25 June 2018


Many people these days are meditators. Many who read this blog are even regular meditators! Others? Part time. So what motivates us to make time to meditate; to take time to meditate? And how does that compare to others?

This week a top ten list of reasons to meditate, and a question … What motivates you?, but first

         Thought for the day

Learning to focus our attention 
And suspend the stream of thoughts 
That normally occupy our mind

             Definition of meditation 
from the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Therapies in the USA

People make time in their busy lives to meditate for many and varied reasons.

For some, it is an essential element in their spiritual practice; for others, a far more mundane reason. Here is a suggested the top ten list with an invitation to comment…

Regaining balance
Meditation is a modulator. It brings things into balance. Actually, it brings many things into balance - body, emotions, mind and even spirit. It does this by helping us to let go of the stresses of life and re-establish our own natural, healthy, balanced state. Meditation leads to deep physical relaxation and deep mental calm and peace, and with these two - a natural state of balance.

Most meditation techniques lead of themselves to a good degree of physical relaxation. However, the technique I have found most useful over the years emphasizes and starts with deep physical relaxation.
This leads to a relaxed, healthier, more active, energetic body. This physical relaxation quite effortlessly can flow on to bring relaxation to the mind. And it feels great!

Stress relief
Meditation is well known for it stress relieving properties. Through a combination of relaxing the body and helping us to react differently in our mind to potential stressors, meditation provides rapid relief. This reduces the risks from the many stress related illnesses, has a direct positive benefit with relationships and leads generally to greater efficiency and wellbeing. Again, this also feels great!

Increased concentration
At the heart of good meditation practice is concentration. So as we practice meditation, we develop our concentration. This then flows into all aspects of life, meaning we can apply our minds to better effect.

Increased mindfulness
We all know how good it feels when someone gives us their full attention. And how unsatisfying it is when they do not. We all know how bad feeling judged by others feels; how good it is to be listened to, accepted and worked with collaboratively. All the positives here are to do with mindfulness - another of the core practices we develop as we meditate regularly. Mindfulness - giving whatever we do our full attention free of judgement or secondary commentary.

Increased energy
If we are stressed out, we are burning heaps of energy in the process.

If we are physically tense we are wasting heaps of energy in that tension.

As we meditate and learn to become more relaxed, calmer and clearer, a good deal of the effort goes out of whatever we do.

Things just seem to get easier, and there is more energy available within us for the things that really matter.

Better health
Prevention? Meditation is well proven to assist in preventing most of the things you would rather not have.
Healing? Better Immunity? Faster recovery from injury? Remember, meditation is a modulator, it helps to create the ideal conditions within the body and mind that enable good health - prevention and recovery.

Better decision making
Doubt, confusion, worry, indecision; all these things go hand in hand with stress. Meditation leads to a calm and clear mind. Many people notice once they begin meditation that choices seem easier to make. With a calm and clear mind we are able to think more clearly, what to do seems more obvious, we develop more confidence in the choices we do make and so we follow them through and get good results. This is a key to what we know as “positive thinking”.

Heightened intuition
The active thinking mind and emotions can combine to become a real double edged sword - could be really good, could be really bad - for us and for others. Yet we all know there is this deeper aspect to our mind that has an innate wisdom; that can be relied upon for good advice. When we learn to meditate, slow down the chatter within the thinking mind and allow our emotions to settle a little, we naturally come within closer contact of this inner wisdom. It is as if a veil lifts and that wiser part can speak to us - and be heard. This too can feel really good! And lead to great decisions about all aspects of life.

Heightened spiritual awareness and connectedness

So many lonely, disconnected people these days. So many people seeking some deep relief or inner high through drugs or destructive behaviours.

Many then are turning to meditation as they seek to find meaning and purpose in their lives.

Many seek answers to the great philosophical questions - Who am I?, Where did I come from?, and where am I going to? And What is life?

And the fact is that over millennia meditation is a proven pathway to personally satisfying answers to these questions.

Perhaps we left the best reason to meditate to last? 
What is it that motivates you? Maybe time for a comment below?

12 June 2018


Imagine this… A Buddha carved from a million dollars worth of top quality jade now residing in regional Victoria! What a story… Well worth telling…

For those unacquainted, this giant Buddha was carved from one massive piece of pure polar jade found in the Yukon - the far northwest of Canada - 18 years ago.

I had the good fortune to be invited to attend its inauguration when the Jade Buddha arrived at its new home - the Atisha Centre outside Bendigo on Friday 18th May.

So this week, this incredible story and encouragement to visit, plus details of Ruth's upcoming meditation retreat in the Yarra Valley, but first

Thought for the day (a longer poem in honour of the Jade Buddha …)

The Journey

One day you finally knew

What you had to do, 
And began,

Though the voices around you

Kept shouting

Their bad advice-
though the whole house

Began to tremble

And you felt the old tug

At your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

Each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

Though the wind pried

With its stiff fingers

At the very foundations,

Though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late

Enough, and a wild night,

And the road full of fallen

Branches and stones.

But little by little,

As you left their voices behind,

The stars began to burn

Through the sheets of clouds,

And there was a new voice

Which you slowly

Recognized as your own,

That kept you company

As you strode deeper and deeper

Into the world,

Determined to do

The only thing you could do-
determined to save

The only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

Some of us may have been fortunate to see the Jade Buddha during its travels or buy a small piece made from the offcuts.

The Jade Buddha is 2.5 metres high and sits on an alabaster throne of close to 1.6 metres. Weighing in around 4 tonnes, it is considered to be priceless and is shown here in its uncut form with Ian Green (on the right), the man behind the whole project.

The Jade Buddha was modelled upon the Buddha inside the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodh Gaya (India).  This Buddha was chosen because it is recognised by most Buddhists as the closest likeness to the Buddha himself.

The Jade Buddha project 
In early 2003 Ian Green heard about the massive piece of jade known as Polar Pride.

Ian then spoke to his spiritual master, Tibetan Lama Zopa Rinpoche (whose organisation FPMT has a major centre in Melbourne, the Tara Institute - along with many other centres around the world).

That night Lama Zopa had a vision that the boulder would become a Buddha that would illuminate the world.

Lama Zopa then told Ian “you must turn this jade boulder into a Jade Buddha as a holy object to offer to the world”.

            Lama Zopa with the Dalai Lama

The next 5 years were devoted to raising the necessary funds, selecting the best jade master carvers, shipping the boulder to Thailand, preparing a total of 4 prototypes, carving and polishing the Jade Buddha. Completion?  December 2008.

World tour
Commencing early in 2009 the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace toured the world with the objective of inspiring everyone who sees it to find peace in their family; peace at work; peace at school, peace in their community and most importantly peace in their heart.

The Jade Buddha tour travelled to over 120 cities in 20 countries and an estimated 12 million people spent time in its presence.

Atisha and the stupa
The stupa in which this remarkable statue is now the centrepiece, is nearing full completion but already stands 50 metres high and 50 metres wide at its base, making this $20 million building the largest of its type in the western world.

Atisha had its genesis in the advertising career of its now President, Ian Green. Turning his back on the “rat race” and looking to India for solace and meaning, Ian found Buddhism before returning to Melbourne; whereupon his father offered him 50 acres in Myers Flat, near Bendigo.

Over the past 38 years, Ian has supported the Atisha Buddhist centre as it has expanded to over 210 acres and now includes a monastery, a retreat centre and an inter-faith peace garden. There are also plans to create a school and an aged-care facility.

"A little town that runs on Buddhist values of harmony and cooperation and, you know, peace — but that also runs on the grounds of sustainability," Ian said.

Highly recommended for a visit
No doubt the Jade Buddha and the incredible stupa will be a draw card for serious pilgrims and curious tourists - who may just make a connection or have their curiosity aroused and turn towards the dharma.

For any of us; what I do suggest is that whenever you can, make a visit - it is quite extra-ordinary and the atmosphere in the stupa, when you sit in front of the statues of the Jade Buddha and Guru Rinpoche, plus a huge White Tara thangka is quite something.

Well worth making time for…

Jade Buddha    WEBSITE

Ruth Gawler's 
next meditation retreat

Meditation - Pure and Simple

Whether burnt out, dealing with physical or mental issues, this retreat provides a unique opportunity to be led and supported by a doctor well versed in Mind-Body Medicine who has a particular expertise with deep relaxation and healing.

Ruth will focus in this retreat upon the meditation techniques of Dr Ainslie Meares and Ian Gawler

Combine deep relaxation techniques and mindfulness meditation to release the stress we carry in our bodies in this busy and complex modern world. Ideal for healing, rejuvenation and opening our awareness.

Ruth’s teaching style is one of openness and authenticity, and there will be plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion. Techniques covered in this retreat will be accessible and engaging for both beginners and more experienced meditators. This retreat is well suited to all Health Professionals.

DATES                                    September - Monday 10th to Friday 14th 2018
VENUE                                   Yarra Valley Living Centre, Rayner Crt, Yarra Junction, Victoria
ENQUIRIES, BOOKINGS     The Gawler Foundation
                                                 and 1300 651 211 - Call Mon-Fri 9-5pm