18 August 2014

The Connection

Since this blog was first posted, The Connection has been released to the public and can now be purchased online - CLICK HERE.

A compelling new full-length documentary film on Mind-Body Medicine - and your chance to attend 2 fundraising world premieres that will benefit the Gawler Foundation. 

This is a very important film; particularly well made and probably the most important in the field of Mind-Body Medicine for many years. I highly recommend it to you.

So this week a review of The Connection, details of how you can attend the premieres and see a preview, then news of our next retreat, but first

    Thought for the day

At times you have to leave the city of your comfort 
And go into the wilderness of your intuition. 
What you will discover will be wonderful. 
What you will discover is yourself.

             Alan Alda

Personal crisis is often the catalyst for major personal change. Sometimes it even leads on to great things.

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and frustrated by her interminably slow response to conventional treatment, almost out of desperation, journalist and filmmaker Shannon Harvey travelled the world in search of the missing link in healthcare.

Fuelled by her own need and recognizing the essence of a whole new way of understanding, Shannon gained interviews with a stellar array of world leading scientists and tracked down people who had remarkable stories of recovery from severe back pain, heart disease, infertility, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

The Connection is the result. A feature length documentary with incredibly high production values, The Connection tells the story of the development of Mind-Body Medicine through the words of many of its pioneers. It then delves deeply into the link between our mind and body – explanations and clarity coming from experts and recovered patients alike.

                Dr Herbert Bedson, therapeutic meditation pioneer                     and author of The Relaxation Response

The film includes interviews and remarkable footage that documents the work and shares the insights of an internationally recognised line up of clinicians, scientists and researchers including Drs. Herbert Benson, Dean Ornish, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Andrew Weil.

The Connection also features compelling true stories, with Professor George Jelinek, the Professor of Emergency Medicine who has recovered from multiple sclerosis and leads the MS programs at the Foundation, Melbourne based Scott Stephens who recovered from recurrent melanoma and speaks so eloquently about the Foundation’s program, and my own recovery from aggressive bone cancer.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, pioneer of mindfulness in the Western world

Dr Craig Hassed of Monash University who many will know from his feature sessions at cancer programs, retreats and conferences with the Foundation, speaks particularly well and provides a major link throughout the film.

The Connection proves that through the way we use our mind we have more influence on our health outcomes than we ever thought possible – and it clarifies how to do it.

The film will be available to pre-order in September but before that the director Shannon Harvey will do a World Premiere Tour of the film starting in Melbourne and Sydney before traveling to the US and UK.

Also to acknowledge one of the Foundation’s Past Presidents, Robert Kirby and Village Roadshow for very generously making the theatres available, and to thank the Connection team for also designating the Foundation to be the recipient of these 2 premieres.

During both premieres, old friends and key people from the film will lead question and answer sessions. Unfortunately, Ruth and I will be on the road still so will miss both events, but if you do live within reasonable distance of Sydney or Melbourne, it will be a grand occasion.

Melbourne Premiere - Monday 1st September, 7.45pm at the Rivoli Cinemas, Hawthorn East. Q&A Speaker Panel: Shannon Harvey (filmmaker), Dr Craig Hassed, Professor George Jelinek and Scott Stephens.

Sydney Premiere - Friday 5th September, 8.15pm at the Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne. Q&A Speaker Panel: Shannon Harvey (filmmaker), Professor George Jelinek, Associate Professor Damien Finniss, Dr Craig Duncan and Scott Stephens.

Since this blog was first posted, The Connection has been released to the public and can now be purchased online - CLICK HERE.




Five days of meditation and gentle introspection   :     October 13 - 17
- all amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Yarra Valley

Details   :   CLICK HERE

Bookings   :   Contact the Gawler Foundation  03 5967 1730


Next public event is an evening public lecture in Mt Isa, Tuesday 19th August. This promises to be one of the delights of our road trip as if we were not travelling by car it would have been very difficult to get to Mt Isa in a way that would have worked financially for the people there. And it gives us the excuse to travel up to Karumba, Normanton and Burketown - all on the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria!

Then Meditation in the Desert at the end of the month, with the last events of Le Tour being in Adelaide: Tuesday public lecture 16th September and day workshop Wednesday 17th September. 

Masters of mind and body – real life interviews

Ever wondered what real-life masters of mind & body look like? Who they are? What do they do with their lives? How they think, speak and act?

I have heard first hand accounts of lamas that fly and yogis that live naked in the snow. Have you met someone who seems to have mastered their mind? Maybe they live quietly, not into being outwardly "miraculous",  just being useful doing amazing things in their local community. Maybe they are in the public eye; but whenever we do have the good fortune to come across these people, we are the better for it.

So this week, a link that allows you to access some of these people’s inspiring lives and the insights they offer, courtesy of the Mindbody Mastery program. Do not miss one of the most surprising and remarkable answers I have heard for some time to the question “Are you lonely?”

Also, a link to a profoundly moving and insightful interview recorded at the Foundation during the making of the great new documentary The Connection, along with a reminder about how you can attend its premiere, then news of our next retreat and Dr Nimrod Scheinman coming back to Australia, but first

      Thought for the day

   Enlightenment is real, 
   And there are enlightened masters still on the earth. 
   When you actually meet one, 
   You will be shaken and moved in the depths of your heart 
   And you will realise that all the words, 
   Such as illumination and wisdom, 
   That you thought were only ideas 
   Are in fact true.
                    Sogyal Rinpoche

Many will know that a few years ago I helped launch an online meditation program called Mindbody Mastery. This development coincided with me ceasing full time work at the Foundation, turning 60, and realising I had avoided computers and high tech stuff most of my life.

Anyway, Mindbody Mastery has been a wonderful project to be involved with. It has taught me heaps about the net and technology, and happily it does seem to continue to provide a very useful tool for people to learn meditation on line, and even more usefully, build and sustain a regular practice.

Along with daily emails and regular SMS messages, one of the key components of the ongoing support given to subscribers of Mindbody Mastery (which incidentally costs less than $10 per month) is the rather unique monthly blog which anyone is welcome to access.

While the blog does have lots of great content including a history of meditation, overviews and video demonstrations of mind-body practices along with practical case studies of how to apply mind-body practices in daily life situations; there is now a new series showcasing real-life mind-body masters.

This new series records the lives and stories of extraordinary individuals, bringing them a little closer to you, and giving you a rare insight into how they think.


These new blogs will be based on personal interviews and will feature those who demonstrate mastery over their bodies, and those who demonstrate mastery over their minds.

You will see how invariably these mind-body masters have a keen sense of how they can help make our world a better place, and go about their work in their own unique ways - sometimes in the glare of public limelight, but most often just quietly, and with great dignity.

And every now and then you might even come across that rare gem - an enlightened living master. This is what happened for my partner in Mindbody Mastery, Saurabh Mishra recently when he had an unexpected encounter with one while travelling in India, and then made the effort to seek out and interview another.

Saurabh describes the meetings most eloquently. Great reading and make sure to watch the video link for the “lonely ?” answer in part B – fabulous!!!

To connect with
A. Meeting a master on the train   CLICK HERE

B. A rare interview with a spiritual master, including a short video with his answers to
1. What makes you laugh? (and are you lonely?)
2. What do you do about mosquitos?

The Mindbody Mastery blog will feature a new story of another mind-body master each month, so you may like to flag it.


OR TO JOIN,  GO TO    www.mindbodymastery.net 

Well, this week Ruth and I are in the centre - the red centre - Alice Springs - with Meditation in the Desert starting on Friday. What a delight!

Then the last events of Le Tour in Adelaide: Tuesday public lecture 16th September and day workshop Wednesday 17th September.


Five days of meditation and gentle introspection   :     October 13 - 17
- all amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Yarra Valley

Details   :   CLICK HERE

Bookings   :   Contact the Gawler Foundation  03 5967 1730



Mardi Fletcher's Story from The Connection


The Connection      Premieres in Melbourne and Sydney
After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, journalist and filmmaker Shannon Harvey travelled the world in search of the missing link in healthcare. From interviewing world leading scientists to meeting people with remarkable stories of recovery from severe back pain, heart disease, infertility, cancer and multiple sclerosis - this documentary delves into the link between our mind and body. 

The Connection is a film that proves we have more to say in our health outcomes than we ever thought possible. The Connection will premiere in Sydney on the 5th of September at the Cremorne Orpheum.



2. Radical Remission out of stock for a time

While the response to last week's post that focussed on remarkable survivors of cancer and 2 great books was strong, it is sad to say that Kelly Turner's new book, Radical Remission is now out of stock on the webstore. Even sadder, the publishers will only import new stock on receipt of orders; they are not holding stock in Australia, so it will be a few weeks before more of these great books will be available from the webstore.

I will announce when they are available once more and the plan is to keep them in stock as they seem to be hard to get through bookstores now and even other webstores. It is a terrific book and worth waiting for!!!

We will also keep Paul Kraus' book, Surviving Cancer available through the webstore as it too is hard to find locally.

3. Dr Nimrod Scheinman back in Australia

Many will have benefitted from attending one of Nimrod's previous Australian events. He is the Co-founder and director, Israel Center for Mindfulness in Education, and a world authority on Mind- Body Medicine and the use of therapeutic imagery. A great teacher and old friend who I recommend highly.

Here are the details of his Australian tour, with links:

The presentations are on Mindfulness in Education & Mindfulness with Children, and two are on The Clinical Applications of Mind-Body Medicine.

1.   Practical Applications of Mind-Body Medicine -Brisbane, the Relaxation Centre, September 3rd  DETAILS - CLICK HERE

2.       Mindfulness with Children -  Brisbane, The Relaxation Centre, September 3rd - DETAILS

3.       International Conference - Mindfulness, Education and Transformation, NTI Institute, Woollongong, NSW, September 5-7th DETAILS 

4.       Focusing on Our Children's Attention Span – Mindfulness Strategies for Parents. Spiritgrow Centre, Melbourne. DETAILS 

5.       Integrative Applications of Mind-Body medicine, Melbourne, September 14th - DETAILS

6.       An Education in Awareness - Mindfulness-based Learning Initiatives around the World, Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, Melbourne, September 9th - DETAILS  

11 August 2014

Radical Remission – The 9 key factors that long-term cancer survivors have in common

Obviously, no one wants cancer. But if you, or someone you love did happen to get it, how important would it be to know what is most likely to help you to beat the odds?

This week, 2 crucial books that tell you how – one new, Radical Remission - and we hear directly from its US author, Dr Kelly Turner in a guest blog; the other older, Surviving Cancer, but now easily available again. Both must read books for anyone affected by cancer.

Also, news of the new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer going to all the super powers, but first, the longest ever, but very worthwhile

Thought for the day

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. 
An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step-by-step, and needs no imagination. 
That is all wrong. 
The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers. 
                               Isaac Asimov

Long term survivors everywhere!
Travelling the country as Ruth and I have been doing these last few weeks, it is both heartening and inspiring to meet so many long-term cancer survivors.

Some recognise us on the street and stop us to say hello and share their stories. Many have come to the various talks we have given.

So many of them. Each one with a story that warrants a book in its own right. Hardly any that have been recorded in medical journals. None that I know of that have been studied for what their story may reveal that could save the lives of others.

All praise then to Dr Kelly Turner from the USA who has researched these stories in depth and written what I consider to be the most important new book in the cancer arena for some time.

Then there is Paul Kraus – one of Australia’s longest known survivors of mesothelioma and another author. Paul interviewed 28 long-term cancer survivors from the Gawler Foundation and tells their stories in the exceptional Surviving Cancer. This book has been hard to get for some time, so it has been added to my webstore, along with Radical Remission.

I have had the good fortune to correspond with Kelly Turner now for some time, and she kindly agreed to write about Radical Remission. Here is Kelly:

Whether you are dealing with cancer directly or have lost loved ones, cancer is a disease that touches everyone – which is why I was shocked ten years ago when I discovered that no one was really studying people who healed themselves from cancer.

Radical Remission – also called ‘spontaneous remission’ by doctors – is any cancer remission that is statistically unexpected.

This includes:

1)    People who heal from cancer without using any Western medicine at all.

2)    People with cancer who first try Western medicine, but it does not work, so they are forced to switch to other methods, which do work.

3)    People who use Western along with complementary and/or alternative medicine at the same time in order to overcome a very serious prognosis.

After researching more than 1,000 cases of these cases over the past decade, I have learned that radical remission survivors such as Ian have 9 key healing factors in common.

These 9 healing factors, which include physical, emotional, and spiritual elements, are described in my book, 'Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.'

Seven of the nine most common healing factors that emerged from my research were mental/emotional in nature -- which tells me that the mind is so much more powerful than we think.  The radical remission survivors I study very much paid attention to the state of their mind and believed in the power of their mind to heal the body.

This is why they spent so much energy working on releasing suppressed emotions, increasing positive emotions as much as possible, tuning into and listening to their intuition regarding health choices, deepening their spiritual connection to divine energy, focusing on why they wanted to keep living, allowing themselves to ask for and receive love from others, and finally taking an active (as opposed to passive) role in their healing process.

The techniques that they used to achieve these mental/emotional goals differed from person to person -- some people used meditation, others guided imagery, psychotherapy, energy healing, acupuncture, prayer, etc.  However, those were simply techniques used to achieve the mental/emotional goals listed above.

While we may not yet understand all of the mechanisms behind Radical Remissions, the sheer fact that they happen at all tells us that it is possible to turn around even the most advanced cancers - and that it is a fact worth celebrating.

Kelly Turner has set up a research database where new stories are most welcome: www.RadicalRemission.com.


Need more inspiration? Want direction from those who have done it? Want to know what is possible?

For many years, while working at the Gawler Foundation, I gathered stories of remarkable recoveries. Paul Kraus, himself Australia's longest mesothelioma survivor, then interviewed 28 of these people and in Surviving Cancer, warm-heartedly recounts their stories.

These stories are unique in the way they relate healing journeys from first diagnosis to ultimate recovery. Yet behind each person's story there are certain common threads. Chief among these is that above and beyond medical treatment each individual received the benefits of self-empowerment by adopting strategies learnt from the wonderful therapeutic team at The Gawler Foundation.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is full of inspiration, hope and direction. In my opinion Surviving Cancer is a must have book for people affected by cancer. Great to read, then keep on hand and dip into whenever the need for a lift is there.

Reading the accounts of recovery in Surviving Cancer provides a recipe for hope and healing.

You Can Conquer Cancer goes global – again
What do the super powers have in common? Not so much it seems some days, but at least they are all soon to publish the new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer! 

The old edition went into over a dozen translations, and as the new edition is such a big step forward (it is virtually a new book the re-write was so thorough), I must admit to being very pleased that it has been taken up by China, Russia, the USA and the UK. So far, translations/new editions are also set for Taiwan, Hungary, and Malaysia. Fascinating!

The road trip/ speaking tour continues to be a delightful mix of meeting wonderful people, travelling this extraordinary land (this week we are in Cooktown - how cool is that!) while speaking in capital cities and some parts we would never normally be able to get to.

Next public event is a day workshop in Cairns, Saturday 16th August

Followed by an evening public lecture in Mt Isa, Tuesday 19th August

Then Meditation in the Desert at the end of the month

With the last events of Le Tour being in Adelaide: evening public lecture Tuesday16th September and day workshop Wednesday 17th September.

04 August 2014

The good oil on food; recent research and how it affects you

Confused by all the conflicting food messages? This week something of a smorgasbord of research on nutrition – for those who like the facts with their breakfast. What prevents a heart attack and cancer? What you can eat to extend life and help the planet, problems with the “paleo” diet and even why green juice makes sense! And then some inspiring feedback, but first

Thought for the day

Above all else, we need to nourish our true self
For so often we make the fatal mistake 
Of identifying with our confusion
And then using it to judge and condemn ourselves
Which feeds the lack of self-love 
That so many of us suffer from today

                 Sogyal Rinpoche

There is so much exciting research coming out these days that focuses on nutrition. By taking account of it, we really can have more confidence in what to do.

Want to reduce your risk of dying by 20% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 29%?
Then eat like vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists. According to a recent study even modest reductions of animal product consumption potentially provide significant health and environmental benefits. While non-vegetarians experienced a 20 percent higher mortality rate than vegetarians even a semi-vegetarian diet reduced emissions by 22 percent, compared with non-vegetarian diets.

Soret S, et al. Climate change mitigation and health effects of varied dietary patterns in real-life settings throughout North America. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100:490S–495S.

Green juice. To quote Crocodile Dundee, “You can live off it, but it tastes like sh..!”
I drank heaps of green juice during my own cancer recovery even though I struggled with the taste. Some people tell me they actually enjoy the drink; but either way, new evidence makes the benefits clearer.

Researchers in the USA compiled a list of 41 "powerhouse" fruits and vegetables based on their public health importance for reducing the risk of chronic diseases. They examined nutrient density and bioavailability and tested for potassium, fibre, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.

While berries were not included in the study at all, when it came to the vegetables, the table below highlights the green ones. Put them through a juicer and you have a powerhouse drink!


Watercress 100.00
Chinese cabbage 91.99
Chard or silverbeet 89.27
Beet green 87.08
Spinach 86.43
Chicory or curly endive 73.36
Leaf lettuce 70.73
Romaine lettuce or cos 63.48

For the full list, CLICK HERE 

Di Noia J. Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:130390.

Avoid cancer with caution
A group of researchers has recommended applying the precautionary principle to food choices that probably, if not conclusively, increase cancer risk. The precautionary principle is typically applied to toxins that are likely harmful to health, but where evidence is not yet complete.

The researchers conclude that based on this approach, it is best to limit or avoid alcohol, dairy products, red and processed meat products, and meats cooked at high temperatures.

Conversely, they encourage the consumption of soy products, fruits, and vegetables.

Gonzales JF, Barnard ND, Jenkins DJ, et al. Applying the precautionary principle to nutrition and cancer. J Am Coll Nutr. Published ahead of print May 28, 2014.

How to get pesticides out of your system
This seems almost too good to be true! Research from RMIT has found eating an organic diet for a week can cause pesticide levels to drop by almost 90% in adults! However, it does make sense as most pesticides come to you through your food (although some can come through inhalation and skin absorption).

The study, led by Dr Liza Oates found participants' urinary dialkylphosphates (DAPs) measurements were 89% lower when they ate an organic diet for seven days compared to a conventional diet for the same amount of time. DAPs make up 70% to 80% of organophosphate pesticides.

The researchers noted that there is some emerging research suggesting links between chronic low-dose exposure to OPs and problems with the nervous system. They also stated that the activities of these agents are toxic to the nervous system and that “A lot of these agents were initially developed as nerve gases for chemical warfare”. Another good reason to go organic!

Oates, L et al. Reduction in urinary organophosphate pesticide metabolites in adults after a week-long organic diet. Environmental Research, July 2014, Vol 132, 105–111

The iron in meat is different to the iron in vegetables. One is significantly more likely to produce a heart attack than the other!

According to a new meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition, heme iron (found in meat)

increased the risk of heart disease by 57 percent.

Researchers analyzed data from 21 international studies, which included 292,454 participants, for an average of 10 years and found that non-heme iron found in vegetables showed no relationship to risk or mortality from heart disease.

Hunnicutt J,et al. Dietary iron intake and body iron stores are associated with risk of coronary heart disease in a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. J Nutr. Published online January 8, 2014.

Fiber is far more than simple padding! It reduces the risk of dying after a heart attack

Fiber, especially fiber from grains, decreases systemic inflammation, lowers bad cholesterol, improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances healthy gut flora. High-fiber foods are also high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals -- all nutrients that are beneficial to health. 

Investigating over 4,000 people who survived a heart attack, the researchers found that a high-fiber diet was associated with a 31 percent reduction in dying from all causes and a 35 percent reduction in death from heart disease specifically.

Li S, Flint A, Pai JK, et al. Dietary fiber intake and mortality among survivors of myocardial infarction: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2014;348:2659-2671.

"Paleo" diet leads to worsening cholesterol
I have consistently spoken out suggesting the “Paleo” diet is not a good choice. A new study shows it actually worsens cholesterol levels.

After ten weeks on the Paleo diet as well as circuit training, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol increased by 12.5 mg/dL and total cholesterol by 10.1 mg/dL. Triglycerides also increased slightly. The worst outcomes were seen among the subgroup that had been the healthiest before starting the diet.

The authors noted that any improvements from the exercise program may be negated by the “Paleo” diet.

Smith MM et al. Unrestricted Paleolithic diet is associated with unfavorable changes to blood lipids in healthy subjects. Int J Exerc Sci. 2014;7:128-139.

Inspiration is the turning point that propels many people’s lives into a whole new world of recovery and good health. There is nothing like shared personal experience to provide such inspiration and it is a feature of travelling and speaking that Ruth and I are treated to meet up with many inspiring people who have amazing stories to share.

While there is always the risk of sounding egocentric in sharing positive feedback, the real wish is that it does inspire others. Both people below wrote to me personally, and when asked, were keen to share their feedback.

Finding hope and direction

I attended Ian's talk in Coffs Harbour last night in the company of my sister, my father and my father's partner. My father is seriously ill with advanced small cell carcinoma and is essentially restricted to his bed, in lots of pain with very little energy and does not currently have a good prognosis.

He was initially feeling that he would be unable to attend Ian's talk for much longer than about an hour, but because of the incredibly engaging, compelling and important messages that Ian delivered, my father stayed for the full 3 hours (an absolute miracle!).

He is now inspired to apply Ian's techniques and to pursue his valuable advice in fighting his illness. Ian has inspired and offered hope where previously little existed.

I really admired the way Ian presented and the content you covered in your talk (and gained greatly from the guided meditation). I am a scientist and I was highly impressed by the currency of the material that you presented, it gives great weight to the advice you give and the practices that you advocate. You obviously keep a very close watch on the medical literature.

On a more personal level I must compliment Ian on the 2 guided meditation sessions of the evening - they were the most powerful and rewarding that I have ever been involved in! They have inspired and motivated me to pursue further meditative practice.

Thanks so much,

Mark Graham
Coffs Harbour

Finding a new life; a new business

I attended with Gawler Foundation 5 years ago and was lucky enough to have you both (Ian and Ruth) leading most of the sessions as your live in leaders where on holiday.

Since attending the Life and Living retreat I have immersed myself in plant based foods, studied plant based nutrition and trained as a wholefoods vegan chef.  More recently I have started my own business teaching people how to cook nourishing whole foods, writing for local magazines and running in home wellness food coaching. You can check it out on my website - www.nourishfull.com 

Maddy Bellcroft (Nelson, NZ) also has published a new cookbook, The Nourishful Kitchen, that you can check out : CLICK HERE