25 September 2017


This week, dealing with the essence of life – the fact that it is changing all the time; and how to flourish amidst unavoidable change.

Just about everything is changing rapidly these days. The pace often seems frenetic. No wonder there is so much stress, depression and anxiety about. Changing my own life in a significant fashion and announcing retirement from leading groups has lead to an almost death-like experience. So many kind words of gratitude – enjoyable but like a premature wake.

And then my dear old friend (in both senses - long term and well aged) Lionel Fifield from the Relaxation Centre in Queensland started a conversation around life changes and the challenges they provoke. So this week insights into change, but first

              Thought for the day

When the mind is at peace,
The world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
Not getting stuck in the void,
You are neither holy or wise, 
Just an ordinary fellow 
Who has completed his work.

     P'ang Yün – 8th century Zen Master

In my youth, things seemed to move more slowly. Trends changed almost imperceptibly, technology was more rudimentary and stable, people’s attitude more predictable. Change seemed to sneak up on us slowly. These days it is right in our faces.

In Lionel’s words change is happening for all of us and nobody is excluded. The art must be to be present with each little twist and turn and keep our judgements to the minimum. Not easy as the changes always seem focussed in where we are most addicted and comfortable and vulnerable. I am sure these retreats help a lot. (Lionel is commenting on me having just returned from a month of retreat, during which the final decision to retire became very clear)

My comment for Lionel was to observe most of the time we attempt to change without really changing. So often we go along with changes that feel comfortable or convenient while doing our best to retain the status quo, even when our health, relationships, life circumstances and wellbeing are suffering. There seems to be an incredible attraction to familiarity and a deep reluctance for real change.

Meditation seems to facilitate an ease with change that makes more real change possible.

So the value in longer retreats and regular practice.

Then too, major events like retirement, deaths of loved ones, major changes in circumstances have this powerful capacity to create a potential turning point, a nexus.

Or is it they put us into a limbo state, an intermediary where for a while the possibility for significant change is more noticeable?
More possible?

Clearly for many, maybe not at the time but in retrospect, these major life changes turn out to be blessings for all the positive change that comes as a product of the immediate trauma.

Personally I have to say it. I love change - it is a sure sign of life. Something did happen for me during my youth. I developed a love for change. Maybe it was moving schools so often, moving houses. Maybe it was simply recognising the fact that every moment, everything is changing whether we like it or not, and deciding to embrace change rather than make some awkward and probably painful attempt to avoid it.

So advice around this? 

Not too sure really. Maybe to contemplate the fact that life is a process involving constant change. When anything is not changing – then it is dead. Simple as that. Might as well embrace it. Change is going to happen anyway.

Meditation definitely helps.

My own reflection and experience has led to welcoming change; even looking for it actively.

Making it happen.

Not that it is always enjoyable.

But over the years has come the realisation change is inevitable and if we stay present and committed then change has every prospect of leading on to something delightful – eventually.

This attitude has made it so much easier to deal with all the big changes throughout my life, as well as the smaller ones.

And one day the change will be that we stop breathing. Now that has to be a really interesting change. Wonder what that will lead to???

But then, every moment, whatever we have been doing ceases, that moment “dies” – ends – and a new moment begins. Therefore, while there are times in our lives when major transitions are very obvious – like when we retire – it is actually happening moment to moment; we finish with one thing and begin something new.

So we do not necessarily need to wait for the big moments, the big transitions to make change that will be good for us. Every moment life is changing; that is its nature. Every moment there is the opportunity to shape who it is that we really choose to be.

So thank you to all who have sent kind messages and I wish you all well – in this moment - and the next…



Bringing Mind and Heart Together  21 – 27th October 2017 Ruth and Ian Gawler with Liz Stilwell

Amidst the tranquil beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula, 2 hours from Auckland New Zealand

A mind with no heart is cold and empty.      A mind with heart is warm, creative and full of potential.

Ready to learn how to use meditation and Guided Imagery to open your heart and bring balance to your mind?                       

Join us for this very special retreat!   LINK HERE


The delight of teaching others one of the most useful things possible ...

This training, led by Ian and Ruth personally, is based on a comprehensive and fully documented manual. You will learn how to teach two 4 week programs - one featuring guided imagery, the other contemplation; both covering the stillness of meditation as well. These training have been booking out, and like all our retreats, it is wise to register early.




Accessing the heart and science of Mind-Body Medicine
Offering genuine hope for all those affected by cancer

20 – 24 November 2017 with Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler

Located amidst the natural beauty of the Yarra Valley

This life-changing program provides the opportunity to experience the food, practise the meditation and to be in a supportive, positive atmosphere. The program is evidence based, highly experiential and practical. The focus is on the therapeutic power of the Healing Diet, the mind and meditation, emotional health and positive psychology. The aim is to provide clarity, understanding and confidence.   LINK HERE


Mind and Heart - connecting with the essence

7 days of Mindfulness, Meditation and Buddhist based philosophy

 Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, clarity, vitality, and balance 

 Learn Imagery techniques that unite heart and mind, and guide personal change


  1. Hi Ian: I find myself relating to your thoughts on 'change' in terms of my own thoughts on 'momentum'. I know I feel most alive when I feel a sense of momentum. This can take the form of being on the road to visit my mother, to getting myself to my group meditation, to voicing and acting on a personal desire rather than thinking it of less importance, to transforming a negative emotion by going into it when in meditation, to transforming a garden, to powering through a mundane 'to do' list.

    And then sitting along that strong desire for momentum is the comfort in knowing that although the thoughts will come and go, like clouds, the essence of one's self remains unchanged, accessible, acknowledged and accepted. This is what meditation allows me.

    In this way, I think we move into and out of change relatively smoothly. I say 'relatively' because to suggest every day is as smooth as another for me would be untrue. I think that is just part of the human condition.

    See you next month!

    1. Lovely observations/comments Robyn. I was just discussing this over the weekend and used the word inertia for a similar but slightly different variant of what you have spoken. Seems some of us have high inertia - bit lazy, bit hard to get going, but then once we do get going, just keep the inertia, the momentum happening.
      Meditation and mindfulness help us to notice our habits, and make different choices when they might be helpful - like being more present...