24 September 2014

Accelerated healing 101

The 5 principles you can learn and apply to accelerate the healing of any condition.

Do you sometimes wonder if people who heal quickly are just lucky? Or did a miracle (an unexplained event) occur? Or is the notion of accelerated healing through using the power of the mind actually real, and if so, how best to take advantage of it?

What follows is very personal. It describes my own recent encounter with a major need for healing. And it provides direct advice based on nearly 40 years in this field. It is also a long article as the attempt has been made to make it fairly complete, almost like a healing manifesto, so it will come in 2 parts, but first

Thought for the day

             Without the heart 
             The eyes cannot see 
             And the ears cannot hear

                     Japanese saying

Recently I had the opportunity to put what I teach into practice. Two days before leaving on the recently completed 3 month road trip/speaking tour, I tore the rotator cuff in my right shoulder.

There was the car to pack, the prospect of many miles to travel, many talks to present. And an arm that was completely immobile and excruciatingly painful! Would it heal? How long would it take? How would Ruth and I manage?

Apparently, rotator cuff tears commonly take 2 – 3 months to heal. Some require surgery and some are very slow. Recently a friend was severely debilitated by this injury for 2 years. My rotator cuff tear was diagnosed on clinical examination by an orthopaedic surgeon and confirmed by X Ray and MRI. It was completely healed in 5 days. I decided to delay writing of it until returning home, just to ensure there was no relapse - it remains as strong and reliable as ever.

Just lucky? Maybe, but here then is “Accelerated Healing 101”. The 5 key principles are explained, how I actually applied them to healing a rotator cuff tear is described, and details of how you can develop these principles are provided for whenever you may need healing.

ACCELERATED HEALING 101 – the five key principles

The potential for the mind to limit healing or to accelerate it is vast. This is not about some simplistic “wishful thinking” – hoping for the best with very little action to back it up. No, this is about realizing the potential of our mind, training it and using it intelligently.

i) Have a clear, positive intention
The Principle
Intention is the starting point. Clearly, when it comes to using the power of the mind, the more certainty the better. Dare to aim high. Do expect the extra-ordinary!

What I did
I told my body that it was completely unacceptable to go on a 3 month road trip with an excruciatingly painful, immobile arm. I expected it to heal quickly and fully and I was committed to doing whatever was necessary to bring that about. Healing became my number one priority.

Maybe we are starting with one of the trickiest principles. I have worked with so many people who, when it came to healing, started with doubts, confusion, uncertainty. However, clearly there is hope. This is a skill that can be learnt like all the others we will be discussing; it simply requires some clarity (about what you are really aiming for) and some courage (to dare to commit to that goal and to follow through on it).

ii) Trust in the cause
The principle
A rotator cuff tear is not “an accident”. Like other things in our lives, it follows on from a string of causes and conditions; some of which we will be aware of, some of which will remain somewhat mysterious.

Have confidence that the cause is clearly to do with our life and that it has the potential to be destructive or constructive depending upon how we respond to it.

What I did
Before leaving on this trip, there had been a lot to do. Heaps of organizing for the tour. Heaps of preparation before leaving the farm for 3 months. Heaps of overhead pruning with the chainsaw in the orchard while balancing on one leg.

No obvious specific trigger, but the injury made sense! And while it did provide an excellent and compelling opportunity to revisit and re-examine what  teach, on the surface, it still seemed extremely inconvenient!

The aim is to recognize cause and effect. To let go of any “victim mentality thinking”, the disempowering “poor me” stuff and to recognize that if something has a cause it also has a solution. Logical analysis will get you to this if common sense does not do it even more directly.

It is wise to reflect on all this, to contemplate it and to clarify your own thinking, your own beliefs around healing.

iii) Let go of the past – along with destructive states of mind
The principle
This means letting go of blame, shame (that feeling of not being good enough), guilt and despair. Tough work for some.

What I did
I need to be honest here and at the risk of sounding immodest or deluded, say that fortunately I attended to these destructive states rather thoroughly some years back and they were simply not an issue in this instance. However, I observe that for many people they can provide a major impediment to accelerated healing.

The simple first step here is to work out what you want. If it is to be angry and resentful then healing will suffer. If accelerated healing is what you want, then you have an imperative: work on transforming any destructive mind states you are aware of. For example, forgiveness is possible when you are committed to it and it transforms resentment.

However, there is an important proviso. Sometimes transforming difficult emotions can of itself take a lot of energy and time. Sometimes it can be expedient to focus on getting well in the first instance, then attending to these difficulties later. Timing can be a major issue and the key is to be comfortable with where you are at.

Some people just know they need to work on forgiveness as a major, immediate priority. Others sense that now is not the time; that there is a knowing that these personal issues will need to be attended to, but that healing will be better served by shelving the issues for now and coming back to them later.

The secret is to aim to develop a comfort with where you are at, to avoid beating yourself up and to develop the intuitive skills that give you confidence to know what to do when (this can be reliably accomplished through the practice of contemplation).

iv) Expect healing
The principle
Be confident. The body’s capacity to accelerate healing is truly amazing. There are so many amazing stories to draw upon; to be inspired by. (In the cancer field, read Surviving Cancer and Radical Remission).

What I did
I knew I could heal quickly.

Take inspiring stories to heart. Be comforted by the fact that even if just one person has accomplished remarkable healing before, it can be done again. Draw strength from the growing body of research that documents and analyses many remarkable recoveries.

Avoid negative people. Or better still, use their doubts to constructively challenge and build your own resolve. Remind yourself regularly of the amazing potential for healing you have. Whenever possible, hang out with people who have done it. Attending a well run, like-minded self help/support group can be very useful.

v) Talk to your self kindly and positively
The principle
The messages we give to ourselves directly impact upon our potential for accelerated healing, and on our wellbeing.

What I did
The pain I experienced with my rotator cuff injury was extreme – for a few days. Over the years I have developed some pain management skills (have had root canal dentistry without anaesthetic) but a couple of times I just felt the need to yell! But then I smiled. It was a release. No need to beat myself up, make judgements or feel guilty in some misguided way. Just let it out and move on the freer for having done so. Move on expecting to heal and thanking the body as the positive signs of recovery began to emerge.

Watch your self talk. Learn to actively participate in your own thinking. Rather than allowing your thoughts to dictate how you feel, take control. Notice when you stray into negative or destructive self talk, recognize it, do not take it seriously, do not beat yourself up and instead, give your energy to creative, constructive thoughts.

The principle
Accelerated healing is based upon the regenerative powers of the body. Inflammation can be important in the early stages of healing, but chronic inflammation and meta-inflammation are both decidedly “anti-healing”.

What we need for accelerated healing is a solid baseline that is anti-inflammatory and regenerative. This is achieved by living a healthy lifestyle.

So good to be doing this before an injury or illness, but again, it is never too late to begin. Two key points:

i) Nutrition
The principle
High levels of meat, dairy, saturated fats and processed foods are all confirmed to promote inflammation and degenerative processes in the body.

Plant based whole foods, good oils, exercise, high fluid intake – all the things you know about – are confirmed to be highly anti-inflammatory, highly regenerative.

What I did
Thoroughly attended to all this

Simple choice really!

ii) Stress management
The principle
Stress also leads to inflammation and aggravates degenerative disease.

What I did
I knew I was under pressure, so I meditated more. Prior to the injury, I had been doing all possible to minimise the load and making time to exercise more.

Especially when healing, do all possible to minimize stressors and make time for relaxation, exercise and meditation. Make meditation a priority and use CDs to help keep focused if you are distracted or have trouble concentrating.

The principle
The body has a vast array of healing mechanisms and they are all regulated by the mind – mostly by the unconscious mind. This regulation involves two-way communication – from the mind to the body AND from the body to the mind.     To be continued….

NEXT WEEK – Accelerated Healing Part 2
How to use the mind to accelerate healing directly using Mind-Body Medicine techniques.

The hierarchy of healing modalities

Activating your support team

FOLLOW UP – specific cancer residential programs with a focus upon accelerated healing

The material presented in this and next week’s blog will be at the heart of the material to be covered in the next specifically cancer related programs Ruth and I will present – the first, Mind, Meditation and Healing at Wanaka, New Zealand in November 2014,  the second, Cancer and Beyond in the Yarra Valley, Australia in May 2015.

(Nutrition will be given thorough coverage as well, while there will be ample time with myself and Ruth for questions and discussion, along with good conversations amongst like-minded people).

Cancer survivors? Cancer thrivers!

Radical Remission

BOOKS You Can Conquer Cancer,   Radical Remission,   Surviving Cancer

Mind Training,   Emotional Health

A Good Life – ABC Compass program outlining something of my life and work.

Link via my website – CLICK HERE 

15 September 2014

Ian Gawler Blog – A path to inner peace

What if you had it all and it meant nothing? Dr John Kitchen was a neurologist “living the dream” with most things an ordinary person could want – except any deep sense of fulfillment or happiness.

So this week, an invitation to take a few moments when time permits (17 minutes to be precise), make a nice cup of tea, kick back and view a thought provoking film that documents how Dr John took radical action, followed his heart, developed his own unique form of meditation in action and found what he was looking.

Also, some people are experiencing a nuisance with the pop up that appears on the blog suggesting you join the blog email list when it appears every time you visit the blog site. Apparently this occurs if you have your cookies turned off  (don’t you just love some of the language that comes with computers!!!). So apologies if this is the case, but for those with turned on cookies (is that the same as hot cookies???), there should be no problem (the pop up is set to appear very infrequently).

Then details of our next meditation retreat that will support your own inner reflection, but first (and apologies for the language – this is an American quote)

            Thought for the Day

        I am trying to get to the end of my life
       Without becoming an arsehole again


John Kitchen reminds me of a surgeon friend from many years back. My friend had a senior surgeon as a father who explained the purpose of life to him at an early age quite simply. Grow up, work hard, be successful and you will be happy.

My friend bought the package. He worked hard and by 40 he himself was a senior surgeon. Nice house, great car, lovely wife, 2 healthy children. Prestige.

Successful? Certainly on one level, but then the accoutrements. Skin rashes over several parts of his body, stomach ulcer, sleep difficulties, not relating well with the kids, wife distant, himself grumpy a lot of the time. Disillusioned really. Followed the formula to the letter, but where was the happiness?

It is fascinating how some people wake up, do the radical thing, change their life and (usually following considerable effort) find what they were looking for all along.

Then there are the others who resign themselves to their lot, find ways of adjusting to a deep disappointment, see no way through and adopt a range of behaviours that mask the inner discomfort. Then there are some like Woody Allen who so famously quipped, “I just grow a tumour”.

This then is a provocative film. Provocative in that it challenges us to consider what is important. The subject of the film makes radical changes in his life. My friend the surgeon also found the happiness he was looking for, but he did it “merely” by making radical changes in his way of living.

He remained a senior surgeon, just dramatically changed his way of living. Learnt to meditate, found inner peace, learnt to really value his wife and children, made time for them and the other things he did really value in his life.

Dr John, or Slomo as he has come to be known, is a natural on camera. His combination of candor and eloquence and his background as a neurologist legitimizes his metaphysical theories about skating (his new found passion and raison d’etre), lateral motion and the brain.

So again, treat your self. When time permits, take a few moments, make a nice cup of tea, kick back, LINK HERE and enjoy the film.

Finding our true identity

You might enjoy my own biography – a story about doing it the hard way - when life itself demanded, indeed, imposed changes.

The Dragon’s Blessing by Guy Allenby


1. Meditation, Images and Health - Five day retreat – October 13 - 17

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 this 5 day residential program in the beautiful Yarra Valley that brings together the best techniques for personal transformation we know.


To book: Call the Gawler Foundation - +61 3 59671730

2. The final events for the grand tour are in Adelaide this week but all 3 are fully booked. Once home and the dust has settled, I will file a report on the blog – it has been a marvelous trip!!!

08 September 2014

Ian Gawler Blog: How to manage emails easily

This week a short blog with a really useful tip on how to manage emails while away. Just back into Alice Springs last night after a wonderful 10 days spent with the delightful group that gathered for Meditation in the Desert. Came back to large numbers of emails. What to do? This week, the simple answer, but first

                            Thought for the day

                                       Thinking is harder work
                                       Than hard work

                                                  Leo Rosten

On occasions when I do go away for more than a couple of weeks, and especially if I am leading or on retreat myself, there is an out-of-office reply that seems to work very well for me and those who contact me. It saves me from having countless emails to wade through upon return, and it helps others to be clear if they really do need my attention.

It has amazed me how many people have commented on receiving this response, saying they had not thought of doing it themselves beforehand, but plan to take it on. Probably does not suit everyone’s situation, but I think it could help avoid “post retreat blues” or “back from holidays, email inspired grumpiness”. Would love to see it become office standard practise.

You might like to share this one; here it is (with my latest details in brackets)

I am away ….  (leading Meditation in the Desert) and will not be able to attend to emails again until … (Monday September 8th). Having found in the past that returning to large numbers of emails is really unhelpful, on return I will simply delete all unread emails. 

So please, if you do have something you feel I need to know about, or a question, or there is something I may be able to help with; do resend it on or after … (Monday September 8th)

be well


You may have better, more personally appropriate wording than me, but this out–of–office message makes re-opening the computer a whole lot more pleasant :)

I will put together a photo essay recounting Meditation in the Desert soon - it was magical !
(Images here from last year)

 The view for Meditation in the Desert 
- the Western MacDonnel Ranges

Early morning yoga with Ruth

Sharing stories in the dry river bed