28 May 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: How to increase creativity with meditation

If Jackson Pollock was the archetypal boozing, tortured artist, would he have painted anything worthwhile if he had found inner peace? Or would he have been an even better painter if he had indeed found inner peace.

If Steve Jobs was the super-cool Zen creator, would Apple even have come into existence if he had not meditated?

If, as Spike Milligan said “it is all in the mind”, how does sitting quietly to train your mind through meditation build creativity?

Maybe it is because of the type of mind meditation produces.

A calm and clear mind
Leave a glass of muddy water undisturbed; the mud settles and we are left with clear water. The mind is the same. Left undisturbed, it becomes calm and clear. Then comes the capacity to recognize simplicity amongst complexity. For Jobs, this led to Apple’s elegant, functional design.

The beginner’s mind
As the mind settles and becomes less agitated, there comes a certain freshness. The capacity to bring a new perspective to the commonplace. Meditation fosters curiosity, awe and wonderment.

The focused mind
But for creativity to advance from being a good idea to a manifest work, we need concentration and grounded application. Training the mind through meditation is like going to the gym to develop physical muscles. Going inwards, we develop inner strength and things get done.

So often good ideas, insights, creativity, get hijacked, diluted, destroyed by the events of ordinary daily life. Trauma from the past, fear for the future, the pressures of modern living, all conspire to overwhelm creativity. Mindfulness teaches us to let go of unhelpful concerns for past and future and to function more joyfully in the present.

The wisdom mind
Science has much to offer, but is based on the intellect, which is analytical and linear, and has little to do with creativity. For true creativity, we need to go beyond the realm of the intellect. Not to become irrational, but non-rational, beyond-rational; and to access that deeper, more profound inner world of wisdom and creativity.

There are many ways to meditate. A simple and reliable approach is to break it down into 4 east steps.

1. Preparation. This is about organizing 10 - 20 minutes once or twice a day, finding a suitable place, taking up a symmetrical, balanced posture, settling into that posture and turning your mind inwardly – away from day to day events.

2. Relaxation. Then we learn to relax the body and calm the mind. This is easily achieved by focusing the mind and concentrating on the feeling as we relax the body. Doing this frees us from the physical tension so often associated with stress, allows our body’s biochemistry to regain its natural, healthy balance and settles “the mud” in our mind.

3. Mindfulness. As we relax more, we naturally become more aware. This leads to mindfulness, where almost like an impartial observer, we can be aware of the sounds around about us, the thoughts and feelings within us, and remain undistracted and unperturbed. Calm and clear.

4. Stillness. As we progress, we notice a deeper stillness. At first a glimpse, then a deeper experience of the truth and essence of who we really are, what is in our heart’s essence.

One convergence of modern creativity and technology with the ancient mind science of meditation is Mindbody Mastery. It combines a downloadable meditation program with an innovative support package including daily emails, weekly SMS messages, webinars etc to add to and reinforce your learning and practise.

The biggest challenge with meditation is to actually do it! Evidence tells us that the Mindbody Mastery support system actually does help people to practise regularly. The Mindbody Mastery website is in the final stages of a major upgrade that will be completed any day now.

Happy meditating and may the creativity be with you.

Mindbody Mastery

Meditation in 4 easy steps

A reminder I will be in Brisbane, Coff’s Harbor, Katoomba and then Sydney in June and July. Details on the website: CLICK HERE

1. A Miracle in a classroom. A fabulous new film available to download Room to Breathe 

Room to Breathe is the first mainstream documentary about bringing mindfulness into education. It is an authentic representation of what it’s like to teach mindfulness in a truly challenging environment. By providing a raw and realistic look at the process, it shows how even the most difficult classrooms can be turned around with patience, teaching skill, and partnership with school staff.

Room To Breathe is a surprising and inspiring story of transformation as struggling kids in a San Francisco public middle school are introduced to the practice of mindfulness meditation.

Topping the district in disciplinary suspensions, and with overcrowded classrooms creating a nearly impossible learning environment, overwhelmed administrators are left with stark choices: repeating the cycle of trying to force tuned-out children to listen, or to experiment with timeless inner practices that may provide them with the social, emotional, and attentional skills that they need to succeed.

The first question is whether it’s already too late. Confronted by defiance, contempt for authority figures, poor discipline, and more interest in “social” than learning, can a mindfulness teacher (Megan Cowan from Mindful Schools) succeed in opening their minds and hearts?

To watch the trailer: Click here 

“This film beautifully and authentically portrays the power of mindfulness to change individuals, families, one classroom, and perhaps, one day, the world.”
 Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education, UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center

Buy the film:  Click here

2. Mindfulness in a Huff
The much read Huffington Post has recognized the value of mindfulness, in 20 different ways! 

They say “Even though the academic research on mindfulness meditation isn't as robust as, say, nutrition or exercise, there is a reason why it's been around for literally thousands of years. And we're starting to get a better understanding of why it seems to be beneficial for so many aspects of life, from disease and pain management, to sleep, to control of emotions.”

To read the full article, CLICK HERE

20 May 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: Heal your Self

What do Dr Bernie Siegel and I have in common? Good looks? Well no, he is much balder than me. We have both run cancer groups and written books over many years? True, but then Bernie is truly world famous. We are friends? True, but the answer you were looking for is we are both film stars!

Well almost. We both feature amongst others in a terrific new American documentary, Heal Your Self, that focuses on Lifestyle Medicine and the self-help approach to health, healing and wellbeing. So this week some details and some great feedback. But first, do not give me a hard time about the baldness crack! I am making the most of it while I can. And then

Thought for the Day
See your day as a classroom 
and be aware of the different subjects and teachers 
available to you for your further education. 
Life is a great teacher
                                             Dr Bernie Siegel, author of Love, Medicine and Miracles

Heal Your Self is a film that works to highlight major areas of health such a food, love, meditation, environmental stress, emotional stress plus more. I was privileged to be included in the line up of presenters that also include John Gray, Ph.D., Meg Ryan's mum, Susan Holden of Seventh Generation, plus many other experts in health  - seventeen in total.

The film starts with people with serious illnesses telling what changes they made to take back control of their health, and ends with practical tips for you to try yourself. It is inspiring and informative – well worth a look. There is a very small viewing fee.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed taking part. LINK HERE
Or Link to Bernie's website, just do not mention the hair thing! Click here

1. Nice to hear
I rarely feature feedback, but this comment came in after the recent Melbourne workshops and seems to put into words the aims I would have in presenting “A New Way of Living”, so here it is. A reminder I will be in Brisbane, Coff’s Harbor, Katoomba and then Sydney in June and July.
Details on the website: CLICK HERE

Spending the weekend with you and Ruth has had a huge impact on my attitudes and behaviour.

I would now drink water rather than eat the 'wrong' food.

I have exercised each day since the weekend. Not that I was slack before but I am now in a different paradigm.

I did the weekend because I just wanted to have more contact with you. I deep down knew it was going to have an impact.

Please continue doing your splendid work. We need you!

With love and much appreciation.
                                                             GK, Dentist

2. Sport – why no health advertising?

This is something you may like to add your voice to. The quotes come from The Conversation, the links are well worth following.

The Australian Football League (AFL) and Cricket Australia have refused to sell advertising space to a Tasmanian man trying to raise awareness of the impact of junk food and alcohol advertising linked to major sports.

Aaron Schultz is an ordinary dad. When he grew sick of seeing his children constantly exposed to junk food and grog ads he started a website called Game Changer with the aim of tackling unhealthy advertising in sport.

Can the four big sports – AFL, Cricket Australia, NRL and ARU – follow the lead of FFA and Netball Australia and use their enormous influence to promote healthy choices? Or will they and their star players continue to be ambassadors of booze, betting and junk food?

Maybe if we all add our voice, be a little socially active, we can effect a much needed change. To read more, CLICK HERE

3. Cancer the big budget winner in health – Oh really? Or should that be Big Business is the cancer big budget winner?

In the health sector, cancer emerged the big winner with an extra $226 million announced for cancer research, treatment and screening.

The Government’s largest commitment is for $92 million over four years to expand breast cancer screening to women from 50 to 74 years of age. This comes despite expert concern over the usefulness of screening in women over 69. Some European studies and countries are now seriously questioning the whole mammography program. More on this specifically in another blog soon, but in the interim, the budget will fund an extra 145,000 women to screened every two years.

The budget also included amongst other cancer payouts $30 million to fund chemotherapy drugs on the PBS, pending a review due to report in October; and $24 million to meet increasing demand for bone marrow transplants.

Not much visible for patient support and nothing I can see for Lifestyle Medicine. Guess we just do not have the lobbying power, or is it something else? What do you think? Add your voice to the Comments


An egg a day blows your heart away. Does it?
While I am still of the view that a few eggs each week work well for most people, this is interesting.

Eggs increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, according to a new meta-analysis published in Atherosclerosis. Researchers reviewed 14 studies and found that those who consumed the most eggs had a 19 and 68 percent increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes, respectively, compared with those who ate the fewest eggs. For those who already had diabetes, the risk for developing heart disease from eating the most eggs jumped to 83 percent.

Li Y, Zhou C, Zhou X, Li L. Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes: A meta-analysis. Atherosclerosis. Published ahead of print April 17, 2013.

13 May 2013

Ian Gawler Blog:The 3 most powerful tools for personal transformation

Announcing an exciting training for health professionals and keen individuals that focuses on the clinical application of therapeutic language, imagery and meditation.

It is with real enthusiasm that I write to tell you that Dr. Nimrod Sheinman is coming again to Australia in October, to join Ruth and myself in a 5-Day residential training that will focus on the use of imagery, meditation and language for inner transformation, personal and professional development.

In this special guest blog, Nimrod describes how he became involved in this aspect of his work, what is on offer (a huge potential for major insights, personal breakthroughs and transformation!), and a little of the program we have put together.

It has been my good fortune to get to know Nimrod well over the last 25 years, and to host several of his previous trainings. He is an excellent teacher, great communicator, highly experienced, compassionate and passionate!

Who will attend?
This training is primarily intended for clinicians, but individuals keen to learn and apply these principles and techniques in their own lives, and who have a good grounding in meditation and imagery already, are encouraged to attend.

It is a special feature of the style of this training that we encourage clinicians and clients to interact and learn with each other as well as from each other.

NOTE: 30 Category 2 CPD Points applied for from the RACGP, and this training/program would qualify as training hours for those applying for registration with ATMA.

To download the flier, CLICK HERE                               For further enquiries call 03 59666130

But first
Thought for the day
Light will someday split you open

Even if your life is now a cage.

For a divine seed,

the crown of destiny,

Is hidden and sown on 
an ancient, fertile plain

You hold the title to.

Dr Nimrod Sheinman on Images, Words and Silence

It was 1986. I was an Israeli naturopathic physician who had trained for four years in the US, and now I was visiting Melbourne to meet my brother, who later became the founder of the wonderful organic Himalaya Bakery and Café in Daylesford.

As I was standing in front of my brother's library, a blue book caught my eyes. I pulled it out. The photo on the front cover reminded me of a Rene Magritte painting (the famous European surrealist painter), showing a man in black suit with blue sea and blue sky in the background.

The book's photo showed a tall man standing in front of a blue fence, beyond which is a blue sea and blue sky. The man wears a long blue robe, from which only one leg is seen underneath. The cover extolls "You Can Conquer Cancer". As I opened and began to read the book I became excited. "I have to meet this man", I said to myself.

Back then in the summer or ’86, I was on my way back to the US for a one year Mind-Body Residency at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. My area of expertise was mainly Mind-Body Medicine. Although I was well trained in clinical nutrition, manipulation therapy, nutritional supplements, herbal medicine and homeopathic prescribing, "Healing, Consciousness and Transformation" (the name of a course I was co-teaching) was "my thing".

I was very inspired by the then new Mind-Body Medicine findings. I had been lucky to be in the US during the '80s, the years during which psycho-neuro-immunology was discovered, Mind-Body Medicine evolved and holistic medicine organized. I met leading mind-body innovators and thinkers, heard the best holistic experts and learned first-hand from great mind-body pioneers.

I was most interested in the practical application of these exciting new developments, and from amongst the various mind-body tools, Interactive Guided Imagery stood out. I went on to learn skills in this area from Martin Rossman MD and David Bresler PhD, experts, pioneers, authors and later the founders of the American Academy for Guided (Interactive) Imagery.

The forte of Interactive Guided Imagery is the unique guided dialogue between the patient and his or her images or inner metaphors, and the skills needed by the clinician to direct this communication process. Interactive imagery beautifully integrates Mind-Body Medicine principles, along with the Jungian perspective, Mindfulness-based approaches, Empathic Dialogue and lots of "trust the process".

It was my last day in Australia, so all I could accomplish at the time was to find Ian's phone number and call him. We spoke and agreed to meet next year. This became the first time I visited one of Ian's support groups, participated and taught in a 10 day cancer retreat and gave a seminar to his staff.

In 1990, we presented Medicine of the Mind, a two day conference, which as our brochure said, was devoted to presenting "up-to-date information on the theoretical research and clinical data that could well change the face of health, healing and medicine".

My connection and friendship with Ian is now over 25 years old!

In these 25 years, much has been discovered on the mind-body connection, the complementary aspects of imagery and meditation, the power of the mind to heal and the roles of the patient and clinician. A huge body of research is now available to us, as well as experience gained in numerous mind-body and integrative medicine institutes.

Interactive Imagery combined with mind-body and mindfulness-based approaches is a "must have" for clinicians. As a technique, it is a great ally to meditation, because it enables people (with the therapist as a guide) to contact inner feelings, processes, struggles and moods; to look at them differently, to explore them as possible positive guides, to learn from them and reduce their hold.

During the last 25 years, I have been fortunate to teach Interactive Imagery training seminars in Europe, USA, Australia and Israel, and to explore its unique value with physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses and complementary medicine practitioners.

We have witnessed its usefulness in diverse situations, such as in extreme life events, chronic stress disorders, oncology care, trauma work, pain control, and more. Here is what some practitioners have had to say:

"The Interactive Imagery training helped me to connect with my patient's woundedness and their strength, and to empower clients in their healing process", said one psychotherapist.

"Interactive Imagery is a wonderful technique", said one physician, "because it enables me to guide my patients towards their deeper Self, and to harness its healing potential".

Or a social worker’s statement: "Integrating Interactive Imagery with mindfulness enables me to reach the patient's unconscious mind, in order to identify its hidden messages".

All of which will be translated into our coming training in October where those who join us will be experiencing and learning how to:

Integrate the latest research findings and insights of Mind-Body Medicine with Imagery-based Therapy and Mindfulness-based Meditation  

Use language, imagery and silence therapeutically, and how best to combine them synergistically to generate healing and wellbeing

Guide Dialogue between the Person and the Image– the step-by-step approach of communicating with symbols and metaphors 

Use Interactive Imagery and meditation to transform troublesome "symptom makers" into unique and interesting allies  

Bring imagery exploration into loaded clinical situations, mobilize personal resources and fortify resilience

This will be a highly experiential, interactive and practical training, uniquely suited to practitioners and informed people keen to work on their own health, healing and wellbeing.

To download the flier, CLICK HERE

For further enquiries call 03 59666130


NOTE: 30 Category 2 CPD Points applied for from the RACGP, and this training/program would qualify as training hours for those applying for registration with ATMA.

The Mind that Changes everything


BOOK: The Mind that Changes Everything

CDs: Mind Training

Mind-Body Medicine

Bowel cancer? Get off your backside!!!

Associations of recreational physical activity and leisure time spent sitting with colorectal cancer survival.               Campbell PT et al, J Clin Oncol.  2013; 31(7):876-85 
Little is known about the association of recreational physical activity or leisure time spent sitting with survival after colorectal cancer diagnosis. This study examined the associations of prediagnosis and postdiagnosis recreational physical activity and leisure time spent sitting with mortality among patients with colorectal cancer.
CONCLUSION of the Study?: More recreational physical activity before and after colorectal cancer diagnosis was associated with lower mortality, whereas longer leisure time spent sitting was associated with higher risk of death.

06 May 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: In praise of tall trees

What can we learn from a magnificent oak? A photographic essay

Consider this. Here is a one hundred year old red oak in full autumn colour. A giant of a tree with a massive canopy, and beauty for all to see.

What then if I showed you this – a diminutive object that can be cradled in the palm of your hand?

Now, if you knew nothing of botany, the science to do with plants, and I was to tell you that this thing was an acorn and all you need to do is put one of these into suitable prepared soil and nurture it appropriately and you could produce a regal oak tree, you could be forgiven for thinking I was mad.

There is a huge lesson to learn from this metaphor, 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 and author of the Bodhicaryavatara, A Guide             to the Bodhisattva's Way Of Life

So here is the thing. 
Knowing that an acorn will produce an oak, knowing the conditions an acorn needs to grow into an oak, gives the confidence to plant a few and support their growth:

Above on the left is a one year old baby, nestled amongst pea straw and major protection from rabbits and deer.
On the right, a three year old beginning to make its way.

Now, above we have a six year old, well able to maintain itself in the midst of a big space.
And on the right, a nine year old, beginning to look like its parent, the big tree above whose acorns produced all these youngsters.

But there is more. If on a grander scale, one did know the laws of botany, the laws that govern how plants function; how they live and grow and flourish; one could plan, plant, cultivate and sustain a beautiful garden.

In the same manner, if one did know the laws that govern how the mind functions; how the mind helps a person to live and grow and flourish; one could plan, cultivate and sustain a beautiful life.

Makes simple sense of learning more about the mind and making the time to train the mind!

The 2 top ways to develop mindfulness in daily life

The Mind that Changes everything


Please Note: Orders from the blog have been redirected to the Gawler Foundation, but presently their on-line ordering system is being updated and is non-functional, so to order you need to ring them 03 59671730, or email info@gawler.org.

BOOK: The Mind that Changes Everything

CD: Mind Training  

Mind Training in Melbourne!

Melbourne Workshops –NEXT WEEKEND 

Saturday May 11th : Meditation and the Power of the Mind 
Like a mini meditation retreat. A great chance to refresh, learn some more and deepen meditation in good company.

Sunday May 12th : Living Well, Being Well
Looking after ourselves, maintaining a healthy, healing, vital lifestyle takes some doing. Come along and be reminded of what is important, learn of new research and how it applies in daily life, and be re-invigorated! Lots of new material on nutrition, epigenetics, telomere science and neuroplasticity.

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

Avaaz helps to save Europe's bees!

Europe has just banned bee-killing pesticides!! Bees pollinate two thirds of all our food -- so when scientists noticed that silently, they were dying at a terrifying rate due to toxic pesticide useage, Avaaz swung in to action. This week’s victory is the result of two years of flooding ministers with messages, organizing media-grabbing protests with beekeepers, funding opinion polls and much, much more.

Mega-corporations like Bayer threw everything they had at this, but people-power, science and good governance came out on top!!  All supported big time by Avaaz. Who?

Avaaz.org is a 21-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. "Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages. Avaaz members live in every nation of the world. The Avaaz team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages.

If you want to support Avaaz and add your voice to their wide-ranging campaigns, or even start an on-line campaign yourself, go to www.avaaz.org

More reasons to look after your telomeres!
Telomeres are protective, DNA - protein complexes at the end of our chromosomes that protect them from fraying as we age.

However, during normal ageing, the gradual loss of telomere length can contribute to our cells becoming unable to reproduce, to their early cell death, and to the formation of cancer.

As a dramatic example of this, in the fairly rare genetic disorder dyskeratosis congenita, telomere shortening is accelerated, and those affected have premature onset of many age-related diseases and early death.

This study set out to assess an association between telomere length and mortality in 143 normal unrelated people over the age of 60 years.

The study found those with shorter telomeres in blood DNA had poorer survival, attributable in part to a 3.18-fold higher mortality rate from heart disease (95% CI 1(.)36-7.45, p=0.0079), and an 8.54-fold higher mortality rate from infectious disease (1.52-47.9, p=0.015).

These results lend support to the hypothesis that telomere shortening in human beings contributes to mortality in many age-related diseases.

Cawthon RMS et al, Lancet. 2003 Feb 1;361(9355):393-5. Link to the article, CLICK HERE

Read more about telomeres and telomere support: www.herbalts.net