I spent last week in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, at a Gawler Foundation retreat. The Gawler Foundation was founded by Ian Gawler after he made a full recovery from a very serious and often fatal type of bone cancer. His healing was seen as miraculous by conventional medicine standards and it was as fascinating as it was multi-faceted. Spurred on by a deep desire for wellness, Ian tried many avenues from chemotherapy to meditation to diet to psychic surgery. After he healed completely he felt he must share what he had learned, not only about having cancer but being able to achieve good health after a terminal diagnosis. I had looked into the residential retreats at the Gawler Foundation a few years ago. At the time I couldn’t get enough money together so I put the idea aside and got on with my day to day life.
About a month ago I began to feel increasingly exhausted and unwell. I had been so occupied with family life that I had put my physical health last on the list. I had slacked off with my Friday meditation class and was relying on stimulants like coffee and sugar to get me through each day, or through another book. My body was beginning to struggle under the pressure and one Saturday afternoon I was alone in the house and felt so ill I had to call a friend to take me to the hospital. Even as I walked down the hospital corridor I knew very well that there would be nothing that they could do and that the way I felt was entirely up to me.
The nurses confirmed that I was exhausted and dehydrated. They suggested I drink plenty of fluids and enjoy some time out if I could. They concluded that dealing with a teething baby on top of everything else was taking its toll. When I got home I got onto the computer and looked up The Gawler Foundation. By Monday lunchtime I was booked in for the next residential retreat and my frame of mind began to shift to a better place.
The next few weeks flowed by quite quickly and I made it easier on myself by making some much needed amendments to my diet. I took a break from eating meat and started juicing vegetables. At first your Dad was a bit flummoxed at the idea of having both vegetables and salad at meal times, however he dove in and added it all to the steak on his plate. I felt torn as the retreat loomed closer. I desperately needed a break to get myself centred and re-build my energies but I questioned myself about being away from you for a whole week. I found some peace about it when I weighed up taking one week to ensure my good health for years to come as opposed to the slow and systematic decline in my health if I continued to struggle through.
The Yarra Valley is absolutely picturesque. Even though I am accustomed to living in the country and seeing these types of landscapes, its beauty was not lost on me. I chatted briefly with my three roommates before heading off to the dining area. I sat and watched as others arrived and I was amazed at how familiar everybody looked. A sure sign to me that I was meant to be exactly where I was.
The opportunity to be with a group of people who had had a cancer diagnosis and wished to get well was a new experience for me. To be surrounded by souls who like me, were searching for healing against the odds, was invigorating and comforting.
The regular meditation created a calmness in me that opened the door to possibility. The plant based whole food diet was delicious and restored my energies. A lot of the content we covered in the sessions was compounding what I had been exposed to in my own enquiries. It felt like life was saying ‘Yes! You are on the right track! Keep going!’
It was totally compelling to learn more about the cancer prone personality and several pieces of the jigsaw fell into place about how I interacted with the world and created my own experience. I had a breakthrough earlier in the year when I realised I was taking responsibility for other people’s happiness. Now it made sense in the bigger picture in terms of how I had not expressed my authentic self, my needs and my feelings in life. I was always accommodating for other people, second guessing their thoughts, opinions and emotions and I would then react to that. Not just that I would react, but I would react by trying to please them. I always concluded that if I was pleasing to them, they would not hurt me. It was yet another testament to my belief that your self-worth came from outside yourself. I learned to love myself in the last few years yet there was some old pre-programmed behaviour that I just couldn’t seem to release that was contrary to my new found love of self. I had begun to unravel some of the mystery by recently becoming interested in neural programming and its effects in forming the personality. This was touched on during the retreat. To know more about these traits that run thick through the personality of many cancer patients was an eye opener.
Seamus can you imagine what it was like to be at a retreat with a bunch of other people pleasers? It was like I had come home to my own tribe after years of searching for them! There was so much love and consideration. All interactions were dripping in a delightful courtesy!
‘You go ahead’,
‘No, after you’,
‘No no, after YOU’!
I took so much away from my week at the Gawler Foundation. A renewed sense of trust that life has a pattern and a flow that we are not always privy to but it benefits us in the highest sense. That all my experiences to this point were, are, just as important as they are meaningless. My life experience has facilitated a massive growth in consciousness but all that experience can now be dropped and allowed to fall away. In the grand scheme of things its meaning is what we assign it to be. My experience does not equal the sum total of who I am.
The benefits of this week will resonate with me for the rest of my life, which I plan on being a long and healthy one. When I close my eyes and think of the others with whom I did the retreat, including the facilitators, I picture a beautiful wooden box. It is hand carved and a beautiful deep golden brown. When I lift the lid it is filled with precious gems. Glistening and sparkling, there is an array of intense exquisite colours. I see rubies and emeralds and sapphires. That box is filled with the treasures each one of them gave to me during our time together. I was so blessed to have found the sanctuary of their company for one week.
At the heart of us there is a diamond. When you realise you have something so incredible and so beautiful, you don’t want to hide it again.
Seamus, know you are a precious gem. Always allow yourself to sparkle and shine with the intensity of your magnificence. There is no other gem like you in the whole world.
“I am thy God, a diamond shining
Upon the waters of thy soul”
The Shining Diamond – Orion Beaufort
For more information on the amazing work being done at the Gawler Foundation visit: http://gawler.org/