22 April 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: In praise of fast cars

What can we learn from a very fast old car?
Plenty really. I drive a Subaru WRX. Fabulous car. I was fortunate and happened to buy the 1998 model, in my opinion the best looking WRX of all time. Sleek, elegant, relatively cheap, and bloody fast!

My car is about to celebrate its 15th birthday, having just turned over 300,00Kms. Yes 300,000Kms! And it still goes very fast!

And yes, I know that these days it is about as politically correct to admit to loving driving fast as it is to loving being a smoker, but it is a fact. I love speed. Always have.

So this week, let’s go “Out on a Limb” and discover what we can learn from a very fast old car. But first, I also love being still, so

Thought for the Day
Profound and tranquil, free from complexity
Uncompounded luminous clarity
Beyond the mind of conceptual ideas
This is the depth of the mind of the victorious ones.

In this there is not a thing to be removed
Nor anything that needs to be added.
It is merely the immaculate
Looking naturally at itself
                        Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

The car metaphor is simple but very strong
As a fast car, to get to be 15 years old and to continue to look as good as you did in the early days, to continue to go as fast as you did in the early days; it all takes some work. Good care, regular servicing, a few running repairs, and maybe a facelift!

My WRX came with all the raw ingredients.

The car looks terrific to my eye; it has beautiful lines, is compact, elegant and very practical. In many ways it looks like a modest hatchback.

(This one looks the same, but is not my actual car)

But then there is this incredible turbo-charged Boxer motor that is hooked up to everything that matches. The outcome? A racing billycart. Sure the ride is a little rough, but it moves fast, handles extraordinarily well and has been incredibly reliable. I love driving this car.

But then, the truth is the car is serviced regularly by the best Subaru people I could find using only genuine parts. It has never had an accident, despite being driven very hard in its early days, more sedately of late. It did blow up a transmission at 30K, but Subaru recognised an in-built fault and replaced it free of charge. Being automatic, the transmission did need replacing again recently.

The only other difficulty was when the failure of a minor part led to a major engine problem at around 200K and the bottom half of the engine needed replacing. And I did have it resprayed a year or so ago.

So the simple metaphor. Compare the car to the body. My body is 63 years old. Still goes quite well despite being short of one leg, one lung and most likely one kidney. But this body of mine, like the WRX, gets very well looked after.

I am quite particular about what goes into it this body of mine. The WRX would probably run on basic unleaded; splutter along at least; but it goes best on Premium and that is also better for its engine.

My body, like the WRX, is a combustion engine. You put things into it, it burns them up and it goes. The WRX has a simple combustion engine and I am very particular about what I put in its petrol tank. My body is an exquisitely complex combustion engine. It makes logical sense to be even more attentive to what goes into my own tank.

Why not use the best? Why not eat the best?

Regular servicing
For me, regular meditation is like servicing. Worth doing daily. Going on retreat is a more deliberate form of servicing, as is having a regular massage, taking time out in the garden or going for a walk. Regeneration time. When I need to, which is often, I want to know that everything has been done, everything is ready, so that I can be at my best.

Why not be at your best?

This seems to be unknown or overlooked by many, but in my view, good food, really good food, is way more effective then a facelift. Eat consistently well and skin tone is good, wrinkles smooth out and an inner glow emerges.

Why not look at your best?

For me, driving is one of the best moving meditations. To drive safely, especially if fast, you need to be very present, very mindful. Not overly tense, not spaced out;  just right - really relaxed in the true sense of the word. Sharp and relaxed. Aware.

Why not be aware and mindful?

Actually, I treat my body better than the WRX. I like to think I treat it like a Formula One racing car, where everything is taken seriously, but there is a lot of fun involved. That attitude certainly helped me to recover from a very difficult cancer. And these days, while I am not fixated, I am fairly diligent, and this attitude helps me to make the most of the bits that I do have, to live and enjoy life to the full, and to make the most of what it is that I have to offer to others.

And finally, along with the WRX’s milestone 15th birthday next month, I will celebrate returning to having no demerit driving points against my name. Not sure as the years advance if I am becoming more politically correct or just more careful?
Love that car!

                   Food 101 - What food goes into your tank?

                   Meditation in the Desert

BOOK        You Can Conquer Cancer for all the answers to your food questions, and how to be confident of, and enjoy Formula One food!

CDs            Eating well, Being well – outlines the dietary recommendations found in my experience to be best suited to those interested in eating well - for themselves and the family.

                   Eating for Recovery – more specific recommendations for those affected by cancer. Builds on the first food CD, so if you are managing cancer, the two CDs are necessary.

PLEASE NOTE. If you are ordering Books or CDs via this blog, my own website or from the Gawler Foundation directly, their website is being upgraded and the on-line store is still coming, so for the moment, to order you need to ring during normal business hours:  03 59671730

1. Coconut oil
Wow. I was naive enough to imagine last week's guest post from Professor George Jelinek explaining why he and I consider coconut oil to be best avoided would only interest a few. Actually, it attracted a huge readership and led to much discussion, including many valuable questions and answers from George and myself that are worth visiting in the Comment section.

2. MELBOURNE WORKSHOPS approaching rapidly, booking soon recommended

Saturday May 11th : Meditation and the Power of the Mind. Like a mini meditation retreat; lots of practise together, some interesting new science, and a neat review of technique and theory.

Sunday May 12th : Living Well, Being Well  On preventing illness, recovering from illness and being really well. Lots on healthy lifestyle, treatment options and nutrition , including heaps of recent research and how it applies in daily life.

Bring the family, invite a friend or two, inform your colleagues!
Maybe you know someone living in Melbourne who would benefit/like to attend.

For full details and to book, LINK HERE



This will be the Dalai Lama’s ninth visit to Australia. This time based on his book, Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World, His Holiness will discuss how to put ethics into practice in everyday life.

Check out to beautiful, clever video: One Voice Video

For the full VISIT SCHEDULE and to book tickets go to www.dalailamainaustralia.org

I am often asked where to obtain a good meditation cushion. The Gawler Foundation stocks great wooden seats to kneel upon as well as cushions, or you can order great Zafus (buckwheat filled, round cushions) online from Blue Banyan. They also have buckwheat refills for well used, flattened Zafus that need replenishing.

Eating More Meat, Dairy, and Other Unhealthful Foods Leads to Worse Aging
Recent research demonstrates that after an average 16-year follow-up, people who consumed a “Western-type” diet, including a high intake of red and processed meats, whole dairy products, and fried foods, were more likely to die prematurely and to suffer from various chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and mental health disorders, compared with people who avoided such dietary patterns.

Researchers analyzed data from 5,350 participants from the WhitehalI II study in London and scored dietary patterns using the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) to assess disease risk. People with better AHEI scores had better overall health outcomes as they aged.

Akbaraly T, Sabia S, Hagger-Johnson G, et al. Does overall diet in midlife predict future aging in phenotypes? A cohort study. Am J Med. 2013; 126:411-419.


The Dalai Lama’s Cat
Unlikely title. Intriguing title. Great book of fiction mixed with fact based on the adventures, learnings and insights of a stray cat adopted and cared for by the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, Nepal.

It has a whimsical sense of humour, warmth and compassion running through and provides a gentle introduction to Buddhist principles through the eyes of a wayward but curious cat. Highly recommended for all, but maybe a good present for teenagers and those older who are interested in the meaning of life.

The author David Michie hails from Perth and Ruth and I met up with him and his lovely wife while speaking there last week.

The book should be in all the proverbial good bookstores, but can also be ordered on line. Two possibilities with direct links:
  Amazon    and    Fishpond


  1. it's great to hear that you are actually driving slower! And yes, this subject is definitely playing with social taboos.

  2. At last, some validation for the petrol heads. I too like to drive fast and this blog has helped me to realise that to do so, I need to concentrate fully. Being present is a good way to put it. Driving fast brings me into the present moment and lets everything else drop away. I had not thought of it before, but it is like a meditation. Thanks for this one Ian.

  3. I love the car metaphor. I too am a keen car driver, I have had numerous Volkswagen Golfs & love driving them.
    There are a lot of similarities between how you treat your car & how it performs & the same about your body. Many people spend more money looking after their cars than they do on themselves.
    I do enjoy reading your blogs Ian, keep up the good work.