05 January 2015

Forty years of living out on a limb, forty years since a leg was amputated - A New Year's Reflection

I had the good fortune when quite young to be forced into living as if my life depended upon it.

For several years from the age of 24, everything revolved around what would help me to live well enough to live; well enough to overcome the very real prospect of dying of a difficult cancer.

To be frank, it did not seem like good fortune right at the start when the cancer necessitated the amputation through the hip of my right leg on January the 8th, 1975 – forty years ago. However, it was not long before the reality became apparent - all that was helping me to live well, all that was helping me to heal, was in my own best interest.

So at the start of another calendar year, lets go Out on a Limb once more and reflect on how we might live our lives in 2015, but first

                    Thought for the day

           You are not a drop in the ocean,

           You are the entire ocean in a drop.


So when this good fortune came my way, there was no other sensible choice. I ate particularly well. Spent time exercising, walking with a bare foot on the earth daily. Felt the sun’s rays on my skin daily. Massage was a regular feature. I juiced, took herbs and supplements, experimented with many things. Read 2 – 3 books each week, journaled daily, sought out the best of teachers.

Learnt to relax, let go of stress. Learnt to be more in the moment, to visualize, to meditate. Learnt to trust intuition; to expect synchronicity. Gained faith in healing physically and beyond.

Learnt to live.

By the time the physical healing was complete, much of this way of living well had become habitual. No effort in eating well, exercising regularly, reading consistently, continuing to seek out great teachers, following the best of them, meditating as a part of daily life.

Aspiring to help others came naturally. Actually, speaking frankly, once again there was no sensible other choice. With all the help I had been given so generously, with all the good fortune I had experienced, how could I not share all that I had learnt?

And so the years flowed on. Sixty five next month and close to 35 years of this work. And now there is a feeling of the need for renewal in 2015.

Sure many have recovered, but so many good people have died. Sure things have changed somewhat in Mind-Body and Integrative medicine, and yes, meditation and mindfulness have gone mainstream.

But still so much to be accomplished and so much opposition to deal with along the way. So much opposition to the simple proposition of living well.

A culture to live in that is built on fear and speed. Speed. Sounds like a drug, but maybe it is even worse. The fast pace of daily life that leads to so much anxiety, and then more frenetic speed. No time to slow down and think things through. No time to reflect, to contemplate and to make good choices.

Simple things suffer. We come to think buying bread makes more sense than baking it. No time for anything else.

We come to think that shopping once a week instead of daily makes sense. We let go of the notion of fresh food and then we come to accept the preservatives to keep the food so we can buy it when time permits. And on and on…

People say “here, have one of these! it won’t hurt you….” Well true, maybe it won’t kill you overnight, but you know there is a compromise or cost involved.

Well I was fortunate. There was a time in my life when I was quite young when I was forced to live as if my life depended upon it. Compromises made no sense.   But over the years I have slipped a little. I know that if I was living my life right now as if my very life depended upon it, I would be living my life with more intent.

There is a need for renewal.

This is where death is my friend and ally. Maybe I am not beset by illness right now, but death is real and comes without warning. Like everyone else, I could die tomorrow.

And while for many years I have reminded myself of this fact daily in an attempt to take life more seriously, in an attempt to waste as little of life as possible, to live as fully as possible; my sense is that even this reminder has become a little stale, a little habitual.

Even though I grow older and the prospect of death becomes ever more real; there is this part of me that is inclined to dissociate, to forget, to rationalise, to indulge in bravado; anything to evade the reality of death and enable living less intently.

So there it is. In 2015 my aspiration, my intention, is to live as if my life depends upon it. What will you be doing? In 2015 Ruth and I will be giving more time to running retreats, less time to workshops and other events. In 2015 we plan to work more closely with people who are ready to take some time out, to retreat from daily life for a few days, to relax, regain balance, regain health and vigour, go deeper into meditation and living well, go deeper into reflection - and be renewed.

Looking forward to it – as much as one can who is attempting to live in the moment

Full details of all events are on the website, click here


MEDITATION in the FOREST       March 27th to April 2nd  2015

During this meditation retreat, we will be focusing upon the deeper stillness of meditation. We will explore the theory, but moreso, the actual practices that help us to go beyond the activity of the thinking mind into a more direct and profound experience of the still mind.

Deep, natural peace. A calm and clear mind. So many possibilities follow…..

FULL DETAILS Click here 

Australia and New Zealand

1. CANCER and BEYOND  May 2015   Monday 4th at 11am to Friday 8th at 2pm

Five Day Residential Follow-up Program at the Gawler Foundation in the Yarra Valley

This program is specifically designed for those with cancer along with their support people who have attended a previous Gawler Foundation program or equivalent such as with Sabina Rabold, CSWA, Cancer Care SA, CanLive NZ, or with the Gawlers.

A unique opportunity to meet with like-minded people once again, to consolidate what you already know, to learn more from the combined knowledge, experience and wisdom of Ian and Ruth, to reaffirm your good intentions, and to go home refreshed and revitalised.

FULL DETAILS Click here 

2. CANCER, HEALING and WELLBEING  May 2015 : Friday 15th to Friday 22nd
Located amidst the natural beauty of Wanaka, New Zealand

Based on You Can Conquer Cancer, giving a focus to accelerated healing and led throughout by Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler, this program will help you to access the heart and science of Lifestyle Medicine.

The 8 DAY RESIDENTIAL PROGRAM designed as a comprehensive starting point for those intent on utilising the best of what Ian and Ruth have to offer.

FULL DETAILS Click here 


Another landmark anniversary. It is 30 years this month since I had the good fortune to first meet the great Tibetan Lama Sogyal Rinpoche when he first visited Australia. Author of the internationally best selling Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Rinpoche has taught me so much that has translated directly into my work and my life. There is immense gratitude.

So good news, Rinpoche is speaking in Newcastle and Sydney in the next few days, then Brisbane later in February. A not-to-be missed opportunity to be in the presence of an authentic meditation teacher whose lineage goes unbroken all the way back to the Buddha and who can translate this ancient wisdom into a modern context with humour and great insight.

Do your self a favour. Bring your family, colleagues and friends. Maybe even come to the retreat Rinpoche will present later in January. I will be there!

FULL DETAILS Click here 


  1. When are you coming to Christchurch NZ

  2. HI Ian,

    Happy anniversary. The good fortune continues.
    Thank you for sharing your intention for 2015. It has inspired contemplation of my own.
    And beautiful Rumi quote!

    Brigitte House