenerative disease. They are

1. Stress, anxiety and mental illness; including sleep disturbances.

2. Emotional distress – dealing with difficult emotions

3. Pain management – personal techniques you can use that work

4. Healing – how to use inner resources to foster healing on all levels

5. Meaning – how to make sense of all the changes and challenges major illness brings.

The contents
There is a main meditation practice that is relevant to all 5 domains, and then specific practices for each. While you may be drawn initially to Allevi8 for say pain management or healing, you will have access to all the practices.

Also, there is a self-referencing questionnaire that enables the App to assist you to self-monitor and evaluate your progress.

Those who are already familiar with the work of Ruth and myself will find some familiarity, but there are several practices that have not been readily available before.

You can choose to listen to Ruth’s voice or my own; or vary it around…

The App is designed to be used by those directly affected by major illness, their families and carers, as well as health professionals in this field.

A great deal of care has gone into ensuring the Allevi8 App is easy to use, easy to navigate and of course, that it works well. Happily, early users have provided very positive feedback.

Join us on-line to meditate together
Finally, as a bonus, we plan to commence a weekly virtual meditation group for Allevi8 users via Zoom.

Seems many of us have now experienced how meaningful and supportive it can be to link with like-minded people via some of these amazing new IT functions.

So when you register, you need to provide your email (which of course will be both respected and secured), and from this we will send a Zoom link for these sessions.

Ruth and I will be leading them and we plan some special guests as time flows along.

So please feel free to support this new initiative and try the App. Also, please do share it with friends and people you know who may be in need. It is free…

Available in all good App stores! Simply search for Allevi8.

May your practice flow
And bring substantial and sustainable benefits…

29 June 2020

Do vegetarians need to combine proteins?

Do you get enough? Do you get the right sort? These are the 2 basic questions for any food group, and for many vegetarians and vegans it is one of real concern when it comes to protein.

How many of us have been told “the only way to get enough protein is to eat meat’, or “vegetables and grains do not have the right proteins; only meat does”.

So this week, what are the facts? What to do? Also, did you know You Can Conquer Cancer is available as an audio book? But first

  Thought for the week
    Addiction is any behaviour or substance 
    That a person uses to relieve pain in the short term, 
    But which leads to negative consequences in the long term. 

   Without addressing the root cause of the pain, 
   A person may try to stop 
   But will ultimately crave further relief 
   And be prone to relapse. 
                           Dr Gabor Mate

Actually, the protein issue is incredibly easy
Bottom line, the research is clear. It is almost impossible for a reasonably healthy vegetarian or vegan in a Western country who is eating enough calories to get a protein deficiency. It is that simple.

But maybe you need more detail; a little convincing…

A brief context – what protein does
Protein is a nutrient your body needs to grow and repair cells and for it to work properly.

How much is enough?
How much protein you need varies depending on your weight, gender, age and health. The average sedentary woman needs around 46 gms of protein daily; the average sedentary man needs 55gms.

There is no need to labour this; all the authorities agree, this is in easy target to reach. The fact is a plant‑based diet commonly delivers close to twice the average daily protein requirement.

But do we get the right type of protein?
The issue here is protein is made up of 20 different amino acids. Humans can make 11 of these within their bodies and so these ones are called non-essential amino acids

There are nine amino acids your body cannot make, and so these ones are known as essential amino acids.

Foods that contain all 20 amino acids are called complete proteins.

Meat, fish and dairy are complete proteins with high levels of all amino acids.

But here is the news - vegetables and grains also are complete proteins, it is just most have low levels of some amino acids and could be said to be “less complete” than meat, fish and dairy.

However, to call them “incomplete proteins” is factually incorrect.

Certain lobbies and old school nutritionists spread the myth that vegetarians are at risk of protein deficiency because they are eating incomplete proteins. The implication is they need meat.

Also, older thinking used to emphasise the need of vegetarians to combine different vegetables and particularly grains to ensure a balanced intake of amino acids.

There was a good deal of talk about “complementary proteins” – particularly in reference to grains that combined to produce a high level of all the amino acids.

The implication here was vegetarians needed to eat 2 of the correct complementary protein sources at any given meal to achieve a complete protein intake.

So here is the latest good news.

Do not worry.

All the best recent research says as long as you are eating a variety of foods, there is no need to combine particular protein sources at a given meal.

Complementary proteins are a non-issue.

Given what you are eating has enough calories for your needs, is very difficult, almost impossible, to get this wrong and create a protein deficiency for yourself.

All of this is both incredibly complex in its detail, and incredibly simple in its conclusions...

Our bodies are incredibly smart, so here are a couple of mechanisms it uses to ensure the right amino acid balance.

1. Storage
Yes, the body simply stores a range of amino acids to use when intake on any given day is low.

2. Recycling
Each day, around 90 grams of protein is recycled through the digestive tract. The proteins are broken down, reassembled, reabsorbed to ensure we have what we need, when we need it.

Clever right?

So relax.

If you must worry about something to do with what you are eating, protein is not one of them!

Want even more detail?

Read You Can Conquer Cancer or listen to the audio book - LINK - where there is more information on protein and all food groups.

Go to the Victorian Government Health website that has lots of facts and numbers :)

15 June 2020

Manifestation: the simple secret - you will see it when you need it

The universe is a huge place. Our own world is ripe with possibilities. In each of our own communities there is so much potential.

So why when we have a real need do we often doubt it will be met?

Sometimes it comes down to not seeing what is there. So this week, how to find what we really need along with a classic account of not seeing the extra-ordinary, but first

  Thought for the day
Look at the birds of the air; 
They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, 
And yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not much more valuable than they? 
Can any one of you by worrying 
Add even a single hour to your life? 
And why do you worry about clothes? 
See how the lilies of the field grow. 
They do not labour or spin. 
Yet I tell you that not even Solomon 
In all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, 
Which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, 
Will he not much more clothe you – oh you of little faith? 
                                                            Matthew 6: 26-30

This is a true story.

2007, a cold winter’s morning, Washington Metro station. An unassuming man busking with a violin for around 45 minutes. Around 2,000 people pass him by. A child pulls at his mother’s arm to pause, but she hurries him along. This happens again with several other children. A few slow on passing, 6 actually stop for a moment, a few drop coins; he pockets the $32. One woman actually does recognise him and is in awe.

Two days earlier, this same world renowned violinist - Joshua Bell - sold out Boston’s major arts theatre where seats averaged over $100. He played the same pieces while busking – extremely intricate music of Bach, and he played on a violin worth $3.5 million; and this was in 2007!
Watch the amazing video...

What can we take from this intriguing social experiment?

Perception is a curious thing. Can we see – or hear - beauty out of context? If we cannot recognise what is on offer, be in too much of a hurry, be too pre-occupied to notice the beauty around us, what else might we be missing out on?

When my children were young we had a rubber boat to play with in our dam. The boat perished and we replaced it one Christmas. I mistakenly had thought the oars were still good so did not buy new ones – mistake.

So on going back to work in the New Year, I wondered where I might buy just new oars.

Travelling the same route as I did every day for the past several years – about an hour’s drive – a startling discovery!

Over the Christmas break, 4 new stores had opened along that route that potentially had what I was looking for.

Now of course these stores had not really just opened, they had been there all the time in this abundant world we live in, but I had no need of them, was not looking for them, so for all intents and purposes, they were not there!

The moral of these stories? Once we are really clear about what we are looking for, it is likely to be there; we simply need clarity and persistence to go looking.

And that in simple terms is the art and science of manifestation.

Simple really.

Oh, and trust in an abundant universe - like birds do.

And lilies seem to do alright too..

As well as the dahlias...

And the ...

May we all find what we are looking for…

01 June 2020

In times of need, how best to boost creativity – drugs or meditation???

Taking the next big steps in history has always required substantial doses of creativity. As we all lurch forward in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is our own creativity up to it? What can we do to boost our creativity and respond in a creative yet effective manner?

Steve Jobs created Apple – and lauded drugs to stimulate creativity; LSD and marijuana in particular. Both for himself and for his staff. Yet he also meditated a lot. So this week, we go Out on a Limb once more, compare different pathways to creativity and detail 3 great possibilities. Enjoy the trip…, but first

    Thought for the day 

Taking LSD was a profound experience, 
One of the most important things in my life. 
LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, 
And you can’t remember it when it wears off, 
But you know it. 

It reinforced my sense of what was important
—creating great things instead of making money, 
putting things back into the stream of history 
and of human consciousness as much as I could.

                                         Steve Jobs

Sources of creativity 
Seems like there are 4 main ones - trauma, necessity, drugs and inner experiences (most reliably accessed via meditation and contemplation).

Many draw on suffering for creativity; or find suffering generates creativity. The tortured artist is a real thing – simply look at just about any modern art! But let us not wish this avenue to creativity on anyone; maybe just celebrate it when it happens almost like some form of compensation or happy side-effect.

Did you grow up with this too??? “Necessity is the mother of invention”. I did and it is true, yet what is the process that activates invention and creativity? Seems many get stuck with deep seated needs and fail to find answers; what helps with break throughs?

Many indigenous traditions have used drugs in a ritualistic fashion to open the mind and launch

LSD, ganja or marijuana, peyote, psilocybin, magic mushrooms…

There is quite a list, yet the key point is traditionally these drugs were used ritualistically, not recreationally.

So then we come to Steve Jobs.

The master of cool. The master of minimalist, beautiful design of great objects that do their job. Apple stuff looks good and it works. It has an elegance, along with a high level of functionality. A rare combination.

So the man… We know from Steve Jobs’ biography and via FBI files on him from the days when he needed government clearance to work on Pixar that as well as being a serious meditator, he had been a serious drug user.

Throughout that period of time [1972–1974] I used the LSD approximately ten to fifteen times,” Jobs is quoted to say.

I would ingest the LSD on a sugar cube or in a hard form of gelatin. I would usually take the LSD when I was by myself. I have no words to explain the effect the LSD had on me, although, I can say it was a positive life changing experience for me and I am glad I went through that experience.

Jobs also smoked marijuana or hashish, or ate it cooked into chocolate brownies, once or twice a
week between 1973 and 1977.

He employed many maverick types at Apple, especially in the early days when he was chasing innovation, and he seemed very warm to their drug use.

So let us be clear.

I have never taken LSD and am not advocating its use. However, what Jobs’ usage points to is that creativity often flows out of an altered state of mind. What has interested me for decades is how we might tap into that same altered state of creativity - independently of drugs.

And a spoiler alert. Speaking personally, virtually all my creativity, all my good ideas, all my clarity of direction have come out of meditation and contemplation. So how do we tap into our own creativity more directly?

4. How to develop more creativity - directly courtesy of your own mind

i) Meditate regularly

Yes – it is as simple and as difficult as that.

When we do meditate regularly, the practice takes us past the confines of our ordinary,
day-to-day thinking.

Regular meditation expands the mind;
expands our awareness.

Creativity flows naturally, effortlessly.

What we need to accomplish this flow is the self-discipline to do it – regularly, and the confidence it will happen – the confidence that over time, our creativity will flourish when needed.

It is as simple and as difficult as that.

ii) Boost creativity with contemplation
The contemplation that works for this purpose has 2 components.

Firstly we active think about a topic that needs a creative solution. If you need help how to actually do this most effectively, my latest book, Blue Sky Mind offers techniques.

But more than, we balance the active thinking with periods of stillness. Regularly in this practice we let go of the Active Mind and wait for insight and creativity to arise and become apparent – from within the Still Mind.

This is my own go to method and it has served me exceptionally well over many decades. Well worth experimenting with…

iii) Use Creative Imagery
It is possible to use the Active Mind more directly to foster creativity. In common usage, brainstorming and mind mapping are expressions of these techniques and if you want pointers here, better go to The Mind that Changes Everything where specific techniques are detailed.

So it is possible. Without trauma or drugs we can expand our minds, generate heaps of creativity and solve challenging problems.

Speaking personally, the is a strong intention to make these techniques available to our current youth.

Heaven knows they will need them…

Happy meditating…

Blue Sky Mind

The Mind that Changes Everything

Downloads for Relaxation, mindfulness and meditation available in both Ruth and my own voices



One of the very best ways to learn something is to teach it. All being well, Ruth and I will lead a training for meditation teachers keen to teach contemplation. It is one of my very favourite programs to present and hopefully will go ahead as planned …

MEDITATION TEACHER TRAINING   with Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler

Ian and Ruth have been teaching teachers of meditation for decades. This is a unique opportunity to learn from them directly in two 5 day residential trainings – Module 1 on meditation, Module 2 – contemplation. Attending both modules will meet the requirements for provisional membership of the Meditation Association of Australia. Both trainings will be highly experiential and be based upon comprehensive manuals.

Venue     The Yarra Valley Living Centre,  55 Rayner Crt, Yarra Junction, Victoria

Dates     Meditation Teacher Training 3 - 7 Octomber 2020 : Full details  : Click here

          Contemplation 7-11 September, 2020  ;  Full details :  Click here

Inquiries  and Bookings   Call 1300 651 211 or www.gawler.org


7 day Residential Meditation Retreat with Ruth and Ian Gawler and Melissa Borich 

Modern culture has taught us to look externally for solutions to feeling better… substances we can take, new and exciting experiences, the acquiring of new ‘things.

However, to regain balance and cultivate reliable, sustainable joy, we learn to go within.

Meditation provides real answers.

And all of this amidst the nurture and beauty of the Yarra Valley Living Centre…

Dates     Saturday 14th to Friday 20th November

Venue   The Yarra Valley Living Centre, 55 Rayner Crt, Yarra Junction, Victoria

More details   CLICK HERE

Inquiries and Bookings    Call 1300 651 211   or  www.gawler.org