09 October 2017


When was the last time you heard the word convalescence? Ever know anyone to do it? Ever hear of someone developing chronic fatigue after a big viral infection? Hear of someone having a significant surgery and being back at work a few days later?

Having recently been hospitalized myself, have received a powerful reminder for the need to convalesce; so this week, how to do just that, but first

          Thought for the day

What is compassion? 
It is not simply a sense of sympathy 
Or caring for the person suffering, 
Not simply a warmth of heart 
Toward the person before you, 
Or a sharp clarity of recognition of their needs and pain; 
It is also a sustained and practical determination 
To do whatever is possible and necessary 
To help alleviate their suffering.

                      Sogyal Rinpoche

It is 7am Friday. I have been vohmiting all night and now have diarrhea that is like brown water and can barely move. Ruth says she has seen nothing like it in all her medical days, likens it to what she has heard of cholera and calls an ambulance. I am in no position to resist; in fact welcome the attention.

The Para-medics do a great job. Hook me up to an I/V drip, get me into the ambulance and off to Mahroondah Hospital.

Sadly we do hear many unhappy stories coming out of hospitals these days, but the team that looks after me is exceptional. Caring, attentive, diligent, competent. Faultless. After 3 litres of I/V fluid I still have not peed, but feel heaps better. Tests reveal I have had a severe viral gastro-enteritis. No idea where it came from; but it goes quite quickly and by the end of Saturday I am close to normal once again.

So what next? With the common expectations, back to work Monday as if nothing had happened. Probably could have done that, but I notice something significant. While I do feel OK when up and active, while I have energy and can do what the day requires of me, when I stop and meditate, when I tune in to my body more closely, all is far from well.

Relaxing more deeply to meditate, it is obvious that energetically my body is far from recovered. It has a very unusual “buzz” flowing through it. Best way to describe it is like some jangled, low level but pent up buzz. Clearly an energetic disturbance of some significance. Clearly my body is still affected by the viral assault and the profound dehydration it suffered.

One can easily imagine how if this was ignored, if this was not given time for regeneration, then some chronic condition could follow. I have heard so many people say how their chronic fatigue seemed to begin after a major viral infection; and it saddens me to hear how often people do have major surgery or bouts of illness and expect to be back at full swing within days. Maybe this issue is linked to how many people do get sick when they take a holiday? Maybe when we give it a rest, this stifled energy has its day and comes out.

In simpler times people did convalesce. Images come to mind of rows of cane lounges spread out
across verdant lawns. Rugs in abundance, cups of tea close by and an all-pervading atmosphere of being cared for and supported amidst a very restful time. Just giving simple, restful time to recovery. It does take time.

So in this busy world we currently live in, seems there is a need to revive the lost art of convalescence.

   What is missing in this photo?

          Maybe that would be you?

First thing to do is to recognize the need. The need to convalesce is great! In my view, essential.

Then to acknowledge it takes time. Families need to recognize this. Employers need to recognize this. Our society generally needs to wake up to this lost art and revive it.

As for me, last week has seen more than usual meditation and rest.

Am now feeling ready for this week’s Meditation Teacher Training at the Foundation – the last I will present so another landmark approaching. Then a couple of weeks to our last New Zealand retreat. Lots of endings in sight; lots of new beginnings approaching.

May we all recognize the need to convalesce when it is there, and make time for it.

In another landmark, this is actually the 300th Out on a Limb blog. Quite an Anniversary. First was way back on October 28th 2010.



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. Sorry you had that attack Ian. Sounds debilitating! Glad you are getting ready for what sounds like a super few weeks ahead. The valley is in full blossom to welcome you.
    Love Louise

  2. Hi Ian!
    All the best for your week of recovery. After giving so much to others, you might have to give some to yourself...! Will keep fingers crossed for you.
    Al the best.

  3. Thanks for the kind thoughts Louise and Christian

  4. Thank you Ian, I do need reminding that my body does need to rest and convalesce and it's not all about how quickly it appears to recover after illness, and stressful times.

    1. We do need to give time for this. If not, we loose so much time and health longer term.

  5. Thanks for this thoughtful piece Ian. I hope it signals the beginning of a paradigm shift that’s long overdue and much needed. Personally it was a great reminder too of the importance of giving the body the time it needs to deeply replenish itself after illness - instead rushing as fast as possible back to ‘normal’, please write more on this and more widely.

    1. It certainly would be good for all if this paradigm shift were to happen Jane.
      Maybe over time...