16 May 2022

Meditation and Blue Sky Mind

Your mind has two aspects. There is the familiar active, thinking mind with all its attendant emotions, and then there is the still mind, renowned for its innate inner peace and clarity, loving kindness and wisdom.

While meditation and my most recent meditation book, Blue Sky Mind do focus upon getting to know both aspects of your mind better, more particularly they provide a reliable way to become familiar with the still mind.

Meditation enables us to focus our attention, to move past distractions and the pre-occupations we often have with our thoughts and emotions, and introduces us to our still mind with direct certainty. It then helps us to function with confidence from the perspective of that still mind wherein all the qualities we aspire to as good people are to be found.

So this week, more of an introduction to meditation, Blue Sky Mind and its genesis, but first

        Thought for the day

The aim is to experience 
Meditation practice and life as one.
 

The aim is to continue 
The mindfulness, the awareness 
And the View
Of the meditation into daily life.


As we practise 
And these qualities 
Begin to become a reality for us, 
We begin to see more clearly 
The way to do things 
In a connected, effective and caring way.

                                          Ian Gawler


Blue Sky Mind is intended to be a highly accessible introductory book to meditation; something that everyone will find informative and useful for establishing and deepening their own meditation practice.



The inspiration and starting point for this current book was Peace of Mind, my first meditation book published in Australia in 1987 and one of the first books to be published on meditation in that country. It has sold over 100,000 copies.

This earlier book provided instruction on how to relax deeply and enter the simple stillness of deeper meditation as well as a comprehensive introduction to the use of contemplation and guided imagery.







Peace of Mind was followed in 1996 by Meditation - Pure and Simple.

This book was written in response to many requests that flowed out of Peace of Mind regarding what to do with an active mind and the many distractions and frustrations an untrained or unskilled active mind can bring into meditation. This book highlighted skilful ways of moving past those very common intruding thoughts.







Then followed a more complete expose on guided imagery - The Creative Power of Imagery in 1997.








In 2010 there came the more explicit and extensive book on the techniques of meditation, contemplation and guided imagery - Meditation - an In-Depth Guide co-authored with colleague Paul Bedson. 




The Creative Power of Imagery led into and was replaced by The Mind that Changes Everything in 2010. In this book, there are around 50 Guided Imagery exercises that can be applied to many life situations, including achieving any set goal, sport, work , relationships and healing.








So then in 2019, to reinvigorate the “beginner’s book”, the best of Peace of Mind and Meditation - Pure and Simple were combined with a good deal of original material into one fresh new book, Blue Sky Mind.

My wife Ruth played a major role in developing this work and has brought her love, care, sensitivity, experience, wisdom and insight to all facets of the book’s writing and production.

The understanding of meditation reflected in this book has grown through my personal contact with many people and books. There has been great good fortune in being able to learn directly from many great masters of meditation. The two most significant are Dr Ainslie Meares and Sogyal Rinpoche.





Dr Meares was the true pioneer of therapeutic meditation in the Western world.

His first book on meditation, Relief Without Drugs was published in 1967, translated into many languages and sold over one million copies around the world. That book is out of print but well worth taking down on the used market.

Dr Meares insights were pivotal, informed my own work and are as relevant to current times as they were to the sixties.



Since 1985, the Tibetan lama Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and master of Dzogchen meditation has been my main teacher.

Rinpoche has helped deepen my understanding and experience of meditation by his presence, kindness, knowledge and patience.

The TBLD as it is commonly known is a classic with over 3.5 million copies sold. It held the record for some time apparently as the most shop-lifted book in Australia :) Not sure what that says... Anyway, a great read.


Also, gratitude is offered to Zen Master Hogan-San for his knowledge and insight. And what a blessing to have known and learnt from that extraordinary Christian mystic and scholar Father Bede Griffiths along with many others who have shared the experiences of Christian Meditation.

But then Blue Sky Mind was also the product of many years working with great staff as we helped so many people learn to meditate. There is a debt owed to them all - the staff and those who learnt with us - for their shared experiences, responses, feedback, failures and successes. It is a privilege to have been able to work in this way.

And while all these wonderful people and books have helped a great deal, in meditation the real answers lie within. There is a profound appreciation and gratitude for the experiences and the knowing that comes from listening and waiting in silence for the still voice within.

May you encounter meditation, recognise its inner value and maintain a regular practice.

Enjoy :)



02 May 2022

Meditation and wisdom

In older times people grew up in cultures based upon wisdom. All the great spiritual traditions provided an ethical and moral framework, plus a world view on the meaning of life.

In modern times we have moved progressively towards a more secular culture. During the transition, many drew on the fumes of the old traditions and exhibited some semblance of wisdom; but now as we become increasingly secular, many of our youth are wondering what is missing; and where to fill the gap.

In the domain of meditation, this trend has been exacerbated by popularist teachers and especially Apps, cherry-picking the great traditions for their techniques which they share widely, while they leave out or minimalize their wisdom teachings.

So this week, a dip into where wisdom is to be found, plus how to nurture and develop it; but first

   Thought for the day


       God is that which is so complete in itself 

       That even if a whole is removed from it 

       Or indeed added to it

       It still remains the same whole.

                                       Sanskrit hymn

From where do you derive your wisdom? 

Seems to me there are 4 most likely possibilities 

1. One of the great spiritual – and wisdom – traditions

2. A spiritual friend – this could be a teacher from outside one of the great traditions, or a person close to you – a parental type figure (or grandparent or … )

3. Books and podcasts from which you draw together your own conclusions/values

4. You experience a void because neither of the other 3 apply.

This post is simply a prompt; an encouragement to recognise the value of the search for wisdom, and an encouragement to make a commitment and do the study and practice required to develop, and even better, to embody wisdom.


With this in mind, here is a quote from Ken Wilbur that might inspire…

And in the pursuit of wisdom, be prepared for ups and downs, and the need to persevere…

Never give up!



It is important to understand we all meditate within a Tradition and all traditions belong to one great Tradition of Humanity. All our Traditions we could say are connected. They have a root Tradition. But that root Tradition is held in a pre-historical silence, in a very primeval awakening to our human meaning and purpose. 

Translative religion which is by far the most prevalent, widespread, and widely shared function of religion ... acts as a way of creating ‘meaning’ for the separate self: it offers myths and stories and tales and narratives and rituals that, taken together, help the separate self make sense of, and endure, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 

This function of religion does not usually or necessarily change the level of consciousness in a person; it does not deliver radical transformation. 

Nor does it deliver a shattering liberation from the separate self altogether. Rather, it consoles the self, fortifies the self, defends the self, promotes the self. As long as the separate self believes the myths, performs the rituals, mouths the prayers, or embraces the dogma, then the self, it is fervently believed, will be “saved” - either now in the glory of being God-saved or God-favoured, or in an after-life that ensures eternal wonderment. 

Transformative religion in a usually very, very small minority - serves the function of radical transformation and liberation. This function of religion does not fortify the separate self, but utterly shatters it - not consolation but devastation, not entrenchment but emptiness, not complacency but explosion, not comfort but revolution - in short, not a conventional bolstering of consciousness but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.

… at some point in our maturation process, translation itself, no matter how adequate or confident, simply ceases to console. No new beliefs, no new paradigm, no new myths, no new ideas, will staunch the encroaching anguish. Not new belief for the self, but the transcendence of the self altogether, is the only path that avails.

 .... For those few individuals who are ready - that is, sick with the suffering of the separate self, and no longer able to embrace the translative [exoteric] worldview - then a transformative [esoteric] opening to true authenticity, true enlightenment, true liberation, calls more and more insistently. 

And depending upon your capacity for suffering, you will sooner or later answer the call of authenticity, of transformation, of liberation. 

Ken Wilbur - One Taste

 

 

 

 

 


30 March 2022

Blowfly Meditation – the art of remaining undistracted

Settled in to meditate yesterday, when the blowfly first announced his presence. Now you need to appreciate, this was no ordinary blowfly. This one took noise amplification to a whole new level, plus he had mastered the art of the stop, the quiet pause and the noisy re-start. You probably know what I mean…

Anyway, the challenge was there. Leave the meditation and move the fly on, or manage him through the meditation? Being a “serious” meditator, there is not much choice really. It would be a shame job to deal with the fly, so the fly stayed and the inner process began. But then, a small miracle – a great insight ensued.

So this week, the insights on dealing with distractions in meditation and life, courtesy of “blowfly meditation”, but first 

           Thought for the day

   The supremely realized yogi Phadampa was asked, 

   “When Buddhahood is attained, 

   Then how will this awareness become?” 

   He replied, 

   “It is wisdom purified of the mind’s conceptions.” 

   Then he was asked, 

  “Does wisdom have mindfulness or not?” 

   He answered, 

   “What are you saying? 

   Mindfulness is the intellect of sentient beings. 

   Wisdom is free from intellect.”

 

In meditation, when faced with a distraction, there are 2 basic choices. One is to turn away from it, the other is to turn towards it. Let us examine what this means…

Turning away from distractions

One does this when one decides the distraction is not to one’s liking. The distraction is either too unpleasant, even possibly in some circumstances too pleasant!, or too scary.

Whatever the aversion to the distraction, this meditative choice is then to move one’s attention from the distraction and place it somewhere else. This commonly involves focussing the attention on one particular thing. 

The focal point could be the breath, a mantra, an image; all manner of things. Or it could be one’s own inner silence; it could involve focussing upon what is effectively our own inner refuge, that place of inner comfort and ease that is always there, always available; our own inner peace.

The key point here is turning away from a distraction works well and it is an active intervention; it is a deliberate act and it does take some energy and effort.

So the blowfly is there and in response we either focus our attention on something like our breath or our inner refuge. Effectively, we basically ignore the blowfly and remain undisturbed.

Turning towards distractions

Many of us will be familiar with this concept courtesy of some knowledge and maybe some experience with mindfulness. In the practice of mindfulness we aim to learn how to notice whatever is coming to our attention and not react. No commentary, no sense of like or dislike, we just let things be as they are.

The key point here is turning towards a distraction in this way does work well, and while it is still a deliberate act, it is a more passive intervention than turning away, and it does take less energy and effort.

So with this approach, the blowfly is there, we notice him, we do not react, we accommodate to his presence and remain undisturbed.

The blowfly insight

So here is the thing. Our perspective significantly influences how we do or do not respond to things like blowflies.

To explain, our mind has 2 aspects – the Active Mind with all its thoughts and emotions, and the Still Mind that is beyond all that. 

When our perspective comes from the Active Mind, we have a strong sense of this is me – my thoughts, my emotions, my possessions, my experiences – and by contrast, there is you and all that other stuff out there. 

Me and the rest of the world. 

A duality. And that ego-centric sense of needing to protect me, gather as much pleasure for me as possible, and avoid as much pain as possible.

So the blowfly is separate from me and a threat to my peace of mind. 

He needs to be dealt with, albeit in the most skilful way possible – getting rid of him, or turning away from him OR turning towards him; just deal with him!

When our perspective comes from the Still Mind, there is a strong sense of unity – a oneness. There is no fixed sense of me and others; we are all intimately inter-connected. So in essence, there is no threat from something “out there” like a blowfly; there is not even a sense of a “someone” who can be hurt.

Maybe this sounds a bit esoteric, but this is the truth of who we really are. We may seem to be these independent individuals prone to pleasure and pain; that illusion is very strong. But in the heart of meditation, we can experience this other reality, this reality that is actually the truth of who we really are.

So back to the blowfly meditation. 

If one perceives the blowfly from the perspective of the Active Mind, then the blowfly is unpleasant, and/or it needs to be defended against. 

And understand this, whether we turn our mind away from it or towards it, in essence we reinforce the false sense of our own self that is dualistic, ego-centric and needs protection and craves pleasure.

By contrast, if one perceives the blowfly from the perspective of the Still Mind, then it is neither unpleasant nor does it need to be defended against. 

It simply is. 

It simply is a part of the experience we are having at that particular time, in that particular place. 

But curiously, from the perspective of the Still Mind, whether we turn our mind away from the blowfly or towards it, whether we decide to get up and move the fly on gently, or even decide to drop the meditation and come back later; from the perspective of the Still Mind it will be possible to act without reinforcing the false sense of our own self that is dualistic, ego-centric and needs protection and craves pleasure.

This maybe worth contemplating…

And this…

The domain of the Active Mind includes relaxation, mantra practice, mindfulness and pretty well all other forms of mind training. By definition, if we are training the mind, we are training the Active Mind.

So meditation in the classic Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen has 4 phases. There is: 

1. Shamatha (calm abiding) that aims to settle the mind, bring us stability and help us to remain undistracted.

2. Vipashyana (insight) that aims to develop the wisdom that comes from recognising and knowing who we really are

3. One taste that comes with accomplishing shamatha and vipashyana and leads to a state of equanimity wherein one is able to respond to all things equally

4. Non-meditation which is when the meditation and its attendant wisdom has become so fully integrated into one’s life there is no differentiating between formal periods of meditation and life itself, and as such, there is no need to meditate formally.

In conclusion

The blowfly is a metaphor for whatever distracts you, for whatever irritates you.

Contemplate this and enjoy your next encounter
 :)

And remember what a joy it is to be alive 

and in circumstances where we can ponder such things…


15 March 2022

The 2 major benefits of meditation – what to expect, and how predictable are they?

Easter is approaching and as mentioned in the last post, I have been persuaded to present a meditation retreat for Rigpa, the Tibetan Buddhist, Dzogchen group I have belonged to for decades. It has raised the question of what one might expect from meditation practice and the very real issue for many of unrealistic expectations.  So this week, more details of the retreat - click or see below - along with a revisit of meditation’s benefits, what to expect, and how to get the most from your practice, but first 


     Thought for the day

         As you continue to practice the method,

         Then meditation slowly arises. 

         Meditation is not something that you can “do”; 

         It is something that has to happen spontaneously, 

        Only when you have perfected the practice.

                    Sogyal Rinpoche


Why keep meditating daily? 

What is in it for me? What can you reasonably expect?

When it comes to meditation, it seems there are 2 big classes of benefits. There are the obvious, and the subtle. However, unrealistic expectations seem to interfere with many people’s meditation progress and satisfaction levels. Experience tells me that one big group of meditation benefits is reliably predictable – with the more you learn and practice, the more directly you benefit.

But then there is a whole other class of benefits that are far from predictable, and unrealistic expectations in this arena can lead to frustration and disappointment. 

The many obvious benefits of meditation

In our modern world, the obvious benefits are being well researched and we can say they are now reasonably well proven. Without wanting to overstate things, pretty well any area of human activity that has been studied – and there have been a lot – seems to get better when the people doing them meditate.  

You are probably familiar with these benefits – relaxation, stress management, better sleep, better
performance at work and in sport and education, better resilience and mental state generally. 

Many healing benefits – accelerated healing with evidence of many diseases including mental health issues being improved in both quality of life and outcome. 

And on and on….

Now the good news for all these obvious benefits is that they are reasonably predictable. 

Get good instruction – ideally from a teacher, but many find a book or on-line platform works – apply yourself, and results will follow. 

The more you learn and practice, generally speaking, the more the benefits. And these obvious benefits tend to build in a fairly linear fashion. As time passes, as your practice builds, things get steadily better.

The subtle benefits of meditation

Traditionally, people meditated for what we might call subtler, or more esoteric reasons. They were seeking the truth of who they really were, a direct experience of the divine, or of themselves as some traditions would express it.

Experience tells that some people started on this path and almost immediately had profound and life-changing experiences. However, I personally know quite a few who have put in years of effort, years of study with good teachers and years of diligent practice, and are still searching for some elusive and ephemeral experience.

Plenty can be said about what helps lead into these deeper experiences – my books and other blogs go into all this – but for now, it seems worthwhile pointing out this difference. 

The difference between what comes easily, and what seems more unpredictable. 

The point is, if one is seeking the essence of meditation – the profound insights and deeper experiences that are definitely there to be had, one does tend to need patience; and perseverance. 

Also, paradoxically as many will know, while with the obvious benefits it is quite reasonable and effective to have expectations of benefit, with these subtler benefits, the more we let go of expectations, the more the benefits flow. Tricky :)

So why go on a meditation retreat?

Speaking personally again, I go on at least one annual, personal retreat for a few reasons. 

Firstly the obvious reasons for meditating are highly valuable and are a function of study and practice – it is worth continuing to learn, and taking the opportunity to deepen the practice. 

Of course, I teach meditation, so for me this is also a bit like going to a summer school. There is always more to bring back to those I teach.

But then, for those more subtle benefits, creating conducive circumstances is one of the most reliable ways to experience the more profound benefits. So withdrawing from daily life for a while, having a good teacher, being in like-minded company; all that does make for increased possibilities. 

And also, there is the fact of being with those like-minded people each year. It is one of the things Ruth and I enjoy in our own retreats. As the years roll on, it seems more people form friendships and come back as groups to renew and deepen those relationships and to enjoy practicing together.

So Happy Easter. Happy meditating and may you feel the obvious and subtle benefits of your own practice.

Easter Meditation Retreat

Topic : Mind in Comfort and Ease : a Shamatha retreat. Shamatha is the basis of Dzogchen meditation and translates as calm abiding; it is a technique one can learn that reliable leads to a relaxed body and mind, leading towards a state of inner peace characterized by being able to remain undistracted

Venue: In person or online. In person in Melbourne where Ian will be teaching, and in Sydney and Newcastle where the retreat will streamed and supported by other Rigpa teachers. Online courtesy of Zoom.

Melbourne: 803 Nicholson Street, Carlton North
Sydney: 158 Australia Street, Newtown

Dates Friday 15th April from 9.00am to Monday 18th at 4pm.

Booking LINK



01 March 2022

Mind in Comfort and Ease - Ian Gawler Easter Meditation Retreat

Join groups in Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle; Online option as well



Easter is approaching - a natural time for introspection. This year for the first time, I will present a meditation retreat open to the public based upon the Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen teachings I have been studying and practicing for decades. 

With so much turmoil around us at present, there may never be a better time to step back a little, relax, allow the mind to settle, and to reconnect with our own inner peace. So this week, details on the style of meditation and the retreat, but first


   Thought for the day

      Even if you have a lot of money and power and fame, 

       You can still suffer very deeply. 

        If you do not have enough peace and compassion within you, 

         There is no way you can be happy.

                    Thich Nhat Hahn





So much turmoil on the outside… The pandemic continues to affect the way we live, there is the constant threat of environmental devastation highlighted most recently by the tragic floods in NSW and Queensland, there is the horror of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, and then our own issues – family, communities, finances. So much change and uncertainty. So many people suffering deeply.

It is so easy to become swept up in our own thoughts and emotions as one challenge is heaped upon another. It is as if our mind can become lost in all that is going on “out there”, and we lose any sense of peace and clarity.

This is where meditation has so much to offer. When we start to meditate, we learn to turn our mind inwardly, and there we can make a great discovery. Just as a great hurricane has at its centre a space of calm stillness, so too do we have in our core this place of peace and tranquillity. 

And the good news is we do not need to manufacture this inner peace or create it through some fancy technique. Real meditation is more like an unfolding. It is like bringing our mind home; bringing it back from its engagement with the chaos, to experience its own natural peace and clarity that always was, always will be there.

And if you doubt this to be so, if you are yet to experience this “inner sanctuary”, meditation provides the means whereby you can explore, experiment and find the truth for yourself. 

This Easter retreat will be based on the shamatha teachings. 

In the Tibetan tradition of Dzogchen there are 4 levels of meditation practice and we begin with shamatha. 

Shamatha translates as “calm abiding” or resting calmly. 

The practice involves following clear and simple instructions that reliably help us to let go of worry, stress and anxiety while enabling us to find this inner peace. And in doing so, we become familiar with this inner truth, the truth of our own peace and clarity. 

Then, from this base, we can extend our peace and clarity into how we live our daily lives. This can be truly transforming, and having witnessed so many people turn their lives around for the better using these techniques explains why I am so passionate about teaching them.


The retreat itself will be presented by Rigpa, the Tibetan Buddhist organisation I have been involved with for over 35 years. You will be able to join myself and Ruth in Rigpa’s Brunswick Centre (Melbourne), join other like-minded people in Rigpa’s Sydney (Newtown) and Newcastle Centres, or gather live online.

For much of the retreat we will practice together with some guidance from myself.

There will also be

. Teachings on how to practice and what to expect

. Many practice tips – the subtle points that can make a big difference

. Guidance on how to settle a restless or painful body

. How to settle a restless or agitated mind; and how to manage strong emotions from a meditator’s perspective

. Problem solving for new people and those who have been meditating a good while – good opportunities for question and answers.

Please do invite your family, friends and colleagues.

This retreat is suitable for anyone who would like to practice in the supportive company of a community of meditators; and will particularly benefit :

Anyone who wants to develop and deepen their meditation practice - whether you are experienced or not; a Rigpa student or not.

People who have been enjoying Rigpa’s 20 Minutes a Day Meditation program

Those who attend Inspiring a Revolution in Your Heart and Mind - A transformative course currently in progress at Rigpa presenting the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism that can be joined at regular intervals

Rigpa All Encompassing Path students

The event will be available online for those who are unable to get to a centre. 

DATES and SCHEDULE   -   Easter 2022

9.15am Friday 15th April to 4pm Monday 18th April 

Saturday and Sunday 9.15am to 6.00pm with good breaks throughout the days

VENUE

THIS WILL BE A HYBRID RETREAT - IN PERSON AND ONLINE

If you are able to join at a centre in your city we look forward to greeting you in person at these locations:

Melbourne: 803 Nicholson Street, Carlton North
Sydney: 158 Australia Street, Newtown

Newcastle: Unit 18/26 Oakdale Rd, Gateshead

Ian will be present in the Melbourne Centre; streamed live to Sydney and Newcastle, along with those attending online

TO REGISTER - CLICK HERE 


14 February 2022

Is soy milk safe? Oestrogen, breast cancer and soy – the answers…

Do soy products affect breast cancer risks and does soy help or hinder recovery from breast cancer? And what of soy milk specifically? Is it safe?

Despite years of research and clinical evidence these questions still seem confusing to many. So this week, a research and experiential soy summary, then the soy milk specifics; plus a bonus - the role of oestrogen in COVID, but first

    Thought for the day

The person who asks a question

Is a fool for one minute.

The person who does not ask a question

Is a fool for life.

         Confucious


THE BASIC FACTS

The activity of most breast cancers are influenced by hormonal levels, especially the main female sex hormone oestrogen – basically more oestrogen is bad, less is better. Oestrogen is produced within the body and also can be taken in via common foods we eat; the phyto-oestrogens. 

How oestrogen influences breast cancer is by attaching onto the breast cancer cells and stimulating their activity. 

Some compounds can block this interaction; the oestrogen blockers. 

Some phyto-oestrogens stimulate breast cancer, some act as oestrogen blockers.

So the effect oestrogen has on breast cancer is a combination of the amount produced within the body plus any oestrogen-like foods consumed, minus the mitigating effect of any oestrogen blockers.

But now, consider this - most breast cancers occur after menopause when the ovaries have stopped producing oestrogen, so where does the oestrogen come from? 

Is it only from the outside? Well, no, some still comes from the body - from fatty tissue, muscle and breast cells. But also, breast cancer cells produce their own oestrogen that then can go on to stimulate more cancer growth! 

So the question is, what can be done to block the adverse effects of oestrogen? 

There are 2 possibiities

1. Blocking the adverse effects of oestrogen

In mainstream medicine a number of drugs are used as oestrogen blockers – the oldest being Tamoxifen, while more recent ones include Arimidex, Aromasin and Femara that are only suitable for women who have completed menopause.

And what about phyto-oestrogens? 

Do they act as oestrogen stimulants or as oestrogen blockers? 

In previous posts the research evidence has been made clear. 

Soy products are effectively oestrogen blockers. 

But then the question of what type of soy is OK for you to eat?

Minimally processed soy foods like cooked soybeans, tofu, tempeh are all OK. 

Highly processed soy, not so good; in fact better to minimise or avoid foods based upon Textured Soy Proteins like veggie sausages, mock meats and so on.


2. Stopping breast cancer cells from producing oestrogen

It turns out oestrogen is produced in breast cancer cells using 2 enzyme pathways. In fact, inhibiting this oestrogen production has been shown to be more effective than just trying to block the effects of the estrogen, “suggesting that the inhibition of estrogen synthesis is clinically very important for the treatment of estrogen-dependent breast cancer.”

There are drugs that do this – the common aromatase inhibitors are letrozole, anastrozole and exemestane. But how about this? The plant world is so amazing! Turns out soy phytoestrogens not only is a oestrogen blocker, it also reduces aromatase production. 

In a 2015 paper, the authors concluded “In general, phytoestrogens act as aromatase inhibitors by (a) decreasing aromatase gene expression, (b) inhibiting the aromatase enzyme itself, or (c) in some cases acting at both levels of regulation.”

Lephart ED. Modulation of Aromatase by Phytoestrogens. Enzyme Res. 2015;2015:594656. doi:10.1155/2015/594656

 

THE SPECIFICS – SOY MILK and BREAST CANCER RISKS

What does the research offer? In a randomised study, Japanese women were asked to add 400ml per day of soy milk to their diet or not for just 2 months. 400ml is quite a lot! Oestrogen levels dropped about a quarter in the soy milk supplemented group. 

Nagata C et al. Effect of soymilk consumption on serum estrogen concentrations in premenopausal Japanese women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Dec 2;90(23):1830-5. 

Japanese women live in a culture where soy is a common food, so what about in America where it is not? 

In a small study, women aged 22 – 29 consumed 350 ml soy milk and within a month halved their circulating oestrogen levels. 

Importantly, the oestrogen levels stayed down for a month or two even after the subjects stopped drinking soy milk, which suggests you may not need to consume soy daily to gain the cancer protective benefit.

The authors concluded “These results suggest that consumption of soya diets containing phytoestrogens may reduce circulating ovarian steroids and adrenal androgens and increase menstrual cycle length. 

Such effects may account at least in part for the decreased risk of breast cancer that has been associated with legume consumption.”

Lu LJ,et al. Effects of soya consumption for one month on steroid hormones in premenopausal women: implications for breast cancer risk reduction. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1996 Jan;5(1):63-70.

Isoflavins and breast cancer risk

Still not fully confident? Isoflavones are only one of the major phyto-oetrogens, so this research is not the same as testing soy as a whole, however, in this recent meta-analysis, the authors did conclude “Taking into account the risk of bias and methodological limitations, there is little evidence that isoflavone treatment modulates risk factors of breast cancer in pre- and postmenopausal women.” 

This is a conservative finding with no positive benefit claimed, but it does state clearly the research finds no discernible risk. 

Finkeldey L, Schmitz E, Ellinger S. Effect of the Intake of Isoflavones on Risk Factors of Breast Cancer-A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Intervention Studies. Nutrients. 2021 Jul 5;13(7):2309. 

Lifetime effects of phyto-oestrogenss on hormones

Need more? Another recent major study concluded “In premenopausal and postmenopausal women, the reported impacts on hormones are inconsistent, although beneficial goitrogenic effects and improved glycemic control and cardiovascular risk markers have been described in postmenopausal individuals.” 

Good for diabetes and heart disease, but again, no mention of adverse effects from soy. 

Domínguez-López et al. Effects of Dietary Phytoestrogens on Hormones throughout a Human Lifespan: A Review. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 15;12(8):2456.

 

WHAT TO DO?


In my opinion, eat minimally processed soy foods regularly. 

Soy milk is OK. Bonsoy remains the best choice. 

Rest easy. 

Stay healthy.

Heal well when needed...

 

AND FINALLY - Oestrogen may protect from COVID-19

It has been widely observed that adult men of all ages are at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 when compared with women. This large study investigated the association of COVID-19 positivity and severity with estrogen exposure in women. 

The findings support a protective effect of estrogen exposure on COVID-19, based on positive association between predicted COVID-19 with menopausal status, and negative association with use of the combined oral contraceptive pill. 

HRT use was positively associated with COVID-19, but the results should be considered with caution due to lack of data on HRT type, route of administration, duration of treatment, and potential unaccounted for confounders and comorbidities.

Costeira R et al. Estrogen and COVID-19 symptoms: Associations in women from the COVID Symptom Study. PLoS One. 2021 Sep 10;16(9) 

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The latest on soy and breast cancer 

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08 February 2022

Can you see the cloud in the water? Thich Nhat Hahn – a tribute Part 2

He gently elevated a glass of water into the air. Hundreds of eyes followed Thich Nhat Han’s hand as it rose higher. Then the gentle, assured voice : Can you see the cloud in the water? 

Well not literally, but then the point was made; without the cloud there would be no water. The cloud and the water are inter-dependent. Can you see the cloud in the water?

So this week, more stories of meeting with our sadly missed Thich Nhat Hahn at his main retreat centre in Plum Village, France, a few select teachings and recounting co-presenting a remarkable cancer retreat in Germany with one of his monks, but first

       Thought for the day

    Breathing in I calm my body

    Breathing out I smile

    Dwelling in the present moment

    I know this is a wonderful moment

                           Thich Nhat Hahn

 

Plum Village

In 1982 Thầy, as he if known to his followers, found an old farm in the Dordogne Valley of southwest France. There, amid rolling hills and vineyards, they established a mindfulness practice center which became known as Plum Village after the 1,250 plum trees they planted in the rich soil. 

The existing buildings were dilapidated, but soon barns became meditation halls and sheep-sheds became dorms, with beds made of wooden boards balanced on bricks.

Over the next 4 decades, Plum Village grew into the largest Buddhist retreat center in the west, attracting people from around the world, with over 4,000 retreatants every summer and more than 10,000 visitors every year.


Visiting Plum Village

What better notion of a holiday than spending time in the company of a spiritual adept? And Plum Village is both beautiful, and serene. Serene and actually quite slow in pace. A bit like Club Med meets spirituality! 

There is not much of a fixed program, although every 15 minutes a huge gong sounds out across the land and everyone stops for a mindful moment. Then there are group discussions for an hour after lunch and Thay alternates speaking in French with a translator or English with a translator.

Ruth and myself visited in 2010. 

Can you see the cloud in the water? 

We also joined Thai in walking meditation and felt the entreaty to “walk gently upon the land”.

In fact, the strength, diversity and vitality of Thầy’s international community may be his greatest legacy of all. 

His aspirations and hopes live on in a thriving community of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds, continuing to evolve and develop his teachings and practices, making them ever more appropriate to our times. 


Teaching – a true pioneer of mindfulness in the West

Thầy came from a Zen background but preferred to say he was “presenting the teachings of Early Buddhism in a Mahayana spirit”. 

His teachings on ‘everyday mindfulness’ and his style of walking meditation have been taken up and popularised by the secular ‘mindfulness movement’ and brought healing to millions around the world. 

He developed the practical notion of everyday mindfulness; mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful dish-washing, teeth-brushing, cooking, or working, and the art of completely stopping and listening whenever the temple bell (or telephone) rang.


Some Excerpts

Mindfulness brings concentration. Concentration brings insight. Insight liberates you from your ignorance, your anger, your craving. When you are free from your afflictions, happiness becomes possible. How can you be happy when you are overloaded with anger, ignorance, and craving? 

Maybe intellectually people know that they should live in the present moment, but the habit energy that has been there for a long time is always pushing them to rush around, so they have lost their capacity to be in the present moment in order to lead their life deeply. That is why the practice is important, and talking is not enough. 

We can recognize happiness only against the background of suffering. It’s like when you recognize the white against the background of the black. Only if you have been hungry can you experience the joy of having something to eat. You learn from suffering, and against that background, you can recognize happiness. It is good to experience some suffering, because when you suffer you develop compassion and understanding.

Love, in Buddhism, always begins with yourself, before the manifestation of the other person in your life. The teaching of love in Buddhism is that when you go home to yourself, you recognize the suffering in you. Then the understanding of your own suffering will help you to feel better, and to love, because you feel the completeness, the fulfillment in yourself. So you don’t need another person to begin to love. You can begin with yourself.

True love does not just choose one person. When true love is there, you shine like a lamp. You don’t just shine on one person in the room. That light you emit is for everyone in the room. If you really have love in you, everyone around you will profit—not only humans, but animals, plants, and minerals. Love, true love, is that. True love is equanimity.

Our purpose is not to convert people to Buddhism. Our purpose is to live Buddhism as a path of understanding and love. You can continue to be a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim, and you can do exactly the same thing as we do in the tradition of Buddhism. We use the Buddhist language and practice, you use the Muslim language and practice, but we arrive at the same result. That is why it can be called a global spirituality or global ethic.

Vietnam and home

Having grown up in rural Vietnam and then joining a monastery, Thay became politically active and a major spokesperson for peace during the Vietnam War. 

At the end of the war he was forced into exile and made France his new home. 

Over the years, Thầy embraced and healed the pain of not being able to return to Vietnam. 

It was, he explained, “thanks to the practice I was able to find my true home in the here and the now. 

Your true home is not an abstract idea, it is a solid reality you can touch with your feet, with your hands, with your mind. It is available in the here and the now, and nobody can take it away. They can occupy your country, yes. They can put you in prison, yes. But they cannot take away your true home and your freedom.” 

Thay described the phrase, ‘I have arrived, I am home’ as the ‘cream’ of his practice and “the shortest teaching I can give.” He guided thousands of people who attended his retreats in Plum Village, to truly arrive and feel at home in themselves in the here and now. 

Healing Retreat in Germany            

In July 2011 Ruth and I were invited to co-present a meditation based, health and healing related retreat with monks and nuns of Thich Nhat Hahn’s tradition in their German retreat Centre out of Cologne. 

Imagine this… 

You arrive at a residential cancer retreat and the Zen monk co-leading announces everyone will water fast for the duration of the 7 days. 

News to us too! 

However, the monk had such presence and conviction (albeit based upon recent reading that fasting might be helpful in response to cancer!) it seemed to work – especially after we managed to include some very watery vegetable/rice soup in the menu. 

Anyway, it was a delight to work in the environment of dedicated monks and nuns and the participants left very happy. 

The whole week was presented very simply, very clearly, very directly. 

Mind you it did take a little getting used to the head monk nodding off while I was talking with the group and he was sitting out front with me. 

No place for egos! 

The whole thing was quite memorable to say the least. 

One new technique to come from the retreat: combining deep relaxation with a contemplation: relaxing each part of the body deeply while contemplating gratitude for all that part of the body does for you and for others.

Later that same year, I co-led a meditation training and retreat with that same monk and others from Plum Village at the Foundation’s Yarra Valley Centre. That too was a wonderful few days. 

The Recommendation

Do not put it off! 

If you can, seek out spiritual leaders and spend time in their company. 

Listen to their teachings in person when you can.

If you do not have your own main teacher as yet, it makes sense to shop around, check out possibilities, take your time and then commit. It is very hard to make serious progress on the spiritual path without sticking to one main teacher.

If you do have your own main teacher, do not become distracted by dharma shopping – feeding doubts and dissatisfactions by going around checking out other teachers – but judiciously select those aligned with your own path and benefit from their experiences, realisations and insights.

What a pleasure to have spent time with Thich Nhat Hahn – one of the genuine greats of our time!



 


25 January 2022

Thich Nhat Hahn – Pirates, Boatpeople and a Meeting in Melbourne – A Tribute

Some rare beings embody what it is to live a life completely devoted to the spiritual path and the betterment of others. 

Thich Nhat Hahn, a humble yet extra-ordinarily influential Vietnamese monk, was once such exemplar. 

Global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh was renowned for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace.

Having experienced a stroke in 2014 and having been unable to speak since, it is no real consolation to say we knew he might die soon. 

His death leaves a gap that will be hard to fill by any one person and a sadness that will be felt for some time. 

His direct influence, his smile, his presence, his radiant inner peace is no more in present time. 

True, he leaves a wonderful legacy, largely through his advocacy for peace and mindfulness, but there is something about the finality of the loss when death arrives. 

The International Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism has announced 

Our beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has passed away peacefully at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam on 22nd January, 2022, at the age of 95.

We invite our global spiritual family to take a few moments to be still, to come back to our mindful breathing, as we together hold Thay (the Vietnamese word for teacher by which he is affectionately known) in our hearts in peace and loving gratitude for all he has offered the world.

In tribute to a man held in great respect by people of all traditions, the next 2 blogs will recount 2 remarkable meetings but first,


    Thought for the day

         His demeanour, light as a butterfly. 

         His steps, solid as a water buffalo. 

         His joy at being alive 

         As palpable as the awakening morning. 

         Fully present. 

         His life, a teaching.

              Gary Gach on Thich Nhat Hahn

 

A Caution

This true story does contain graphic details and may distress some people

The Context

i) The boatpeople

Following the Vietnam war around 800,000 boatpeople braved over-crowded boats, thirst and starvation, storms and pirates to flee to other countries. Many made it to Australia, yet the UN estimates 200,000 to 400,000 people died at sea. 

In 1981, 452 boats carrying Vietnamese boat people arrived in Thailand carrying 15,479 refugees; 349 of the boats had been attacked by pirates an average of three times each. 228 women had been abducted, many who survived had been raped and 881 people were dead or missing. 

ii) The teacher

While recovering from my leg amputation in 1975, I had the good fortune to come across Thich Nhat Hahn’s book The Miracle of Mindfulness, first published in that same year. Thay as he is known, writes so eloquently, so simply, so directly. 

The book informed my own practice and recovery. 

Washing the dishes has never been the same since. 

I love doing them. 

They remind me of Thay and they remind us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness – or anger and frustration if you prefer!


Then in 1987, Thich Nhat Hahn – a serious Buddhist scholar, published his seminal biography of the Buddha, Old Path, White Clouds. With its lyrical language and accessible Buddhist teachings, it became a mega-bestseller and has been published in over twenty languages.

Both books became standard recommendations when our cancer groups and meditation retreats began. 

Thay has definitely been one of my spiritual heroes.

The Meeting

Travelling as this is being written I cannot be sure of the date. My guess is it was late 80’s. But I sure do remember the meeting! One does not expect a teaching from a spiritual hero to be so explosive that physical violence seemed a real possibility.

My invitation came courtesy of someone who knew of my work with mindfulness and meditation and I was one of only a handful of non-Vietnamese in an audience of around 100, all gathered for an afternoon with Thich Nhat Hahn. I was excited! 

It turned out the audience was primarily Vietnamese refugee boatpeople. 

Thay was introduced by an incredibly beautiful and self-assured woman. 

Thay himself is a very small, very quiet person with a huge presence. 

The crowd was restless, even agitated from the beginning.

The agitation built rather quickly as Thay first spoke of the benefits of mindfulness and then moved on to address the elephant in the room – the pirates. 

At the time, the mayhem created by the pirates was well known and it transpired later Thay was travelling to countries where refugees had settled with the intention of helping relieve their suffering. 

This was the Melbourne leg of the tour!

The message was simple. Stay with the anger, the blame, the rage and continue to suffer personally, or learn to forgive and possibly move on a little and be free to live again. 

Simple message. Incendiary effect.

As the forgiveness message was developed, a corresponding agitation grew and rippled through the audience. I was sitting in the middle of the small hall in which the crowd was rapidly becoming electric. Men were rising in their seats muttering and cursing, women were calling out, and the very real threat of violence was building. Never been in a meeting like it…

The offended 

Finally, a man just in front of me exploded, jumped to his feet and hurled Vietnamese abuse at Thay. The moderator – the beautiful woman – calmly asked him to speak in English! The man switched without missing a beat and I suspect backed up a little to start again…

“How dare you suggest we forgive! 

What gives you the right to speak in such a way to those of us who lost so much.”


The man was screaming and the man beside him was holding him as if to prevent him lunging forward at Thay.

“My family was attacked by pirates. 

They bound me then went to rape one of my daughters. My wife tried to intervene. They shot her and threw her overboard. Then they raped my daughter, shot her and threw her overboard. My younger daughter they raped but let her live. 

How dare you talk to me of forgiveness!”



I had never seen a good idea – that of forgiveness – so powerfully challenged in real life. 

The force of this heart-broken man, the anguish and pain in his voice combined with a rage that was palpable physical. The force of his words; if he had hit Thay, it would not have been much different. And he was not alone; pretty well everyone in the room was at breaking point. 

I waited with some apprehension to see how Thay would respond. Was it possible to turn this around? To transform the energy that was so angry? Was he even going to get out of the hall in one piece?

The Response

I was close enough to observe. Thay was visibly moved and in my own impure observation, a little taken aback. But he was seated as he spoke and he paused. He very deliberately sat back in his chair– just a little – and consciously breathed. I could see it and it left an indelible impression. He returned to his breath; took a few almost imperceptibly deliberate, steading breaths, held his silence for just a few moments and the began to speak in the same calm and steady voice he had been using before the tirade.

These were the days before talks were routinely recorded and it was no time to be taking notes, so I am not quite sure exactly how he did it. He did begin by acknowledging the man’s pain… of course anyone in his situation would be devastated and suffering deeply. He did this with such open sincerity and for long enough that the man began to listen.

Then somehow he skilfully shifted to the pirates and speculated on what sort of life they had led to get to where they could perpetrate such horrors on others. 

As the enraged man settled a little more and the conversation could advance, Thay pointed out how these pirates started as fisherman who lived simple subsistence lives, totally dependent on the sea for food. 

When overfishing from outsiders depleted their food sources and their own families faced starvation, they turned to progressively more aggressive ways of making a living.

There was no pretence that what the pirates did was OK, just an invitation to be a little understanding. An invitation to rethink the context of the trauma they created. An invitation to compassion.

Then Thay moved on to ask the man about how it felt for him personally to suffer so much. At this point the man moved from rage to tears. Between sobs, he spoke fitfully of how much he loved his wife and daughters and of all that had been lost. The mood in the hall by now was also swinging as the audience was also caught in the feeling of collective pain.

Finally – why not forgive? Maybe it is possible? It will not change the fact of what you have been through, but maybe it will free you to live and love more fully once again???

The Aftermath

I do not know how the man’s life unfolded from there; I do hope he found some peace amidst what were extra-ordinarily difficult times.

But for myself, I had witnessed an incredible example of how to be with someone in full on rage; how staying calm and centred made it possible to engage empathetically and compassionately in the face of what seemed initially to be an overwhelming challenge.

While never having a similar confrontation, my work with people impacted by major illness and loss created many highly emotional situations. So I am pleased to be able to retell this story and to acknowledge that Thich Nhat Hahn provided a template for how to be with someone in extreme circumstances.

Thich Nhat Hahn’s list of accomplishments 

is almost unbelievable and well worth reading – LINK HERE. Staggering actually. What a man! What a pleasure to have had some small connection.

In the next blog, visiting Plum Village, listening to Thay in person, walking mindfully and presenting retreats with his monks…

17 January 2022

The essentials for radical healing – hope, belief and technique

During my decades of working with people affected by cancer, we observed many issues that were regarded as difficult or impossible to manage which actually resolved in large part or even completely disappeared. Chronic pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, PTSD; the list actually does go on… And this is not being immodest – our groups were presented by an excellent team and involved a multi-layered, fully integrated approach that seemed to work for many people. You could describe this as radical healing.

Every now and then a new research article comes along that provides an explanation, an insight into something that has been observed like this over time, and in doing so, points to a whole range of new possibilities.

The research in question addresses chronic pain. It demonstrates how a combination of mindfulness and instruction in how underlying stressors and psychological contributors to persistent pain as well as conditioned pain responses and fear avoidant behaviours outperform other forms of treatment for chronic pain.

So this week we examine the insights this specific research provides, and then examine the more general question – what is the potential for this combination to work for other conditions? But first

          Thought for the day

Even in the greatest yogi, 

Sorrow and joy still arise just as before. 

The difference between an ordinary person and the yogi 

Is how they view their emotions and react to them.

An ordinary person will instinctively accept or reject them, 

And so arouse the attachment or aversion 

That will result in the accumulation of negative karma.

A yogi, however, perceives everything that rises 

In its natural, pristine state, 

Without allowing grasping to enter their perception.

                                               Sogyal Rinpoche

 FIRST THE SPECIFIC EXAMPLE OFFERED BY BACK PAIN

64% pain free six months after new treatment

Chronic back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the United States, patients spend up to $300 billion each year to treat the condition. However, common therapies such as surgery and steroid injections intended to address the physical origins of back pain have not been clearly proven to work in randomized clinical trials.

Researcher Dr. Michael Donnino : “The current paradigm of pain management focuses mostly on treatment of a physical origin of pain, however, in many cases of chronic back pain a physical source of pain cannot be identified. Our group focused on the hypothesis that non-specific back pain is the symptomatic manifestation of a psychological process, substantively driven by stress, repressed emotions and other psychological processes. The exact mechanism remains unclear, but an analogy could be made to other known effects of acute emotional states, such as how the emotion of embarrassment may result in the capillary vasodilation we know as blushing.”

Donnino and colleagues’ experimental 12 week program, termed Psychophysiologic Symptom Relief
Therapy (PSRT), is designed to address the psychological aspects of chronic pain. 

Treatment strategies include educating patients about the links between stressors and pain. 

Armed with this knowledge, participants learn healthier ways to process stress and express emotions. 

The program also focuses on desensitization or reverse conditioning to help patients break the associations that often are formed with triggers of pain such as bending or sitting.

“Often these triggers are assumed to be the cause of pain, but they are perhaps better described as associations that can be unknowingly conditioned in a way similar to how Pavlov conditioned dogs to salivate to a bell by pairing the bell with food,” Donnino noted. “Our program works to reverse these conditioned responses and thus improve pain and pain disability.”

Eight weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction training, or MBSR, is included in the program.

Participants in the study were randomly assigned to receive either the novel 12-week PSRT intervention, eight weeks of MBSR only, or usual care under the guidance of their physicians without influence from the study team. 

After just 4 weeks, researchers saw an astonishing 83% decrease in reported pain disability in the PSRT group compared to 22% and 11% in the MBSR and usual care groups respectively. With regard to pain bothersomeness over the same time period, the PSRT group had a 60% drop compared to 8% and 18% decreases in pain bothersomeness for the mindfulness and usual care groups, respectively.

The PSRT group was superior to both usual care and MBSR for the primary endpoint of pain disability at
every time interval. 

Moreover, at the end of 6-months, 64% of patients with chronic back pain in the PSRT group were completely pain free (reporting 0 out 10 on a pain scale) whereas only 25% and 17% reported being pain free in the mindfulness and usual care arms, respectively.

Donnino said “When patients recognize the relationship between the mind and their physical pain, this orientation sheds new light and provides them a basis to engage with the multifaceted program that works interchangeably to improve pain and disability. This study shows that our program has the potential to be highly beneficial when compared to both usual care as well as usual care plus additional treatments such as MBSR.”

The research details - with link to the original paper:

Donnino, M W et al: Psychophysiologic symptom relief therapy for chronic back pain: a pilot randomized controlled trial, PAIN Reports: Sept/Oct 2021 - Volume 6 - Issue 3 - p e959 

THE WIDER IMPLICATIONS

People often came to our cancer groups feeling hopeless, having the belief there was nothing that could be done for them or that they could do for themselves; plus they knew no self-help techniques with the potential to effect change. The groups first provided a paradigm – a way of thinking about or understanding their situation that made sense of how their problems had arisen, what was going on at a physiological, psychological and spiritual level, and provided real hope based on the experience of others that they could recover. Then we taught them a range of self-help techniques, along with ways to evaluate and get the best out of conventional medical treatments and appropriate natural therapies. 

My contention is this study helps explain why people in our cancer groups reported a wide cross section of excellent results. The health education we provide helped make sense of what they were experiencing – where their issues came from, what had been perpetuating them, and how they might diminish or drop them altogether.

Then we taught them a range of self-help techniques, along with ways to evaluate and get the best out of conventional medical treatments and appropriate natural therapies.

This new piece of research triggered the insight : the essential elements required for major self-healing are hope, belief and technique.

The contention is this study helps explain why the people in our cancer groups did report such a wide cross section of excellent results. As in the study, the health education we provided helped make sense of what our people were experiencing and what could be done about it. This provided belief. 

Armed with this knowledge and the belief it created, they still needed tools (things to do) to break old, unhealthy patterns and to create new healthy ones that heal. So we encouraged good nutrition, affirmations, imagery, deep relaxation, mindfulness, contemplation on the beliefs, the meaning and the purpose of their illness, and of course, meditation as the mainstay.

Their belief opened the way to hope, and once they began to engage with the techniques and personally felt the benefit, their hope became solid. 

With hope, belief and technique all actively engaged, radical healing flows.

THE SADNESS

The programs the team and I offered at the Foundation for decades are to my knowledge, no longer available in their entirety. Happily, individual elements of them are widely available – as in the freshly researched and excellent pain management approach that combines a good paradigm with mindfulness – but I wonder when it might be that rather than testing just 2 things, the whole gamut of possibilities is investigated? 

We were unable to obtain funding for such research back in the day; what will the future bring? 

A WIDER RELEVANCE

What we are discussing here is the basis of self healing. These 3 elements of hope, belief and technique apply to a wide range of disease conditions and symptoms that accompany those diseases. This is why we observed people turning around sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, PTSD and so on. 

My own hope is we will see more research in these other areas, and a wider uptake of the principles at a mainstream level. The potential is vast… 

POSSIBILITIES

i) The books

The program we used is detailed in my book You Can Conquer Cancer. There is a specific chapter on pain management and all the other techniques are clearly set out.

The audiobook is available for downloading  HERE. Many people tell me they worked it out for themselves from this book.

You might find extra help with meditation from my book Blue Sky Mind

Also, The Mind that Changes Everything examines how the mind works and how we can use it to best advantage. It includes details of 50 Mind-Body Medicine techniques.

ii) The downloads

Downloads are available detailing every aspect of the program and can be obtained HERE

iii) The App – Allevi8

Allevi8 is a mindfulness and meditation based practice app where you can access specific healing techniques to address the symptoms associated with significant physical and mental illness. Deep relaxation, mindfulness, contemplation, guided imagery and meditation are all featured. 

With options to listen to the voice of my wife Ruth or myself, it has short video introductions setting out the paradigm for each of the symptoms and many other features including access to one-to-one online teaching from excellent meditation teachers.

Download from your app store – Allevi8.

 Bon Chance!

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If you are interested in my rather radical way of treating my own back pain, here it is…

Something I would not recommend