15 February 2020

Has-Ian-Gawler-retired? And what is he doing now?

“But I thought you had retired?”

I hear this a lot as I go about my work (and am about to turn 70!) and understand it can be confusing, given I have retired from quite a few things. However, I am still actively engaged in several big projects, so thought clarification may be useful, but first


            Thought for the day

      Praise and blame,
      Fame and shame,

      Gain and loss,

      Pleasure and sorrow,

      Come and go like the wind. 

      To be at peace, 
      Rest like a great tree

      In the midst of them all. 

                            The Buddha 

You have to love great trees…

Anyway, I did write something on this topic a couple of years ago, pointing out we all have “retired” from many things. Many transitions. In fact, moment-by-moment everything is changing, so we could say we are “transitioning” all the time; even though we may not notice it so obviously.

Certainly, some transitions are way more obvious. How do we name them? Retirement? Moved on? Forced out? Found something new? Left it behind? Joyful change? Divorce?

What is next???

Here is a list of some of the major “retirements” made over the years…

1975   Retired as an equine veterinarian and retired as a committed athlete - having a leg amputated will do that

1984   Retired altogether as a veterinarian - to concentrate upon developing the Foundation, cancer programs and teaching meditation

1990   Took a year off to reflect on the work and planning the residential centre and programs

2009   Retired from full-time job at the Gawler Foundation

2017   Presented last cancer residential program

2018   Presented last residential meditation retreat at The Foundation


1. Working with Ruth - retreat and trainings

i) Meditation retreat

Ruth has asked me to co-lead her meditation retreat this year Pre-Easter along with the sublime Melissa Borich and I readily accepted. We all love working together and this year the focus will be on how meditation leads to bliss and joy. There is so much anxiety about at present; so much doom and gloom. However, there is a font of joy within us all that is quite blissful and when experienced, does give us the strength, optimism and motivation to continue to do good in our world.

At the Foundation April 3 – 9 

ii) Meditation Teacher training at the Foundation
Again, with Ruth I will lead this year’s trainings for the Foundation. Paul and Maia Bedson have taken a year’s leave so we have been asked to step in and again, happily accepted. We both love teaching teachers – a real delight and 2 great programs will be offered :

                    Teacher Training focused upon meditation itself – April 27 to May 1

                    Teacher training focused upon contemplation. Contemplation is a   wonderful skill yet rarely taught in any detail, so this is a good opportunity to extend your range as a teacher of meditation – September 7 – 11

2. Meditation App
The meditation app I have been working on for quite a few years with my partner Saurabh Mishra is currently being re-focused to more specifically address the needs of people dealing with chronic degenerative disease. More about this soon…

3. Meditation retreats for younger adults
Have been working on this visionary and large project with Martin Hosking for several years now and it is gaining a good deal of momentum; likely to begin programs next year and close to having more details to share…

4. Public speaking 
Am open to the occasional public speaking event or conference appearance.

On the personal front

I continue with painting classes and the garden is flourishing.

Also, as well as having 3 considerable areas of work, there is a clear sense of more time being available for the more personal things including time with family and friends.

But overall, a greater emphasis on study and practice.

And throughout, moment-by-moment, the little transitions are constantly flowing.

Doors opening...   Doors closing...

28 January 2020

The power of intention – and 4 simple steps that activate it

So January is moving into February and the honeymoon period is over for New Year’s resolutions. Did you make one this year? Has it been accomplished? Or forgotten? Or was there simply a sense of futility and none made this year?

Seems New Year highlights the difficulties most of us have with good intentions, so let us consider what might help… Let us consider the power of intention and how to activate it effectively, but first

    Thought for the day

He who knows the Bliss of Brahman, 
Whence words together with the mind turn away, 
Unable to reach It
He is not afraid of anything whatsoever.

He does not distress himself with the thought: 
Why did I not do what is good? 
Why did I do what is evil? 
Whosoever knows this regards both these as Atman; 
Indeed he cherishes both these as Atman.

Such, indeed, is the Upanishad, the secret knowledge of Brahman. 

                 From the Taittiriya Upanishad

Might take some contemplation this particular Thought for the day. Seems to be saying whether we do good or evil – no problem… Really???

Maybe we need to read the first line again – “He who knows the Bliss of Brahman”. This quote of course comes from the Hindu tradition, (“She” might have been a nice touch) but you find similar statements in all the great traditions; and they all seem to fly in the face of common sense. Surely it makes a difference what we do. Surely we have a “right” to be distressed if we know we have done evil.

How can that not be so???

Now, not meditating daily may not equate with pure evil, but in my experience many people beat themselves up over this almost as if they have done, or are doing something quite abhorrent.

So here is the thing.

Knowing the “Bliss of Brahma” is akin to being enlightened – with is all about knowing Truth on a deep level.

And it may well be on that deep level good and evil do not exist.

But for us mere mortals aspiring to know more of the Truth, on the path to knowing more of the Truth (which is what spiritual practice and meditation is really about); well for us, good and evil are as real as the head on your shoulders.

So in this relative world, how to get our good intentions done? First, consider this… Most people I meet when they get to that point of being honest with themselves, will tell you a curious thing. For most of us there is this weird fact. Most of us find it easier to do things that are not good for us, than to do the things that are good for us.

Go to a movie or a spiritual teaching? Meditate or watch TV? Eat healthy food or … ? No doubt we all have our own choices that seem to direct us towards the dark side.

So the good news is this is a common phenomena. It is not like you are the only one. You are in good company. However, this good news does not mean we do not have a collective problem. We do. So what to do about it???

There are many books written on getting the job done.

Positive Thinking books.

Motivational books.

Inspiring books.

Might have written something like this myself…


But here is the big tip.

Action starts with intention.

A powerful intention is almost unstoppable.

I remember a friend with cancer who was asked how he maintained his way of eating and regular meditation practice over years. “Easy” he said, “I have not forgotten my life depends upon it”.

Many people in my experience compromise their good intentions. “I will do it when I can.” “I will do it when everything else is done.” “I would do it know, but it might upset someone”. Stuff like that. Or they forget. Or life gets in the way… Sound familiar?

If it does, and if maintaining a good intention has been tough for you, maybe it is time to revisit the intention and ask 4 key questions

1. How clear is the intention? 
The clearer it is the more likely you will follow through. The closer you can express the intention in a few words like an affirmation, the better. “I really enjoy Meditating for 20 minutes every day.”

2. How important is this? 
Is it a matter of life and death, or is it an optional extra? Answering this one is crucial.

3. How can I remember how important it is? 
Who do I tell and ask for help with this? Do I write it down? Put reminders on my phone?

4. How do I reinforce the intention? 
People? Groups? Books? Apps? Podcasts? Blogs?

Bon chance!

REFERENCE   :   The Mind that Changes Everything