Well before my dad died, he nearly died. Having been diagnosed with inoperable and in all other ways untreatable lung cancer, the highly paid specialist gave his treatment options as "have a family reunion, preferably within the next 3 months." (Gotta love specialists, they earn all those taxpayer dollars.)

But he didn't die. Not then anyway, not until more than a decade and a half later. And not from cancer. What saved his life was meditation.

Now I know just saying that might send the one or two readers who occasionally end up here by accident scurrying for another web page. But be assured, my dad at that time would have done exactly the same thing. He wasn't a hocus pocus man, he was a man who loved his science and engineering and traditional medicine. But given an apparent imminent demise he decided to give the Gawler approach a try, because what did he have to lose etc. This isn't about Gawler's own approach, although it's worth noting he was himself a doctor who brought about his own cure from terminal cancer, using the approach he developed. And it's worth noting that not every cancer sufferer who tries Gawler's methods survives, although very often they're more or less dead already when they start trying, which doesn't help.

The bigger point here is the meditation. It was central to the cure, and about as appealing and easy for my dad as fishing would have been (he was a deeply impatient man). After he emerged from a year or so of this method he looked more than 10 years younger, and the cancer had gone. And his whole being had calmed and seemed almost radiant.

Years later I realised what meditation is actually all about. It's not about relaxation, about withdrawing from life, or about attaining some sort of mystical state - most of the traditional descriptions are rubbish. It's about one thing and one thing only, and that is about throwing yourself completely into any moment you're living and accepting it just for what it is. Traditional images of meditation are something like the lovely drawing of the Buddha at the top of this post, but they're deeply misleading. You can meditate while doing anything at all, in any activity you normally do. It's not a passive process or a relaxation process, it's purely and simply about just accepting each moment for what it is.

That includes in your activity. It's about letting your legs do the walking, rather than you trying to make them walk. Or about letting your being sit in a chair rather than you try to haul it into some noble erection, or let it slouch into a heap. It's about letting any pain or discomfort just be there (it'll disappear, promise, as your body expands back to how it needs to be in what you're doing).

None of this is easy. We're deeply reactive creatures. We always want to change things, control things. But once you taste the pure joy of letting something just be, completely, you won't ever want anything else. Not to be confused with some sort of heroic stoicism - you're not accepting what is in the 'putting up with it' way. You're letting something be in the true sense of not judging it in any way at all, and therefore not trying to change it. A complete letting go.

This applies to everything. It even applies to thoughts, which are not you at all. You can meditate upon your own thoughts, watching them arise and go by, just like you can on something you see in front of you, or something you hear. There's no "I" who meditates - meditation is what dissolves that separation between you and what's around you and within you. And the end product is not some passive, good-for-nothing hippy sitting there removed from the world, it's a person in pure response to the events in their life, rather than in reaction to them.

Funnily enough when you do this a bit, your entire body enters a state of supremely effortless function and health. Because your body is designed to work without you fiddling with it, and fiddle with it is what most people do. My dad in particular was always at some doctor, taking some new drug and trying some new treatment.

When he ditched all of that and simply meditated, he was literally a new man.


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