murder detective opens up about his mental health and how meditation saved him

Gary Jubelin opens up about how his saving grace stemmed from the most unlikely of sources.

Gary Jubelin professes to be many things, but a wellness guru isn’t one of them. “I have a couple of beers each day and love chilli chips. Then once or twice a month, I just get on the drink and talk bullsh*t,” he says, smiling.

One thing he is, however, is honest about himself and who he is. This has turned the former homicide detective into a popular media identity whose successful podcast I Catch Killers has an almost cult-like following and has led to an upcoming national tour hosted by his friend, actor Rob Carlton.

While Jubelin doesn’t profess to know the meaning of life or have a workout hack to shed kilos, his real-life experiences have given him a certain understanding of what it means to be human.

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“If you haven’t got your own insecurities and flaws, you’re probably not a balanced person. The good people are the ones who are forever questioning themselves,” the 59-year-old tells Body+Soul.

“I like to think that I’m improving myself each day, whether that be physically or mentally. And I think my best times are ahead of me.”

It’s this mindset that helped carry Jubelin through his 34 years in the police force, where he worked on some of Australia’s most notable murders, like that of drug dealer Terry Falconer (the basis for TV series Underbelly: Badness, in which his character was played by Matt Nable) and the three Aboriginal children killed in Bowraville in the early 1990s.

While policing required him to be physically fit, Jubelin took it upon himself to better his mental health.

“I won’t say I was obsessed with training, because I would drink and party and everything else, but I was fit and into martial arts. But my immune system was broken down because I was pushing so hard. Then one of my instructors told me, ‘You need to balance your hard training with your soft training,’” he says.

“So I fell into the world of meditation and yoga 25 years ago, before it was cool. It doesn’t make me the most Zen person in the world. It makes me more Zen than I would have been without it.”

Jubelin, who practises the Chinese moving meditation called qi gong, says it was a “godsend” when, in 2019, he was sensationally charged and then in 2020 found guilty of illegally recording conversations during his investigation into the disappearance of toddler William Tyrrell.

“I came close to spiralling, I won’t say out of control, but there were some dark times when that happened. My life was turned upside down, but meditation helped me. It gave me a tool on how to deal with it,” he says, before adding this caveat: “But also, my way of approaching life is very Yin and Yang. I like fighting, so when I was angry, I would also jump in a boxing ring.”

The meditation also helped the father of two when he quit the force in 2019 and tried to negotiate a life away from the uniform.

“When I was in the police [force], I had a purpose of doing something good for the community. Even if my life was sh*t in every other aspect – if I wasn’t the best partner, the best parent or the best son – giving back made me feel good about myself,” he says.

“So when that was taken away, I was lost.”

However, Jubelin is grateful he’s found purpose in his work again and has been buoyed by the response from the public.

“People are going out of their way to support me and I can’t thank them enough, because that has carried me through. I went from being looked upon as someone who was [up] there helping society, to getting marched out of court like a criminal,” he says.

“I would have gotten through that whole [court case] easier if I showed attrition. But I truly believe in what I was doing and I don’t believe I did anything wrong. And I think that’s why people can relate to me, because of what I stand for. I stand up for what is right.”

Tai Chi vs Qi Gong

Both are ancient Chinese traditions focusing on qi, the life force of all living things, but where tai chi is considered more of a martial art, qi gong is more about energy work.

“The first class I went to, I could feel the energy between the palms of my hands. It’s about moving energy around your body. I really felt something in that,” Jubelin says. “It balanced out my training really nicely.”

Public service

Jubelin’s policing career might have ended in controversy but, ironically, his subsequent work in the media has shone a light on policing.

“I don’t put myself up as exceptional. There’s a lot of police doing just as much as I’ve done. I was just the one identified in the public,” he says. “But I’m proud of the work I’ve done. And I think it’s a pretty cool career.”

“As a detective you can lock up killers, you can write books and be in a TV series. I mean, what else [could] you want in a career? I would like to think I’ve inspired people to know you can actually go into the police with some passion and perspective, and make a difference.”

Tickets for the I Catch Killers Live shows are on sale at ticketek.com.au. Listen to the latest season of the I Catch Killers podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

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