PATRONS & Meditation Australia Council

Formed in 2008, MA is a nationally registered not-for-profit association managed by a voluntary council of meditation teachers from diverse backgrounds, and an Executive Officer.

MA promotes meditation as an integral part of life.

Professor Craig Hassed, OAM, MBBS, FRACGP


General Practitioner and Associate Professor, Monash University Department of General Practice

Former President Craig Hassed has generously accepted the invitation of the members to become the first Patron of Meditation Australia, a role suited to his many skills and talents. He will continue to be a major support for teachers and the public in spreading the benefits of meditation.

He also teaches in the cancer support programs at the Gawler Cancer Foundation. Craig is a media commentator, writes regularly for medical journals, particularly in Philosophy of Medicine and has published two volumes entitled New Frontiers in Medicine (1 & 2). He has published eleven books to date, including four on mindfulness – Know Thyself, Mindfulness for Life, Mindful Learning and The Mindful Home.

Pauline McKinnon

Founding Patron

Director, The Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre

In 1983 Pauline published In Stillness Conquer Fear, pioneering public awareness of anxiety disorders and the value of Stillness Meditation as a successful intervention. At the invitation of Dr Ainslie Meares, (the ‘father’ of therapeutic meditation) she commenced meditation teaching with an emphasis on anxiety relief.

A growing community need led her to formal training in psychotherapy/family therapy while continuing to maintain Meares’ theories and principles throughout her work. In 1990 Pauline’s books for children prompted meditation in schools and the publication of the teaching manual, Let’s Be Still. She conducts a Stillness Meditation teacher training program and regularly gives presentations at all educational levels and to health and service organizations.

More recently Pauline has assisted in the development of a meditation course at the Australian Catholic University. With public interest at heart she was moved to initiate the formation of ATMA. Her lifelong interests, beyond an expanding family, include a range of creative and philosophical inclinations.

Dr Ian Gawler OAM

Founding Patron

Dr Ian Gawler OAM, BVSc, has played a major part in popularising meditation, Mind-Body Medicine and other self-help techniques in the western world. With a gift for translating ancient wisdom into a modern context, and having appeared widely in the media, Ian is known for his wisdom and clarity. 

A long-term cancer survivor, Ian co-founded the world’s first lifestyle based cancer and MS groups. He has written a number of best selling books including on meditation : “Blue Sky Mind”, on the power of the mind : “The Mind that Changes Everything” and the healing classic “You Can Conquer Cancer” which has been translated into 13 languages.

More recently Ian has developed Allevi8, a meditation App specifically designed for people affected by significant physical or mental health issues. A special feature of Allevi8 is the 1-1 meditation online mentoring service linked to the App. Ian was also instrumental in establishing the Centre for Contemplative Studies at the University of Melbourne, as well as the Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies at Monash University. He serves on the Advisory Board of both.

Ian has studied all the great spiritual traditions being a strong advocate for Perennial Wisdom. Personally, he has focused over the last 35 years on Tibetan dzogchen teachings and practice.



Founding Patron

    Rob Moodie is Professor of Public Health at the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health (MSPGH), and Professor of Public Health at the College of Medicine, University of Malawi. Prior to this he was the Director of Teaching and Learning at MSPGH, and before that was the inaugural Chair of Global Health at the Nossal Institute.

    He was trained in medicine and public health and worked in refugee health care in the Sudan for Save the Children Fund and Medicins Sans Frontieres, and later for Congress, the Aboriginal Community controlled health service in Central Australia from 1982-1988. He worked for many years on HIV prevention for the Health Department Victoria, the Burnet Institute, WHO’s Global Programme on AIDS. He was then appointed as the inaugural Director of Country Support for UNAIDS in Geneva from 1995-98, and was a member of the Commission on AIDS in the Pacific. He chaired the Technical Advisory Panel of Avahan, the Gates Foundation’s HIV prevention program in India from 2004-2013. He was CEO of VicHealth from 1998-2007, the world’s first health promotion foundation based on a dedicated tobacco tax. From 2008-2011 he chaired the National Preventative Health Taskforce in Australia, which recommended the introduction of plain packaging. He chaired the Gavi Vaccine Alliance’s Evaluation Advisory Committee from 2013-2019, and advises the World Health Organization in the areas of Non Communicable Diseases and Health Promotion.

    His major interests are in public health leadership skills, health promotion, the role of unhealthy commodity industries (Big Tobacco, Ultra-processed food, Alcohol, Gambling) in harming health, as well as road safety. He has been teaching and refining leadership skills training programs for the last 13 years mainly in Australia, Malawi and south Asia. 

    Meditation Australia Council

    Lisa Forde

    Lisa Forde BA (Psych), Dip Hol Counselling,

    Cert IV Assessment & Workplace Training


    Principal of the Australian Centre for Holistic Studies

    My curious beginnings with meditation started when I borrowed a book from my high school library to find some techniques to relieve stress in my final year. Being so young and open, I started having extraordinary experiences and hastily returned the book, swearing never to do it again.  At the same time a copy of the Bhagavad Gita showed up on my bedside table that I flicked through from time to time. My parents couldn’t read English, so they thought that any book was a good book, and this was one my father found on the roadside and delivered to me, having no idea of its contents.

    Fast forward to age 30, and life took a complex turn.  Marriage breakup, domestic abuse and a special needs child. Again, I had to reach in deep, and sought the support of a counsellor; Alannah Dore. Alannah reintroduced me to holistic personal development and meditation in a much bigger and more profound way. This time I was ready.  I completed her holistic living counselling training and became a teacher of this modality. I was fortunate to be mentored closely by her for over 5 years and run retreats and courses under her guidance on counselling and holistic living.

    I taught meditation and holistic counselling, and combined the two to create my own style of meditation teaching. One that was deeply founded in compassionate holistic personal support. My classes were more like open workshops where we explored whatever life was presenting for my students using meditative and personal development tools.

    Eventually, in 2006, a group of my advanced students were moving away from Melbourne and asked me to teach them my style of meditation guidance. This was the birth of my meditation teacher training program, and ACMM, which over 18 years of development and growth, has become one of the leading and most innovative programs offered in Australia.

    Over this time, I have been fortunate to learn from some wonderful Master Meditation Teachers. The late Ken Mellor and his wife Elizabeth, and Lorin Roche and Camille Maurine. Each teacher has picked up where the last left off in the most precise and complementary manner; continuing a beautiful lineage of learning, deepening and support for which I am deeply grateful.

    Ram Dass’s ‘Paths to God’, his reading of the Bhagavad Gita is (co-incidentally?) my favourite meditation book.

    Murray Paterson

    Vice President & Treasurer

    Introduced early on to the writings of Dr Ainslie Meares by my mother who discovered that meditation could alleviate physical suffering, I began reading, contemplating, and meditating in my late teenage years. Discovering meditation very early on in life enabled me to gain some insight into my inner being and also led me to notice that when I practiced regularly, I maintained a calm and balanced perspective; when I ceased practicing, things did not go so well!

    My first formal introduction to meditation was through Dr Ian Gawler while seeking ways to support my father through his suffering with cancer. Ian has remained my teacher for more than 40 years and I am indebted to him for his guidance. For me, every day begins with silent meditation, and I find ways to practice in short moments during the day.

    Whilst my professional life has been in adult education in university, corporate, professional association and professional services settings, I now focus my attention in the support of others – through Allevi8 where I provide meditation mentoring to individuals suffering significant mental or physical illness, and through executive coaching.

    Dr Kalvinder Shields


    Dr Kalvinder Shields is a dedicated practitioner of meditation for over 25 years and actively engages in voluntary work teaching meditation, facilitating workshops and retreats and organising large scale meditation events and professional dialogues.

    Her particular interest for the past 20 years has been in the thoughtful facilitation of silence retreats and her deep belief and experience is that transformation occurs from a place of healing silence.

    She also believes that calm and meditation is accessible to anyone and has been involved in voluntary activities engaging with the city communities to bring calm into the heart of the city – including free weekly meditations in public spaces for the past 10 years. She has a passion for bringing together meditation practitioners, faith leaders and communities from all walks of life for small and large-scale purposeful meditative events with the deeply-held view that thoughts of peace and goodwill, held in our own personal ways through meditation or prayer, unite us all in sacred presence.

    She is also a Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Faith Communities Council of Victoria – the peak body of faith communities in Victoria.

    Asher Packman

    Founder, The Fifth Direction

    After transitioning from a successful senior corporate career in 2010, Asher has grown to become a renowned depth mentor, meditation guide and storyteller. An avid scholar of the mythopoetic, he holds qualifications in leadership, coaching and mentoring. Asher is a certified HeartMath and Wim Hof Method instructor, as well as a KRI-certified Kundalini Yoga teacher. He has further studied in Jungian core concepts, neoshamanism, epigenetics, geobiology and the social psychology of sport. Asher is an Associate Member of the Jung Society of Melbourne, a member of the Friends of William Stafford, the Ted Hughes Society and the Joseph Campbell Foundation.

    Asher holds the honour of being the longest-serving former president of Meditation Australia, his seven-year tenure beginning in 2017. In the same year, he founded global online community, The Fifth Direction. His men’s program, The Way, was nominated as a finalist in the 2021 Australian Men’s Health Forum Awards, and he was nominated as a Men’s Health Leader in 2022.

    Following his own life experiences, and the benefits he has seen arise in others, Asher is a passionate believer in making meditation an integral part of all our lives.

    Bishop Philip Huggins


    My life of meditation began in the 1970’s when I was a Teacher of Transcendental Meditation. (I taught meditation in a tent at the Nimbin Aquarius Festival 😃).

    After a profound experience of the Risen Jesus, my practice of mantric meditation continued with the Jesus Prayer, sometimes called the “Prayer of the Heart”. This continued with and after Ordination as a priest in the Anglican Church.
    The practice of meditation – ‘Jesus have mercy’ – has sustained me through many years of quite demanding work- as a Bishop since 1995.

    My focus for the coming years is the contribution of a contemplative heart to a more giving and forgiving culture ; the contribution of faith- based advocacy to preventing climate change.

    With Meditation Australia I hope we can help more people into a sustained practice of meditation.

    More personally, I am married to Elizabeth who is a psychologist and artist. We have three wonderful sons and daughters in law, with beautiful grandchildren.

    Nowadays, I try to make all choices of commitments around what will most benefit our grandchildren and their generation. Joining Meditation Australia fits this criterion. I hope I can be helpful.


    Al Jeffery

    As an integrative psychotherapist, meditation guide and community-builder, Al has supported thousands of people worldwide to restore connection in their lives, leadership, and communities.
    He is a renowned facilitator, writer, speaker, and co-founder of Cornerstone, a Melbourne/Naarm-based community of practice creating pathways toward healing and transformation. As a queer man, haiku poet, leadership virtuoso, and martial artist, Al’s love for integrating the diverse and transgressive is alive in all he touches.
    And of course Al is a long standing practitioner and teacher of meditation.



    Dr Karen Stone

    With a background in marketing, and alternative health practice as a Doctor of Tibetan Medicine; and as a teacher and long standing meditation practitioner, Karen brings a passion for meditation to the role of Executive Officer for Meditation Australia.