Lifestyle Medicine

What Ian has been teaching and helping people with for over 30 years is best described as Lifestyle Medicine. Lifestyle Medicine is concerned with what you can do for yourself. How you live your life. What you eat and drink, whether you smoke or not, your level of exercise, your emotional and mental health, the power of your mind including relaxation, meditation and imagery techniques, and your spiritual life.

Conventional Medicine, Complementary Medicine and Alternative Medicine all do things to you, or for you. Lifestyle Medicine is focused on what you can do for yourself. People often underestimate the therapeutic potential of lifestyle factors. The research confirms what Ian has observed over the years, that many people have achieved remarkable recoveries using these principles, often in conjunction with conventional and other therapies. As such, Lifestyle Medicine makes sense in any situation where healing is needed.

For more information about the individual elements of lifestyle medicine click the links below.

Allevi8 – new relaxation, mindfulness, meditation App featuring guided practices with Ian and Ruth Gawler
FREE to download and use; consider paying it forward…
Join the weekly Allevi8@8 meditations led online with Ian, Ruth and guests – details sent on downloading Allevi8
Download from your App Store, or check out the website

Healing from cancer
and other major illness

Since 1981 Ian Gawler has been committed to helping people who are looking to recover from major illness, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a host of autoimmune conditions.

More recently, a lot of good science has shown how powerfully environmental, psychological and lifestyle factors can play a role in recovery from illness in general, and from these chronic degenerative diseases in particular.

Lifestyle is a key to being well, and to healing and staying well. 

It needs to be considered right at the start after a diagnosis has been made, and really complements and supports any medical treatment. 

To be clear, this is not ‘Alternative Medicine’, not even ‘Complementary Medicine’ as such; but something that makes compelling sense in its own right. Lifestyle Medicine focuses on what we can do for ourselves to recover from illness, and improve our prognosis and symptoms. AND it warrants being taken seriously, considered properly and being taken up,  straight away by anyone diagnosed with illness. Anyone planning to add their own resources to the healing equation, is best  NOT waiting until all other avenues have been exhausted.

1. The main book is : You Can Conquer Cancer . 

Use this book to find out more about the lifestyle-based, self help approach , which is Lifestyle Medicine or sometimes referred to as Mindbody Medicine which Ian has been helping people with, for over 45 years. Many people who followed the guidelines in this book report it dramatically turned their health and their life around for the better.

If you have a member of the family or friend who you think may be interested in the Gawler approach, the book is an easy way to introduce them these methods. With the book, they can dip into it as they feel to, consider its contents and then decide if this approach is for them. 

The Australian Audiobook of You Can Conquer Cancer on our website is the only one available of its kind. It needs to be downloaded to a computer first, and then can be transferred to the device of your choice for listening. Of course you can listen on your computer too.

 2. Healing Downloads 
( unfortunately Cds no longer available)

i) The Gawler Cancer Program 

Ian Gawler survived a particularly difficult cancer more than 45 years ago. In these downloads he discusses lessons learned from long-term survivors, important facts about how cancer develops, how your body can be activated to heal, plus important advice on how to combine the best medical and self-help options.

ii) What to do when someone you love has cancer 

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, family and friends are deeply affected. Usually these people then attempt to be as helpful as possible, frequently with very little prior experience or knowledge as to what actually will be most useful. Sometimes they withdraw, sometimes they are intrusive, over helpful or even bossy! Of course they would be, as they are likely feeling emotional ….. Giving them this download compilation, asking them to share and discuss it amongst family and friends can be very useful.

This download compilation contains helpful information, practical wisdom and simple but profound ways of supporting the families and friends of anyone diagnosed with cancer. Ian explains what being positive thinking really is – which is not about being stoic – but about having the optimal mindset for recovery, and how families and friends can create and maintain a  helpful environment. 

3. The Gawler Cancer Foundation Programs

Attending a group or a residential program is the ideal way to put the Gawler approach into practice, however these are no longer running. Nevertheless we believe that you should read this to decide what is on offer as an alternative. (Gawler Program)

Specific Guidance

All the following aspects of cancer management and recovery are covered in You Can Conquer Cancer. And downloads specific to each aspect are detailed in each section. This like is a summary of that book.

1. Stillness Meditation

Meditation provides the ideal first step because it deals with stress, and certainly the diagnosis of a major illness in itself is stressful. Let alone the added current Covid anxieties and hospital tensions. And this will help you to regain balance in body, mind and spirit and powerfully supports the healing process.  We recommend the Allevi8 App  and the Monday evening gatherings on zoom led by Ian, Ruth and their team. 

Meditation brings a calm and clear mind, leading to better decision-making and to acting most appropriately. If quality of life is your prime aim, begin with two or three meditation sessions of ten to twenty minutes daily, and once it is working well, maintain one or two sessions of ten to twenty minutes daily.

If you want to gain maximum benefit from meditation, begin with three sessions daily of whatever period you feel comfortable with and build as rapidly as possible to three sessions of 40 minutes, up to one hour each session. This recommendation is Ian’s and is based on the work of Dr Ainslie Meares  (direct link to it videos on our site with Ainslie Meares here) who was his mentor and teacher in his own recovery.

Ian recommends reading the book Blue Sky Mind, his latest meditation book available at Booktopia

 and that you also use the downloads in which Ian or Ruth will guide you through all the meditation practices featured in the book – Blue Sky Mind downloads.


2. Imagery Meditation

Imagery can be a useful ‘optional extra’ to add to the meditation once the Stillness meditation and deep physical relaxation is going well. Establish that meditation method first. 

The mind has 2 aspects – Active and Still, and we need some familiarity with Stillness before engaging the active aspect.  Imagery or Visualisation Meditation (using either descriptor)  uses the Active, (wilful, directive, cognitive) side of the mind. Imagery meditation engages both the conscious and unconscious parts of the Active mind. Whereas Stillness Meditation relies on awareness, relaxation and the spacious aspect of the mind. (the Still mind).

In Imagery Meditation we use the gentle, reliable methods which rely on archetypal images. These are universal symbols for healing – water and light. There are 2 main meditations :

 the White Light Imagery – (either having the light coming into the body with the breath or coming from a source above us) and The Healing Journey – introduced and led by Ian on the Mindbody Medicine  downloads and also previously referred to as the Journey of Transformation. These are also on the Allevi8 App as Healing Light and Healing Journey (direct link to it here)

If you choose to use more active and personalized healing images, make sure that you read and study Ian’s book The Mind the Changes Everything. This will add extra clarity and more understanding for how to do it. 

For this, you may really benefit from seeking qualified meditation guidance. The Allevi8 Mentor program can be most helpful for this.


3. Nutrition

 Once the meditation is becoming integrated into your day,  in a regular way consider your dietary choices. The average Western diet is high in fat, protein, salt, sugar, alcohol and refined foods; fibre and vitamin and mineral intakes may be inadequate. So, for many people going to a whole-food plant-based diet (good food) can be a challenge. However, it is frequently very important for healing. And diet needs to be addressed. However, do recognise that, dietary change has the potential to be stressful. Make friends with your food! Take some time to think the changes through, discuss them, and plan for them. Be clear on your aims and choices and take your time in preparing for the change. Meditation makes change easier. These days there are so many “expert opinions” on what is good food and many of them quite ill-informed. Be careful of the advice you follow and look into the credentials and experience of the person advising you.

After more than 45 years, of helping people with major illness, we have had much more experience than many folk who disagree. We are convinced that what we teach is the best nutrition for most people, of course there are always individual issues that need to be addressed. This is the age of too much information and too little reliability on what is presented as fact. So rely on what your body tells you (once you have had detox) and what evidence and clinical experience is actually advising you. Unfortunately most Dieticians have had very limited training and are often unhelpful for healing from major illness. Beware food has become both politically, environmentally and economically complicated.

When you are well, what you eat most of the time is what matters. When you are dealing with major illness, what you eat ALL the time is what matters.  

For full details of Ian’s recommendations, go to the Nutritions Page here.


4. Positive Thinking

Detailed on the downloads called Mind Training. 

and elaborated upon in Ian’s book The Mind that Changes Everything. 

With meditation – both Mindfulness into Stillness and Imagery Meditation,  good Nutrition , Positive Thinking completes the 4 basic ingredients of healing and wellbeing.

If you do feel depressed or negative, start by working on a creative activity- a hobby or enlivening activity. By actually doing something physical and engaging, you will set the whole process in motion. Gardening is Ian’s favourite activity as it also includes being in nature and exercise, both of which have good healing properties. Exercise also warrants being a strong priority, in its own right – aim for 30 minutes daily. It helps if you sweat a bit or are panting a bit, as this increases the oxygenation and perfusion of the bodies tissues and organs.

5. Healing Emotions

Detailed on the download called Emotional Health 

Relationships frequently require as much healing as the physical body. Make peace, and find ease, with as much as you can. Use the imagery technique of forgiveness detailed on the the download Inner Peace Inner Wisdom once your meditation is working well. 

On Allevi8 we recommend the power of Gratitude meditation under Finding Meaning and Purpose in Challenge the drop down menu titles.

Your immediate family may need revision of these healing principles just as much as you do. Often it is “the patient” whose physical symptoms reflect a malaise involving one or several other closely associated people. Often patterns in relationships do need to be reviewed and updated. Encourage your family to support you and to join you in as much  as possible, particularly the big three: meditation, eating well and positive thinking. You may well find it easier to do than they do. Don’t be put off by their resistance to change!

6. Pain Relief

Ian introduces the theory and leads the pain relief meditations on the download Effective Pain Management. There is also a good presentation on the downloads page, explaining the mindset with pain.

The knowledge that we can improve our own pain management skills has been a source of relief, empowerment and deep comfort for many people. For many, it has actually transformed their lives. Learning and practising these pain management exercises  starts with learning Deep Physical Relaxation and then being aware of the other possibilities outlined in You Can Conquer Cancer and in the book Meditation : An In-Depth Guide.

7. Consideration of Death and Dying

Detailed in the download of Understanding Death and Helping the Dying. 

Perhaps paradoxically, the experience here, is that the better prepared we are for death, the easier it is to live well; and it may well be, and the more likely we are to recover! So this is another vitally important issue that is best acknowledged, contemplated, discussed and then used as inspiration to live well, and to live fully with the limited precious time that we all have.

These downloads are excellent to listen to with those you are close to, and then to use it as a catalyst for meaningful discussion. These downloads are also very useful for health practitioners – doctors or nurses helping those nearing the end of life. And in fact Ian’s work in this has directly influenced the whole way death is currently approached by the hospices and palliative care teams in Australia.

There is something we call a “good death” and when the time comes, we all want that.

Having a good death is usually possible when one prepares for it well. Do be reassured, with fears confronted and allayed, many people who have followed this path, when their time does come, do have a good death. 

Read the chapter on this in the book You Can Conquer Cancer or listen to You Can Conquer Cancer – Unabridged Audiobook – it is often the chapter people skip, not realising the importance and impact longterm of going through the fears and thinking about it.

It happens to all of us eventually and preparing mentally, and in other practical ways, makes good sense. Not just for you, but also your loved ones. It gives them permission to be more open and have a better psychological resolution of their grief.

8. Spiritual Development

For most people this is challenging as we live in a mostly secular culture, but this is another essential for finding meaning and purpose in the challenges of recovery. And when recovery does not happen this can be vital for finding real inner peace. Recognise that our endeavours in this area may be the most important of all.

Religion – Follow your own preferences and inclinations here. Very few people change their religion through an experience with disease, but many find their convictions challenged. For some this leads to newfound strength. For others a feeling of being let down. This may well be a time to explore your spirituality in more depth, as it can be such a source of power and strength.

Reflection, Introspection, Contemplation – Highly recommended as long as they are not associated with guilt or other destructive emotions like shame. Seek to understand your self and your past. Get help from someone professional if you are stuck in blame, resentment or bitterness. These feelings can be very obstructive to healing physically, emotionally and spiritually. Accept your present situation and commit to improving your health and wellbeing. Do this as joyfully as possible, knowing there are always more choices than we first realise. Seek to really understand your own personal path to a happier, healthier tomorrow. 

Belief system – Your belief system can either limit your horizons or leave you free to soar above most situations with a smile on your face. Spend time reading, thinking, in contemplation, and in evolving your own theories. Open yourself to the many possibilities

Spiritual Healing – This may be catalysed by others, but often it comes with personal, inner experience. 

Learning to know and appreciate your own spiritual essence, is an integral part of  finding self-love, enduring peace of mind and working out what is actually in your best longterm interests. Becoming more familiar with this leads to a love of life and flows on to other people. Once you can whole-heartedly love yourself, you can more clearly recognise the best in others. Then you can see when they too are seeking to be free of limitations and to express themselves. You become easier to “get along with”  and naturally more at ease.  Along with this, you can realise that it is not enough to dwell in spiritual ideas, it needs to be realised in your actions and values. And your body needs to given due consideration

Healing is complete when harmony is found in body, mind and spirit.



Many people these days have been told of their genetic predisposition to developing a cancer that runs in their family. Others just know that currently we live with higher rates of cancer than ever before.  Not just higher incidence, but also, often having earlier onset and more aggressive variants. 

Our advice is that overall the same principles apply. Probably  environmental degradation and toxins, the breakdown of real family and community support, and the faster pace of life are all more significant than they were 50 years ago. The degree to which you apply our principles depends on your particular situation, your priorities, beliefs and expectations.

As an ideal prevention program that would lead to good health and wellbeing, we recommend:

Meditation: Ten to twenty minutes once or twice daily.

Nutrition: Start with some sort of detoxification. This can be the Healing Diet as detailed in You Can Conquer Cancer or on Eating For Recovery (direct link to it here). Then we recommend that most of the time you eat according to the Wellness Diet.

The Wellness Diet as detailed in You Can Conquer Cancer and the download Eating Well, Being Well. 

Positive Thinking: Keep developing this, using the techniques already summarised. And through the many books written on the subject, including Ian’s book The Mind that Changes Everything. 

And really make time – yes, make time – to dwell on and implement the recommendations for creative pursuits, spiritual development, positive emotions, pain management, considerations of death and dying, and healing. Prevention is always better than cure.

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Ian's Blog - Out On A Limb