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

    Asher Packman


    Founder, Fifth Direction

    After transitioning from a successful corporate career in 2011, Asher has grown to become a renowned mentor, meditation teacher and guide. An avid scholar of the mythopoetic, he holds qualifications in leadership, coaching and mentoring. He is also 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 has been president of Meditation Australia since 2017. In the same year, he founded mental health and wellness projects, Warrior Within and The Fifth Direction. Asher is also an Associate Member of the Jung Society of Melbourne and a former editor of The Good Men Project.

    In 2004, Asher founded PR agency, The Sauce, servicing clients in Australia before the opening of a London branch in 2006 led to expansion across Europe, South-East Asia, China, India, Africa and the Middle East.

    Prior to that, he spent over five years with AOL (formerly part of AOL Time Warner) as a regional Vice President, heading up consumer and corporate communications in Australia, Asia and Europe.

    A former member of the European PR Director’s Roundtable, he has also been engaged in senior roles at Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy PR and Sony Electronics.

    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.

    Lisa Forde

    Lisa Forde BA (Psych), Dip Hol Counselling, Cert IV Assessment & Workplace Training

    Vice President

    Principal of the Australian Centre for Holistic Studies

    Lisa founded the Australian Centre for Holistic Studies in 2006 which was rebranded as the Australian Centre for Meditation and Mindfulness in 2021. She has authored a range of meditation teacher training and personal development courses. She has used her holistic living counselling background to provide a deep personal development focus in her training and workshops, having been mentored in holistic living and counselling by Alannah Dore.

    In her 18 years of meditation teaching, Lisa has gained experience teaching small groups, primary and secondary school children, teachers, parent support groups and private organisations. In addition, she has run a private counselling practice.

    From 2006-2013 Lisa taught the Certificate in Holistic Communications and Diploma in Holistic Living Counselling program. This involved the coordination and delivery of training programs and retreats in Melbourne and NSW.

    Her focus now is on continued development and delivery of innovative material in the area of holistic meditation teaching for her body of students nationwide. She believes in meditation as a holistic lifestyle practice involving all aspects of self and affecting all aspects of life. Her passion lies in helping students offer teaching that presents meditation in an authentic and personalized way.

    She is currently mentored by Elizabeth and Ken Mellor. Lisa joined the board of Meditation Australia in 2017

    Janet Etty-Leal, B Ed

    Mindful Meditation Consultant at Meditation Capsules

    Author, speaker and mindfulness educator Janet Etty-Leal has taught creative, holistic mindfulness practices for more than 15 years. Her consultancy, Meditation Capsules, has provided mindful life-skill programs for corporate, health, sport and community organisations and more than 80 schools and educational organisations.

    Janet did her initial meditation teacher training with Dr Ian Gawler and is mentored by Bob Sharples.

    A passion to support children and the people who care for them has fuelled the development of ‘Meditation Capsules’ programs for children from 3-18 years of age.  She has facilitated training programs for teachers, therapists and youth workers.

    Janet is a registered teacher with a background in Creative Arts. Decades of experience and study in the fields of meditation and life skills have culminated in informative and engaging Seminars, Workshops and classes.

    The ‘Meditation Capsules’ program is evaluated by Masters and PhD candidates in the Universities of W.A. and S.A., and Monash and RMIT in Victoria.

    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.


    Liv Downing

    Liv Downing has over 15 years experience working with organizations and individuals to support them to work and live to their fullest potential. She is a Registered Psychologist, Coach and Meditation Teacher and offers consulting and coaching to individuals, groups and organizations.

    Following a three-year period living in the United States, where she set up Liv Mindfully, she returned to Australia and became part of the team to design and deliver the corporate program for Smiling Mind. As a mother of two boys she experienced first-hand the benefits of mindfulness in parenting and was thrilled to be involved in the development of the Smiling Mind parenting program – Mind the Bump.

    In 2015 she was part of the team to set up Australia’s first Mind and Body Studio, Happy Melon, making in-person mindfulness and meditation training accessible to the community. She continues to work within her own business, Liv Mindfully and provides consulting services to Smiling Mind and other partners.

    Murray Paterson


    Murray is a meditation practitioner with over 40 years of practice, and an  experienced meditation teacher with a professional background in adult education. Murray began his meditation practice in response to the illness of his father, learning from Dr Ian Gawler. He is a Senior Consultant with the Potential Project providing meditation training in the corporate sector, and an Associate – Corporate Clients with Allevi8 where he leads a small team of meditation mentors providing 1:1 mentoring to individuals suffering significant mental or physical illness. As an adult educator, he has led the design, delivery and facilitation of leadership and change programs, particularly in professional services, and is an executive coach working in corporate, professional services and the NFP sector.

    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.

    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.