Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler
MEDITATION FOR LIFE
Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler 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?
I began my working life as a veterinarian, having qualified from the University of Melbourne in 1972. Later I completed a Masters in Counseling and Human Services at La Trobe University in 1999. I have attended a huge number of conferences, trainings and workshops around the world and love learning new things. Importantly, for many years I have been a student of the great Tibetan meditation master Sogyal Rinpoche, author of “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”. Through this connection I have been fortunate to learn a great deal about the mind and how it works, as well as how the ancient knowledge and wisdom to do with meditation can be applied in a modern context.
What type of meditation does Ian recommend
Ruth and I primarily teach Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation (MBSM).
The MBSM approach is detailed in my 2 main books on meditation – Meditation – Pure and Simple (easily accessible for beginners), and Meditation – an In-Depth Guide (which is quite comprehensive). If you would like to learn and be supported in this approach via App : Mindbody Mastery which is available at www.mindbodymastery.net
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.
For a full explanation of Mindfulness Based Stillness Meditation CLICK HERE
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, as well as relaxation and meditation techniques and your spiritual 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 I advocate and largely help people with.
Does Ian still practice as a veterinarian?
No. I retired from my veterinary practice way back in 1985 and while I am still registered as a veterinarian, I am not practicing as such.
I am 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. I have helped many people in sport and business, people who were studying or 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 our greatest asset.
It all starts with the mind. The mind decides our lifestyle; what we eat, drink, how much we exercise, who we hang out with; the state of our mind and all the choices we make. So a good place to start to get your mind in the best place for wellbeing is my book: “The Mind that Changes Everything”, while “You Can Conquer Cancer” is also a good starting place for prevention of illness. My CDs feature a designated section for wellbeing – CDW1 Mind-Training is also a good place to begin.
What is with the kaftan?
I tend not to be asked about this a lot, but I am told many people are curious. I had my right leg amputated through the hip to remove bone cancer (osteogenic sarcoma) in 1975. I tried a prosthesis (or artificial leg), but because of my very high amputation it was uncomfortable and cumbersome.
Being a very active decathlon athlete at the time of the amputation, I soon found crutches gave me better mobility and comfort. Then came the issue of what to wear? Personally, I found the aesthetic of tucking the missing leg of my trousers into my waist very disconcerting, as was cutting off that unwanted section of my pants.
It was suggested I try a kaftan; a suggestion I reacted to very unkindly at first. However, once I got over the initial hurdle and tried one on, it was amazingly comfortable and aesthetically more balanced and suitable to my eye. I have been wearing kaftans ever since.
Does Ian "practice what he preaches"?
This is what I love about my work. I do not recommend or suggest to someone else anything I have not done myself, and most commonly am still doing.
In fact, working in this way is a powerful reminder to me to maintain what I know is good for me. I follow the Wellness Diet as set out in You Can Conquer Cancer, including knowing that when you are well, like I am, what you eat mostly is important. What you eat occasionally is no big deal. When you are dealing with major illness, what you eat all the time is important. So at home these days I eat really well with much of what I eat coming out of our large organic garden. I love eating out from time to time, and I know where my boundaries are when it comes to what to eat and what not to eat. I meditate on average around one hour each day and do my best to follow the other recommendations I share with others.
What I do, what I teach, what I help others with is a way of life.
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 my experience it is profound.
How can Ian help me?
I help people with what they can do to help themselves. This is best described as Lifestyle Medicine, being involved with teaching how people can gain therapeutic benefit from what they eat, what they drink, from not smoking, from exercising regularly and gaining the benefits of modest sunlight exposure. I also help people with their emotional and mental health, as well as discussing spiritual matters in a way that is non-denominational and committed to Inter-faith ideals. Put all this together, add the fact that I work collaboratively with medical, allied and natural health practitioners, and you could well say that I truly do work within an Integrative Medicine paradigm.
My work is generally shared through my books and blog, my CDs and the Mindbody Mastery program, as well as the media and speaking engagements. Many people access what I have put together through the Gawler Foundation which I co-founded.
I work for the Gawler Foundation part-time on specific programs.
What diet does Ian 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 my own personal experience, research, and work with thousands of people, I 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 the Healing Diet.
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 you can do. What you eat makes a huge difference to your health; as does your state of mind, level of relaxation and degree of inner peace. An Integrative Medicine practitioner can help you get started and there are many good self-help books available. My own book You Can Conquer Cancer is also largely about prevention and how to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It would be a good place to start.
Is what Ian does "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 I am directly involved with, although I 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, I am 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-medical” treatments or approaches. The term is used almost as an insult.
That aside, it needs to be clear that I recommend what is best described as Lifestyle Medicine. This approach focuses on what each individual can do to help their own health, capacity for healing, and their wellbeing. What I recommend has all to do with good nutrition, utilising the power of the 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 is becoming more and more accepted in mainstream medicine.
What is Ian’s approach to medical treatments for cancer and other illnesses?
I have always been committed to what works best. Clearly there is a great deal of good in modern medicine and oncology specifically. I highly value surgery (it was one of my 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 I do advocate is the rational, evidence-based assessment of the options and that when people do decide to take up a particular treatment, they commit themselves to it, embrace it and do all 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 I retired from veterinary practice, I treated many dogs and cats with cancer. There was very little specific veterinary “oncology” in those days and we tended to rely on surgery for the immediate treatment of cancer.
However, in many cases what I 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. I do not do any veterinary work these days.
Regarding the mainstream veterinary approach; this has advanced quite a deal since my 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. I am very fortunate to be able to quote Dr Tony Moore on this subject. Dr Moore is 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 such as kidney disease or heart disease, which can often be controlled providing a high quality of life, although they may not 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.
Can I download Ian's recordings?
Amidst fast moving times and advances in technology, many are wanting the convenience of digital downloads over physical Compact Discs (CDs). If you are looking to purchase digital audio files and immediately access these wonderful recordings, please visit Ian’s web store at www.iangawlerwebstore.com
This web store carries all of Ian’s books, CD’s, DVD’s and MP3 downloads.