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).

Trauma
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.

Necessity
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?

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

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.

SUMMARY
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…


RESOURCES
Blue Sky Mind

The Mind that Changes Everything

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

LINK HERE



INTERESTED TO REALLY KNOW THESE TECHNIQUES? 
WANT TO TEACH THEM???


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


RECLAIMING JOY  

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


18 May 2020

An Open Heart – what meditation has to offer on death, grief and COVID-19

Sitting to meditate at home a few days back, I found tears pouring down my face. Pouring. Flowing freely. Yet no distress. Just lots of tears.

I recently learnt a delightful young man had succumbed to the same cancer that once came into my own life.

So what were the tears?

Common grief? Self-identification? Sadness? Despair? The expression of the accumulated grief of years spilling over? Something natural? Well maybe…

But actually, on this occasion those tears flowed courtesy of a major insight, so this week let us go Out on a Limb in a real sense, be brave and consider how a realistic and healthy understanding of death can have a positive impact on our lives. Also, new details and dates for the meditation teacher trainings (mindfulness and meditation; then contemplation) and meditation retreat postponed due to the pandemic, but first

           Thought for the Day
To work with changes now. 
In life. 
That is the real way to prepare for death. 
Life may be full of pain, suffering, and difficulty, 
But all of these are opportunities 
Handed to us to help us move 

Toward an emotional acceptance of death. 
It is only when we believe things to be permanent 
That we shut off the possibility of learning from change.

                          Sogyal Rinpoche

It had been my good fortune to come to know this young man for whom I grieved quite well. It was easy to recognise his many fine qualities and appreciate his passion for life and thorough commitment to staying alive.

Faced with the grief of loss, especially when it comes early in life through the agency of accident or sickness, it is so easy to close our hearts.

Speaking candidly, I have come to know many people over the years who have died “early”.

So my insight as I sat meditating was how rather than closing the heart, how much more sense it makes to open the heart in the face of the reality of death.

This young man’s death reminded me to open my heart.

And sometimes, tears flow quite naturally.

Now for the spoiler alert… Look away if you are not ready to face what we all know, yet so often disregard.

Life is so precious and yet so fragile. Of course we will all die one day. We all know this. Currently, many are fearful of dying of COVID-19. Yet on any given day, far more people die of cancer or heart disease. This is not to make light or diminish any aspect of the pandemic, but we all know this too is a fact.

So how does this fact of death inform our life.

How do we live given we know one day we will die?
Do we attempt to close off?

Do our best to block out the thought of death, distract ourselves as much as possible and attempt to live in the hope of being immortal?

Reality is, for those who do attempt to live in denial of death, underneath there will always be the knowing of the truth and with that truth comes an inescapable low-level, chronic fear.

And with the fear, it is natural to close the heart somewhat. Natural to attempt to create a wall of emotional defence. And with this defence comes a new certainty. Relationships will always suffer. Always be compromised. Always filtered through barriers.

In closing our hearts to almost any degree, we run the risk of diminishing some of the best parts in life – the closeness, the intimacy of relationships.

By contrast, it takes a brave heart to be open. There are bound to be times when tears flow. But then, with an open heart there is the chance for open relationships. Real engagement. Real sharing of truth. Real intimacy.

People often have asked me how has it been possible to work for so many years with those dealing with major illness? For while many are alive and very well; reality is many have died.

The answer may seem counter-intuitive, yet has proven real for me.

Attempting to keep an open heart has actually protected me from real hurt.

Rather than hiding behind some form of clinical detachment I attempted to be more open.

I chose to make friends with people I worked with and invited them to share their experiences and feelings.

We all aspired to be a little more open.

How is this helpful? Easy really. Reflect on this… A fully open heart cannot be hurt. An open heart is one that is full of pure love. Unconditional love. Unconditional. Un-hurt-able.

Now I certainly do not profess to work in a state of unending unconditional love. And my sense for all of us is that if ever, we will probably only experience this state in the depths of profound meditation. Or maybe we can gain a glimpse of it in the lives of luminaries and models like Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. Or maybe when we die…

However, simply aspiring to this state while we are alive, being prepared to take the risk and aiming to be as open as possible, makes for great possibilities.

It frees one to cry in the company of someone telling a deeply personal and tough story – and to not have someone else’s voice in your head saying it is not OK to cry in such circumstances; especially if you are meant to be the therapist, or the oldest sibling, or the one who “has it all together”, or a man – or whatever….

It frees one to cry in one’s own company when touched by the death of a fine young man; and it frees one to dare to be more open in relationships generally.


So how to gain this daring? Well, first comes the idea… The recognition that to aim for a more open heart is worthwhile. Then intention takes us a long way. The trick is to remember what we are aiming for, and to be prepared to face our own pain as we feel the pain of our self and of others.

A good lead-in is learning to meditate in less comfortable circumstances. Being able to sit with discomfort and not react - one of the many great skills we can gift ourselves through meditation.

Then in the practice of meditation, maybe we do start to sense, or to access that part of ourselves that is beyond the fears and the barriers; to come closer to a direct experience of the unconditional love that resides in the heart of all of us.

And once we do touch that pure love, to aspire to live a life more fully informed by that. To live with a more open heart...


















RESOURCES
Blue Sky Mind

Relaxation, mindfulness and meditation downloads available in both Ruth and my own voices –

LINK HERE

COMING ATTRACTIONS     :)
.
RECLAIMING JOY  

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


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

11 May 2020

Avoid COVID-19 - 8 top tips to boost immune function

Well, it seems the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic may well be over and now we move into a whole new phase of our collective lives. Living with a new threat to life. A new disease.

So this week, 8 simple steps that we can all manage in daily life that can be relied upon to boost immune function, have us in the best health to recover from the virus if we do happen to develop it, and that will give us the best chance of avoiding all the chronic degenerative diseases. A simple formula, but first

    Thought for the day

In our time, in our civilization, 
Sitting and doing nothing 
Is considered either to be a luxury 
Or a waste of time. 

But sitting can produce 
The most nourishing calm and joy 
And we can all afford some time to sit. 

How wonderful to sit 
And do nothing.

      Thich Nhat Hanh




So as we begin to navigate these uncertain times, what is our best protection? How to bolster our own health to best resist the virus along with anything else we would rather not catch or develop? How best to boost our own natural good health; our own immune systems?

Seven simple yet reliable steps to boost immune function

1. Meditate daily for 20 minutes
For guidance - my new book Blue Sky Mind, and downloads of all the exercises therein guided by Ruth and myself - available by Clicking Here . If you cannot manage to meditate daily, then do it twice daily - your need is clearly greater!

2. Eat well 

Guidance - follow a plant-based, whole food vegetarian or even better vegan diet.

For details, best go direct to the recipe book compiled by the Gawler Foundation catering team : Eat Well, Be Well 

3. Exercise for 30 - 60 minutes daily

Guidance - just do it! If you miss a day or two per week, that will be OK, but aim for daily.

4. Get regular, sensible sunlight exposure
For guidance - check this excellent guide from my friends at Overcoming MS - Click here.  Vit D is crucial for good immune function and while the information in the link is framed for people with MS, it is one of the very best summaries anywhere...

5. Maintain a good social network 
Guidance - start with a good relationship with your self. You are the most important relationship you have. Be kind to yourself. Generous. Then pay it forward to others. Use social media wisely...

Lots of great books to consider, but here are 2 that are old but very good : Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix and Love is Letting go of Fear by Jerry Jampolski.

6. Be creative
Guidance - try this…
Go into an art store - or look on-line - and pick up and feel blank drawing books. Personally, I like A4 size, but you may find a small one speaks to you, or maybe a bigger one. Take home the one you like the feel of. Same with pencils or crayons, pens or watercolours. Feel around and select what asks to accompany you.

Then try this
Each day create an image on the right hand side of your book. Maybe something abstract, maybe something literal. Do your best to let go of thinking and allow the image to develop as spontaneously as possible. When it feels complete. Stand back a little, reflect for a moment, and without labouring things, write a title or very short piece on the left hand page. Add the date - and smile. Do this daily and enjoy…

Creativity is highly under-valued but is a powerful force for good health.

7. Practice gratitude 
Guidance - simple really - just do it whenever you think of it. Start easy… wake up and be grateful you did not die in the night! Then at the end of the day, think of what you can be grateful for - from the simple to the profound. Make it a habit and enjoy the warm feeling it steadily builds within.

And a tip - as you become more grateful for the easy things - those things you find it easy to be grateful for, start to be grateful for the tough stuff too. Then the benefits will start to really flow…

This single emotion – gratitude - has multiple and profound benefits.

8. Consider taking a potion - Echinaforce
Guidance - there is a myriad of supplements and potions touted for good immune function. Based on experience garnered over many years, the one I recommend is Echinaforce liquid. An extract of echinacea it has stood the test of time and many have reported feeling its benefits. Use your judgement. If you do take it, probably best to have breaks from it for a few days every few weeks - seems better for the system...

Do all this and enjoy chronic good health!

RELATED BLOGS
What is behind the COVID-19 pandemic
– and what to do

Simple meditation for complex times
Leave it as it is
– the direct approach into meditation

How to build a veggie garden quickly
– or revamp one


27 April 2020

COVID-19 - understanding fear; accessing solutions

Franklin D Roosevelt is famously quoted as saying The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Well, seems fear is a predominate emotion for many beset by the pandemic and surely all of us will have experienced it to some degree.

So this week what can we understand about this very potent emotion called fear?  Can it be a force for good, or is it always destructive? And what to do about it? With one radical solution, but first




   Thought for the day

         In horror of death, I took to the mountains. 
        Again and again I meditated 
        On the uncertainty of the hour of death. 
        Capturing the fortress 
        Of the deathless unending nature of mind,
        Now all fear of death is over and done.

                            Milarepa 







So clearly fear does generate a good deal of energy. Raw energy. Then, what we do with that energy determines whether it becomes a force for good, or a destructive force.

Fear as an agent of transformation
With just a little reflection, we can appreciate that many good things are inspired and followed through driven by the energy of fear. Hitler was repulsed, social changes accomplished, environmental laws enacted, personal relationships sorted; all manner of things improve when the energy of fear is provoked and sustaines positive change.

What to do
Righteous fear is a tricky one.

While good has been achieved often, much that is evil has been conducted in the name of dealing with an external source of fear. One needs a good deal of inner stability and clarity to be confident one is using fear wisely.

Perhaps this is no more difficult than practicing “Right Action” at any time. Responding appropriately to any given circumstance is a major life challenge and may well be one of the best hallmarks of a “good person”. In my experience, the one thing we can do that will most likely help us with this challenge is regular meditation.

Fear as an agent for collapse
For some, the energy of fear is simply over-whelming. Big dog, little dog. The little dog rolls over and plays dead. The big dog loses interest, goes away and life goes on…

However, fear finds some people stuck long-term in the roll over position. A feeling it is all too hard. A feeling of powerlessness; hopelessness, apathy, paralysis. Sadly, domestic violence plunges some into this tough state. Maybe the collective inaction on real and necessary climate change action is a product of too many people being of the persuasion that it is all too fearful, too hard, to unattainable.

What to do?
Sadly, often it takes the situation worsening into an extreme to provoke action.

Maybe more simply, having the courage to start a dialogue makes a difference.

This may well be where someone close can be effective; creating a safe place to express the fear, to enable the person involved to feel it somewhat and to gather a glimmer of hope for a way forward.

Fear as an agent for destruction
This is the one we all fear. Where fear of fear comes from. The fear that fear will lead to our own undoing – or that of others we love and care for. We probably all know it too well - fear does commonly lead to polarisation, blame, aggression, deception, panic, injustice; all manner of destructive feelings and actions.

What to do?

i) When fear leads to projection
By projection we mean that the fear is directed outwardly. Common projection strategies are to find someone to blame, to be aggressive towards something or someone; to not accept any role or responsibility in the situation.


Many leaders use this strategy – President Trump is a leading example. We could call it deflecting, passing the buck or simply say “it was not my fault”. Of course, this strategy has a lot going for it. Usually it is not too hard to find someone to blame; often it is easy to feel well justified in asserting it was their doing not mine.

But none of this leads to satisfying, long-term solutions.

What to do
This can be tough. As they say, we need to own our part in it, feel the fear, avoid projection and do what we can to work constructively with whatever the issue is. There is probably enough for a book in this last sentence, but maybe it points the way a little . Very satisfying if we can turn this around. Might take good support to pull it off.

ii) When fear leads to guilt

“I must have done something terrible to deserve this.”

Often fear does lead to this sort of thinking while the feeling that goes with it can lead to the acceptance of all manner of tough circumstances.


What to do
In dealing with guilt, often a reality check is a good place to start. And talking your reality through with a good, level-headed friend or skilled professional.

Commonly we all have done our best.

Commonly we all make mistakes, we all have short-comings.

But then, commonly we all have redeeming features.

Taking blame upon ourselves in a neurotic way is neither helpful to us, nor to others.

So maybe contemplation of our own qualities might be helpful. An inner reality check. Maybe then a sense of proportion.

iii) When fear leads to panic
Pole vaulting trained me well.

Being a decathlon athlete in my 2 legged youth, I was of necessity a part-time pole vaulter.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong; and they often did.

So on the way down from a considerable height from yet another unsuccessful vault is not a time to panic.

Better to stay cool and attempt to land without too much damage.

Now faced with danger, threat or fear, I am happily programmed to become calmer, clearer and take time to assess the situation and decide upon a course of action.

Then for me, meditation has helped develop this early skill to a heightened degree.

What to do
So maybe you have missed the window of opportunity to take up pole vaulting. What I have observed others doing with good effect, however, is to make a choice about how to respond and reinforce it often. Like an affirmation. Develop a conditioned response out of your own choice.

Fear of death – and the radical solution

In horror of death…” This latest Thought for the day from Milarepa speaks to the primordial fear. Fear of death. Even worse, fear of personal annihilation – that when we die we lose all sense of self.

What to do

I took to the mountains…

These days meditation is where you find it.

Milarepa, however, emphasises meditating on the horror of death – over and over.

So rather than responding to the fear of death with manic activity, apathy or projection, we face it.


Feel the fear, stay with it, contemplate it and break through. Break through the layer of fear our mind constructs around our deeper essence. Break through using meditation to a direct experience of our true inner self, and realise its true nature that amongst other things, is beyond death.


Be prepared for death, be able to live well.


Happy meditating…

Oh, and perhaps to finish… Roosevelt’s complete quote – taken from his inauguration speech in 1933:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

And let us pray for inspired leadership free of fear, free of projection in these very needy times.


RELATED BLOG
What is behind the panic around COVID-19? and what to do 



RECOMMENDED READING
Love is Letting Go of Fear - Jerry Jampolski

13 April 2020

Is being over 70 a COVID-19 death sentence? By a 70 year old - with 7 reliable steps to reverse ageing and boost immunity…

Consider this. I have one leg, one lung, probably one functional kidney and am over 70. Bloody miracle I am even alive, let alone COVID-19 free! And yes, I am taking isolation seriously (and loving it, especially as I get to share it with Ruth), but no, I am not fearful - or cocky.

Why? Because there is a difference between chronological age and physiological age, and while the former is a given, the latter we can all influence very directly and immediately. I may be 70 years old in chronological years, but physiologically - more like in young to middle age!

So this week, how to maintain good anti-viral health and immunity by reducing our physiological age - and enjoying it, but first



     Thought for the day  


  At the core of all forms of addiction
  There is a psycho-spiritual emptiness,
  An alienation from meaning, connection and   belonging.

                       Dr Gabor Mate






It is a sad fact that the majority of those dying with COVID-19, and yes, not all, but most, seem to be those with pre- existing health issues - mostly chronic degenerative disease, and mostly brought on by physiological ageing.

So here is the thing : there is chronological age - how many years have passed since your birth - and there is physiological age - how much your body has actually aged through wear and tear. The 2 are often confused.



This is like 2 new cars of the same make when one is purchased and driven by the proverbial little old lady (do not give me a hard time for political incorrectness, you know what I mean); the other by a young hoon.

After 5 years, one remains in as new condition, the other is just about ready for the scrap heap.



When all too many teenagers develop atherosclerosis and yet some 80 year olds can run marathons, the difference in people is easy to see. Problem is, the human body being the wonderful instrument that it is, most can get away with treating it indifferently up until around 50. From there, two groups begin to emerge - those heading for chronic degenerative disease, and those not.


Lifestyle choices really begin to show by 60 with the health and vitality of those looking after themselves standing in contrast with the multiple ailments of those not.

Consider this damning statistic : 50 per cent of those aged over 65 years are on five or more medications.

By 70 the contrast is becoming even more stark, by 80, extreme.


So yes, thankfully chronological age is not the same as physiological age and happily while one is irreversible the other is not. We can do nought to change our chronological age - except lie. However, while physiological age is ideally conserved from a young age, it is never too late to address it.

It is claimed that regular meditation can drop physiological age by an average of 15 years. This makes some sense of the extensive literature demonstrating meditation to be a powerful preventative for all chronic degenerative diseases. How meditation has this positive effect is two-fold.

First there is the direct physiological effect. Most people these days have a pretty good inkling of the multiple ways meditation changes bio-chemistry and fosters good health in this direct way.

However, what meditation also does is to improve our mental state bringing more clarity and confidence. Therefore, one of its greatest benefits is it does lead to positive behavioural change. I have long contended, one of main reasons meditation has so many proven health benefits is due to its flow on effects.



By this I mean that when we have more clarity and confidence, we see things better; we become more aware and we make better decisions.

We start to notice what foods make us feel better, what worse; and because we are in a better state of mind, rather than eating junk to fill some emotional hole or neurotic need, we are content to eat what does agree with us and feels good.

Same with exercise.

We go for a walk, feel the benefit and go again.

Personal discipline, which for those with confused and troubled minds can be so hard, suddenly with the clarity and confidence meditation brings, becomes much easier.


And as we gravitate almost effortlessly to a healthier lifestyle, we reverse our chronological age; our health and vitality steadily builds.

In this time of a global pandemic, it is never too late to start. Good for you if you have been doing this for years. Nice to know you can influence your own health so powerfully and positively. But if this is new to you, what to do?

Seven simple steps to build good immune function and good general health.
Seven steps to avoid chronic degenerative disease.
Seven steps to significantly reduce physiological ageing…

1. Meditate daily for 20 minutes. If you cannot manage this, then do it twice daily - your need is clearly greater!

2. Eat well - a plant-based, whole food vegetarian or even better vegan diet.

3. Exercise for 30 - 60 minutes daily. If you miss a day or two per week, that will be OK, but aim for daily.

4. Get regular, sensible sunlight exposure. Vit D is crucial for good immune function.

5. Maintain a good social network. Start with a good relationship with your self. You are the most important relationship you have. Be kind to yourself. Generous. Then pay it forward to others.

6. Be creative. Creativity is highly under-valued but is a powerful force for good health.

7. Finally, practice gratitude. This single emotion has multiple and profound benefits. Start easy… wake up and be grateful you did not die in the night! Then at the end of the day, think of what you can be grateful for - from the simple to the profound.

Do all this and enjoy chronic good health!

RESOURCES
1. Meditation - my new book Blue Sky Mind, and downloads of all the exercises therein guided by Ruth and myself - available by Clicking Here 

2. Dietary guidelines - best go direct to a recipe book compiled by the Gawler Foundation catering team : Eat Well, Be Well 

3. Exercise - just do it!

4. Sunlight exposure - check this excellent guide from my friends at Overcoming MS - Click here

5. Healthy relationships - lots of great books to consider, but here are 2 that are old but very good : Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix and Love is Letting go of Fear by Jerry Jampolski.

6. Creativity - try this… Go into an art store - or look on-line - and pick up and feel blank drawing books. Personally, I like A4 size, but you may find a small one speaks to you, or maybe a bigger one. Take home the one you like the feel of. Same with pencils or crayons, pens or watercolours. Feel around and select what asks to accompany you.

Then try this; each day create an image on the right hand side of your book. Maybe something abstract, maybe something literal. Do your best to let go of thinking and allow the image to develop as spontaneously as possible. When it feels complete. Stand back a little, reflect for a moment, and without labouring things, write a title or very short piece on the left hand page. Add the date - and smile. Do this daily and enjoy…

7. Practice gratitude. Simple really - just do it whenever you think of it. Make it a habit and enjoy the warm feeling it steadily builds within. And a tip - as you become more grateful for the easy things - those things you find it easy to be grateful for, start to be grateful for the tough stuff too. Then the benefits will start to really flow…

Enjoy...