Have you noticed the rapidly growing interest in mindfulness and meditation of late?
I do feel that over the last few years the word mindfulness has been somewhat torn from it's gentle buddhist roots, and re-branded into a range of new formats (some funny, some sad, some astounding). But as a meditation teacher with a personal meditation practice of 20+ years, I appreciate the wonderful opportunities this new found energy and discussion will bring .. while still being a little surprised by the rapid shift in awareness (and support) of meditation by mainstream media and the medical fraternity. And I would just like to say ...
it's about time!
Last night I attended a screening of The Connection .. a brilliant documentary by Australian journalist and filmmaker Shannon Harvey which followed some remarkable personal stories of recovery and insights from world leading experts in mind body medicine.
It only occurred to me later in the evening that over the course of the last two weeks, I have attended three meditation events with presentations by six medical professionals discussing the growing body of research supporting the benefits of meditation ..
so, who in the medical fraternity is standing up for meditation?
Dr Ranjit Rao
Ranjit is a Urological surgeon who is also trained in Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. He has long promoted the principles of integrative medicine where complementary therapies are used alongside conventional mainstream treatments. In doing so, the patient receives the best of ancient and modern care. He has been a practitioner of yoga and meditation for more than 20 years and encourages his patients to explore these modalities to manage their own urological problems. He is author of a new book "Meditation & Martini" which promotes leading a life of balance.
Professor Rob Moodie
Rob is Professor of Public Health at the University of Melbourne. Between 1998 and 2007 he was the CEO of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). He chaired the National Preventative Health Task Force from 2008-2011, and now chairs the federal Minister’s Men’s Health Reference Group. He has chaired the Technical Advisory Panel for the Gates Foundation funded HIV prevention program, Avahan, in India since 2004 and co-chaired the recent AII funded Taskforce on Tobacco Control in India. He is currently helping to establish a public health leadership course in South Asia. He is co-author of four books, his latest being Recipes for a Great Life, written with Gabriel Gate.
Dr. Laura DelizonnaLaura is an international speaker, consultant and author specializing in the science of happiness and mindfulness. As a former researcher and an instructor at Stanford University, her courses are the most popular in the Continuing Studies Department. The Founder of Choosing Happiness, Laura designs and delivers practical, skill-building trainings in companies worldwide.
Dr Craig Hassed
Dr. Hassed’s studies focus on the cause and effects of stress and immune disease. His ground breaking body of academic work is built on a foundation of science with a focus on proven clinical trials, and he is a leading force in the application of integrative and mind-body medicine, contributing a number of innovations in medical education and practice. In a trailblazing move, Dr. Hassed introduced meditation into the medical curriculum at Monash University as an examinable subject. Dr. Hassed has been published in multiple medical journals and has authored several books including New Frontiers in Medicine (Volumes I and ii), Know Thyself and The Essence of Health. While he has no doubt the mind has a strong impact on our health, such as the ability to repair the immune system, he has a conservative understanding of medicine and argues that the benefit of pharmaceuticals cannot be denied in the treatment of physical ailments.
Professor George Jelinek
Professor George Jelinek was the head of an Emergency Department in a major Australian hospital when one day, while doing his rounds he felt a strange sensation in his feet. In a matter of days he was numb from the waist down. When a scan revealed lesions on his brain he learned he had Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the same disease that made his mother take her own life in 1981. At the time of his diagnosis George was at the height of his career, working countless hours as the first appointed Professor of Emergency Medicine in Australasia.
Months later, fatigued and unable to stand for long periods, George found himself on medication that did little to resolve his symptoms. He decided to put his skills as a doctor and researcher to work by searching the medical literature for answers. Before long he had thousands of peer reviewed academic research papers from which he could formulate his own treatment program. “From what I’ve seen in my own personal experience now, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to start a conversation about recovery from MS. Why not? It’s just another chronic illness like many of the others we see in the West. Why couldn’t you recover from that?” He’s written two books about his journey; Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, and Recovering from Multiple Sclerosis and has a dedicated website that details the scientific evidence behind his approach. He also established retreats for people with MS at the Gawler Foundation. Having overcome a supposedly incurable disease, George considers himself living proof that the ability to adapt to change is imperative to good health.
Ian Gawler was only 26 years old when he was told his cancer was incurable and he had weeks to live. He'd been first diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg in 1974 and doctors decided amputation from the hip down was the best treatment for the young athlete. But despite the major surgery, the cancer spread to his chest and his pelvis. With the guidance of Australian psychiatrist Ainslie Meares, Ian began mediating and embarked on an intensive program of self-reflection as well as following a strict plant based diet. Ian also sought help from the best medical practice of the day and had palliative radiotherapy and underwent three cycles of experimental chemotherapy. He also traveled to India where had an audience with healer Sai Baba.
Two years after he was told his cancer was terminal, Ian was declared healed. People all over the world heard about his story and wondered what he’d done and whether it could help them. He wrote a best selling book, called You Can Conquer Cancer and began running support groups and retreats. This has now become The Gawler Foundation, which runs health and well being programs for thousands of people. He is the recipient of the Order of Australia Medal (OAM), which in the Australian honours system is awarded for outstanding achievement and service.