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The basic meditation state, functional breathing & flow training page

Dear Integral Meditators,

Welcome to the basic meditative presence, breathing & flow training page. In it you will learn how to do this integral meditation combination effectively, & you can then use the meditation recordings & readings below to practice. Scroll down below to

  • Watch the video
  • Listen to the studio quality guided meditations. There is a 20minute & an 8 minute version
  • Read the related articles

Each of these practices are fundamental to good meditation technique. Once familiar with them, they will continue to help you in your other meditation practices almost continuously!

In the spirit of meditative presence,

Toby


Intro to the practices:

Guided meditations:

Listen to the Twenty minute meditative presence, breathing & flow meditation

Listen to the eight minute meditative presence, breathing & flow power meditation

Listen to the building strengths through mindful flow 10minute meditation

Original articles

Meditation – Not missing your life (Your basic meditation state or space)

The foundational pillars or ‘goal-posts’ of meditative presence

Using mindful flow to train in strengths-building

Functional breathing – four meditations

The Integral Meditation Training pages are a free resource, but if you feel you have benefitted, & would like to donate to the Integral Meditation training pages & project, you can do so via PayPal or if in Singapore you can do so directly by PayNow on +6596750279. Thanks!

​All content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this page content, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Invisible, or effortless self-leadership

“At the highest level of self-leadership, all the different aspects of our inner self feel loved, cared for and empowered by the conscious self”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at three levels of mindful self-leadership. It gives some pointers as to what they are, how to spot them in your own self-leadership style, & make progress toward becoming the ‘invisible, or effortless inner leader’.

This week’s Tues & Weds evening class will be on this subject, you are welcome to join us, live or online.

Finally, for those interested in developing inner resilience, on Saturday 9th March I’ll be doing my Mindful Resilience – Practices for sustaining effectiveness, happiness & clarity under pressure workshop.
 
In the spirit of self-leadership,
 
Toby



Invisible, or effortless self-leadership
 
For several years now I’ve been using chapter 17 from the Tao Te Ching as part of my ‘Mindful leadership & self-leadership programs. What I want to do in this article is to look at it from the point of view of self-leadership, breaking it down into three stages. I may look at the leading others aspect of the chapter in a later article.
Here is the original text:
 
Tao Te Ching – Chapter 17 (Steven Mitchell translation)
 
When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

 
If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

 
Level 1 – The invisible leader:
 
‘When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists’.

At the highest level of self-leadership, all the different aspects of our inner self feel loved, cared for and empowered by the conscious self. Each of them knows their place in the scheme of the different levels of self (personality, soul, spirit) and time has been developed helping them to feel confident regarding their capability in their role. As a result, the conscious self does not have to do too much to lead. A person who has reached this level of inner growth experiences the ups, downs, and challenges of life more as an even minded flow, that he or she is able to adapt and work with without too much effortfulness. Of course, there is some degree of willpower involved in what they do, but it is deployed discreetly and gently, rather than being the main ‘motor’ with which we power ourself through life.  
 
Level 2 – The monarch:
 
‘Next best is a leader who is loved.’
I sometimes think of this level of leadership as being like a monarch, king or queen. If we are at this level, we spend a lot of time and effort actively motivating ourself in a benevolent manner, learning to inspire the parts of ourself that lack confidence, heal the parts of us that are wounded, and go beyond the limits of our current self-concept. This style of self-leadership is pro-active. The conscious-self must demonstrate to the different parts of our inner self (or our sub-personalities) that it is trustworthy, so that they can get behind it and push forward as a team. At this stage our inner selves need active guidance, they need to feel nurtured and safe, they need a degree of ‘positive self-talk’. At this second level of leadership, life is quite effortful, but because the dominant energy of inner leadership is appropriate self-love and care, the journey is felt and experienced as one that is going to good places and positive directions.
 
Level 3 – The dictator
 
‘Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.’

I’m putting the last two levels of self-leadership as one, which is essentially leading ourself as a despot or dictator! Here the primary energy within self is self-loathing or hatred. There is a general sense of inadequacy, not being enough, a lack of self-respect. The only way we can motivate ourself to get things done and move forward in our life is through fear and/or agression:

  • ‘If you don’t get this degree people will think you are stupid’
  • ‘Work out because if your fat you won’t be accepted by others’
  • ‘Do what I say or I’ll be criticising you inwardly for the next week!’

The experience of leading oneself like a dictator is that life is very effortful, anxious and progress is a rather tortuous and exhausting process.
 
Most people’s self-leadership process is kind of a mixture of stages two and three. Identifying stage three as a possibility, and practicing it can accelerate the rate at which we grow and integrate it into our lives. This offers the possibility for an easier journey, with progress that seems to happen naturally, by itself even. Our personal path evolves like the final verse of the chapter, with a few of my words in brackets:
 
“If you don’t trust the people (the different inner parts of yourself),
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts (the conscious-self leads by example).
When his work is done,
the people (
the different parts of our inner self) say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

 
 
Related articleBecoming a Self-determining entity – Five stages to mindful self-leadership
Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com



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Using mindful flow to train in strengths-building

“Using mindful-flow to develop particular inner-strengths can rapidly accelerate the pace at which we can grow them. What would normally take much longer, mindful-flow enables us to assimilate with confidence in a much shorter period”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at a major foundation of integral meditation practice, mindful-flow, what it is and how to go about starting to use it in your life.
If you enjoy it, then do consider coming along to this Saturday’s Deep-dive meditation mini-retreat, where we will be putting mindful-flow to good use!

This week’s Tues & Weds evening class is on the art of non-thinking.

 
In the spirit of flow,
 
Toby



Using mindful flow to train in strengths-building
 
What is mindful flow?

Mindful flow is a method of concentration that meditators use to remain present in their practice, and stay present for extended periods. It consists of two complementary qualities:

  • The quality of focus
  • The quality of relaxation

Often when people begin meditation, they try a bit too hard to focus, which means they then have difficulty relaxing, which then means their mind has difficulty settling into meditative presence. Other people relax a bit too much and find themselves falling asleep, which is the other end of the spectrum. So good quality mindful concentration contains the alertness of focus, in combination with the ‘flow’ of relaxation, hence mindful-flow. If complete relaxation to the point of sleep is a 0, and absolute effortful focus is a 10, in meditation we are generally trying to stay somewhere within the 4-6 range.
 
Building the technique of mindful flow

Generally, I recommend specifically developing your practice of mindful flow as an exercise, which can be done using a simple breathing technique:

  • Breathing naturally, as you breathe in, emphasize focusing your attention on your in-breath. You can focus on a particular area of the breathing (like the movement of the belly for example), or the overall sensation of it.
  • As you breathe out, emphasize relaxing your body and mind. If you are aware of particular areas of tension in the body, you can be specific in relaxing those body parts.

You can practice mindful flow continuously for 5-10minutes, or if you like you can do it in sets, for example:

  • 3-5 breaths of mindful flow, followed by a short pause, and when you are ready repeat.

I find that this second technique is quite useful, because it encourages you to really focus well for those 3-5 breaths! 

Using mindful flow to bring strengths & strength-combinationsOnce you have practiced mindful flow, and got a sense of that balance of focus and relaxation, you can then use it to build strengths, qualities and capacities within you. Here I am going to use gentle-determination as an example. Once you understand how to do it with one quality, you know how to do it with others. So then with gentle-determination:

  1. For the first part, as you breathe in, connect of a sense of gentleness, as you breathe out, relax into that feeling of gentleness.
  2. In the second part, connect to a sense of determination, perhaps about something specific in your life right now. As you breathe out, feel that sense of determination as an attitude in the mind and as an energy in the body.
  • In the third section, bring the qualities of gentle-determination together; as you breathe in connecting to determination, as you breathe out soften that determination with an appropriate degree of gentleness.

You can spend as much time as you like on each section, but ideally the most time would be spent with stage three, bringing the gentleness and determination together into a flow.
Dropping into a mindful-flow state and using it to develop particular strengths and qualities can rapidly accelerate the pace and depth at which we can grow them within us. What would normally take much longer to develop competency around, mindful-flow enables us to assimilate with confidence in a much shorter period of time!


Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

“Remember times when you have felt and experienced a connection to different types of love and compassion. Activate those feelings in the present moment, enjoying them and looking for ways that you can express them to yourself and others today”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores seven different ways you can practice to consciously grow & develop your love & compassion. It contains links to previous articles that I have written in detail in each domain.
 If you want to give your love & compassion a real turbo boost, then come along this Saturday for the Integral love & compassion meditation workshop.

Wishing those that are celebrating it a very happy & prosperous new year of the wood dragon! All welcome online or live for the Lunar New Year Meditation 2024: Connecting to your inner Dragon this Tuesday.
 
In the spirit of expanded care,
 
Toby


Article: Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

1. By consolidating your present experiences of love & compassion

Remember times when you have felt and experienced a connection to different types of love and compassion. Activate those feelings in the present moment, enjoying them and looking for ways that you can express them to yourself and others today.
 
2. Through improving our capacity to give & receive it from ourself & from others
Practice the discipline and joy of being able to both give and receive love. This can be practiced in three ways:

  • In our relationship to ourself
  • In our relationship to other human beings and different orders of life
  • Between ourself and different aspects of place, landscape all the way up to planetary and universal levels

3. Recognizing & appreciating the goodwill that we are receiving all the time from others
Really trying to notice and appreciate the goodwill that comes you way during the day from different people and sources. This goes all the way from the daily consideration of friends, family, and colleagues, to the incidental assistance and benevolence from relative strangers we meet each day. Once you start to see it, we start to see that goodwill, connection and consideration are all around us!

4. Expanding the scale of your love
This can be done in two ways:

  • Transforming your sense of the boundaries between yourself, others and your environment. If your idea of yourself is as the earth herself, then its easy to love all the living beings who live there, as they are extensions of you@
  • Secondly, we can work on expanding the scale of your love & compassion from egocentric (me only) to ethnocentric (my family, tribe, race only) to world-centric (all living beings) systematically as a principle and extension of our loving impulse

5. Developing greater courage & objectivity in our relationship to the pain & suffering that could be increasing our compassion
Here we are working on changing our relationship to our own and others suffering, learning to encounter it with less aversion and repression. By opening our eyes to pain in a skilful manner we can use it to build the strength of our compassion, and potential for compassionate action.

6. Distinguishing three types of relational love, & growing them equally
As well as the scale of our love, we can also develop the types of love that we experience. One way of dividing love into types is agape, filia & eros:

  • Agape is the compassionate and caring love of a larger being to a smaller, dependent one. The classic example of this would be parental love, from mother or father to child
  • Filia is brotherly or sisterly love, or love from peer-to-peer, the love of friendship
  • Eros is the creative love existing between those where there is a mutual attraction. The classic example is that of romantic lovers.

7. Expanding your idea of romance & romantic love
Speaking of romantic love, we can grow it by expanding our idea beyond just being between human lovers. We can experience it also in:

  • Our relationship to ourself, as in between the soul and personality
  • In relation between ourself & spirit
  • With landscape, nature and sense of place
  • In relationship between ourself and art, or ourself and our art/work

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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The foundational pillars or ‘goal-posts’ of meditative presence

Dear Integral Meditators, 

It can be good to really get clear about the basics of what you are trying to do in meditation, in a way that invites many deeper levels of understanding of those basics. The article below aims to offer some pointers for this….
In the spirit of presence, 

Toby

The foundational pillars or ‘goal-posts’ of meditative presence


In my previous article on basic mediative presence, I defined meditation as:
 “Meditation is the state of being awake, not lost in thought and not falling asleep. It is a state of being present in the moment, and aware of the present

This gives us a nice broad, ballpark within which we can start to practice. Here are two images to work with in meditation to help get comfortable in this space.

Sitting between the goal posts
In this first image, imagine yourself sitting in the middle of a football goal mouth. Either side of you are the goal posts.

  • Going to the far side of the left goal posts means getting completely lost in thought
  • Going to the far side of the right goal post means falling asleep

All you are trying to do is keep your attention oriented around the body and breathing, stay in the centre of the goal mouth, and avoid ‘traveling’ to the far side of either post.

  • Notice that you can have thoughts arising, but not be lost in those thoughts. Just because there are thoughts does not mean that you have lost your meditative presence
  • Notice also that you can feel a bit sleepy, without falling asleep. You just need to notice the sleepiness and avoid totally dropping off!

It should feel like you are sitting in quite a forgiving, comfortable space that you can relax in. Even if you do get lost in thought, or fall asleep a little, is not a problem. As soon as you become aware of it, bring your attention back between the goal-posts, and re-establish your basic meditative presence.

Two trees or pillars
An alternative to the goal-posts image is to imagine yourself between two pillars or trees. If you imagine yourself between two pillars, you could imagine yourself in your own ‘meditation temple’. Perhaps you are looking out into a beautiful landscape from the steps of the temple, between the two pillars.
Or you can see and feel yourself between two trees, sitting in a harmonious landscape within nature.
Both the pillar and tree option are equally good, you just choose the one that appeals the most to you, and that you feel most comfortable with. Like the goal posts image:

  • Going beyond the tree/pillar on the left represents getting lost in thought
  • Going beyond the tree/pillar on the right represents falling asleep

Your goal is simply to remain in the middle, avoiding either extreme, and cultivate your basic meditation state.
If you are a visual person, you can build the image of the goalposts, pillars, or trees quite strongly, and use the image as an orientation point in addition to your body and breathing. Imagining yourself in a place that is beautiful or harmonious can really help to access a state of meditation more quickly for some people.
If you are not a visual person, then you are mainly using the image as a metaphor or set of practice principles to guide you as you meditate. You would mainly simply stay with the body and breath, not worrying about building a picture so strongly.
Try sitting between the goalposts or pillars for 5-10minutes initially, and then for 15-20minutes using it to help you build your basic meditation state more tangibly and stably.

Related articleWhat is the point of being more present?
Meditation, not missing your life

Article & content 
© Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


In case you missed it: The simple, positive, creative & aware training page

I’ve posted an integral meditation training page for my Simple, positive, creative & aware practice. Click on the link or scroll down below to

  • Watch the video
  • Listen to the studio quality guided meditations. There is a 20minute & an 8 minute version
  • Read the related article

Listen to the meditations & access the related article 



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Resting under the tree of non-doing & unbeing

“Trees are not trying to be anyone or anything else. They rest within their own natural dignity, their sense of inner sufficiency and completeness. What if you could be like that too?

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at the practice of non-doing as a way of moving into being, & then deeper into non-being. It’s a key to effortless effort in meditation & in life! If you enjoy it, then it will form a central part of this week’s Tuesday & Weds meditation class. So do feel free to pop in, either live or online!

A couple of new events up for February: Saturday 17th, 9am-12pm – Integral love & compassion meditation workshop, &  24th, 9-11.30am – Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat.

Last but not least, I’ve posted an integral meditation training page for my Simple, positive, creative & aware practice. Click on the link to watch the video, listen to the guided meditations & read the related article! 
In the spirit of non-doing,
 
Toby


Resting under the tree of non-doing & unbeing
 
This is a simple meditation form to take you from doing, to non-doing/being, to unbeing. The image it uses is that of a tree. Beneath the guided meditation are three stories/quotes from which the meditation is partly inspired. Dropping into a space of non-doing and unbeing is a particular type of silence practice. If you practice it regularly you will find it an invaluable resource to relax, regenerate and come back to your life with new eyes and new inner strength.
 
Meditation: Resting under the tree of non-doing
 
1. Imagine yourself sitting under a tree. It’s a useless tree in the sense that its wood is so knotted it cannot be made into anything by a carpenter. The only thing it is ‘good for’ is sitting under and doing no-thing. When you sit underneath it, it provides shade, calm and peace. It is a wonderful place to be and non-do.
 
2. You can also sense that the tree is entirely happy to be itself. It is not trying to be anyone or anything else. It rests within it’s own natural dignity, it’s sense of inner sufficiency and completeness. As you sit under it, you can feel yourself getting in touch with your inner wholeness and natural dignity. You are just fine as you are. You are a complete being.
 
3. Resting whole and complete like the useless tree, when a thought arises, ask yourself the question ‘Who is it that is thinking the thought?’ Turn your attention inward toward the consciousness that produced the thought. Let your attention return to simply being aware rather than thinking, like a person returning to the shade of a tree after being in the hot sun. Go deeper into being, non-doing and non-thinking.
 
4. From being, now reach into the deeper stillness of Un-being, the Void out of which all Being comes.
 
Return to your outer awareness and close the meditation.
 
Reference 1: The Useless Tree by Chuang Tzu
 
Hui Tzu said to Chuang: I have a big tree, The kind they call a “stinktree.”
The trunk is so distorted, so full of knots,
No one can get a straight plank out of it. The branches are so crooked
You cannot cut them up in any way that makes sense.
There it stands beside the road. No carpenter will even look at it.
Such is your teaching– big and useless.
 
Chuang Tzu repliedSo, for your big tree. No use? Then plant it in the wasteland
In emptiness. Walk idly around, rest under the shadow; No axe or bill prepares its end.
No one will ever cut it down. Useless? You should worry!
(Here is the full Thomas Merton version)
 
The Cedar Tree by Thich Nhat Hanh

“A cedar tree doesn’t have any desire to be a pine or a cypress or even a bird. It’s a wonderful manifestation of the Cosmos just as it is. You are a manifestation of the Cosmos. You are wonderful just like that.”
 
Resting under the tree of non-thinking – Quote from Ramana Maharshi ‘Who Am I?’

“The mind moves without rest, alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been out in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. Similarly, the mind of one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman (Self-as-consciousness)
 
Related articleWhat Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing? (And why We should be interested in doing It)

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2024. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 
 


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Simple, aware, positive creative training page

Welcome to the simple, positive, creative & aware training page. In it you will learn how to practice this integral meditation combination effectively, & you can then use the meditation recordings & readings below to practice.

As I said in the original article on this meditation: “I outline four ways of paying attention that, if you get really good at will render you largely impervious to intimidation from any of the current challenges in your life.”

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby

Intro to the practice:

Listen to the Twenty minute Simple, positive, creative, aware meditation

Listen to the eight minute Simple, positive, creative, aware power meditation

Original article: Simple, or aware, or positive, or creative

The Integral Meditation Training pages are a free resource, but if you feel you have benefitted, & would like to donate to the Integral Meditation training pages & project, you can do so via PayPal or if in Singapore you can do so directly by PayNow on +6596750279. Thanks!

​All content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this page content, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Effortless adaptation – Solving all your problems & none (II)

‘Witnessing is a practice that solves your problems without changing them. They are still problems, but they are not problems in the way they were. It solves all your problems and none at the same time.’

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at meditative effortlessness from the perspective of witnessing practice. It’s a playful variation on a past article on ‘That which solves all your problems & none‘ from back in 2014. If you enjoy it, then it will form a central part of this week’s Tuesday & Weds meditation class. So do feel free to pop in, either live or online!

It’s a slightly longer article, so you might find it worthwhile reading it in two or three parts, coming back to it at different times… 
 
In the spirit of the effortless,
 
Toby


Effortless adaptation – Solving all your problems & none (II)

You can’t master what you are over identified with

This article is about how to adapt and flow with challenges in our life in as ‘effortless’ or ergonomic manner as possible. We can divide our challenges into ‘problems’ and ‘situations’.  In a previous article entitled ‘Wanting what you like, or liking what happens?’ I made the distinction between the two as follows:
“A lot of the things that we have labelled ‘problems’ in our life are more like ‘situations’. A problem is something that by definition has a solution. A situation is more a set of circumstances that we find ourself in. There may be no apparent solution to the situation, or the solution would cost more than it would be worth to ‘solve’ the problem. In this case we have to simply accept and work with what is. If we can harmonize our relationship to what ‘is’ today, meaning our situations, then chances are we will find ways to enjoy it and derive some value from it.”
If we want to solve and adapt effortlessly, a primary principle is you can’t master what you are over identified with. Here we are going to explore how to become more objective in our challenges, therefore struggling less as we adapt and solve.
 
The ultimate subject of consciousness

Initially in meditation (and then in daily awareness), if we look within, we can divide our consciousness into two:

  1. The objects within consciousness, or the content that we can observe
  2. The subject of consciousness, or that which is observing, AKA ‘the witness self’

During the day, quite often (almost always in fact), we confuse the subjects of consciousness with the objects of consciousness. We identify with our physical body and sensations, emotions, and moods. We identify with our story, our idea of who we are, as well as our beliefs and worldviews. All of these can be observed, watched, made into objects. The ‘self’ is, to use a Zen expression, ‘the ultimate subject of consciousness’. It is that within us that observes, which we can experience and be, but that we cannot watch as an object. You can rest in the witness self, but you can’t ‘see’ it. This is because it is simply consciousness itself, with no characteristics of form or time. It just ‘IS’!
 
Witnessing to adapt & solve

One of the beauties of sitting as the witness self is that it helps us to gradually dis-identify with the things in our consciousness that we are currently identified with. By doing this we make our challenges as well as the thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with them objects rather than subjects. This means that its much easier to work with them and master them, because they are not ‘me’ or ‘mine’. I can be more objective, calm, strategic and (holistically) compassionate because I am not over identifying with what is going on. If you apply witnessing to any challenge, you are going thru, it will help substantially. Here are two examples from the last week:
 

  1. In a conversation with a friend, I was told a story of someone who had been aggressive and racist to him. Later in the day I felt strong anger and protectiveness about this. I noticed I was strongly identified with this ‘protector/guardian/’ aspect of myself. I modulated it simply by witnessing it; making it an object of awareness rather than ‘me. This helped me to integrate the good parts of this part of my personality, without wasting energy getting caught up and attached to the energy it generated in me.
  2. I had a discussion which verged on an argument. I noticed that there was a part of me that I identified with that was very concerned about being ‘right’. Noticing and witnessing this part of self helped me to transform it from subject to object, and accept the situation without wasting mental, emotional or verbal energy. Relatively effortlessly it helped me to keep focused on what I considered important in the day, without getting ‘trapped’ by my identification with rightness.

Through witnessing around your challenges, you can change your experience of them without much of a struggle, using the technology of witnessing. I can’t recommend highly enough building your competency around this domain of mindfulness. Life gets a lot easier, free-er and more creative, even in the face of intractable and long-term circumstances.
A final somewhat Zen sentence for you: ‘Witnessing is a practice that solves your problems without changing them. They are still problems, but they are not problems in the way they were. It solves all your problems and none at the same time.’

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2024. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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Meditation – Not missing your life

Ordinarily we are often primarily lost in thought, secondarily conscious of the present moment. A meditator aims to become primarily present in life, and secondarily thinking’

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores a foundational definition of meditation & how to start working with it on a practical level. Experience of it gives you a solid base for your practice that you can easily create enjoyable variations around.

Heads up for this Saturday morning’s workshop:  Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels and for Self-Healing. From the workshop write up: “Qi-gong is the science of working with the body’s energy field. Literally translated into English it means ‘energy work’, or ‘energy skill’.  In this workshop Toby will be teaching the art of moving subtle energy and life force into and around our body using a series of simple and easy to apply techniques.”
 
In the spirit of presence,
 
Toby


Meditation – Not missing your life (Your basic meditation state or space)
 
Awakening in meditation

In some ways awakening to the state of meditation could not be simpler. Here is a working definition:
Meditation is the state of being awake, not lost in thought and not falling asleep. It is a state of being present in the moment, and aware of the present
If you bring your attention to your breath for the next three breaths, avoiding distraction, or falling asleep, and holding the recognition of the breathing in the present, then you are in meditation.
 
We are often close to being in meditation already

Through-out the day we spend periods of time when we are focused in the present moment, on a particular task, not lost in thought, and not asleep. Particularly when we are enjoying something or feeling relaxed, we can do it without too much trouble. Think of an activity you take pleasure in, and recall how it helps you land in the present more, temporarily liberating you from being ‘somewhere else’ in your head.  Children spend long periods of time completely absorbed in and present to activities they enjoy.
The difference between these times that we all experience and a state of meditation becomes clear in the second part of the above definition: “A state of being in the present in the moment, and aware of the present moment.” Most non-meditators, when they arrive in the present moment do so by accident, as a side effect of an activity. They are present, but they are unconsciously present, rather than consciously present. To be in meditation we need:

  • To be aware that we are in the present, and
  • Conscious of what we are trying to focus on in the present

The state of meditation is therefore very similar to a state that you are already quite familiar with. It is just a matter of making it conscious, and then it becomes basic meditative presence
 
Your basic meditation state as your ‘inner studio space’
Your basic meditation state, once you can identify it and hold it consistently, then becomes like an ‘inner studio space’ where you can place and cultivate a range of different states of body, mind, and heart. For example, you can use it to:

  • Build focus and relaxation
  • Cultivate stillness
  • Build greater love and compassion for yourself and others
  • Work on healing inner wounds
  • Develop your self-knowledge

There is a whole range of creative things you can cultivate within your meditation space, but there is one over-riding reason for meditating, and that is so that you don’t miss your life!
 
Meditation – Not missing your life

For many of us, much of the day is spent in a state of non-presence, or the opposite of meditation.

  • We are often lost in thought and distraction
  • When we are not lost in distraction, it is often due to mental fatigue or exhaustion so we find ourselves sleepy, unconscious and in a state of dullness

The result of this is that we miss our life. Our life itself is always happening now, in the present moment, but we forget to turn up, we are somewhere else. To put it simply:
 
Ordinarily we are often primarily lost in thought, secondarily conscious of the present moment. A meditator aims to become primarily present in life, and secondarily thinking’
 
As a meditator, thinking and reflecting consciously becomes a complementary activity to our primary activity of being aware and anchored in the present, thus turning up to our life rather than missing it.
 
The breath of life
As a practical way of exploring your basic meditation state, here are some simple pointers. Breathing comfortably and naturally:

  • Notice how awareness of the breathing brings you naturally into your basic meditation state
  • Notice what it feels like to be primarily present to your life, not lost in thought or on auto-pilot
  • Notice what it is like to be ‘awake’ to your life, here and now
  • See how deeply you can drop into your basic meditation state, and notice what happens when you do
  • Practice taking the basic meditation state into your everyday activities as the orientation point in the moment. Notice how it changes your experience.

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2024. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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Pond & river. What is it that moves, what is it that is still?

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at moving stillness as our object of meditation. It’s a capability that, when you start to get a practical handle on it can have a deeply transformative influence on your life!

If you enjoy it, then do check out the  Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course! that I’ll be starting this  week, both live & online on Tuesday & Wednesday evenings. 

You can also view my course  video on Effortless effort – Moving water that is still, still water that is moving

Final reminder, this Saturday 13th January, 9.30am-12.30pm I’ll be facilitating An Introduction to Integral Mindfulness & Meditation Practice 3 hour workshop. Great way to kick start your meditational year!
 
In the spirit of moving stillness,
 
Toby


Pond & river. What is it that moves, what is it that is still?
 
An important dimension of the practice of effortless effort is to bring stillness and movement together into a harmonic with you. This facilitates the ability to relax into our life and daily tasks ergonomically and effectively. It also enables us to combine two things:

  • Functional productivity, meaning getting our ‘to do list’ done in an effective manner
  • Creative productivity, meaning we are flexible and spontaneous, as well as capable of envisioning and articulating possibilities that have not yet come about

Ajahn Chah, the late well known Thai meditation teacher described the meditative state as ‘still water that moves, and moving water that is still’. When we are beginners at meditation, it seems like movement & stillness are the opposite of each other. Either we are still and relaxed, or we are thinking and active. To bring these two parts together into a state of effortless effort, we need to identify what part of our body-mind is always still, and what part of our body-mind moves.
If you look at your experience moment to moment, it seems relatively clear that your mind, body, and emotions move when they are activated. When they become still temporarily, we start to notice the space of consciousness itself, which, because it has no form is always still. The mind, body and emotions move within the stillness of consciousness. So then, in order to practice ‘moving stillness’ we need to be able to access the stillness of consciousness, and then let our movements of body, mind and emotions move without losing our connection to that stillness. As you can imagine, this takes practice and with this in mind, here is an exercise that you can try out in order to develop your capacity.
 
Pond & river
Imagine yourself sitting in a landscape with a still pond on once side, and a relatively rapidly moving river on the other side.

  • Focusing on the pond, let your mind become still and quiescent like the pond, relax into the stillness for a while. Notice that when you do this you will start to contact the actual, ever-present stillness of your inner consciousness. The image connects you with the presence of your always-still consciousness-itself
  • Then focus on the river, letting your mind feel into the activity and dynamism of the water. Try and ‘flow’ with the movement as you breathe
  • Now bring them together, centre in the stillness of the pond, then brining the sense of movement into the stillness. Initially this might feel a little unnatural, or even jarring, and you might lose your focus a few times. But with a bit of practice you will be able to combine the ‘noise’ of the river with the stillness of the pond.
  • As a final section to the meditation, spend a short while envisioning yourself going about your daily activities. As you do so feel yourself connected to the stillness of your consciousness, whilst at the same time physically,, mentally and emotionally interacting with your world. Imagine yourself to be like ‘moving water that is still & still water that moves’

This meditation will then give you the basis to start practicing effortless effort, bringing together stillness and dynamism as you meet the challenges of the day!

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2024. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Books * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology