24 December 2012

Cancer survivors come to Today Tonight

There is nothing quite as compelling as a personal story well told. Jackie Woodroffe is nearly 30 years on from having widespread secondary breast cancer diagnosed and being told there was nothing more that could be done for her medically. Scott Stevens has fully recovered from advanced, secondary melanoma. Their stories of recovery provide welcome inspiration, hope and direction for everyone facing the many challenges cancer throws up.

The world need more good news cancer stories, needs to consider new ways of recovering and living; so it is wonderful that Channel Seven’s Today Tonight featured these two in such a positive light recently.

So this week, a Christmas treat with a link to their program, a couple of short but delightful links of kindness and humour in action, and a big wish for a Happy Christmas and a healthy, joyful and meaningful New Year. But first

Thought for the Day
Untamed beings are as unlimited as space.

You will never be able to overcome them all.

Yet, if you could simply overcome the hatred in your mind, 

You will find that it is as if you have overcome them all.

How can you possibly find enough leather

To cover the earth?

But if you could just wear leather sandals,

You will find it to be as if you have covered the earth. 

In the same way, you will never be able to change

All external objects.

But if you change your own mind,

There is no need to change anything else.
                                                Shantideva – 8th Century Indian Buddhist scholar

Great way to finish the year being a part of a program that featured two great cancer survivor/thrivors. True, I got to be described as a “cancer guru, miracle worker”!, but on Today Tonight I think that is a compliment. And I got to point out that my own story of recovery from secondary cancer 35 years ago was clearly proven and beyond doubt.

It is a well made piece, Scott and Jackie speak very well on it, so here is the link

Next, some fun for Christmas.
First a short clip demonstrating genuine, heart warming humanity at work – for animals
: Mumma bear and the three cubs
Then, it is always good to have a stereotype broken. This is very funny; who said you cannot herd cats.

So may the spirit of Christmas, that unconditional love spoken of 2 blogs back, fill your heart and all those you care for; and may you care for everyone and everything on this amazing planet we are spinning around upon.

A Christmas gift

The completely new You Can Conquer Cancer

Ian Gawler's cancer diagnosis - if it looks like a duck....

1. First review for the fully rewritten new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer
It amazed me that when You Can Conquer Cancer was first published in 1984, it sold large numbers, I was asked to speak about it on many radio programs, yet there was not one review until many years had gone by. I wondered at the time if it was too much of a jump; that the notion of people with cancer being able to do things like change their diets, learn how to us the power of the mind and to meditate with the intention of recovering from cancer; whether that was too much for reviewers to contemplate or to feel confident to commit to with a review in writing.

Anyway, I have been doing the radio interviews again following the release of the major rewrite of You Can Conquer Cancer but this time a review already! It actually describes the book well and maybe explains why I strongly recommend reading it for all those of you who have read and are using the older version. This new book is a big step forward. Here is the link

2. January is Pt Stephens. 
In the next week or so, I will have details of the workshops and retreats Ruth and I will present in 2013 on my website, but the next event is a day workshop in Pt Stephens on Tuesday, January 15th.

For details and to book, click here

3. Meditation in the Forest: Yarra Junction; March 22nd - 28th, 2013

Ready to join Ruth and myself, take some time out and experience deep natural peace - amidst the majestic forests of the Upper Yarra Valley.

This retreat will take you deep into the essence of meditation - the direct experience. As well as being restful and regenerative, in this retreat I will be introducing and guiding a structured series of breathing techniques that enhance concentration, deepen meditation and facilitate healing and wellbeing.

For details and to book, click here

17 December 2012

Ian Gawler blog: Something I would not recommend

Some things in mind-body medicine may be just too wild to talk about in public. But with one year about to end and another about to begin, lets go way “Out on a Limb” and talk about something really interesting.

Usually I talk about things I recommend and do myself. It is one of the delights of working in what is best described as Lifestyle Medicine. Whether it be about food, the mind, meditation etc,etc, these are things I have done, mostly continue to do, and generally recommend wholeheartedly through having my own personal experience of them.

However, something happened recently that highlighted something I do that I was not at all sure I should speak about, let alone recommend; until my wife offered her own insight that I imagine you might find really helpful. But first

Thought for the day:
There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as if nothing is a miracle;
The other is as if everything is a miracle
                                     Albert Einstein

So here is the thing. The other day I developed a sore back. Really sore. I could hardly move. Totally unusual for me as despite so many years on one leg, my back is remarkably trouble free.

No idea how this happened. Maybe the golf with my older sister a few days earlier. Maybe something from gardening ? Or sitting too long at the computer?? No idea. But really sore. Hard to stand up. Really painful to sit down. Nothing like it since the darkest days of my cancer when I had a lower vertebrae almost destroyed by the cancer.

So what to do? What would conventional wisdom say? Lie down and rest? Go to the doctor? Get X Rays? Go to an osteopath? Well no, what I actually did was a strenuous days work in the garden; after which it was quite a deal better.

Understand why I am not recommending this? At the time, I just did what seemed to be needed; in retrospect, maybe there was some method in the madness. So before offering Ruth’s insight, here are my own thoughts as to why I did something that in retrospect, may have seemed a little odd.

1. Structure follows function. Way back from my days as a veterinarian, I have held the view that structure follows function. Get injured, do nothing and everything seems to wind down. Yet the body is incredibly well engineered to do what is required of it. Get injured, exercise as much as possible, keep the functions going, and the body has an impetus to heal and return to its healthy structure.

2. Nature is a great healer. Whenever I become ill, which is very rarely, my first reaction is to do nothing. Well not nothing exactly, I give nature the first crack at the healing process. So I do not interfere. I trust and I wait.

Maybe it is like this. Get sick, become inactive, expect the worst, become depressed, and everything shuts down. Get sick, judiciously increase the activity, cultivate all the positive emotions and states of mind, expect to recover, do what is needed, and all the cells in our bodies rejoice and flourish.

So what I do is to deeply trust the healing power of nature, especially when it is provided with the right conditions – good food, exercise, positive state of mind, meditation etc, etc. And because I have been quietly attending to these things for many years, I have good grounds for confidence.

3. If at first you do not succeed, try something more. Usually for me, things get better quite quickly. If not, I have a scale of intervention – from the least to the most. So trusting in time and nature and a healthy lifestyle is where I start; having my left lung removed in 2004 courtesy of major surgery (with a lot of gratitude to the surgeon for solving a long-standing, complex problem), is where I am prepared to go to if necessary. But the surgery came after 25 years of trying just about everything else to fix the damage caused to my lung by TB.

I debated whether to share anything of this via the blog, but then, when consulted for advice, Ruth added her insight. Firstly, she pointed out that often enough I do rest; but then the key point. She suggested the real reason in this particular incidence I worked in the garden rather than do the seemingly sensible thing and do anything but that, was through being a regular meditator there comes this clarity of mind that simply knows what is needed to be done.

Thinking of this, there is no logic in working hard in the garden with an acutely sore back. If anyone asked me what to do in those circumstances, I can almost guarantee I would suggest they take it easy. Yet I had no hesitation. Did not even really think about it.

Had to prop myself up to dig. Had trouble moving all morning; then after lunch a dramatic improvement. Hot bath at the end of the day. Meditated lying down. Good nights sleep and next day almost completely well again. As I write, a small twinge if I really think of it, but basically 100% OK again.

The point is there is seemingly no logic in this; but it worked. Just lucky? Maybe. But maybe there is something in this meditation that can guide us to make good decisions when we most need them.

So do be clear, there is nothing here I am recommending, except that maybe you think about it!


The completely new You Can Conquer Cancer

Slow down, and go faster


365 marathons in 365 days by two 60 year old vegans, one a cancer thriver.
Far out!!!  Like to support them?
In 2013, to inspire and motivate conscious lifestyle choices, to promote kindness and compassion for all living beings, to raise environmental awareness for a sustainable future and to raise money for a number of charities including the Gawler Foundation,  Veteran Raw Vegan Athletes Janette and Alan are Running around Australia, 15,500km (approximately), 365 marathons in 365 days beyond 60 years of age! 
Who ever said vegans were wimps! They begin New Year's day from Fed square.

Please consider supporting RunRAW2013. You can donate to this unique and unprecedented visionary cause by clicking here.


1. The new, fully rewritten version of You Can Conquer Cancer is now available as an ebook via Amazon and Kindle. I will post details of all my books that are available as ebooks soon. Meanwhile, the book itself should be in most bookshops by now or you can order it via the Foundation: Click here

2. I am really enjoying the publicity around the new book. It is reaffirming to hear all the enthusiasm and depth of understanding of the work coming from the interviewers.

3. If you are interested in why I was very reluctant to do veterinary work with cattle and sheep in my earlier days, have a look at this documentary (or just the trailer) www.peaceablekingdomfilm.org/

4. Pt Stephens workshop coming soon - Health Healing and Wellbeing
My next full day workshop will be at Pt. Stephens on January 15th 2013.
Ruth and I will be happy to meet up once again with people we know in the area, as well as make new friends.
Organised by the local Port Stephens
 Complementary Health Services Association, I will be speaking on the latest research in mind-body medicine and self-healing, coupled with my 30 years of experience in this field. These days are always very interactive, with a gentle blend of theory and practise. There will be good time for questions and discussion.
Venue: Tomaree High School, Salamander Bay
Date: Tuesday, January 15th from 10am (arrive 9.30 am) to 4pm
Cost $110.00;  Seniors, Concessions $95.00
More details and Bookings www.healthportstephens.com.au
Email: info@healthportstephens.com.au
Phone: 02 49 846 400

5. I will take a break over Christmas and post a new blog soon.

Enjoy the festive season. Happy meditating!

10 December 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: A Christmas Gift

Christmas is coming. A time for a gift from me, and the time to celebrate the birth of unconditional love.
Whether you are Christian or not, practising or not, this is a time where we can all be reminded of the ideal of loving unconditionally; where we can join in and wish that we too will love a little more unconditionally. Later, news of my first workshop in 2013 - Pt Stephens on the 15th January, but first:

Thought for the day
If you really, truly love someone, you simply wish the best for them, not yourself. 
If you're wishing the best for them on the condition that they're making you happy, it's more like a business. That's not the kind of love we should develop for each other. It will hurt someone in the end, always.
                              Ani Choying Drolma  Buddhist nun and musician

Unconditional love is a challenge really. Most love does have an element of a deal about it. 

“I will love you if you do something for me in return". 

“I will love you if make me feel good, make me look good, meet my needs, make my dinner”! 

Unconditional love is that fierce, uncompromising love that says 

“ I will love you whatever”. Love you in the good times, love you in the bad. Love you because I know that inherently you are loveable. Loveable independently of what you do. Loveable because of your own inner, pure nature.

This is another way that the deeper experiences of meditation can help us so much. When we enter into the essence of meditation; when we go beyond the thinking mind and all its vagaries; when we go beyond the thinking mind and experience something of that more basic, pure nature of the mind, we come to know that in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone around us is this intrinsic, pure goodness. 

Recognising this, knowing this because we have experienced it as a fact; we know that in their essence everyone is truly loveable. Sure they may stuff up in day-to-day terms, but in their essence, in their heart, they are fundamentally pure and good. It is this knowledge, this experience that enables us to love unconditionally.

So may the true spirit of Christmas touch you and all that you love; and this Christmas, may we all love just a little more unconditionally.

Here then is the present, a delightful poem from one of America’s most loved poets, Mary Oliver.


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver ~


1. Remember, the fully rewritten, new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer is now available.

2. Health, Healing and Wellbeing
My next full day workshop will be at Pt. Stephens on January 15th 2013

Ruth and I will be happy to meet up once again with people we know in the area, as well as make new friends.

Organised by the local Port Stephens Complementary Health Services Association, I will be speaking on the latest research in mind body medicine and self-healing, coupled with my 30 years of experience in this field. These days are always very interactive, with a gentle blend of theory and practise. We will cover how to let go of stress, relax easily and find peace of mind as well as how to 
  • . Develop and deepen your meditation 
  • . Clarify a healthy and healing way of eating 
  • . Discover pathways to emotional health.
There will be good time for questions and discussion. 

Venue: Tomaree High School, Salamander Bay

Date: Tuesday, January 15th from 10am (arrive 9.30 am) to 4pm

Cost:  $110.00. Early bird, paid by 15th December , Seniors and Concessions $95.00

More details and Bookings:  www.healthportstephens.com.au
Email: info@healthportstephens.com.au
Phone: 02 49 846 400