28 January 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: Reflections on a retreat

Deep natural peace. That is the essence of it. The essence of a meditation-based retreat.

Deep natural peace.

Connecting with it for those who have never really known it. Rekindling the experience for those who have lost it amidst the busyness of everyday life. And strengthening/deepening it for those more familiar.

But here is the thing. There are two types of inner peace. For a start, there is a relaxed body and a relaxed mind. But then there is something more profound.

Deep natural peace.

So lets go “Out on a Limb” and discuss the two versions of inner peace and what the peace of meditation is really like. But first

Thought for the Day
Learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. 
For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, 
and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well.
Meditation is the road to enlightenment.
                                                       Sogyal Rinpoche

Deep natural peace.

Version 1. A relaxed body and a relaxed mind.

In my experience of it all, deep relaxation is a great starting point. One that can be hugely significant for many people caught up in the potential stresses of modern life. A real sense of relief. Often a new sense of balance in life. Easy to learn, easy to maintain, wonderful for re-invigorating energy levels, preventing illness and promoting healing. For many, a real life-changer.

So it may even that for some it would seem to be enough just to experience that kind of deep, natural peace in their lives - through the agency of relaxing body and mind. But there is more.

Version 2. The peace that passes all understanding.

Ruth and I have recently returned from a retreat with Sogyal Rinpoche, one of the great modern day meditation masters and spiritual leaders, author of the international classic “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” and the words above.

Rinpoche speaks very experientially and authentically about a deeper quality of inner peace. The peace that comes from connecting with our own true nature, the inner essence of who we really are.

He points out that many these days have in fact lost touch with who they really are. With this loss there follows an inner uncertainty, a deep-seated lack of confidence, along with a striving to find what is missing, often by looking for it in the wrong places, like the end of a bottle, a drug, an achievement or an experience that can never really deliver it.

Meditation on the other hand, is the road to enlightenment; where the meaning of “enlightenment” is to become aware of the truth of who we really are. This awareness goes beyond words, beyond thought and on into the "peace that passes all understanding". However, even having a brief glimpse, a brief inkling of our inner essence, our inner truth, is deeply confirming.

Because the truth is, that in our essence we are whole and pure. There is fundamental goodness within each and every one of us, and when we come to know the fact of this through direct experience, then we develop a confidence in ourselves and in the fundamental good hearts of all those around us.

Deep natural peace. Now that is worth taking some time away from the usual worldly concerns, going to an inspiring environment, joining with like-minded, kindred spirits, relaxing deeply, letting go, and experiencing the truth of who we really are. And of great significance, this version of inner peace is not a transitory one that comes and goes; it is an enduring peace. A lasting peace. Deep, natural peace.


Deep natural peace


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

Mindbody Mastery – online meditation program developed by Ian – including a comprehensive support and ongoing learning package to help you to establish and maintain a regular meditation practice. www.mindbodymastery.net


1. A New Way of Living – Melbourne workshops – Sat, Sun May 11 and 12
For those who have been to my presentations before, this year I will be presenting in quite a new way with the focus on preventing and recovering from major illness, especially cancer; and the tough but actually joyful realities of making personal change as we adopt and sustain a healthy, healing and wonderful lifestyle.

It is a pleasure to announce that Chris Hooper will be organizing these Melbourne workshops. Many of you may have been to a Chris Hooper event. Since the late 1960’s, Chris has been actively working in the area of event management.

Chris says that she “is devoted to promoting people who have a passionate commitment to their work, and to promoting them in an open and honest way. Our company has been the event manager and involved in 7 tours to Australia for His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama and we were also event managers for Parliament of The Worlds Religions on Melbourne in December 2009.”

Chris is terrific to work with and I am confident will look after everyone at these events very well.

For details of the Melbourne workshops, link here:

2. Sydney Ongoing Cancer Support and integration Group with Sabina Rabold starting soon.
Over the years, people in Sydney who had participated in a Gawler Program either with Well for Life or with the Gawler Foundation have requested to have a regular group that meets to continue learning about and applying Gawler principles to their healing journey and offer and receive support from other people on a similar journey.

Throughout 2013 a group of people, people living with cancer and their support people, will have the opportunity to come together every month to meditate, discuss many topics relevant to the journey through the ups and downs of a life affected by cancer and offer to and receive support from people on a similar journey. Highly recommended.

For inquiries please contact Sabina Rabold on m: 0419 980 923, email Sabina@WellforLife.ne.au., or go to www.wellforlife.net.au.

3. Only a few places left! Meditation in the Forest: Yarra Junction; March 22nd - 28th, 2013
If you would like to take some time out and experience deep natural peace amidst the majestic forests of the Upper Yarra Valley with Ruth and myself, there are only a few places left.

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 exercises that enhance concentration, deepen meditation and facilitate healing and wellbeing.

For details and to book, click here

4. Saved a life in 2013?
So many people across our community are developing chronic degenerative illnesses that will kill them in unpleasant circumstances before their time. Prevention is real. The best prevention is a new way of living – a healthy, vibrant way of living where the focus is on enjoying, even delighting in doing things that are good for us, and avoiding the things we know to be destructive.

Lets hear about how you may have helped yourself, or help someone else to change a habit, develop a new one, take up walking, learn to meditate, sign up to healthy cooking classes, join a meditation group.

We can all contribute to saving a life in 2013. See the initial blog on “A New Way of Living” for ideas, and feed back your experiences via the comment section.

5. Jo Rankin commented on "TB or not TB? A second opinion on Ian Gawler's cancer " on "The Conversation"

"My goodness gracious me. What a lot of waffle about who has what and who has not, qualifications and intentions, past history, honesty and dishonesty, promises and guarantees.

As a past participant in a retreat and an ongoing member of, and attendee at, the Gawler Foundation the only thing of importance here is the wonderful support given to those, like myself, who have been through major illness and debilitating treatment and left floundering in a morass of sickness and depression with nowhere to turn.

When the Gawler Foundation was recommended to me I had been operated on for a Stage 3 Bowel Cancer, suffered frightful infections which required a pump being attached to my wounds for over a month, followed by 6 months of intensive chemotherapy.

Then all support stopped. There was no follow up assistance for the feelings of loss when treatment is complete and no medical assistance for the after effects of the chemotherapy. I felt abandoned, depressed and very sick.

Then, I was lucky, The Gawler Foundation stepped in. In my time there I was not offered treatment, I was not promised a cure. I was offered friendship, love, care, information, diet, meditation, peace and above all else HOPE. Nothing else matters.

If any of you conversing here ever get really sick be very very glad that Gawler exists. You may need them, and if you do, they will be there for you to, and until you are in the position of needing them, you can't know how important they can be."


  1. Love what you have said Jo. Spot on.
    Also about this description of meditation as 2 versions is excellent, because in my experience when we start meditating for most of us the first version is what we experience and it becomes like a refuge where we can go for peace, but when we get back to normal life it can seem even more hectic and crazy in contrast! So it heightens our awareness of the busyness and chaos - and in that way can be a bit problematic. But when we start to get this other deeper confidence in our own true nature we have a chance of having a more enduring peace through the chaos and the busyness.

  2. Two versions of inner peace! This matches my experience so thanks Ian, I had not been able to put words to the sense I had when I began to meditate of feeling better but not really stable. I would feel my relaxed and more clear in my mind, but it would come and go in the early years. Now that I have been meditating longer, the inner peace does seem more constantly there, as if something has changed inside. When I think about it, it is to do with that sense of being happy with myself - as you say, so thanks again