30 December 2019

The most important thing to understand about our own mind

When it comes to our own mind, what is the most important thing to learn? As a meditation teacher, what is the most important thing to teach?

Important questions given in 2020 Ruth and I will lead a 7 day meditation retreat and two 5 day meditation teacher training programs in the Yarra Valley. Also in 2020 I will turn 70 and it will be my 40th year of teaching.

So after all those years of personal practice and teaching, quite simply the most important thing is this. The mind has 2 aspects. Get that, understand that, live in the light of that knowing, and all else will fall into place. So this week, a short piece on the 2 aspects, then details of the 2020 program of retreats and meditation teacher training for Ruth and myself, but first

        Thought for the day

      I think 99 times and find nothing.

      I stop thinking,
      Swim in silence, 
      And the truth comes to me.

                           Albert Einstein

Our mind has two aspects. How do we know that? What is the big deal?

Well first, these 2 aspects are the Active Mind and the Still Mind.

These 2 aspects can be compared to the blue sky and the clouds.

The clouds act as a metaphor for our active thoughts and emotions that come and go and change all the time.

They can range from beautiful and serene to wild and turbulent.

The blue sky is a metaphor for that aspect of mind beyond all the activity of thoughts and emotions wherein dwells a stillness.

This still aspect of the mind is the natural home of profound peace, clarity, wisdom and compassion.

The key point is that under normal circumstances, most of us function with a life view based upon identifying with the Active Mind. As such, we mistakenly approach life as if we and things around us exist independently of each other, are permanent and are singular.

In reality, in truth, however, if we analyze life we find it to be highly inter-dependent, changing all the time, and multiple in its character.

Now it can take a while to make this analysis – even in theory, It can take longer to really “get it” and to do something radical yet freeing; something that actually ensures long-term happiness. And that is to shift our life view from the Active Mind to that of the Still Mind.

The reason this is so important is that when we function from the perspective of the Still Mind, we natural see how we are all inter-connected and we naturally become very caring for those around us and for our environment. We are all in this together. This perspective quite naturally brings out our good heart. Almost effortlessly we become more loving. Unconditionally loving.

Hence the need for retreats.

Take time away from the business and full on engagement with the Active Mind and all that goes with it, and spend time re-connecting with the Still Mind.

To do this we need the theory and the practice.

We need time to build our understanding.

We need time to establish our practice and our direct experience of the truth of what we are learning.

Now of course, the reality is that with meditation we have the opportunity to get to know both aspects of our mind better. As well as reconnecting with the Still Mind, we can observe what our Active Mind is up to, take more control of it, use it more effectively for good and lighten up on the problems it so often leads us into.

In meditation we get to connect more deeply with our own innate stillness, and in doing so, we connect with what we are actually capable of, our greatest potential, and our inner wisdom.

So for Ruth and myself, this is at the heart of what we teach.

No wonder it is our passion.

Ruth has asked me to help lead her Pre-Easter meditation retreat so I have agreed.

And we have been asked to present the Meditation Teacher Training program at the Foundation for 2020.

This too is a passion, especially as in 2020 as well as providing a pure meditation teacher’s training, we will also present a training around teaching contemplation – another area of great interest and joy for me.

So here are the details…


7 day Residential Meditation Retreat with Ruth and Ian Gawler and Melissa Borich 

Modern culture has taught us to look externally for solutions to feeling better… substances we can take, new and exciting experiences, the acquiring of new ‘things.

However, to regain balance and cultivate reliable, sustainable joy, we learn to go within.

Meditation provides real answers.

And all of this amidst the nurture and beauty of the Yarra Valley Living Centre…

Dates     Friday 3rd to Thursday 9th April (pre-Easter)

Venue   The Yarra Valley Living Centre, 55 Rayner Crt, Yarra Junction, Victoria

More details   CLICK HERE

Inquiries and Bookings    Call 1300 651 211   or  www.gawler.org

MEDITATION TEACHER TRAINING   with Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler

Ian and Ruth have been teaching teachers of meditation for decades. This is a unique opportunity to learn from them directly in two 5 day residential trainings – Module 1 on meditation, Module 2 – contemplation. Attending both modules will meet the requirements for provisional membership of the Meditation Association of Australia. Both trainings will be highly experiential and be based upon comprehensive manuals.

Venue     The Yarra Valley Living Centre,  55 Rayner Crt, Yarra Junction, Victoria

Dates     Meditation Teacher Training 27 April – 1 May, 2020 ; Full details  : Click here

          Contemplation 7-11 September, 2020  ;  Full details :  Click here

Inquiries  and Bookings   Call 1300 651 211 or www.gawler.org

18 December 2019

Tough relatives? The emotional challenges of Christmas – and a simple solution

So here is the challenge. Honour the celebration of Christmas, honour the gathering of family and friends, cope with people we have difficulty with, and yet honour our own emotional health and wellbeing.

While many simply love Christmas; others find it leaves them feeling stressed out, sad and disappointed.

So this week we go way Out on a Limb to consider the emotional side of Christmas, plus news of a meditation retreat I will contribute to with Ruth and Melissa Borich and meditation teacher training in 2020, but first


              Thought for the day

                          Love is our true destiny.
                          We do not find the meaning of life
                          By ourselves alone
                          - we find it with another.

                                               Thomas Merton

I love Christmas.

I love the metaphor. Christ embodies love. Christmas celebrates His birth. Christmas is a festival celebrating the birth of Christ which metaphorically represents the birth of love within us all. Bring it on!!!

For me Christmas is a time to check in with any forgiveness needed, to be reminded of who to express gratitude towards, how to manage gifts in a world where most people already have too much stuff, and most importantly, consider how I might be more loving now and in the coming year.

Yet Christmas can be difficult for many.

How to manage what can often be complex gatherings of families and friends that include people with whom we may well have complex histories?

Well, many seem to approach such events attempting repression and fearful of unwanted explosions.

So a tip straight out of mindfulness – with a touch from the wisdom teachings.

It is very difficult to manage our own emotions well, let alone manage someone else’s. Particularly when it comes to people we need to see and who have expected patterns of behaviour we do not like, try this.

Leave them be. Given no physical abuse takes place (and that is clearly not OK), try acceptance. If Uncle Roger has been like he is for 40 years, chances of him being different in 2019 are slim. Same with Aunty Flo or whoever else is the worrying one.

If the need is to attend an event where they will be present, accept well in advance what they are like. Expect them to behave in their same old way. And if by chance they have seen the light you would like them to see since last meeting, and they do happen to behave in some miraculously different way, well simply accept that as a bonus.

But given they are as usual, try delighting in what they are like.

Yes, rather than sinking into aversion, try actually delighting.

Be aware, be present, observe how they are and at the same time, do what you can to let go of any judgement and commentary.

Rather than reacting, rather than railing against their behaviour; recognize it, accept it and a bit like a wise old woman watching children play, smile and maybe even laugh a little.

Can you feel the difference in this attitude?

Can you feel into the different atmosphere this approach will create? Instead of fear, dread, maybe loathing, there comes acceptance, humour, maybe even some warmth.

At the end of the day you may well find yourself thinking or saying to someone close, “Did you see old Uncle Roger today. Just like always; it is almost comical the way he behaves.”

And you know what, Christmas would not be the same without him.

And maybe there comes a smile…

This is love in action, mindfulness style. This is love in action using our will to manage our heads – and our hearts.

So may the true spirit of Christmas touch you deeply, and may this awakening of love be felt more strongly in all our lives both now, through the festive season and into and throughout 2020.

                  Happy Christmas!

EVENTS in 2020
Sometimes people appear confused when I turn up working, given I seem to be getting older and have retired from various commitments. Please be clear, I have not retired from everything!

I did retire from my fulltime job at the Foundation 10 years ago this week. I have reduced my public speaking significantly and I have not led any meditation retreats for a couple of years. But 2020 promises to be quite active.

MEDITATION RETREAT  -  pre-Easter - Reclaiming Joy.

Ruth has asked me to join her along with Melissa Borich to co-present her popular pre-Easter retreat.

Details : CLICK HERE.


Ruth and I will present the 2020 meditation teacher training program for the Foundation in two parts.

I must say how pleased I am to be involved in this again in 2020 as I simply love training.

Also delighted as this time, as well as 5 days of residential training specifically on teaching meditation, we will present another 5 day specific training on contemplation.

Little is written on this super useful subject, and I have not heard of any other trainings that do focus upon it.

Details : CLICK HERE

In other arenas, the meditation app I have been involved in developing is being made more specific to assist people to overcome some of the key challenges associated with chronic degenerative disease.

Then there is another major meditation project intended to help younger people learn more about meditation and Perennial Wisdom via a residential program in a beautiful and inspiring natural setting, but more on those things soon…