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Our Experiences at the Gawler Retreat

Our Experiences at the Gawler Retreat

Published July 15th, 2016 By Jo Stewart

Our experiences at a week long Gawler Cancer Retreat.


Rane and have just returned from an amazing and transformative week at the Gawler Foundation, we both had a powerful, transformative experience, that I wantto share, in the hope that it helps others. The foundation runs retreats for cancer and MS but also general meditation and wellbeing retreats, and I really would whole heartedly recommend their program. Rane has also written about his experiences, and i’ve included his words in italics.

As many of you know, my husband Rane was diagnosed with stomach cancer and had successful surgery last year. Other than the challenges getting used of living without a stomach, we were pretty much thinking we could get back to normal life. We were looking forward to the retreat almost as a little holiday, a time to eat well, meditate and relax in nature.

'I have to admit, I might have had it in my head that my treatment was done, and it was over between me and the big C, but after arriving at The Gawler Foundation, and meeting people with their first or second recurrence of cancer, those thoughts were well and truly put to bed.'

Everyone in the group shared their stories, and from very early on we really felt a connection with everyone there, while we were all there for a serious reason there was a lot of positive energy, humour and understanding between everyone we spoke too. It felt like we were all in this together.

'... it was the other participants who really made this experience for me. These are people from many different backgrounds, are going through the worst times of their lives, but ready to take it on with bravery and commitment. I am sure I will keep in touch with many of these people for the rest of my life.'

The retreat was a mix of meditation, education on emotional, physical and spiritual health, plant based eating and mindful movement. All designed to equip us all with the tools to for health and healing.

'It was an intensive course of meditation, Qi Gong, nutrition, emotional work, and ruminations on life and death, all guided by the steady hands of the most amazing counselors I have ever met. I have never encountered people who I consider to be enlightened beings until now. So unbelievably connected, and so real. They are spiritual teachers in the truest sense, with no pretense, no dogma and no bullshit. Just practical evidence based information backed by decades of experience and hard work.'

The facilitators were amazing, Paul, Maia and Siggy were incredibly wise, grounded, compassionate and deeply committed to the meditation and mindful living. From the beginning they emphasised the importance of us making our own decisions, and you could tell their only goal was helping us live the healthiest, happiest and most rewarding lives possible. One of the meditation techniques we learnt was about checking in with our emotional selves, and they encouraged this throughout the retreat, and in our lives back home, to make thoughtful decisions rather than quick reactions, it was all about making informed choices, rather than them telling us what to do, they gave us the information so we could decide for ourselves. Although this retreat was focused on dealing with cancer, everything I learned was helpful and applicable to my own life, with no medical issues, after all, who wouldn’t want to live their best life possible?

The Gawler foundation also run retreats for MS and have a program of meditation and healthy lifestyle retreats throughout the year. I’d highly recommend their program for anyone dealing with stress or health issues, but also for anyone wanting to establish or deepen their own meditation practice. We’re definitely planning to return.

'This has inspired me to make definite changes in my own life - to really look at my diet and ensure I am eating the healthiest food possible, to reinvigorate my own meditation practice, and to live as consciously as I can.

I think in a strange way I am lucky to have had cancer, as it has allowed me to see the love and support I have in my family, friends and the world as a whole, and to have profound experiences such as this. I honestly did not expect to have my worldview so strongly affected.'

The Gawler Foundation also offer a wide range of online resources from their website including plant based recipes.

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