20 June 2011

Ian Gawler Blog: What sort of old age are you planning?

If you are in your twenties, maybe this question is not big on your agenda. If you are in your sixties, maybe so! Either way, if you are not attentive, you could be in for a really crappy time, whereas with a little planning and wise action, you could look forward to a vibrant, healthy and meaningful future.

Our current generation of teenagers may well be the first generation in recorded history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. Also, what recent research has clearly shown is that currently people are living fewer disease free years than just one decade ago, and they are living longer with disease and disability.

20 year old men currently will average another 43.8 years without cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes, the big three of the chronic degenerative diseases. This is 1.2 years fewer than 10 years ago. For 20 year old women it is 48 yrs now compared to 49.2 ten years ago. This tells us people are getting sicker earlier, being sick longer; having a potentially miserable time for longer.

We all want to be healthy and happy. Modern medicine is wonderful. Break a leg, surgery is fantastic. Pneumonia? Antibiotic pills may well save your life. But there is no surgery for happiness; no pill that ensures long term good health or an active old age.

What decides your long term good health is your lifestyle. What you eat and drink. Whether you smoke; how much exercise you do. The quality of your relationships, the state of your mind and your spiritual view.

These things that we collectively describe as our lifestyle, these things are most affected, most determined, by our mind. Our mind decides what we do. What we eat and drink, whether we smoke, how much exercise we engage in. The people we hang out with, what emphasis we give to spiritual matters; all these things are determined by the choices our mind makes.

What to do? Amidst a busy world, full of wonder, yet full of complexity and bombarded with information, what our minds need most is clarity and inner peace.

With inner peace comes a deep, natural balance. With this balance, good physical health, healthy emotions, a naturally positive state of mind and a sense of connectedness and a desire to help others.

With a calm and settled mind, with inner peace, comes clarity. With a clear mind we become more aware, more mindful. We start to notice more clearly what it is that works against us, what is helpful. We gravitate towards healthier foods. Exercise seems to make more sense, to be more appealing, more do-able. A clear mind leads to excellent results in all we do; business, sport, study, relationships, healing, wellbeing; everything goes better with a clear mind and good decision making.

You know what leads to inner peace and a clear mind. Meditation is the reliable path. So how is it going? Many people I meet fluctuate. Times when they practise regularly, times when they fall by the wayside. Times when the practice seems to flow easily, times where it is flat.

The key thing is to persevere. Even a little meditation regularly brings potent benefits. Take a few minutes. Have a moments peace. Maybe get into the habit of it. Maybe do a little more. Maybe have a vibrant, healthy and meaningful old age. Maybe have a great life.


1. Darwin workshops on June 25 & 26
    Bunbury: June 29th
    Perth: July 2 & 3.   Still time to book: click here. Ruth and I look forward to catching up with people at these events. If you are a blog reader, do come and say hello.

2. Dalai Lama in Melbourne for teachings. What a treat this was. His Holiness was really vibrant, really clear. Talk about a healthy old age; as well as a great spiritual leader, he must be an inspiration to geriatrics everywhere!

One powerful insight he offered (amongst many). The destructive emotions, like anger tend to come spontaneously and rapidly. Most people do not need to develop them, they are just there. The constructive emotions like love and compassion, and especially altruism, tend to take time to develop, particularly when we attempt to direct them to the wider community. But they can be developed and when they, are they tend to stay. Likewise we can train our minds to reduce, even supplant anger and its tough friends, if we put our minds to it. Worth contemplating.

3. Had the book launch for “The Mind That Changes Everything”. The publisher, Mark Zocchi of Brolga Press has been a delight to work with and now the book should be in “all good bookshops”! It certainly is available on line through the Foundation if you cannot find it elsewhere.


The Mind That Changes Everything

Meditation in four easy steps


BOOKS: The Mind That Changes Everything: Ian Gawler

             Meditation - an In-depth Guide: Ian Gawler & Paul Bedson

CDs and DVD: Ian’s series on meditation


  1. In the middle of a busy day, your post comes through bringing wisdom and clarity. It is so good to read the reminders of what is important. I breathe more slowly and re-position my priorities for the day. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the reminder. My problem is keeping going with all the healthy things. I know what to do now, but it is easy to slip back into old habits. The regular reminder that comes with this blog is really helping me to keep on track.

  3. Always positive to have reinforcement in how we should try and conduct our lives for better health and well being.

    Thanks for your time in caring for us.

  4. Dr Gawler, thanks for a great blog post.

    I'm in my twenties and I can tell you that this question is certainly on my agenda (even more now after attending your recent workshop in Perth!).

    "Even a little meditation regularly brings potent benefits" - yes! At first I was skeptical but I am experiencing the benefits. After your workshop, I committed to meditating for 10 minutes, twice a day. I have kept this up for nearly a week now and can't believe how clear and focused I feel. I am also eating nourishing foods and exercising every day (yoga, weights, etc) and really enjoying these experiences more than ever before. It feels so good to be alive and healthy!

    Thanks once again for all your brilliant work. Please keep doing what you do!