30 November 2015

Free drugs - available now

Cannabis, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines… Maybe you do not want them, but you could have them all for free.


What about free antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants? Yep, them too! Anticancer drugs? Immuno-stimulants? Anti-cholesterol drugs? Antipsychotics? No problem. All free.

Really! Where from?

This week we find out, and it may come as a surprise. And then access to a great conference made possible with a good discount, but first

               Thought for the day

       I know what the great cure is.

       It is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender,
       So that our little hearts may beat in unison
       With the great heart of the world. 

                                   Henry Miller

Well here it is. Drugs HQ

Commonly known as your own brain – the central pharmacy that controls the production and administration of more useful chemicals than any individual pharmaceutical company.

We manufacture multitudes of medications: antibiotics, antimitotics, painkillers, antipyretics, anxiolytics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, immunostimulants, anticholesterols, antihypertensives, antipsychotics, cancer drugs, and more.

We can also activate other parallel circuits involving natural counterparts to more culturally and medically scandalous substances: anandamide (cannabis), alcohol, amphetamines, nicotine, cocaine, LSD, endorphins, and more.

The initiator of this whole pantheon of drugs is you. Me. Every one of us. It starts within our brains and finds fruition in our many organs, glands, even individual cells.

Some drugs are produced on demand. Cut a finger for example and antihistamines, anticoagulants, immunostimulants, natural antibiotics, pain killers – and plenty more – all go into production spontaneously. No conscious effort required. Body knows what to do. Amazing.

Some drugs we access “incidentally”. Have a good laugh and a cascade of endorphins is transported around the body. Immerse yourself in gratitude and dopamine flows out. Be inspired and feel the serotonin surging. A very natural high.

Then some drugs can be induced by what we do deliberately. Meditate and a long list of beneficial drugs is created. Consider just a couple - the master hormone melatonin, regulator of sleep, major controller of immune function and many other hormones are produced en masse when we meditate.

Interferon is known to be produced in significant amounts when meditating and has a powerful affect on immune function – and being naturally produced it comes free of the unwantedside-effects so often associated with taking the isolated drug interferon as a medication.

So the point is – get excited!

Be respectful. Your body is amazing. Truly amazing. Resist the temptation to think that all health issues need some external, high-tech solution. There is nothing as high-tech as your own body. Give your body the right conditions, learn how it works and how you can best support it to function at its amazing best, and enjoy this precious life. Along with its free drugs…..

Meditate, not medicate.


Happiness and its causes is one of Australia's very best conferences   -  2nd and 3rd  April 2016

Delve into the mind and its role in our happiness, health and of course, wellbeing. This conference is highly recommended and through my association with the organisers and having spoken there a few times in the past, there is a great discount on offer if you use the code MBM, plus they have an early bird rate:


Happiness is important. It is important for your own life satisfaction and enjoyment.
It is equally important for your family, the people in your care and the people you work with.

Discover how rituals and habits help us achieve lasting change with world-leading positive psychology lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar (Israel). Learn how to boost happiness with ground-breaking happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky (USA). Explore the power of music to enhance our wellbeing with music maestro Richard Gill OAM.

Hear how cutting-edge technology can help us take control of our health with former executive editor of Wired Magazine Thomas Goetz (USA). Rethink the heart of health with pioneering paediatrician Dr Alan Greene (USA). Ditch the guilt and learn to eat joyfully with leading nutritionist Joanna McMillan.

Become aware of your emotional triggers with emotions researcher Eve Ekman (USA). Use laughter as an antidote to stress with coach and comedian Anthony Ackroyd. Explore the power of identity and connection with acclaimed Indigenous author Anita Heiss.

Be moved by the courage of pioneering surgeon Munjed Al Muderis who fled war-torn Iraq and came to Australia as a refugee by boat. And be touched by top-rating drive time host Richard Glover’s revealing exploration of his family life.

A showcase of 100 innovative companies, free interactive seminars, fitness zone, wellness kitchen, wellness bookshop, meet-the-author sessions and more! Spend your breaks browsing the latest in health and wellbeing. Automatic entry for conference delegates!


Book online using VIP code MBM or call (02) 8719 5118 to register

                             35+ speakers, 5 international experts, 6 workshops, 1 masterclass


23 November 2015

Integrating work, family and life, plus a Christmas sale

Here we are approaching the end of 2015 and another opportunity to reflect, be grateful, and to celebrate. With Christmas not so far away, we are offering 30% off all our resources (until 30th November) to say thank you to all those whom we have been involved with during this past year and to encourage meaningful giving.

Then some reflection on integrating work, family and life, but first

                  Thought for the day

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. 

Nature’s peace will flow into you 
As sunshine flows into trees. 

The winds will blow their freshness into you, 
And storms their energy, 
While cares will drop away like autumn leaves.

                                        John Muir

Ruth and I are very grateful to all of who support our work; those who came to the workshops, seminars and retreats we presented in 2015, and especially to thank you personally those of you who remain on our database and keep in touch via the blog, Facebook and other communications.

Ruth and I are truly blessed in that our work consistently reminds us of what it is to live well - in body, emotions, mind and spirit. For us, our work really is our life.

Yet so many we speak to struggle with integrating work, family and life. For some it even seems as if the type of work they are engaged in almost demands a compromise. As if they need to leave some of their values, some of their ideals, at the door as they enter to start the working day, and to pick up what ever remains on the way out.

For some too, there is the sense that amidst the busyness, the demands, the very real struggles of daily life, even the family can have a sense of being a burden.

So here is the challenge. How do we hold true to that which we value in life, how ideally we would like to live our life, and integrate that with our work and our family?

My sense is that this has so much to do with the clarity of our intention and our habitual ways of thinking. Check out how you speak to yourself about work, about relationships. Notice what this reveals. When you find yourself saying “ that always happens here” or “that is just what I expected”; then those words reveal habitual ways of thinking. How do these habits work for you?

Be reminded that if you choose to, these habits can be changed with strong intention, backed by imagery and affirmations. They can be transformed by the natural kindness and optimism that slowly and steadily emerges out of the regular practice of meditation. Consciously developing an attitude of gratitude can produce amazing benefits.

In an ideal world
everything we do
will somehow enhance our lives.

This is not to say
everything we do will be easy;
on the contrary,
often it is the difficult things in life
that teach us so much
and bring the greatest rewards.

But here is the problem.

In our modern busy world,
there are so many forces working against a happy, healthy life.

Sad but true.

So much busyness, so many commercial forces, so many expectations, so much to do. And internally our own habits and beliefs to contend with, along with that subtle and innate laziness that is a feature of all our lives. I cannot be the only one with these issues!!

So that is why Ruth and I make time to attend at least 2 retreats as participants each year. Sure, we are fortunate in that we get to lead retreats; but we too feel the need to take time out, to stand back more fully and to reflect, re-evaluate, re-think, re-set priorities and refresh.

For me it is really clear. Amidst the pressures of daily life, and with the intention of being kind to ourselves and functioning well with work, families and friends, attending at least one retreat per year is almost mandatory. Almost in my view like meeting a basic need of survival. Certainly a major step towards continuing a productive, happy and healthy life.

If you would like to join us in 2016, our retreat and program schedule is on our website.

But for now, in gratitude we are offering a Pre-Christmas webstore sale with 30% of all our resources - until 30th November – books, CDs DVD, bundles and the Pearls (really beautiful and meaningful presents).       LINK HERE


Meditation Retreats and specific cancer residential programs with Ian and Ruth Gawler CLICK HERE 

16 November 2015

Responding to terror - a meditator's view

Paris attacks: The headlines trumpeted “France vows 'merciless' response to unprecedented atrocity”. The French president, looking somewhat dazed, reflected what many felt: "France will stand firm. We are going to fight and our fight will be merciless."

Merciless. What then constitutes a measured response? What can we do with our emotions and our actions? How would a compassionate meditator respond to terrorism?

US President Barack Obama led a chorus of world leaders condemning the attacks. “France is an extraordinary terrorism partner and an attack on the French people is an attack on all humanity. We will do whatever it takes to bring these terrorists to justice".

Is justice compassion? Challenging questions this week, but first

                          Thought for the day

                                  Where vision vanishes 
                                   The people perish

                                      The Book of Proverbs

Seems people respond to terrorism in quite a few different ways.

Base instinct
Lashing out. “Let’s nuke the buggers!” Some sort of retribution. Revenge. The notion that reciprocal violence is more than justified. More than warranted. Heavy-duty retribution.

Maybe if we kill enough of them, it will stop. If not, at least we will feel avenged.

Really? Yes really. Throughout history this has been the common approach. The base instinct unleashed.

Problem is that centuries of history would indicate this approach has limited long-term benefits. You could make the case for the odd war halting mass aggression, but the general trend? Violence begets more violence. Pity really when violence seems to appeal to so many.

Terrorists thrive on fear. It is the stated purpose. Disrupt with fear. Use fear as a weapon.

Successful? Often. One can easily imagine life will change rapidly in France. And many other places as well, as the fear of terrorist acts is fuelled by terrorist acts. Some become paralysed, some despair. Some drift into apathy while others descend into depression.

Others use fear to drive the aggression. The base instincts thrive on fear. A culture changes. Terrorists have their day.

Intellectual override
“It is genuinely sad so many were killed in Paris. But think about it. Each week in Australia, around 1,000 people die of cancer. In the last month across Australia, around 100 people died in car accidents. In Africa, cannot even begin to think how many people are dying right now of starvation or violence.

“Chance of being caught up in a terrorist attack? Very slim. Relative risk? Very small. No need to worry. Put it out of mind”.

Could be true.

Could work.


Transform our way of thinking
Let us hope. It is highly probable that our own chance of becoming caught up in a terrorist attack is very small. So what to do? What happens in our own mind and how can we transform those common and fairly natural base instincts and destructive emotions into something more constructive.

Start with understanding
All human beings are basically the same.

Most human beings are concerned for their survival, the survival of their family and friends; and they all want happiness, whatever that means for each one of us. This we all share in common.

With terrorists, it is easy to think of them as something very different. Something very different from us. So it can be a real challenge to make the effort to recognise that they too are human beings. Just like us.

It can be a start.

Put yourself in the others shoes (or shoe as the case may be)
How does a fellow human being come to the conclusion that the best thing they can do with their precious human life is to strap explosives to their precious human body, walk into a crowd of fellow precious human beings and blow self and other into pieces?


Maybe. Could well be. But people seem to do it regularly. In a calm, premeditated way. How so?

If we make the effort to put ourselves in the others shoes, to contemplate the sort of life, the sort of life experiences that leads to the conclusion that becoming a human bomb or that shooting others at random makes sense; if we take time to really contemplate how that happens, maybe we move closer towards some deeper understanding…. Then we may have the beginnings of a real solution.

Practise compassion 
“Passive” compassion
We can pray. Many do. Many feel its benefits.

Many make the effort to resist the base instinct responses of fear and aggression. They think of peace. Talk of peace. Dream of peace. Maybe pray. Maybe just hope.

Calling all this “passive” compassion is not to denigrate these aspirations, just to speak of these being personal internal responses. Maybe a little passive. But maybe quite potent as well.

“Active” compassion
Become involved in efforts to build understanding, community, peace.

What does this mean in your own community. What about in your own family? What about in our own hearts?

 We can never impose peace on the world. A peaceful world will only ever exist when each individual human being has found peace in their own heart. When we have a world full of peaceful people, we will have a peaceful world.

So world peace starts within the hearts of each and every one of us. We can all make a difference.

So what can we do to become more peaceful within ourselves?

Contemplate the violence in our own lives and do what we can to be free of it. Is there any way we can live our own life more peacefully? Something we can do that is a concerted, peaceful act?

Not speaking hatefully would be helpful. Not breeding more fear. Do what we can to be understanding. Be vigilant not to generalise or stereotype particular sectors of our community. Really feel compassion for the bulk of Muslims who are just like us, very decent human beings, and go out of our way to help them deal with the implications and ramifications of terrorist issues and what must be an extremely difficult situation for them, just as it is for many human beings at present. Smile at others. Smile at others.

Consider what community activities we can become involved in that foster peace and build good relationships locally.

Consider supporting groups that make a business of peace. Donate. Give time. Offer support.

Speak with politicians. If ever there was a time for a measured response to an issue that affects most of us, this is now. Please, lets move past attempting to solve violence with more violence. This is a time for peace.

What then of justice?
Is compassion and an aspiration for peace incompatible with justice. Not at all. But true justice does not carry hate or revenge or retribution. Justice is warranted and needed as part of what deals with terrorism; but measured justice, not fury disguised as something else.

Finally, in response to terrorism, maybe we can acknowledge how fortunate most of us reading this really are. We live in free countries. We have personal freedoms. We have a choice of responses. Makes how we respond even more important. And significant.

09 November 2015

Crisis management and retreats in general

“Can I just take an imprint of your credit card please sir; to cover any room charges”.

“Certainly” says I with the usual casual assuredness. Fumble around…. No cards! I am checking in for a stopover in Hong Kong, travelling on my own to a 3 month retreat in France via Helsinki and Paris.

More fumbling. Slightly more intense searching. Still no cards.

Some say going on a meditation retreat is good for your state of mind. No cards provide a good test of where the mind is at well before arrival. So this week, how to manage in a foreign country with no credit card or cash card - ie no money – and what happened on the retreat itself, but first

           Thought for the day

               Do not do to others that which is hateful to you.

               All the rest is commentary. 
               Now go study.

                   Hillel the sage
                          who was asked to relate the whole of the Torah
                          while standing on one foot

So no credit cards, no cash card, a few Australian dollars. Hong Kong, Helsinki, Paris then train to the south of France to join the retreat. Hmmmm….

First thing in any crisis is to remain calm. Things are bad enough without freaking out! Mind works better when calm.

So Hong Kong easy… Overnight only, dinner is chocolate and cashews courtesy of the beloved’s travelling pack. Breakfast the same, followed up by the plane food. Not bad at all.

Helsinki… Change Aussie cash into enough Euros to get to the hotel. Polite talk with the manager, give him the credit card numbers, request some cash be added to the restaurant bill and away we go.

In Paris, meet up with an old friend who advances some more cash and arrive safely at the retreat. Happily, every other aspect of the journey went smoothly.

Being on retreat provides the opportunity to withdraw from daily life, to turn our attention inwards and explore the workings of our own minds.

When I was a keen athlete and went to University, I sought out the best coach around, had to work quite hard to persuade him to take me on, then committed to doing what he told me. My performances improved rapidly.

At University, I studied Veterinary Science. Dean of the faculty was a world leader in his field. I had needed to work quite hard at high school to get into the course. Then I committed to doing what the Dean decided was best for us students to study and learn to become good veterinarians. I graduated 5 years later.

In both cases, with my coach and my Dean I knew they were reliable. The real deal. Authentic. There was no faith needed to commit (or dare I say it, to submit) to their direction. It is like when you are thirsty, you do not need faith, it is not a moral choice to drink water. We all know water quenches thirst. It just works.

So in the West, my commitment was called just that, commitment. In the East, it would be called devotion. Same principle, different word. And in the West, devotion is often misunderstood.

Anyway, in seeking to come to know my own mind, having the audacity to be interested in the actual possibility of enlightenment, and having a genuine need to know more about the science of the mind to help those I work with, going to learn from those who know so much about it seems logical.

So a Tibetan retreat centre in the South of France headed by Sogyal Rinpoche.
Traditionally trained, authentic, great communicator, great presence, great teacher. Reliable. The real deal. Authentic.

On the retreat we had many teachings on understanding and transforming the mind. All of us are seeking happiness, and the genuine happiness of inner peace and contentment comes through working with and transforming our minds; through meditation, prayer, compassion and most profoundly through experiencing the true nature of our own mind.

There was a strong emphasis on reflection; not just receiving teachings as information, but as guidelines for investigating and coming to understand our own experience...so in every moment to keep bringing our attention back to our minds, our perception and our experience, not just an intellectual or dogmatic understanding.

All of these themes seemed to fit together quite coherently and to give the retreatants something very practical that they could apply. There was a solid meditation program and long periods in silence which I really enjoyed. Meditation being a process of coming to know ones mind, a practice of being present and learning to be less distracted; all that is enhanced by being in outer silence.

Perhaps the take home message of these mind teachings is that it is up to us. We can be empowered to take responsibility for our own perception and experience. For example, there is more to the mind than our ordinary thoughts and emotions. There is a part of us that is to do with our awareness that is bigger than our ordinary thoughts and emotions and so we can let go of them. Bugger the credit cards!

Real changes come from being able to actually apply our practice at all times.

Be calm, be clear, be kind.

Getting a little closer to that is worth a few days out of our lives. Worth a few days in retreat.

Just a few practical details for the curious. 
Travelling on my own overseas was fine, but definitely easier (but maybe not so funny) with the cards. The food on retreat was pretty good, but I did lose quite a bit of weight that is just about all back. Physically I became fitter as the retreat centre, Lerab Ling, is quite steep.

The bonus and biggest surprise was how good the retreat turned out to be for Ruth and myself. What occurs to say is that when you live and work together really well like Ruth and I do, you share heaps, but maybe do not have the space or prompts to discuss deeper things. Not sure if this is always true, but the fact is that while apart, we communicated by email and the occasional call, and fell into discussing deeper aspects of our relationship which were extraordinarily beneficial. Big bonus.

So will I do it again?
Will certainly keep going to the couple of shorter personal retreats Ruth and I go on each year. Amidst the busyness of daily life in the times we find ourselves in, this seems mandatory for some semblance of balance. Plus I am always keen to learn more.

Another 3 month retreat? Maybe. But not tomorrow….

RELATED BLOGS – The meditation retreat series
1. Why Tibetan Buddhism?

2. The View and why it matters

3. Why follow a spiritual teacher?

4. Three month meditation retreat

The Dragon’s Blessing – Guy Allenby. If you are interested in more, the biography goes into it in some detail.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Sogyal Rinpoche. The spiritual classic that has sold around 3.5 million copies, inspired and supported many people along their path.

Meditation Retreats and specific cancer residential programs with Ian and Ruth Gawler 

He is coming to Australia again in 2016 and will give Public Talks in Melbourne – Tuesday January 5th and Adelaide January 6th, along with the annual retreat at Myall Lakes.

02 November 2015

Three month meditation retreat

Imagine wandering out of kindergarten into an advanced mathematics class. As a metaphor, this is a fair comparison for many who were with me when we first experienced the teachings of the Tibetan Sogyal Rinpoche in 1985. A good deal went over our heads…

So now, 30 years later, it was an amazing experience to join a retreat where along with a thousand people who have been doing a good deal of study and practice since that time, it was possible to hear the best of Rinpoche’s teachings, only this time having come somewhat better prepared.

So this week, something of that experience and the teachings, but first

              Thought for the day

Know all things to be like this:

A mirage, a cloud castle,

A dream, an apparition,

Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen.

Know all things to be like this:

As the moon in a bright sky

In some clear lake reflected,

Though to that lake the moon has never moved.

Know all things to be like this:

As an echo that derives

From music, sounds, and weeping,

Yet in that echo is no melody.

Know all things to be like this:

As a magician makes illusions

Of horses, oxen, carts and other things,

Nothing is as it appears.


Back in 1985, Sogyal Rinpoche was effectively a Tibetan refugee. Rinpoche (translates roughly as “precious one” – an honourific title a bit like cardinal) had been traditionally trained in Tibet, went to Catholic school in India after fleeing the Chinese invasion, studied at Cambridge, then began to teach in the Western World.

These days, Sogyal Rinpoche is one of the better known Tibetan teachers in the Western World.

His book, the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying was first published in 1993, and having now sold around 3.5 million copies in many languages is a true modern day spiritual classic.

So I was fortunate to stumble into his first ever talk in Australia in 1985. And yes, there was a sense I was only capable of grasping a small portion of what was on offer, and yes, there are many paths to the truth, but there was also a clear sense that this man knew so much of what I was seeking on my own spiritual quest. Rinpoche gave the experiential sense that he really did know the truth of what it was to be a human being, and was capable not only of articulating what that meant, but how to realize it.

So move ahead 30 years. Rinpoche is now a world figure with a major retreat centre in the south of France. The European summer is retreat time, and the time when his older students gather.

This year, it felt like the right time for me to go for 3 months. As it turned out, my timing was excellent. Rinpoche has been taking years to teach and prepare his students to receive the best of his teachings. This is a bit like working through any study program. There is a time where you get to where it all leads.

So the retreat had several aspects. July was mostly a time of practice. Meditation, mantras, chanting and other specific practices, followed by what is called a drubchen. This was an 8 day intense group practice based on mantra recitation, chanting and imagery that I found very profound.

Then time for personal practice before in August, the older students gathered for the main teaching session that extended throughout the month.

One thousand people in an authentic, traditionally designed Tibetan temple in the south of France.

All in strict silence. Quite an atmosphere. Quite a precedent – nothing like it ever before I suspect.

Then finally, two weeks in September of intense study.

So here is what Rinpoche has had to say on the possibilities, the obstacles we face, and the need our world finds itself in:

If we were to put our minds to one powerful wisdom method and work with it directly, there is a real possibility we would become enlightened.

Our minds, however, are riddled with confusion and doubt. 

I sometimes think that doubt is an even greater block to human evolution than is desire or attachment. Our society promotes cleverness instead of wisdom, and celebrates the most superficial, harsh, and least useful aspects of our intelligence. 

We have become so falsely “sophisticated” and neurotic that we take doubt itself for truth, and the doubt that is nothing more than ego’s desperate attempt to defend itself from wisdom is deified as the goal and fruit of true knowledge.

This form of mean-spirited doubt is the shabby emperor of samsara (the Buddhist term for what in their understanding is the cycle of conditioned existence, birth and death, which is characterized by suffering and in which one is continually reborn until attaining nirvana, or enlightenment), served by a flock of “experts” who teach us not the open-souled and generous, doubt that Buddha assured us was necessary for testing and proving the worth of the teachings, but a destructive form of doubt that leaves us nothing to believe in, nothing to hope for, and nothing to live by.

So next week, something of my own experiences during this extra – ordinary retreat…

RELATED BLOGS – The meditation retreat series
1. Why Tibetan Buddhism?

2. The View and why it matters

3. Why follow a spiritual teacher?

The Dragon’s Blessing – Guy Allenby. If you are interested in more, the biography goes into it in some detail.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Sogyal Rinpoche. The spiritual classic that has sold around 3.5 million copies, inspired and supported many people along their path.

Meditation Retreats and specific cancer residential programs with Ian and Ruth Gawler -

He is coming to Australia again in 2016 and will give Public Talks in Melbourne – Tuesday January 5th and Adelaide January 6th, along with the annual retreat at Myall Lakes.