28 July 2014

Meditation, Images and Health

Deep natural peace. Profound insight. With over 50 years of leading meditation retreats and a wide variety of groups between us, Ruth and I invite you to join us for a 5 day residential program in the Yarra Valley this October that brings together the best techniques for personal transformation we know.

Meditation. Contemplation. Imagery. All well known. All speak for themselves.

But then there is the wonderful, gentle but incredibly insightful process that centres around the interpretation of drawings that is not so well known. So this week, more on understanding the workings of our mind, plus a journey into the metaphorical world of drawings, their symbols and their interpretation, but first

Thought for the Day

Psychology has traditionally supported people 
To move from minus ten to zero. 
What I love about positive psychology 
Is that it supports people to move from zero to plus ten.

               John Higgins, philanthropist

Our active, thinking mind is comprised of the conscious and the unconscious. Some liken the relationship of the two to that of an iceberg, with just the tip of the conscious in our ordinary awareness and all the activity of the unconscious going on underneath with major consequence.

Clearly our lives are dramatically affected by the unconscious. The unconscious stores our memories then brings them together to formulate our beliefs and hold our habits.

How often do we feel constrained from doing what we consciously might choose to, or consider to be in our own best interests, when we know what is really holding us back is the underlying force of our own unconscious mind?

How often are our relationships affected by these same unconscious forces, held as hurts or fears; emerging as needs or avoidance?

Clearly there is the potential for great personal liberation in coming to know our own unconscious more directly. With such knowledge comes the prospect of freedom from the past and the freedom of a more open future.

So how to gain insight into the unconscious? This is where it helps to understand that the unconscious has its own language – that of imagery. The unconscious converts our day-to-day experiences into images and stores them as such. We remember the past by drawing on these images, we think using images, we plan for the future using images. Our habits and our beliefs are all made up of images.

Imagery is the language of the unconscious. That is what makes the unconscious so accessible. Drawing is a process of recording images. Through a simple technique using 3 specific drawings, we can gain an incredibly clear window into the workings of our own unconscious.

Excited? This is a fascinating process that stands alone for being gentle yet powerful. There is no need to be an artist. In fact, often the simpler the drawing style the more useful these types of drawings can be.

This is a process I have led several thousands of people through over the years. We used to include it unheralded in many programs and curiously it was not uncommon for some people to be reluctant to enter into the activity. However, with gentle persuasion, it is true to say that almost everyone who did it found major benefit and very often people felt their lives transformed for the better through what they learnt and what the exercise led on to.

So these days as Ruth and I present more regular meditation retreats, each with their own particular theme (like Imagery for Meditation Under the Long White Cloud in NZ), we are offering this program for those interested in their own psychology, the influences of the unconscious and how we can be free to live more in the moment.

Meditation, Images and Health is a program of direct relevance to health professionals. It could be useful in gaining more understanding of your own processes; and the interpretation of drawings is a technique that I learnt initially from a senior Jungian analyst, then adapted somewhat to the group situation. It is a technique that can be used in individual sessions or in groups and this program could well meet the needs of professional development.

Meditation, Images and Health will have plenty of meditation – a little instruction and good time to sit together - along with the usual basic hatha yoga, walking meditation, free time, great food and meaningful conversation. But then we will add this extra dimension of the drawings and all that they offer.

More details and a flier to download can be accessed by CLICKING HERE; bookings are through the Foundation – call +61 3 59671730.

Retreat and go forward

This blog comes to you from Fraser Island. The world’s biggest island of pure sand. Blue sky. Almost warm. Very bumpy tracks that give our car the chance to know it actually is a 4WD, and a place that brings to mind that great quote :

To see a world in a grain of sand

 And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.

              William Blake

Tuesday July 29th : a free evening public talk in Bundaberg
Wednesday July 30th : a talk for dementia carers again in Bundaberg
then Mackay on Friday 1st August and on we go to Cairns, Mt Isa and eventually Adelaide. 

Also, there are still 2 places left for anyone adventurous enough to join Meditation in the Desert at what is getting to be short notice :)

21 July 2014

Ian Gawler Blog: Finding our true identity.

Most people seem pretty busy these days. So much “stuff” to do. So many people to take account of. Work, health, money, kids. Days hurry by. It can be easy to feel a bit lost amidst all the external activity.

So this week, a lyrical tale from out of Africa that offers a practical solution. Plus news from Mackay - I have accepted an invitation to speak there as Ruth and I trek further North. And yes, good news, the weather is getting warmer and the sun is shining as we head for Toowoomba after a full few days in Brisbane. The house-sitter reports 14 degrees and raining in the Yarra Valley. Oh well, the trees will be very happy! But first,

Thought for the day

This withdrawal from the day's turmoil 
into creative silence, 
is not a luxury, a fad, or a futility. 

It is a necessity

Because it tries to provide the conditions 
wherein we are able to yield ourselves 
to intuitive leadings, promptings, warnings, teachings, and counsels, 
and also to the inspiring peace of the soul. 
                                   Paul Brunton

Consider this. When is a baby first conceived?

Imagine this. A woman decides she will have a child. Conception? She takes herself off and sits under a tree, listening for the song of the child that she will conceive. Once she hears it, she goes to the potential father and teaches him the song. Then they make love, pausing along the way to sing the song together. The couple sing the song to invite the child to join them.

The woman is in Africa, a member of the Himba tribe and this is how they do it.

Once the woman is pregnant, she teaches the child’s song to the midwives, the older women and other members of the village.

The child is born to the welcoming sound of its own song being gently sung by all those around about. As it grows, if it should be injured, face a transition like puberty or marriage, or do something wonderful; the child receives the support, the acknowledgement, the honouring of the people it knows through the agency of them singing its song.

Similarly, if at any stage in its life this person should do something inappropriate – a crime or something socially unacceptable – the villagers gather, form a circle, install the person in the centre and sing them their song.

Correction through love. And affirmation of identity. And a reminder of connection and the truth of
belonging. Gentle correction. Loving correction.

So the song is sung throughout life, and finally at the time of dying.

Different cultures have different traditions, but maybe something resonates when we read of such an extra-ordinary tradition as this. Maybe some yearning or nostalgia swells. A recognition of the value of connecting to the heart and how we need to be on guard to maintain this connection in a busy, largely secular world.

But then maybe too, it is as simple as taking ourselves off on our own from time to time and sitting silently. Maybe listening for our own song, or having it sung to us, is just one way of being reminded of our true identity and what is in our heart’s essence?

Maybe in the still, quiet centre of meditation
we can hear our own voice speak;
maybe even sing to us.

We could listen for that.

It will be easy to know when we hear it.

We will feel in tune with our life.

With thanks to The Mind Unleashed where I first read of this wonderful story.

What distracts us



Health, Healing and the Mind comes to Mackay

I have been invited for the first time to speak in Mackay, so if you do happen to know anyone in that area, please do let them know. If you do happen to live nearby - come and say hello!!!

Date:          Friday 1st August 2014
Time:          6.30-9.30pm (arrive at 6 for a 6.30 start)
Venue:       Whitsunday Anglican School Pansy Wood Centre
                     2-12 Celeber Drive, North Mackay
Cost:           $28 pre-purchased online CLICK HERE       
                        or $35 at the door. Healthy light supper included
Enquiries: Sandra or Colin 0431 091 868 
                       or Email: iangawlerinmackay@hotmail.com

14 July 2014

Want longer lasting sex?

Feed the man vegetables. And fruit. And grains. Not meat.
You probably know already that a diet high in meat is linked to cancer of the prostate and the breast and heaps of other things you would rather not develop. But did you know that the more meat a man eats the more likely he is to be impotent? Adds a new twist to natural fertility control.

Happily new research points to what we can do to reverses these risks, so lets go Out on a Limb once more and share some fascinating new research with real relevance to daily life.

Then details of a significant new book published by an old friend and colleague, Lea Rose, (old as in we worked together many years ago), on how to improve the quality of death – both personally and for those we love and care for, along with details of the book's launch in Melbourne on August 9th that you are invited to, but first

                    Thought for the day

                                  Is this nature's Viagra?

As you might guess, impotence – or erectile dysfunction as it is known medically - can have a variety of causes. However, evidence suggests that the most common cause is atherosclerosis - the accumulation of plaque on artery walls.

Plaque of course narrows blood vessels and can prevent them from delivering adequate blood to the heart - leading to heart attacks, and to the brain - leading to stokes. In the case of impotence, plaque reduces blood flow to the genitals - leading to a reduced ability to achieve or maintain an erection.

Of course other "lesser" factors have been associated with impotence, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking, obesity and diabetes, but all of these are lifestyle related, and even more specifically, dietary related.

                  So what to do? 

                          If you are tired of sex

                          feed the man meat 

However, if the joy in life includes a healthy sex life, there is important news coming out of the research world.

It seems that eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish, while avoiding red and processed meat and refined grains is associated with lower rates of impotence and can even reverse the problem when it exists. 

Specific recent research has shown that in type 2 diabetic men, those with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet had the lowest prevalence of impotence and were more likely to be sexually active.

In clinical trials, the Mediterranean diet was more effective than a control diet in improving impotence or restoring erectile function in men with obesity or metabolic syndrome.

Reference: Espositi K, et al. Dietary factors, Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction. J Sex Med 2010 Jul;7(7):2338-45.

Ruth and I are having a wonderful time on the grand tour. As I write we are in Coffs Harbor (speaking here Tuesday evening), having completed an evening public talk in Cronulla and day workshops in Katoomba, Sydney and Pt Stephens.

We have stayed with family and friends, along with nights at the grand old Carrington Hotel in Katoomba (where the talk was given) and had time to wander along the coast a little as we travel.

There have been some wonderful meetings. Remarkable survivors like the fellow who came to the residential program at Yarra Junction 15 years ago with Stage 4 melanoma, a women with bowel cancer secondaries from 5 years ago and another with breast cancer secondaries around 5 years ago – all cancer free, very fit, very well.

Then the delight of meditating together in a large group. The depth of meditation that has been felt in these recent public events is quite extraordinary; and is something more profound than has been common in the past. Maybe it is because so many people have done some meditation these days. Many in fact are quite experienced, but it certainly is a joy to be a part off, is great for the beginners and points to the value and power of meditating in a group.

Only drag is that the cold weather has been following us, but hopefully we will be far enough North soon to shake it off! Coffs harbour Tuesday night, Thursday, Friday and the weekend in Brisbane (including a talk on Understanding Death, Helping the Dying on Friday), then Toowoomba next week. For details, CLICK HERE

Let’s Talk About It! by Lea Rose, Clinical Counsellor is a ground breaking book with the power to change our lives and i highly recommend it. If we are not prepared for death, either our own or as the carer of someone who is dying, we may experience tremendous suffering, fear and regret.

Lea demonstrates that even though we may be facing one of the hardest challenges of our lives, we can still develop peace of mind that we never thought possible. Through Lea’s unique and innovative approach, we can learn how to have an open, even liberating, attitude to death and dying.

Written from Lea’s twenty years experience, this essential book on death and dying can transform the way we die.

Let’s Talk About It! provides practical advice and techniques that can help us to find the courage to face our death; to be empowered to make conscious choices, understand the physical stages of dying, create a care team of family and friends to support real connection; and to be able to communicate through open discussions in our own family and with the dying person.

The book also teaches us that we can make a real difference to our lives and those around us.  Just as we want quality of life we must also insist on quality of death.

As well as recounting her own inspirational journey, Lea uses moving true stories to personalise the experience of death and break down barriers and negative feelings.

Let’s Talk About It! is available now via Lea's Webstore, CLICK HERE 

07 July 2014

Positive thinking – converting a good idea into reality

Positive thinking is very different to wishful thinking. Wishful thinking is where you hope for the best and do nothing about it. Positive thinking is where you hope for the best and do a lot about it! It usually takes commitment, determination, perseverance, resilience – a fair degree of focused attention and hard work.

I am speaking in Pt Stephens, Liz Schiemer’s hometown, on Saturday July 12th as Ruth and I continue our tour up the East Coast. Liz is deeply concerned about the health of her community. High levels of cancer, heart disease, mental illness, even suicide.

However, Liz is a genuine positive thinker. Not one to sit back just simply worrying, what Liz has accomplished is truly inspiring. So this week, as a model of what positive thinking can look like in reality, we share some of the initiatives Liz has taken that are making a significant difference in many lives, but first

Thought for the day

Mental health is 
       “a state of well-being 
       in which every individual realises his or her potential, 
       can cope with the normal stresses of life, 
       can work productively and fruitfully, 
       and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”
                                           The World Health Organisation

During the road trip Ruth and I are on we will be hosted by quite a number of remarkable “positive thinkers” – people who have had the wish to make a difference to the health of their community and then dedicated their lives to that end.

Could have chosen any number to highlight, but for some reason here is Liz’s story.

Liz Schiemer retired from her nursing career to focus on a more natural approach to health and wellbeing. She studied hypnosis, NLP, Life Coaching and meditation – which is how we came to meet.

But not content “just” to develop her own new style of practice, Liz has become actively involved with the Port Stephens Complementary Health Services Association Inc. and the PS Suicide Prevention Network of which she is secretary.

At her clinic, Liz sees people privately and brings to this her professional experience with addictions, epilepsy, disability and a wide range of health issues from stress management to major illness and wellness. Liz also leads a regular meditation group that starts with Qigong, and she hosts regular meetings for Women with Cancer.

The Port Stephens Complementary Health Services Association is an Association of leading healthcare practitioners with a common vision for the ongoing education, nurture and wellbeing of their society. The group is drawn together by their dedication to the promotion of natural healing, and to enabling their community to better manage and enhance their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

To achieve this they work on a shoe string budget with volunteers and any money they make goes back into promotions. You might like to check out their website, CLICK HERE or like their Facebook page CLICK HERE

The PS Suicide Prevention Network (you may want to Like this page too, CLICK HERE) has its main focus on public education. But Liz is also secretary of her local parks and reserves committee that is sponsored by  Council. That group are working with PS Suicide Prevention to establish a dedicated memorial park at Boat Harbour. Several local groups, including youth groups, are working together on that project which it is hoped will be opened during International Suicide Prevention week in September.

So I guess the trick with some of these exceptional “Positive Thinkers” is not to be overwhelmed or intimidated by what they do! Just writing this I marvel at how much Liz does accomplish and want to celebrate it.

However, knowing Liz I have to say how modestly and easily she carries all this. She has a natural enthusiasm – perhaps obviously! – but a natural ease as well. Things just seem to get done with a minimum of fuss and with the people involved having a good time; happy to be a part of it all.

Maybe Liz is just lucky. Maybe it is the meditation. Maybe it is the commitment to service – and the associated commitment to her own good health that is the essential ingredient in providing an ongoing service on such a scale.

Whatever it is, I know it has not been easy for Liz. There have been plenty of ups and downs like there are for most of us. What I delight in with Liz is her commitment to do all she can for the betterment of her community – and the fact that in reality she does it. A true positive thinker. More power to you Liz .

Relaxation in daily life



Our first talks in Sydney and Katoomba were well attended. Lovely to meet a man who attended the 10day cancer residential program with Ruth and myself 15 years ago due to stage 4 melanoma; yet there he was cancer free and very well. Delightful!

Saturday July 12th is the next day workshop in Pt Stephens before we continue up to Coff’s harbor Tuesday the 15th and Brisbane for 4 days of events starting Thursday 17th. Then right on up to Cairns with a few talks along the way, across to Mt Isa and Alice Springs, and down to Adelaide. A road trip with a difference.

Know someone who might benefit from attending? See you there?

For full details, CLICK HERE

Hope to see many of you along the way. There will be the chance for a refresher, to help get back on track if needed; but also exciting new information and the opportunity to meditate together and to deepen the experience of what meditation really is.

A good opportunity to share what we do with family, friends and colleagues.

FULL DETAILS – CLICK HERE  and please do share the link.

2. Meditation in the Desert : August 29 – September 7 

Still a few spaces available, so come, join Ruth and myself along with like-minded people for 7 days of meditation in the extraordinary atmosphere of the Central Australian desert, followed by several days of close contact with senior local indigenous leaders.

Secure your place with a deposit. For details CLICK HERE