20 April 2015

Meditation and the Inner Journey

Imagine you are to be granted an audience with the wisest person of your choosing. Living or dead. Who would you choose? Jesus? Socrates? The Buddha? Germaine Greer? Mahatma Gandhi? Aung San Suu Kyi? The Dalai Lama? Your favourite grandparent? Who would you choose?

What if you could learn to access that level of wisdom from within your own mind? This indeed is the potential, the very real possibility that comes with learning and practising very specific techniques relating to meditation and the inner journey.

Ruth and I have taught these techniques during a range of programs over many years and in June will share them as the focal point of a 5 day retreat in the Yarra Valley at the Gawler Foundation’s Living Centre - Meditation and the Inner Journey - winter being an ideal time of year to venture inwards.

So this week, an introduction to how to engage with this technique, but first

                                Thought for the day

                  Realization of Truth is higher than all else. 

                 Higher still is truthful living

                                 Guru Nanak - Founder of Sikhism

Clearly our mind has different aspects. We speak of the intellect, and we speak of wisdom. We know these are two ways in which our minds can function.

We know that intelligence used without wisdom is commonplace and often dangerous. We know that wisdom is often harder to come by than intellectual learning.

Who would not like to be thought of as wise? Who would not like to have more access to their own wisdom?

Well, in theory at least, accessing more of our own inner wisdom is fairly straight forward – once we know where to look, and what to look for.

Wisdom comes in two most obvious forms, the first of which is through our own accumulated life experience. We experience life events, we learn from them, we remember the lessons and with age and maturity we become wiser. Simple enough.

But how to access this stored wisdom more directly? Knowing something of the mind makes it possible.

Our memories, along with our accumulated wisdom, are stored in the unconscious aspect of our mind. This being so, to access our wisdom we need to access our unconscious. We need to connect the conscious, thinking aspect of our mind with the unconscious in a way that makes it possible for the two to communicate. We need an interface; a “language” both the conscious and the unconscious mind can understand.

This is where it gets easy. The natural “language” of the unconscious is imagery, and the conscious can work with images quite readily. Imagery is the common language.

If we enter a meditative state and begin to use imagery, we are already in the territory of the unconscious. In that state, we can then invite our inner wisdom to be represented by an intermediary, an image, that we can communicate with through an inner dialogue.

But there is even more to this possibility.

Karl Jung was a champion for the notion of the collective unconscious.

Unlike the wisdom that springs from our own accumulated life experience, Jung claimed this aspect of the unconscious was common to all people.

This aspect of the unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It is collective, universal, and impersonal. It is identical in all individuals.

And the collective unconscious, because it also resides in the domain of the unconscious; it too is also accessible via guided imagery!

So meditation and the inner journey involves learning how to enter into an inner state where we can generate an image for our own inner wisdom and dialogue with it. For years I have observed people derive great benefit from this technique, obtaining answers to often vexing questions they might have been pondering for years or needed answers to in an immediate sense.

People often ask how do you know if the answer you get from your inner wisdom through such a technique can be trusted. Ever experienced doubt? Ever just known deep in your being that something was true? When this inner wisdom exercise works, the answer comes with conviction. It is that simple.

If there is doubt, then you doubt the supposed wisdom. If there is conviction, then you can trust it. You will know the answer to this from your own inner experience.

The mechanics of this exercise are detailed in my book The Mind that Changes Everything, however, to be direct, while many have learnt it for themselves, to do it with guidance and support makes it easier to learn and more effective, hence this year’s retreat.

Feedback or questions welcome via the Comments section



Meditation and the Inner Journey
This retreat brings together 2 powerful experiences - the deep natural peace of meditation, and a gentle process of introspection that will help you reconnect with your own inner wisdom.

For thousands of years, people have removed themselves from the busyness of daily life and entered into a retreat situation to meditate. Come, join like-minded people, be inspired, be renewed. Immerse yourself in meditation. Be guided, be nurtured. Take the opportunity to reconnect with your own inner wisdom and the essence of who you really are.

DETAILS Click here

The Mind that Changes Everything

Inner Peace, Inner Wisdom



This year, Ruth and I will be presenting two follow-up 5 day residential cancer programs for the Gawler Foundation plus another in New Zealand for Canlive.

We will also present one comprehensive 8 day program (also in New Zealand for Canlive) that will be well suited to anyone who has not done a program with us before - Cancer, Healing and Wellbeing. Australians are welcome in NZ and vice-versa!

Eight day residential program in New Zealand   May 15th  –  22nd , 2015

All welcome; attendance with a partner/ support person is ideal but not essential.

This program will lead you through all the self-healing options:
. Therapeutic nutrition
. Practical positive thinking
. Therapeutic meditation, plus the healing power of imagery and contemplation
. Accelerated healing
. Healthy, healing emotions
. How to get the most out of mainstream treatments and minimize side-effects
. How to be most effective as a support person/carer, and to look after yourself in the process.

I actually lead most of the main sessions, with support from Ruth and 2 exceptional New Zealanders. We live in for the full program so there is plenty of time for questions and personal interaction.

This program is organized and supported by Canlive New Zealand.


13 April 2015

Integrated oncology - why cancer management necessitates a broad approach

This is an important post that I hope you might share with anyone you know affected by cancer. It sets out my concerns for many facing a diagnosis of cancer today; they may well be missing out on what could dramatically improve their quality of life, as well as what could even save their life.

Here is the thing. For many years I worked as a veterinarian. I loved that work.

Over the last 30 years I have worked with people affected with cancer. I continue to love that work, but let us be very clear.

A dog with a broken leg has a simple health issue to manage. It does not need to attend a support group to learn how to cope with its illness and give itself the best chance of recovery.

By contrast, any person diagnosed with cancer who does not attend an educational support group to learn how to manage their illness and give themselves the best chance of recovery is severely limiting their chances.

So this week, lets go Out on a Limb once more and examine why this is so and why an integrated approach to cancer management is mandatory, but first

Thought for the Day

                                            May you find in me the Mother of the World.

                                            May my heart be a mother’s heart, 
                                            My hands be a mother’s hands.

                                            May my response to your suffering 
                                            Be a mother’s response to your suffering.

                                             May I sit with you in the dark, 
                                             Like a mother sits in the dark.

                                             May you know through our relationship 
                                             That there is something in this world that can be trusted.

                                             Anonymous letter from a young Medical student

Working as a veterinarian, much of it was simple in the relative scheme of things. Take repairing a broken leg for example. The cause was something everyone could agree upon. Little Johnny left the side-gate open, the dog ran onto the road, the car hit the dog. Broken leg. Simple.

Diagnosis was usually simple. Maybe a clinical examination was enough; if an X Ray was needed the benefit far outweighed the risk. The cost was modest. Simple.

Then repair would involve immobilization, maybe even surgery, but again, simple.

The healing phase too was straight forward. A dog can eat just about anything and a broken leg will heal.

The dog’s emotions seem to be of no concern to the healing process; and what is going on in the dog’s head, its thoughts, just like its spiritual life – no problem. In fact, it is all simple!

Best of all with a broken leg, the final outcome is generally good. They nearly always heal. Well.

In fact, it is common knowledge that as broken bones heal they often over-compensate so that the part that was broken often ends up stronger than the original bone. This fact spawned the New Age healing saying “We get stronger at the broken places”.

Contrast all of this with the complexity involved when a human being is dealing with cancer.

When it comes to the cause, cancer is known to be a multi-factorial, chronic degenerative disease. People commonly ask after diagnosis “Why me? How did this happen to me?” While much is known in answer to the basic question, for the individual concerned, the full story it is usually far from simple.

Then there is diagnosis. Often complicated. Often expensive. Sometimes there are contradictory test results. Interpretation is not so easy. Sometimes diagnosis is missed or delayed.

When it comes to treatment it is a sad fact that most current cancer treatments are quite tough on the person involved, and by extension, their families and friends.

Most are becoming incredibly expensive.

Clearly too, not everyone survives a cancer diagnosis. Around one third die in the first 5 years.

Far from simple.

Then when it comes to the healing phase - that phase that accompanies and goes on after any medical treatment - just about everything you can think of has some part to play. What someone eats influences outcome. Exercise. Sunlight. Emotional health. Mental state. Accessing the power of the mind. Spiritual life. Mind-Body Medicine. Just about everything warrants attention.

For some, the choices they make in this arena can truly make the difference between life and death.

Then there are other things to consider. Complementary therapies. Alternatives. How family and friends are coping. How they can be helpful rather than a hindrance. Financial issues. Finding meaning. Life after cancer. Reconciling death. And on and on.

Clearly, every aspect of cancer management is complex.

If someone diagnosed with cancer were to concentrate on just one aspect of the disease, like the medical treatment, they would be missing so many other important aspects. If someone diagnosed with cancer was to attempt to sort out all the complex issues on their own, how could we possibly imagine they would succeed?

Management of cancer demands an integrated approach. This means approaching the significance of the disease, its personal meaning, and its recovery by considering the body, the emotions, the mind and the spirit.

An integrated approach also involves working with an integrated team of health professionals as well as giving a pre-eminent place to consideration of what the person can do for themselves.

Attending to the latter effectively, learning what to do for yourself, is most effectively accomplished in a group setting. Residential programs are ideal as they provide the opportunity to withdraw from day-to-day life, to find genuine hope, to experience the recommended lifestyle changes such as the therapeutic foods and meditation, to learn from peers, to be inspired, to learn and to make good choices.

Sometimes I do miss the simplicity of my old veterinary days when treating broken bones was a simple delight. But actually, working with people amidst the complexity of managing cancer, seeing how well people do in body, mind and spirit when following this integrated path, helping to sort out the complexity, finding peace of mind amidst all this; being a part of all this is even more extra-ordinary – and wonderful.

The Cancer Council, the survivors and the book
This is an important post that chronicles the Cancer Council of Australia’s position statement on Complimentary and Alternative therapies. If you have not seen it already, it is must reading and it may help inform discussions with some medical staff – if they need reminding of what their guidelines are. Another vital post to share with those in need.

You Can Conquer Cancer This is an ideal introduction for anyone affected by cancer who is interested to know what they can do to help themselves, or how they can help the one they love.

CDs or Downloads
The Gawler Cancer Program: Outlines how cancer develops and how this self help approach can help the healing.

What to do when someone you love has cancer: Essential listening providing clear guidance for those supporting people affected by cancer, whether family, friends or health professionals.

Ruth and I really enjoy leading specific cancer residential programs together, as well as the much more general meditation retreats we present.

In 2015, we will be presenting two follow-up 5 day residential cancer programs for the Gawler Foundation plus another in New Zealand for Canlive. We will also present one full 8 day program (also in New Zealand for Canlive) that will be well suited to anyone who has not done a program with us before – see more details below. Australians are welcome in NZ and vice-versa!

Also, The Gawler Foundation (where I am no longer on full time staff) presents regular cancer residential programs that are world class (in fact I doubt that there is anything to reasonably compare with the quality of what is being presented by the Gawler team!) Link here


The world lost one of its bright flames recently.

Many who read this blog will have come to know Jess Ainscough, The Wellness Warrior in some way. Jess is featured in the related blog linked above. I was fortunate to know her over the years and was deeply saddened by her death.

It has been even more saddening to read some of the ill-informed commentary on her life choices and her influence since she has died.

Those of us who had the good fortune to know Jesse well knew her for what she was – an incredibly bright and positive person who made considered choices in the face of her own very difficult circumstances, and who inspired many with hope in a well measured way.

Jane Treleaven has written a wonderful piece on her own reaction/ response to Jess’ death; it is highly recommended. LINK HERE


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 or in remission, 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, have a real rest, to reaffirm your good intentions, and to go home refreshed and revitalised.

FULL DETAILS Click here 


Eight day Residential Program in New Zealand   May 15th  –  22nd , 2015

All welcome with a diagnosis or in remission; attendance with a partners and support people welcome.

This program will guide you through all the self-healing principles:
. Therapeutic nutrition
. Practical positive thinking
. Therapeutic meditation, plus the healing power of imagery and contemplation
. Accelerated healing
. Healthy, healing emotions
. Getting the most out of conventional medical treatments and minimising side-effects
. Being most effective as a support person/carer, and to looking after yourself in the process.

I will be leading most of the main sessions, with support from Ruth and 2 exceptional New Zealanders. We live-in for the full program so there is plenty of time for questions and personal interaction.

This program is organized and supported by Canlive New Zealand.