06 June 2011

Ian Gawler Blog: Slow down and go faster

How busy are you? Most people I speak with feel that their lives are becoming busier and busier. So imagine this – maybe with a little help, it is possible to slow down, relax and actually achieve more!

How might this be possible? I was thinking of the role model the Dalai Lama provides. He will be in Melbourne again this weekend for talks and teachings (how good is Australia’s karma that he comes so regularly?). He seems so relaxed, happy and at ease, yet if you consider his schedule, his responsibilities as the spiritual leader of a country under occupation, his life in exile and all the good works he does; if anyone has a right to be a little stressed or worn out, the Dalai Lama does. Yet well into his seventies, he remains energetic, very effective and prodigious in his output. He does a lot!

From all accounts, His Holiness gets up very early and does 3 – 4 hours of study and practice before starting his day. For us mere mortals, maybe we can receive a good deal of benefit without quite such a routine.

Speaking personally, I came home from a great meeting last week. A lot had been achieved, good ideas developed, new possibilities explored; all in a great atmosphere. Keen to tell Ruth about it, we then went to do what we do each evening, and that is to meditate together.

As I settled into my posture, I noticed this buzz in my body. A fine trembling, tingling sort of a buzz. It occurred to me that this excited energy, left over from the meeting was a good thing, but how it might lead some people on into drinking too much or some other excess.

It seemed to be in contrast to what it would be like to come home from a tough day, feeling depleted, despondent, even exhausted. Such a state, left unnoticed or unmanaged, could lead to other unhelpful activities, not the least of which may be being in a poor state of mind for partner or family.

Meditation offers this wonderful promise of being able to let go of the busyness and regain our balance. Whether we are up or down, balance is better. With our body and mind in balance, we think more clearly, we react more appropriately, we are in a better state to relate well with others. We are likely to be fresh, vital and at ease.

In such a state, there will be no compulsion to talk, but an ease with doing so. We will have no compulsion to be spoken to, but an ease with listening. We will be free to relax in a healthy way, or energised to take up something new when the time is right.

Remember the keys to meditating in a way that reliably brings these benefits. Four steps. Preparation, Relaxation, Mindfulness and Stillness – the essence of Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation.

Put very simply, having prepared well, we relax. Relaxing deeply, we become more mindful. As our mindfulness develops, stillness is revealed; naturally and without effort. We rest in open, undistracted awareness. This is Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation.

Oh yes, and at the great meeting last week, we began by sitting together and meditating. Two of those who gathered had never done such a thing before. They were guided very simply to aim to let go of whatever they had been doing earlier and to bring their attention to what was going on right now.

To assist this, there was the suggestion to be mindful of the sounds around about us, then the breath and that natural feeling of relaxing with the out breath. Then we simply rested quietly for a few minutes. Finally we reminded ourselves of our motivation, to help as many people as possible through what we were addressing at the meeting.

Having done this, the atmosphere in the room was transformed. Peaceful, calm, clear. One of the group said that he was really preoccupied with the busyness of what had been happening earlier, that he had felt his mind was all over the place. He said he actually had been concerned that he was in a poor state of mind to give the presentation he was required to do, but now, after that short quiet time, he felt clear and ready.

Just by being able to have a conversation like that, it seemed to me that we began our meeting on a very real and open level. The meeting rapidly developed into one where everyone went away feeling we had achieved a lot, deepened friendships and become energized.

So maybe it is possible. Slow down and accomplish more.


1. Meditation retreats coming soon

i) Germany, July 8-15. 

 I have been invited by monks from Thich Nhat Hahn’s centre to help lead a therapeutic meditation retreat. The monks wish to expand the meditation they currently offer to include a focus on healing. So this retreat is on at their retreat centre in the woods near Cologne and you can click here for details. Maybe you know someone in Europe who may be interested. EIAB

ii) Yarra Valley, October 7-9.
The same monks will be visiting Australia and combining with me to present a training and personal retreat for health professionals. Full details will be advised soon, but keep the dates free if you are keen.

2. Melbourne workshops

Had an enjoyable weekend presenting workshops in Melbourne. The next Melbourne workshops are on the weekend of September 17-18 and will be run with the Foundation. Again, full details will be on the websites soon.

3. Book launch, Tuesday evening, June 14th from 6.30pm.

There will be an event to mark the launch of The Mind That Changes Everything at Bertha Brown, 562 Flinders St, Melbourne. You are welcome to attend; you just need to reply to admin@brolgapublishing.com.au , or phone 96004982, it promises to be fun.


1. Meditation in 4 easy steps.

2. The Mind That Changes Everything.

3. Relaxation in everyday life.

4. Meditation – how much is enough?


1. Dalai Lama In Australia

2. Books:  The Mind That Changes Everything, Ian Gawler

                 Meditation – an In-depth Guide, Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson

3. Meditation Courses: The Gawler Foundation


  1. Thanks for the update

  2. Hi Ian, thanks for your blog-I really enjoy reading it:)
    On the subject of slowing down and meditation... I have regular MRI's to monitor my cancer and meditate during them. There is one part where I have a breathing monitor 'belt' around my abdomen and when it detects an outbreath the machine takes several images.
    On the first occasion (with the belt on)I suddenly felt myself being slid very quickly back out of the tunnel and a very panicked radiographer shaking my arm and asking if I could hear her. I reassured her I was fine and that I had been meditating she told me that my breathing had slowed right down and she thought I had lost consciousness!
    Now when I go for my MRI she says "ah!...the lady that nearly gave me a heart attack from meditating".

  3. How lucky we are indeed that the Dalai Lama enjoys coming to Australia,and I am very fortunate to have been given a ticket to see His Holiness in Canberra next week from Lama Choedak Rinpoche whilst attending his Calm Abiding Meditation Retreat in our little town. And very lucky again that he likes coming here twice a year. A bit of bad luck though to just miss out on the Heath Retreat in Germany since I just booked a ticket to go there in September and my home there is also in the woods not far from Cologne.... maybe next time... oh it's just too busy... too many nice retreats to go to..... exhausting!!

  4. Hi Ian,
    As a new subsciber to your website I simply wanted to say how much I enjoy it and benefit from it. I began meditating approximately 18 mths ago and have found it life changing.You mentioned in your article how we loose the compulsion to talk through meditation. How relavent that is to me a person who always felt the need to keep a conversation going. I cherish the new calm me , I even talk slower.
    The book you wrote with Paul Bedson "Meditation" an in depth guide has also been wonderful for me. I will continue to read as much as I can on the subject, it has changed my life completely.
    Many thanks Linda

  5. This is a beautiful reminder of the best way to prepare for a meeting of minds. Using a meditation practice where everyone puts themselves into a place where they jointly want to reach a beneficial outcome is a wonderful way to reach mutual goals.
    How can we fail when we prepare ourselves like this.
    Imagine if our political parties used this power instead of combat and one-up-manship.
    Your book on mediation is the best I've read. Thanks.

  6. I have been in two meetings that began with a short meditation and each went really well. The problem seems to be for someone to take the initiative and suggest it. Once they do, everyone seems to see the sense in it and join in, its just getting over the hurdle of starting. Thanks for the reminder, I hope we can make this a regular thing at work and will put it to the group.

  7. Thank you Ian for another stimulating blog. I have begun to look forward to these 'fixes' or thoughts from you which often make me stop, take note and think about the busy-ness of my life. So much of what I do is routine, habit and not taking time to look at the bigger picture and, in short, to meditate more. Your words are a salutary point of focus.

    I wish I could be at your book-launch next Tuesday and also on the retreat in Germany. I shall be in Europe then but didn't know about it. However, it is lovely to be informed by you of these events and I hope it will feature in your next blog.