Quite simply, the regular practice of meditation can transform your life for the better!Ian Gawler
Mindfulness and Meditation
You may be taking up meditation to manage stress or to heal physically or mentally, to find more peace and balance in your life, to be more efficient at work or to perform better at sport, or to be a nicer person. Thousands of research articles (look under Research on this site) confirm that all these outcomes can follow with the regular practice of mindfulness and meditation. It makes good sense to begin meditation with any of these intentions in mind.
While meditation has a myriad of well-proven benefits for our health, our healing and our wellbeing, the real gift of meditation is that it helps us to get to know ourselves better and makes us happier. Longterm meditation brings a deep confidence and contentment. A sense that we are fundamentally okay, that life makes sense. And what we are left with, is a natural good humour and an easy smile; the essence of meditation.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
There are many different ways to learn and to practise meditation. Ian Gawler has been one of the pioneers who have brought meditation to prominence in the western world. Since beginning to teach meditation in 1981, through his countless public lectures and workshops, programs and retreats, Ian has introduced meditation directly to over 150,000 people. Having excellent teachers himself, Ian has written 5 bestselling books specifically on the subject.
Mindfulness into Stillness Meditation
Based on all this experience, the main method of meditation Ian and Ruth teach is called Mindfulness into Stillness meditation. This is an ideal method for everyone interested in health, healing and wellbeing.
If you are a beginner, or if you are interested to learn to meditate using our approach, Mindfulness into Stillness meditation is where we recommend you start. Complete details of this meditation are in Ian’s two latest books :
Blue Sky Mind leads methodically and deeply into understanding and developing Mindfulness into Stillness meditation.
Meditation – An In-depth Guide contains a much more comprehensive and complete description and explanation of different kinds of meditation. Best for those who want the scope of meditation described, explanations and choice in the variety of methods.
Ian has developed Mindfulness into Stillness meditation method based on what he has learnt from his teachers, as well as from his own longstanding personal practice, and from the shared experiences and feedback received from the many thousands of people he has taught and with whom he has meditated. Ian’s main teachers, being firstly Dr Ainslie Meares- the true pioneer of therapeutic meditation in the western medical world and author of Relief Without Drugs in 1967, and over 30 years with the great Tibetan meditation master, Sogyal Rinpoche – the author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
What is the aim?
The aim of Mindfulness into Stillness meditation is to learn to deeply relax the body, to calm the mind and to progress using mindfulness into the deeper stillness of meditation.
What is the method?
In Mindfulness into Stillness meditation there are four steps – easy to learn, easy to practise. Those steps are Preparation, Relaxation, Mindfulness and Stillness
1. Preparation covers all the practical details related to where and when we meditate; along with the environment and the supports we use.
2. Relaxation – Here we learn how to consciously relax the body and the mind. To begin with we do this using the Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise. As we progress, we learn to relax more quickly and more deeply, but every time we meditate we begin by relaxing in a conscious and deliberate way.
3. Mindfulness – having relaxed, now we give our attention to practising and developing the capacity to pay attention to our present moment experience, free of any judgment or reaction. We learn to be more ‘in the moment’; more mindful.
4. Stillness. Finally, having prepared well, relaxed and become more mindful, now we learn how to let go into the calm, the clarity and the stillness of deeper meditation. Once the Mindfulness into Stillness method is well established, you may benefit from learning more about other aspects of meditation that we teach, including what can deepen and expand the meditation experience and its benefits.
These additional possibilities are briefly described later, in the section Expanding your Meditation.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BEGINNERS
or those new to this method
1. Start by reading
2. Then, be guided in your practice by Ian and Ruth’s downloads featuring all the Blue Sky Mind techniques. Dr Ruth Gawler, Ian’s wife, is a General Practitioner with a special interest in Mindbody Medicine and in using meditation as an adjunct for healing minor and major illness.
There is also the option of using Ian’s Classic meditation downloads that form a sequence that is numbered 1 to 5. As a beginner, starting with number 1 is recommended – Meditation – A Complete Guide. Also, Ian’s wife Ruth has an excellent meditation practice download called A Woman’s Voice and together they have prepared Meditation for Children.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE MORE EXPERIENCED Begin with Blue Sky Mind. This book will help you identify and solve any problems you may be experiencing and lead you into a more direct and deeper experience of meditation.
Also consider Meditation – an In-depth Guide, co-written by Ian and his colleague Paul Bedson. This book is remarkably comprehensive and details techniques for contemplation and guided imagery as well as Mindfulness into Stillness meditation.
These are books to read, to re-read, to study, and to be guided by.
WHAT ARE THE BEST DOWNLOADS FOR YOU? If you are more experienced, Ian recommends the Key practices from Blue Sky Mind that are all included in the Stillness Practice download Bundle.
Many experienced meditators find the specific process set out in the Mindfulness of Thoughts practice very helpful to take them beyond the distractions of excessive thinking and turbulent emotions into the deeper stillness of meditation.
Guided audio recordings are an excellent way to meditate. Especially if you have some problems with concentration, or simply relax more easily, and deeply with the process of being guided. The meditation feeling- embodying the meditation- can be assisted by the authentic voice of an experienced meditator. It is like having the meditation teacher with you, present each day, and we encourage people to use them regularly.Ian Gawler
BLUE SKY MIND GUIDED MEDITATION DOWNLOADS
PLEASE NOTE These guided meditations are available in both Ruth and Ian Gawler’s voices as they guide all the exercises and meditations from Ian’s latest meditation book Blue Sky Mind. They are only available as downloads, and contain no instructions, just the guided practices. They are intended to support you as you learn, develop and deepen your meditation.
Each group of the downloads, as listed below, is bundled together to be made available for purchase as a single unit.
The Stillness Practices
These are the key practices most recommended for daily use. Of them all, many find the Mindfulness into Stillness practice the most useful, therefore it is recommended as the main practice.
- The Direct Approach
- Mindfulness into Stillness – the Main practice
- Relaxation into Stillness
- Mindfulness of Thoughts
The Relaxation Practices
This group of practices is excellent for learning how to relax the body and mind at will, and experience life in a more relaxed, stress free and calm manner.
- The Centre of Awareness Exercise
- The Conscious Relaxation Exercise
- The Conscious Contraction and Relaxation of the Muscles Exercise
- The Relaxing Body Scan
- Rapid Relaxation
- Profound Relaxation
The Guided Imagery Practices
These two practices are included here as so many people find them helpful for letting go of busyness, finding inner peace, as an adjunct for both healing and disease prevention, as well as powerful support on the spiritual path.
- White Light Imagery (also referred to as Healing Light)
- The Journey of Transformation (also referred to as Healing Journey) where the meditation is accompanied by lyrical harp music.
CLASSIC GUIDED MEDITATION DOWNLOADS
RUTH AND IAN GAWLER’S CLASSIC MEDITATION DOWNLOADS
These guided meditations are now only available as downloads. CDs are no longer available. While these recordings pre-date the Blue Sky Mind series, many continue to find them helpful with the energetic youthful voices of earlier times.
1. Meditation – A Complete Guide. This provides an excellent starting point download to support your regular practice. On it, Ian introduces the theory of Mindfulness into Stillness and then leads two key exercises. Great for a beginner.
2. Relaxation for Everyone. On this download, the focus is on learning to consciously relax the body as well as the mind. It has been recorded with the sounds of nature in the background for people who find a natural setting conducive to relaxation. A series of 4 exercises will help you to learn how to relax rapidly and thoroughly. A feature on this download is the track where the relaxing and lyrical harp of Peter Roberts accompanies Ian’s voice.
3. Deepening your Meditation. Here we move on to learn greater skills with concentration and mindfulness. The sound of the didgeridoo helps to hold the focus of concentration with the world-renowned accompaniment of Marshall Whyler. This download appeals to teenagers as well as adults and contains some instruction from Ian and the use of the breath for focusing the awareness.
4. Meditation – Pure and Simple. Specific exercises are led by Ian that help you to manage a busy mind with lots of intruding thoughts! These techniques also provide a very useful starting point for people with anxiety or depression. These downloads helps to create some space and objectivity with the thoughts and feelings, leading to a greater awareness of the mind’s activity and consequently a greater capacity to be aware of unhelpful patterns and the gap between the thoughts.
5. Mindbody Medicine. Here Ian introduces and leads two key imagery ( creative visualization) meditations, one accompanied by Peter Roberts on harp. These techniques are excellent for relieving stress, for regaining energy, peace and balance; as well as being highly recommended for those on the healing path or those who like to use their minds more actively in meditation. They contain symbolic imagery to generate optimism.
6. A Woman’s Voice – Mindfulness Meditations with Dr Ruth Gawler. On these downloads Ruth gently and lovingly leads you through profound mindfulness meditations using relaxation of the body and awareness of the senses. Here, she introduces and then leads you through two key mindfulness meditations.
7.Meditation for Children – with Ian and Ruth Gawler. These downloads have been made specifically with the needs of modern children in mind. Ruth and Ian, experienced parents themselves, recognise the lifelong benefit of the invaluable gift of meditation. As the world becomes more complex and challenging, meditation stands out as an invaluable asset to young minds. On these downloads, your child is guided by Ian and Ruth through the Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise, the imagery-based meditation called ” Finding Your Tree” and finally, a meditation based on the White Light Meditation for helping to clear away worries or illness – ideal to use in bed at the end of the day, like a bedtime story for a deep, natural sleep. There is also an explanatory introduction, along with instructions for the adult who guides the child(ren).
IAN GAWLER’S BOOKS
Blue Sky Mind builds on Ian’s earlier books (Meditation- Pure and Simple and Peace of Mind) and addresses the need for specific, yet accessible direction on how to meditate. Published first in 2019 and now in its 2nd Edition.
The book’s main premise is that the mind has two aspects – the Active Mind with its familiar thoughts and emotions that are changing all the time – for better and for worse; and the Still Mind that is beyond all that activity and is the reliable and is the constant domain of a pervasive peace and clarity, along with the natural expression of love and compassion. Meditation is defined here as the process that helps us to go beyond the busyness of the Active Mind into a direct experience of the Still Mind or Stillness.
The book uses the analogy of clouds being like thoughts and emotions that come and go – sometimes stormy, sometimes peaceful, while the blue sky remains a vast, spacious and pure constant; hence Blue Sky Mind.
Meditation – An In-depth Guide was co-authored with Paul Bedson. This is a comprehensive book and good to follow up with after Blue Sky Mind to learn of the breadth of meditation.
Peace of Mind provides an excellent but shorter overview of the theory and key techniques for meditation, contemplation and imagery. This book has assisted many people over 3 decades with recovery from illness and suffering. Highly readable for those with little or no experience; however, now out of print as superseded by Blue Sky Mind.
Meditation Pure and Simple focuses on deepening relaxation and specific techniques for moving past distracting thoughts into a deeper stillness. A little like a course that can be followed for those who would like a shorter, more concise text but also now out of print as superseded by Blue Sky Mind.
The Mind that Changes Everything focuses on the creative use of the mind through affirmations and imagery. In this book, Ian explains how the mind functions and how we can use more of its potential in all aspects of life. A special feature is the extensive section related to healing- cancer in particular but applicable to all major illness. 48 techniques are featured that mobilise the power of the mind. There are many real life examples highlighting the possibilities for those with cancer. Very inspiring for those on the healing path.
You Can Conquer Cancer has specific chapters on meditation, as well as the full range of lifestyle based techniques that can be applied to the prevention and management of cancer, along with other chronic, degenerative diseases . Additionally the principles and topics are relevant for those with a strong family history or genetic vulnerability in need of prevention strategies.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
Meditation for Health, Healing and Wellbeing: This approach is what has been presented so far with Mindfulness into Stillness. It combines relaxation, concentration, mindfulness and the deeper stillness of meditation. The aim is to relax physically and then settle the ‘thinking aspect’ of the mind; returning to a state of deep, natural peace; deep natural balance. The recommended technique is Mindfulness into Stillness as described above. What is helpful is to develop your skills by practicing the individual techniques set out in the sequence of downloads that cover relaxation, concentration, mindfulness and stillness.
Contemplation, Insight Meditation, or Analytical Meditation. This is where we use the mind more actively to investigate and understand an aspect of our lives, our consciousness, or even the Stillness. This method has an aspect of analysis or inquiry. We are using the ‘thinking aspect’ of the mind to examine a question or idea. This is often very effective for accessing our inner wisdom (or intuition) when used in combination with stillness meditation. The theory and the practice of this method is presented by Ian on the downloads of Inner Peace, Inner Wisdom
Imagery and Visualisation. With these techniques, we also use the more creative or imaginative aspect of the thinking mind. This type of meditation is explained and described in detail in Ian’s book The Mind that Changes Everything, and the key exercises are guided on the downloads Mindbody Medicine.
All three of these meditation categories are described most comprehensively in Meditation – An In-depth Guide.