11 November 2023

Meditation Special – Finding Peace in Troubling Times

So what is it that is troubling you? 

The war in Ukraine? In Gaza? 

Environmental Armageddon? 

Cost of living pressures? Financial uncertainty? 

Insecurity? Health matters? 

Family pressures? Relationship issues? 

Study demands? Work pressures? 

Multiple choice… 

Some of the above? 

All of the above? Got your own list? 

For me the latest challenge is moving house – from a farm into a small flat; downsizing and then working out were to from there. Most of us will have plenty going on…

Now, some say it is the good things that tend to distract us most easily from regular meditation practice. However, currently I am hearing from many who feel overwhelmed by all the difficult news, all the troubling people and events that disturb their equilibrium and make sitting to meditation quite difficult. It is as if their minds are so full of "noise", settling into meditation has become nigh on impossible.

Sad really, as either way - with positive distractions or amidst troubling times, meditation has the potential firstly to provide some time out, a moment’s peace, and then lead on to a new way of being that makes life easier all around. But if the “noise” is too strong and is making meditation impossible, what to do?

So this week, how to use meditation when the brain is in overdrive, worrying and anxious; how to find peace in troubling times, but first


         Thought for the day

     The body benefits from movement

       And the mind benefits from stillness

                    Sakyong Mipham

When the mind is racing and you are seeking peace, it is no time to be casual.

Sure, if you are well enough practiced and you can simply observe your mind, that is sufficient. If it is possible for you to be like an impartial observer, to sit back a little as it were, and to simply be aware of all those racing thoughts and their attendant emotions; to do all that and remain both undistracted and non-judgemental, well then yes, you are a solid practitioner and more power to you. No more needed…

But here we are talking of when the mind is overwhelming. When the thoughts race so hard, when the stress is so strong, when the anxiety is building and there is just no separating observer, awareness and all that activity of the mind. 

In this state, it is like the mind is so caught up in thinking and emotion, so engaged with it, something quite strong is needed to bring about a transformation.

This is where meditation technique is paramount. This is exactly the type of situation for which meditation techniques have been developed over the centuries.

And there is one, simply and reliable principle of meditation that works every time, in every troublesome situation.

When we are distracted and find our thoughts to be running riot, we need a single object upon which we can focus. By using the principle of concentration, we cut through all the “noise”. We focus. We concentrate. We narrow our thinking down onto one single thing so there is no room for the “noise”. 

Simple principle. 

Rather than have the mind ranging everywhere, give it just one thing to focus upon, and thereby bring it to a point of stillness. 

Like a sense can focus light down to a single point, so too can the mind focus our thoughts.

This is the key. 

When we concentrate on just one thing; when we focus and concentrate fully, there is no room for other thoughts or emotions. Our mind finds its own natural peace.

So how to do this? The principle is simple – concentration. What to concentrate upon is up to you. You could literally use anything as the focus of your concentration. However, here are a few techniques that have stood the test of time. With some you already may have a familiarity – and maybe the reminder is useful; maybe some new ideas with which to experiment.

1. The Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Over the decades, this is the technique we have found most reliable for inducing deep relaxation of body and mind in a wide range of adverse and troubling situations. 

Concentrate particularly on the feeling in the body as you contract and relax the muscle groups from the feet to the head. 

Check it out, listen to it again on the Allevi8 App under the heading of Deep Relaxation in the Managing Stress and the Being Well sections.

2. Guided Imagery

Again, a very reliable technique. This one is particularly good for beginners and children. 

This type of exercise gives the mind something to focus upon, and when the images suggested have deeper sub-conscious metaphorical meaning, the exercise can be both calming and transformative.

On the Allevi8 App, we use 2 well proven Guided Imagery techniques: the Healing Light exercise (sometimes know more simply as the white light exercise) that is found in the Healing Support section, and the Healing Journey in the Managing Stress section.

So the crucial thing is not to be put off by what may seem to be a simple solution to a complex problem. 

Trouble comes in many guises. 

They all affect our mind, and we can learn to take charge of our mind, use suitable techniques, concentrate, find a moment’s peace, practice regularly and work towards a more stable, long-lasting unshakeable peace.

May you find true and sustaining inner peace… 




  1. Hi Ian I think we need to meditate as per your post but also advocate for a peaceful world - the who reports one child is killed every 10 minutes in Gaza - I really think it’s important to promote peace and highlight the plight of these vulnerable children especially when our government remains silent

  2. A welcome reminder,Ian.

  3. Great newsletter Ian, thankyou!

  4. Dear Dr Gawler.. ever since I learned the Vedic science of Agnihotra (2010), taught by Lee & Frits Ringma, devotees of Shree Vasant, in OmShreeDham, Hunter Valley, NSW.. I have found an inner peace because this practice heals Mother Earth and only when we heal our polluted Earth will we grow truly nutritious food. Namaste Betty L. Khoo-Kingsley, author Cancer Cured & Prevented Naturally 2009.

  5. Namaste dear Ian What a relief from shifting! 💚💚Hope u both find your "where to from here" ✨🙏🏾✨

  6. Thank you, Ian. I have been a long-time follower via your books, St. Michael's Uniting Church in Francis Macnab's time, Dr. Ainslie Meares' books. I have received a huge amount of benefit and I thank you for it.