Gary is an independent teacher of the Vedic Meditation Technique, an Ayurvedic Health Consultant and co-founder of ‘the Conscious Club’. He is also the co-founder of ’1 Giant Mind’ a non profit organisation that is undertaking a global initiative to unite science and spirit in the world’s largest experiment and assembly of eyes closed silence in human history.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Open my eyes! I follow the ways of Ayurvedic and what that essentially means is that I do all I can to harmonise myself with the rhythms of nature. I have 2 young kids who tend to challenge my daily routine, but generally I usual wake with or before the sun, scrape my tounge, brush my teeth and have a cleansing drink of ginger, lemon and honey. After that I do some yoga, meditate, go for a surf or spend a little time in nature, play with the kids have breakfast and dive into my world of work.
Are there any special food or dietary items you have during the day that help your relax,focus, give you energy etc?
I take a special type of chyawanprash each day, which is an Ayurvedic medicinal paste comprised primarily of alma fruit and a host of healing herbs. Chyawanprash is regarded as a 'rasayana' or a substance for rejuvenation and longevity. The other things that help me stay focused is meditating twice each day. Beyond that I love the influence listening to music brings to my day. These things for me are more powerful than food.
When do you find the best time to meditate?
I have two young children so the best time to meditate is when there is time! Ideally I prefer to meditate early morning around sunrise and in the evening just after sunset. For me these are the two most sacred times of the day, but I'm very flexible and happy to get into the zone when ever the opportunity arises.
For those who feel they don't have time to meditate – what is your recommendation?
I love the expression, 'If you don't have time to meditate twenty minutes twice each day then you should do it for an hour twice each day.' Meditating may take time, but it creates headspace and brings enormous energy and clarity so you can really get clear on what you want and perform at a high level, without wasting time thinking in circles
How long do you really need?
I teach people to meditate for 20 minutes morning and evening. The science reveals that the physical body has a general threshold for deep meditation of about 20 minutes, this extends with time of course. Meditating for less than 20 minutes simply won't fill the tank, but doing some meditation is certainly better than doing nothing. More important than duration of practice is the efficacy of your meditation technique. Some practices take the mind very deep, other techniques don't alter the inner landscape in a significant way and as such require much more time to gain an effect.
Do you have any special recycling or composting cycles in your family?
Yes we have 2 composts in our yard. We recycle as much as we can, the local counsel is conscious in that way and provides special household bins for people to put all their recyclables in.
How does creativity play a role in your life?
Creativity is everything for me, without it I feel my life becomes dull and predictable.
Do you do art/music/photography still?
I don't do art as much as I used to, but it is certainly lively in me. With the Conscious Club, I'm able to be incredibly creative, from curating the content of our shows, to art directing, designing or formulating all the imagery for the Club and our various pursuits. It's such a thrill to bring all my creativity and passion into a single project. Theses days I find myself increasingly relishing in the art of others and the art that I am most interested in is the art of living. It's an unending pursuit, to live in a state of grace.
Do you feel creativity can also be a form of meditation?
I personally believe that the highest forms of creativity, whether they art, music, poetry, sculpture, etcetera, all come from a place of stillness. It's in those times of quietude that the genius of the universe expresses itself through us. The plight of the artist should be to make themselves transparent to the creative impulses of the world. Art comes from silence and any activity done with grace can be thought of as an art form- a living, moving meditation. That's what our lives should be.
Are there any books/podcasts/blogs/websites etc you recommend?
My favorite books of all time are The Bhagavad Gita. Yoga Vashishta and 'I am That' by Nishragadatta.
How does your family come into play – how do you educate and operate as a family with a conscious lifestyle?
My wife and I are both on the journey to higher consciousness and we try to do as much as we can to minimise our physical impact on the planet while at the same time doing what we can to maximise our energetic influence on the world. We're vegetarian, we eat about 90% organic food. We do this not just because ingesting chemicals is silly, but because in buying organic we know we're supporting an industry. We have a veggie garden and we're about to get 2 bee hives.
“The coconut water is a bit of an indulgence. I worry about the sustainability of our coconut craze...”
From the educational perspective we are doing our best to educate our kids to become creative and realised souls. But I also feel that children are often here to educate us. They constantly remind me to play and not get lost in the demands of life.
They demand you to put others first and selfless, they also reveal the temporal nature of life, they grow so fast and you suddenly realise that they will out live you on this Earth.
It was confronting at first, but it actually brings a deep sense of responsibility.
I was touched recently while reading a poem from Chief Seattle where he says “The Earth does not belong to man; Man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” So naturally my plight is to do what I can to strengthen that web. That after all is a major reason why we are here.
Finally there are some photos of you holding a charcoal? What is its use, how do you use it and is there any ceremonial practice to activate it?
It is the ash that remains after the agni hotra ceremony. You can find info on agni hotra on the net. It's basically a yagja or havana - healing ceremony for the environment and it's people. It derives from the ancient ayurvedic science.
One the main uses is for making soil more fertile. You throw in on the garden and things begin to thrive. You can also add the ash to the water you drink as it makes it alkaline, detoxes the body and strengthens the overall system. You can use it topically on a range of ailments, infections, skin cancers, cuts. It's is known to remove radiation and toxins from both the body and food- so you can soak your fruit and vegetables in it to counter the pesticide influence.
“...we are doing our best to educate our kids to become creative and realised souls”
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Photos + interview produced by thebharanieffect - our talented photographer is Maclay Heriot.