Drs Ian and Ruth Gawler

all about meditation and healing for nearly 50 years

Events in 2024/2025: for Meditation Teacher Training and Retreats Click HERE


We offer realistic hope through teaching and supporting the implementation of self-help techniques that are practical and evidence based and lead to inner peace and life extension.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions we are asked regularly. If you have any other questions please contact us

What qualifications does Ian have?

Ian began his working life as a Veterinarian, having qualified BVSc from the University of Melbourne in 1972 . Later he completed a Masters in Counselling and Human Services at La Trobe University (MCouns HS) in 1999. He has attended countless conferences, trainings and workshops around the world and has studied extensively in Lifestyle Medicine and Mindbody Medicine. He has had two main meditation mentors: Dr Ainslie Meares and the late great Tibetan Teacher Sogyal Rinpoche.

What do we recommend and why?
Eat good food and meditate really sums up our advice in the most succinct way !
We teach Mindfulness-based Stillness Meditation (MBSM) which is explained and taught through Ian’s latest book Blue Sky Mind, it is also written about in prior books he wrote Meditation – Pure and Simple and  Meditation-An In-depth Guide. 
We also teach Emotional Health, the power of the mind and forgiveness, now mainly through downloads. Some meditations are designed to help with this and use healing imagery and visualisation. These meditations feature both on the Webstore and in a number of places on the free Meditation App Ian co-created with Saurabh Mishra called Allevi8.
While there are many different ways to learn meditation, in our experience MBSM is an ideal method for everyone interested in health, healing and wellbeing. There are also a number of these meditations available in download through the Webstore – Meditation.
What is Lifestyle Medicine?
Lifestyle Medicine is concerned with what you can do for your own health, healing and wellbeing in the course of your normal daily life. So Lifestyle Medicine is to do with the therapeutic value of what you eat and drink, whether you smoke or not, how much you exercise and get out in the sun, the quality of your relationships, your mental state and the power of your mind, relaxation, meditation techniques and your spiritual life (meaning and purpose in your life).
A more formal definition is that Lifestyle Medicine is the application of environmental, behavioural, medical and motivation principles to the management of lifestyle related health problems in the clinical setting. This is what we advocate and largely teach people.
Do we still practise professionally?
Ian retired from his Veterinary work way back in 1985 and while he is still registered as a veterinarian, he is not practising as such. Ian is still working in the field of health promotion, research and meditation mentoring through Allevi8. In 2020 Ian was instrumental in the establishment of Centres for Contemplative Studies at Monash and Melbourne Universities. Both these centres are in their development phase and commence student intakes in 2022. Ian is on the Advisory Board of both Centres.
Ruth is still a Medical Practitioner with a Masters in GPPsych and Training in the Family Medicine Program as a Vocationally registered GP, she is a member of the RACGP. She currently runs a small private practice.
We are interested in preventing illness and being really well. What about wellbeing?
A healthy lifestyle is the best way we can prevent illness, contribute to our own recovery from illness and be really well. We have helped many people in sport, business, people who were studying and working in all areas of society and those just simply aiming to live well. In our modern world if we are keen to be really healthy in our older age, a healthy making lifestyle is now essential.
As we see it, it all starts with “the mind”. 
The mind decides much about our lifestyle: what we eat, drink, how much we exercise, who we hang out with etc. 
The state of our mind and all the choices we make are crucial in how well we are. Our downloads feature a designated section for Wellbeing: Mind Training and Emotional Health are a good places to begin, although you can just start with any of these lessons. 
There is also much to be gained from reading You Can Conquer Cancer and The Mind That Changes Everything in order to be your healthiest and prevent yourself from becoming unwell.
What is with the kaftan?
Ian tends not to be asked about this a lot, but he is told many people are curious. He had his right leg amputated through the hip to remove bone cancer (osteogenic sarcoma) in 1975. He tried a prosthesis (or artificial leg), but because of his very high amputation it was uncomfortable and cumbersome.
Being a very active decathlon athlete at the time of the amputation, he soon found crutches gave him better mobility and comfort. Then came the issue of what to wear? He says that he found the aesthetic of tucking the missing leg of his trousers into his waist very disconcerting, as was cutting off that unwanted section of his pants.
It was suggested that he try a kaftan; a suggestion he reacted to very unkindly at first. However, once he got over the initial hurdle and tried one on, he found it was amazingly comfortable and aesthetically more balanced. He has been wearing kaftans ever since.
Does Ian "practice what he preaches"?
This is what we love about our work. We do not recommend or suggest to someone else anything we have not done ourselves, and often, are still doing.
In fact, working in this way is a powerful reminder to us to maintain what we know is good for us. At home we follow the Wellness Diet as set out in You Can Conquer Cancer. Occasionally we eat seafood, but less and less. We believe that when you are well , what you eat mostly is important. What you eat occasionally is no big deal. However, when you are dealing with major illness, what you eat all the time is important. So at home these days we eat really well with much of what we eat coming out of our large organic garden. We love eating out from time to time, and we know where our boundaries are when it comes to what to eat, and what not to eat. We meditate on average around one hour each day and we do our best to follow the other recommendations that we share with others.
Many people these days seem to grossly underestimate the impact of what they do within their lifestyle on their health and wellbeing. Also, they do not realise the therapeutic benefits of this approach for healing. In our experience it is really profound.
What we do, what we teach, what we help others with is our way of life. 
What can Ian and Ruth help with?
These days Ian’s work is generally shared through his books, Ian’s blog, our presentation downloads – healing, wellbeing and meditation downloads. The videos available here are also very inspiring and historically accurate.  
Additionally now there is the free Allevi8 App and the Meditation Mentor program attached to that App. Ian guides and leads that online program. 
Ian continues to share his practical wisdom and understanding of healing to interested groups or organisations. He has also collated much high quality research into meditation for various medical and psychological conditions and he continues to have great interest in research.
 Recently Ian was instrumental (in collaboration with a major donor) in initiating and organising the creation of Centres for Contemplative Studies at Melbourne and Monash Universities, opening to students in 2022.
 If you have funds and would like to help people, do something really useful to assist people to manage these difficult times we live in, Ian has really good ideas. He and Ruth can be contacted via our website.
What diet do Ian and Ruth recommend and why?
Good food is one essential part of healthy living. Healthy food can be delightfully tasty and eating can be a cause for great joy!
Base upon our own personal experience, research, and work with thousands of people, we recommend what I call the Wellness Diet for the average person and for those wanting a sound, readily accessible therapeutic approach. For those with major illness and who are seeking to engage more fully with therapeutic nutrition, there is what we refer to as the Healing Diet.
These days many people use the advice of their Doctor, Naturopath or Dietician, and they may well have different ideas about what is best for you. You need to be discriminating about who/what you put your confidence in. There are a number of food related articles on Ian’s blog which include some of the more debated issues, and you can just search on that site.
Clearly there are always some exceptions to most recommendations in health. However, our recommendations are based on over 35 years of clinical experience in helping people to get the best results recovering from major illness, and longterm wellbeing.
Ultimately, we believe that if you meditate regularly your body will let you know what is good for it. Our Wellness diet is a good place to start, and will help to detoxify and tune you into what is, and what is not, working for you.
For more information on these diets please CLICK HERE
What is Integrative Medicine?

Good medicine has always taken into account the whole person – body, emotions, mind and spirit. In fact, medical history will probably regard it as a bit of an oddity that for a time towards the end of the last century, some doctors and members of the public approached health and healing in a mechanical way, focusing upon the isolated systems and organs in the body only, as if the whole body, emotions, mind and spirit were not involved.

Yet everyone knows that if you are feeling stressed, you are much more likely to pick up a cold or the flu. After a good holiday, when you are feeling at peace with yourself and the world, you are usually immune to just about everything!

So these days we talk of integrative medicine – medicine that consciously addresses the whole person. Just like good medicine has always done. Integrative medicine has been defined as the blending of conventional and natural/complementary medicines and/or therapies with the aim of using the most appropriate of either or both modalities to care for the patient as a whole. Integrative Medicine considers the person’s body, emotions, mind and spirit. Integrative Medicine is open to integrating the services of a wide range of health practitioners and modalities in a way that is often described as Holistic Medicine.

Integrative medicine has a broad view. It is interested in how our body is affected by our environmental and our emotional and mental state. It is concerned with matters of the heart and spirit, knowing that issues that affect our sense of purpose and meaning in life can affect our health dramatically. Integrative medicine is also interested in complementary therapies and self-help techniques. The widespread acceptance of acupuncture and meditation shows how much medicine has opened to new possibilities. Complementary therapies often involve more natural methods. In fact recent research shows that both Americans and Australians spend more of their own money on complementary than orthodox medical therapies.

Many doctors, especially GPs, are responding to this by studying or practising complementary medicine. Also, many of these therapies, such as naturopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture and many others, are offered by non-medical practitioners.

When choosing an IM practitioner to help you, it is always wise to consider their qualifications and experience. Personal recommendations are very helpful. Always regard your first visit to a new practitioner as an exploratory one – chance to explain your history, be assessed, and for you to assess the practitioner. Only proceed if you feel confident in the practitioner and their advice.

When it comes to self-help techniques there is a great deal that you can do. What you eat makes a huge difference to your health; as does your state of mind, level of physical and mental relaxation and the degree of inner peace you mostly have.
An Integrative Medicine (IM) doctor or qualified Naturopath could help you to get started, and there are now many good self-help books available.
Ian’s book You Can Conquer Cancer (a best seller in continuous production since 1985, revised regularly) is highly recommended. 
Since it is also largely about prevention and how to adopt a healthy lifestyle, it would be a good place to start.
Is what we do "Alternative Medicine"?

Definitely not – in the way this question is normally asked!

It is important to understand that when it comes to alternative medicine there are two types:

  • Proven Alternative Medicine which includes alternative medical systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. These alternative medical systems represent a different paradigm of health care when compared to Conventional Western Medicine. They have long proven histories in their own cultural contexts. These are not things we are directly involved with, although we do respect them.
  • Unproven Alternative Medicine – sometimes described as Unorthodox, Unconventional or Unproven Medicine and or therapies. This generally describes medical interventions that are not widely taught at medical school, not generally provided at hospitals and are outside peer accepted mainstream medicine. Examples include aromatherapy, intravenous chelation and ozone therapy. Again, we are not involved in providing these types of treatments.
Unfortunately, the term “Alternative therapies” has been used widely in conventional medical circles to discredit a wide range of “non-conventional” medical treatments or approaches. The term is often used almost as an insult. However, we have known some people who have found various alternative therapies helpful in  but it is very fraught to make any recommendations of these varied non-conventional approaches. We emphasise the importance of Lifestyle Medicine as the basis of any other treatments you are having. This approach focuses on what each individual can do to help their own health, capacity for healing, and their own wellbeing. 
What we recommend has all to do with good nutrition, utilising the power of your mind, meditation and the active support of those around you. This is not an “alternative”. This is good common sense which happily does happen to be backed up by a good evidence base. It has become more and more positively accepted in mainstream medicine.
We suggest you carefully look at what you are being offered, understand the specific therapies proposed, and what is involved in having the treatment. Also relevant is the qualifications and authenticity of treating doctor/therapist, and your own regular meditation. Take time to assess any alternative or conventional therapies you have been recommended.
What is our approach to medical treatments for cancer and other illnesses?
We have always been committed to what works best. Clearly there is a great deal of good in modern medicine and oncology specifically. We highly value surgery (it was one of Ian’s great loves as a veterinarian) and general medicine, particularly as it applies in acute situations like infections and traumatic accidents.
When it comes to cancer treatment, the fact is most modern medical treatments involve an equation of possible benefits balanced by possible adverse side effects. How this balance applies to any one person is an individual issue that requires an accurate diagnosis and then a thorough consideration of the possibilities and options. It is clear that in many instances chemotherapy for example will be a very good option; just as in some cases it will not make sense because the potential benefits do not warrant the potential side effects.
What we do advocate is the rational, evidence-based assessment of the options and that when people do decide to take up a particular treatment, that they commit themselves to it whole-heartedly,  and do all that they can to maximise the benefits and minimise any side effects.
What is on offer for pets with cancer?
A good deal! As with humans, when pets are affected by cancer there is what can be done for them by veterinary treatments, and then there is what can be done through other possibilities. Before Ian retired from veterinary practice, he treated many dogs and cats with cancer. There was very little specific veterinary “oncology” in those days and they tended to rely on surgery for the immediate treatment of cancer.
However, in many cases what Ian found most useful was to put the animals onto a natural diet – not canned or dog biscuits – with some key supplements. The detail of this approach is presented as a supplement in the back of “You Can Conquer Cancer”.
Also, there are a variety of complementary therapies that may be useful. There is a growing group of holistic veterinary practitioners in Australia and other countries and they would be good people to contact for help in this regard. Ian does do not do any veterinary work these days.
Regarding the mainstream veterinary approach; this has advanced quite a deal since Ians days in veterinary practice. However, it is very interesting to note the different emphasis that is taught and followed when compared to the medical/human approach. Ian considers himself very fortunate to be able to quote Dr Tony Moore on this subject. Dr Moore was a recognised leader in this specialised field as well as teaching veterinary undergraduates on the topic. Here is what he has to say: “Cancer is one of the most common diseases in geriatric dogs in the developed world. The importance of cancer in any veterinary practice was highlighted by a Morris Animal Foundation study documenting cancer as the number one health concern of pet owners, both dogs and cats.”
As a subspecialty, veterinary oncology is increasingly important in veterinary practice as client demand for advanced cancer care increases. To meet that need, the treatment of cancer in pets has evolved to parallel treatment in humans, with certain differences. One of the most important differences is in the goal of therapy.
In humans, many cancers are cured, and cancer survivors may enjoy many decades of comfortable life. For this reason, treatment of cancer in humans is aggressive and often associated with strong side effects. On the other hand, most pet owners prefer to avoid strong side effects and prolonged hospitalisation for quality of life reasons. In addition, the intense, specialised supportive care units and strategies for human cancer patients are not available for pets even in private practice specialty centres and university veterinary hospitals. Therapies are therefore primarily directed at maximising quality of life; and the aim is often tumour control, or remission, rather than cure at any cost.
“Remission” means partial or complete reduction of any outward evidence of cancer on examination or routine lab work and imaging (i.e. x-rays), and relief of any symptoms, making the pet feel as normal as possible. It is important to recognise that although a pet’s cancer may not be curable, he or she can enjoy a high quality of life. In this sense cancer is similar to other chronic illnesses in humans such as kidney disease or heart disease, which can often be controlled providing a high quality of life, although they may not actually be curable.
It is important to remember that the pet’s primary caregivers are in the best position to know and meet their pet’s needs and desires. The veterinarian’s most important task is to develop a veterinary health care team that is experienced in cancer care and committed to working with the caregivers as members of that team to provide cutting edge treatment and compassionate care. Compassionate care requires that the patient is as free as possible from the adverse effects of the cancer itself, as well as the treatment. These days there are many very expensive chemotherapies and surgeries on offer. Clearly a market has been created which can leave people having to make very difficult decisions regarding a beloved pet.
Can I download Ian and Ruth's recordings?
MP3 downloads for computers are available from the secure Webstore online, and these can be then transferred onto other devices.
We are fortunate also to have the only Australian Audiobook of You Can Conquer Cancer for purchase on that site. 
These downloads are based on the original teachings in the renown Self-help Cancer Programs that Ian created and facilitated for over 3 decades. 
The meditations downloads are the ones that we recommend for people seeking healing, wellbeing and peace of mind. Unfortunately there are no CDs or books for purchase any longer from us. 
The Allevi8 App is an alternative which has most of the main meditations from Blue Sky Mind, Ian’s most recent meditation book. These are arranged according to the conditions people are needing assistance with eg pain, healing, stress etc 
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Ian's Blog - Out On A Limb