Seven essential dimensions of meditation practice

Dear  Integral Meditators,

Once you go beyond the initial beginners level of meditation, what are the essential building blocks that you need to create a well rounded meditation practice? The article below offers a list of seven practices that you can use as a simple template. In relation to it, heads up for a workshop I’ll be doing in October: Integral Meditation for Intermediate and Advanced Meditators

…And a reminder of this weeks sessions: the Tues and Weds Autumn equinox session, and Shamanic mandala meditation on Saturday 😉

In the spirit of well rounded inner growth,

Toby


Seven essential dimensions of meditation practice

People come to meditation for many different reasons, and there are a lot of different types of meditation. The following list below outlines seven essential dimensions of meditation practice, that you can use as a way of expanding your own meditation, so that it includes all of them in one form or another:

1) Cultivate conscious intention and motivation– The general principle here is that you should cultivate a conscious intention for doing things, for as much of the time as possible. In particular, your meditation practice can be done with four basic levels of intention: To bring healing and wellbeing to yourself, to develop your own benevolent inner power, to bring benefit to your circle of personal influence, and to bring healing and wellbeing to the world at large.
2) Build a right relationship to your emotions – Meditation should help you to make friends with your emotions; to look after and guide those that are in pain (sadness, anger etc…) and to cultivate and strengthen those that are positive and benevolent. There should be a portion of your practice that is focused explicitly on this.
3) Embodying your values through ethical action – Your actions need to be consistent with the states of mind that you cultivate in meditation, your outer actions should support your inner development. If your action and ethics don’t, match up to the mind-states that you are cultivating, then inevitably this interferes fundamentally with practice 4, building focus.
4) Building your capacity for focus and concentration – Based on an alignment of your outer actions with your inner states of mind (practice 3), you then have as a basic bread and butter activity for your meditation the building of concentration and focus. In the information and smart phone age of distraction, this is more and more of a premium activity.
5) Develop wise insight into the nature of yourself and life – The function of stage 4, focus is to then give your mind the power to look deeply into yourself and your life so as to experience insight into the deeper levels of who you are and what is important in your life.
6) Cultivate your capacity for wise learning in the moment – Meditation should facilitate your capacity for experiential learning in the moment. Essentially this means that you actively practice  observing and learning as you go about your daily activities on a fuller and more creative level.
7) Giving back to the world, engaging in acts of service – As a result of practices 1-6, you should fine that your own happiness, fulfillment and sense of wellbeing starts to be increasingly plentiful and abundant. As a result, the question then becomes ‘How can I go about expressing this abundance to the world as an act of service that will enrich the lives of others?’ The way in which you actively go about answering this question is your final essential practice.

Is there an underlying set of purposes for doing meditation that is common to all different types and traditions? The perennial philosophy says that there is. The list above is one that I have put together on the basis of the ‘one mountain, many paths’, integral approach to meditation that I expound, which in turn is based somewhat on the principles of the perennial philosophy. The order of this list is based very loosely on Roger Walsh’s Essential Spirituality, which is a very worthwhile read.

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Monday 6.15-7.15 & Wednesday 12.15-1.15 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

September: Saturday 29th , October: Sat 6th/20th , Fri 5th/26th– Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Saturday September 15th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for transforming negativity and stress into positivity and enlightenment 

Tues 18th & Weds 18th September, 7.30-8.30pm – Autumn equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday 22nd September, 10.30am-5pm – Shamanic Mandala Meditation and Art Workshop

Saturday 29th September, 2-5pm – OneHeart Open Day ‘Activating your journey of healing and empowerment’.

October Events:

Saturday 6th October 1-4pm – Mindful Resilience: Sustaining your effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure

Saturday 20th October 10.30am-5.30pm – Integral Meditation for Intermediate and Advanced Meditators

Saturday 27th October, 9:30am – 12:30pm – Meditations for creating a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention 

Tues & Wednesday 30 & 31 October, 7.30-8.30pm – Samhain Meditation – Acknowledging the gifts and wounds of our ancestors

Saturday 27th October, 4-5.30pm – Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Qi Gong 101: Mindfully increasing & harmonizing your subtle energy 

Dear  Integral Meditators,

Qi gong is a way of working mindfully with the subtle energy in your body. This week’s article reflects upon two fundamental questions: What is Qi Gong? And what are the different elements of qi gong practice? I have placed the answers in six parts or divisions. You’ll see links embedded in the article that will take you to some simple practices from my Qi gong blog.
Meditation classes this week on Freedom and liberation, and stress transformation. Heads up for next week’s Autumn equinox session, and Shamanic mandala meditation.

In the spirit of energy,

Toby


If you enjoy the article, then do check out the schedule of Qi gong classes, and my QG coaching and healing page. On the coaching page I share a little about my own personal journey with qi gong meditation!


Qi Gong 101: Mindfully increasing & harmonizing your subtle energy What is Qi Gong? Here are six different ways of answering this question, that together give an overview of the different aspects of qi gong practice.

1) Qi Gong is developing awareness of and circulating ‘qi’ or subtle energy.
All qi gong practices really focus around this basic point. They are all methods to improve the amount (quantity) of qi flowing through our body and mind, thus giving us more energy. Secondly, they improve the harmony and balance (quality) of the qi/energy flow. What is commonly referred to as ‘qi’ in qi gong is the subtle magnetic or bio-electrical energy that flows through the energy meridians in our body. The qi in our body is a part of a vast field of bio-electrical energy that pervades and infuses planet Earth. Other equivalent words for qi are vital energy, prajna, etheric force and “ki” (as in the Japanese word “re-ki” or “universal energy”).
What does Qi Gong practice consist of?

2) Standing
Qi gong practices teach us how to increase and harmonize the flow of energy through our body by adopting certain special standing positions. If you think about the sky and stars above you as being the positive pole of an electrical circuit and the Earth beneath you as being the negative pole, then your body is like the conductor of electrical energy between these two poles. Qi gong standing postures show how to tap into the energy of the universe simply by standing in an optimal manner.

3) Breathing
Qi gong practice teaches basic breathing techniques to develop and enhance the flow of qi around our bodies. At any given time, if you observe your breathing, you will find that it reflects the way in which your body and mind are feeling at that time. Qi gong breathing techniques focus on giving our breathing patterns eight fundamental qualities; Silent and fine, slow and deep, long and soft, continuous and even.

4) Smiling
This is such a fundamental part of qi gong that I tend to draw it out as an individual element. The expression on our face has a fundamental effect on the energy in our mind and body. By practicing a technique called the “inner smile” we can harness this form of qi or energy for many positive purposes in our life.

5) Movement
Qi gong promotes special types of gentle physical movement to help promote the flow of qi through the body. There is also a mechanical (in the positive sense of the word) aspect of qi gong movement that focuses on putting the joints of our body through their full range of movement on a regular basis. “A used door hinge never rusts” as the saying goes. Qi gong movement help us to exercise our joints and basic muscle groups in a way that helps to maintain them in a healthy, optimal state.

6) Practical philosophy
Qi gong is based around a great wealth of practical wisdom from the (mostly) Taoist tradition of health, primal psychology and spirituality. This provides a context and way of life that surrounds, infuses and informs the Qi gong practices outlined in points 1-5 above.

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Monday 6.15-7.15 & Wednesday 12.15-1.15 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

September: Saturday 29th , October: Sat 6th/20th , Fri 5th/26th– Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Saturday September 15th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for transforming negativity and stress into positivity and enlightenment 

Tues 18th & Weds 18th September, 7.30-8.30pm – Autumn equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday 22nd September, 10.30am-5pm – Shamanic Mandala Meditation and Art Workshop

Saturday 29th September, 2-5pm – OneHeart Open Day ‘Activating your journey of healing and empowerment’.


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Baseballs or confetti?

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you were to learn to deal with your suffering in life, what might start to happen to your access to rapture and joy? The article below explores this question in a practical way…

In the spirit of baseballs and confetti,

Toby

​Baseballs of confetti? 
The truth of suffering
One of the big gifts of my time as a Buddhist monk and studying Buddhism was its orientation around looking squarely at pain and suffering. Of course, Buddhas first noble noble truth is the ‘truth of suffering’; in our life it is absolutely certain that we will meet various forms of pain. The brief summary of Buddhas seven unavoidable sufferings would be: birth, ageing, sickness, death, parting from what we like, encountering things we don’t like, and uncertainty. So, the basic ‘mindful injunction’ here is ‘be ready’ because in multiple ways small and great you are going to suffer. The good news is that, if you are ready for the pain, then you can reduce the amount of pain you experience, and you can also use it to become wiser, happier and more capable in your life. Put another way, your suffering becomes useful to you.What are you expecting, a baseball or confetti?
Whether our suffering is useful to us or not depends alot upon our expectation. If you are standing there expecting life to throw confetti at you, then when a ‘baseball’ of suffering gets thrown your way, then you are going to be completely unprepared, and the likelihood is that it’s going to hit you flush in the face, and cause a lot of pain. If your ‘ready’ for the suffering, or ‘expecting the baseball to come at you’ then when it does, you can basically ‘catch’ it, without it really doing to much damage. For example:

  • If I am wrestling with uncertainties in important areas of my life, if I have a sense that this is a ‘normal’ part of everyone’s life which I expect then I’ll be ‘ready’ to have to deal with it.
  • If I expect my body to give rise to a certain amount of pain, to age and so forth, then chances are I’ll be able to work with pain when it occurs and relax more gracefully into the ageing process (and perhaps as a result staying ‘beautiful’ longer?)
  • If when I engage in a romantic relationship I expect to have my emotional triggers and vulnerabilities pressed, then there is a much better chance I’ll be able to work with them, and preserve the beauty of the love in the relationship for longer, perhaps indefinitely….

The bottom line here is, if you are ready for it, then the capacity of suffering to cause painis much reduced, and the reduction comes in large part from your expectations…

The truth of rapture
Another truth that I think is equally important to grasp, but that isn’t explicitly in Buddhas four truths (but may be implicit?), is what I call the truth of rapture. This truth is really that life contains within it inherent forms of rapture, beauty and bliss. This rapture is available to all of us, but it exists amongst the suffering, messiness, uncertainty and difficulties of our life. The big payoff of opening to the truth of suffering well and courageously is that you them start to open up spaces in your life that contain wonder, beauty and amazement. Sometimes these experiences are quiet and unobtrusive, and sometimes they come to us in waves, loudly and in technicolour. If you take care of your suffering well then there is more and more room for genuine and sustainable rapture. For example:

  • If you are prepared to meet the ‘pain’ of intimacy in a romantic relationship and deal with it mindfully, then the stage is set for a long term and sustainable experience of rapture
  • If you are prepared to accept and deal with the pain of working hard to build a business well and with integrity, then the stage is set for the long-term pleasure and joy of having done so. You can enjoy the joy of both the process and the result!
  • If you are not pre-occupied with, trying to avoid or being consumed by your suffering, then you can find quiet moments of rapture during the day, in the beauty of a view, the presence of a loved one, the passing of time and so forth…

When you know how to catch the baseballs of suffering that come your way, you may find life spontaneously and as if by accident starts to throw a lot of confetti your way!

Related article: Practical Rapture (On rapture, beauty and mindfulness)

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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 body within the body (infinitely small, infinitely big)

Dear  Integral Meditators,

In your body, according to the great meditation traditions, there is another body, which when discovered is a wonder. The article below explains a simple(ish) technique to discover it for yourself!
for those in Singapore: The Qi gong meditation/workout this Saturday 8th is currently FULL, but the one on the 29th still has places.
Details of this weeks evening classes can be found here.

In the spirit of deep body awareness,

Toby


The body within the body (infinitely small, infinitely big)

The body within the body’ is an originally Zen term that I use to refer to a particular technique that enables access to a deep state of formless meditation, using the body and the senses as a starting point. It’s a useful technique to know because as well as being very simple, if you get good at it combines:

  • A simple technique that you can use to calm and center yourself with in daily life
  • Enabling access to a deep and expanded state of awareness that is often only experienced after years of meditation practice

The technique: 
Begin with the body – Start by focusing your attention upon the sensation of your physical body. You can focus on the sensation of the body in general, or you can take one area of the body, such as the rising and falling of your belly as you breathe, or the weight of your body on the chair/cushion. Either way, use the sensory experience of the body as your object of focus.
Let the mind still – As you focus on the body in this way, you will find that naturally, over time your mind and thoughts start to slow down, resulting in greater and greater periods of time where your mind is merely an open spacious experience of awareness, with no thoughts in it. You keep your physical body as the anchor for your attention and let the mind still gradually in its own time. No need to push things.
Let the body dissolve – After a while you’ll find that your sense of your physical body will start to dissolve away, and you’ll be left with what feels like a huge ‘white’ open space, which appears more and more directly to your awareness. This is the ‘body within the body’, or the formless, timeless ‘body of consciousness’.
Rest in the ‘body within the body’ – This is your principle object of meditation and attention for the session. It’s quite a radically different experience from our normal everyday state of mind and is characterized by not just a mental experience of stillness, but also a sense of inhabiting a ‘body’ that is itself infinitely still, spacious and consisting of consciousness, rather than any kind of physical form.
Come back to your physical body – Finally, when you have finished the time you intended to spend meditating, really come back solidly to your physical body and awareness of your outer environment. Concretely ground yourself in your sense of physicality and everyday physical surroundings. This last stage is very important!

A personal story
This method can also be practiced using external objects of the senses as your point of focus. I had my first experience of this type of ‘body within the body’ meditation 100% by accident as a 12-13 year old. I was sitting underneath a row of polar trees at school, enjoying looking at them and the breeze running through the leaves. Relatively suddenly I had the sense of the trees and my own physical body ‘expanding’ to become as if infinitely large, and then dissolving away to leave an open empty space (the body of consciousness) that felt at the same time both infinitely large, and infinitely small. This stayed with me as ‘peak’ experience that I dipped in an out of for several weeks, before disappearing. Later when I took up meditation in my twenties I had similar experiences that I was then able to identify as useful and meaningful as a part of the meditation journey.

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course

Monday 6.15-7.15 & Wednesday 12.15-1.15 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

Saturday 8th September & 29th September 9-10.15am – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Tues 18th & Weds 18th September, 7.30-8.30pm – Autumn equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday 22nd September, 10.30am-5pm – Shamanic Mandala Meditation and Art Workshop

Saturday 29th September, 2-5pm – OneHeart Open Day ‘Activating your journey of healing and empowerment’.


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Making your body your castle (And watch Toby’s Mindfulness TedX Talk!)

Dear  Integral Meditators,

This weeks article gives some simple mindful suggestions for bringing real stability to your life, literally, and even when under pressure!
Also, I recently discovered that a TedX talk I gave on mindfulness is up on the web. Its a pretty decent 15min primer on the vision of engaged and integral mindfulness, do have a view!

In the spirit of castle-like awareness!

Toby


1:1 Coaching offer until the end of August
On a personal level, if you are looking to meet the rest of the year with a renewed strategy for developing your work-life balance, and for dealing with your stress more effectively, until the end of August I am offering a 15% price reduction in myHandle stress and have peace of mind 1:1 coaching sessions.


Making your body your castle

Your body and your senses are your most basic, simple and stable objects of mindful awareness. They are basic and simple because they are non-conceptual, solid experiences that we encounter when we observe the physical dimension of our present moment awareness. When your mind is focused on your body and senses quite naturally it starts to feel more stable, because our body is generally much less changeable, quick and unpredictable than our thoughts and emotions.

Your body and senses are the easiest objects to train in mindfulness to begin with. This is because they are obvious and easy to find, even if we are not familiar with mindfulness practice. Everyone can become aware and focus on their body, or the sounds around them without too much trouble. Because of this they are an obvious place to begin building mindful concentration and focus. Once you are familiar with focusing on the body and senses, you can then go onto focus on thoughts, feelings and mental images as objects of mindfulness with much greater ease and success.

Solid mastery of mindfulness of the body and senses will give you tremendous stability under mental and emotional pressure. This is because they give your mind a stable anchor in the moment. Rather than feeling like you are drowning in an uncontrollable mass of thoughts and feelings, you will gradually start to feel more and more comfortable under pressure, because your attention to your body gives you a deeper sense of presence in the moment that enables calm.

Make your body like your castle 
There is an old saying that goes something like “An Englishman’s home is his (or her) castle”. The gist of this is that our physical home is a refuge where we can retreat from the world, gather our strength, heal our wounds and feel safe. If we have a physical space to retreat to it is of great value to us in terms of our peace and wellbeing. I often think about my own body as being like my ‘castle’ as I go around my day facing various challenges. As long as a part of my attention is centered in my body I have a place where I can feel strong, relaxed and solid, even if there are difficult emotions, uncertainties or negative thoughts going on.
If you like you can bear this image in mind as you cultivate your own mindful attention of your body and senses. Practice making them ‘castle-like’; solid, immense and stable amidst the whirlwind of your emotions, thoughts and activities. If you are a visually minded person, when you are sitting in meditation you might even like to imagine yourself in your very own castle, safe and calm within its strong walls. You can them bring that feeling into your body in the present moment and cultivate that feeling of physical strength and solidity.

Enhancing your bodily comfort and wellbeing
As you cultivate your awareness in this way, you will also start to notice tension, fatigue or discomfort in the body. As a result, you will naturally start to let go of that tension and look after your body better. So not only will you find more mental stability, but you will also enhance your wellbeing on a physical level!

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course

Monday 6.15-7.15 & Wednesday 12.15-1.15 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

Saturday 8th September & 29th September 9-10.15am – Qi Gong workout and meditation class
Tues 18th & Weds 18th September, 7.30-8.30pm – Autumn equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday 22nd September, 10.30am-5pm – Shamanic Mandala Meditation and Art Workshop

Saturday 29th September, 2-5pm – OneHeart Open Day ‘Activating your journey of healing and empowerment’.


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Simple, or aware, or positive, or creative

Dear  Integral Meditators,

In this weeks article 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. Enjoy!
Beneath that you will see the program of events for September, the next weekend event being this one: Saturday 1st September 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat. For details of this weeks evening classes tonight and Wednesday click here.

In the spirit of attention,

Toby


1:1 Coaching offer until the end of August
On a personal level, if you are looking to meet the rest of the year with a renewed strategy for developing your work-life balance, and for dealing with your stress more effectively, until the end of August I am offering a 15% price reduction in my Handle stress and have peace of mind 1:1 coaching sessions.


Simple, or aware, or positive, or creativeWhat are we fundamentally trying to do with our attention in mindfulness practice? One way of thinking about this question is to divide our daily attention into four ‘types’ Under each type listed below I detail an introduction to what it is and how to go about cultivating it. In each section there is also a link to a full article on each topic.

Simple – This type of mindful attention involves making our attention simple, grounded, uncomplicated by directing it toward our body and senses. You can take any of your senses, your breathing or feelings within your body as your object of attention here. By keeping your attention anchored to your sensory experience, you make your mind simpler, stronger and more relaxed. Without deliberately making our mind simple every day it’s all too easy to live in a permanently complex, stressful, anxious and worried mental world, that feels intimidating and not much fun. Also, when you think less, you also tend to think better!

Aware – This second type of mindful attention seeks only to pay attention and be aware. It observes and notes what is happening in our mind with impartiality, not trying to change fix, judge or alter. There is a lot of basic inner stability that comes just from observing and being curious. There is a world of difference for example between ‘My life is a disaster’ and ‘how interesting that part of my mind should be thinking that my life is a disaster!’ Awareness gives us choice and flexibility of mind. It also makes it more likely that we will then go onto make better decisions based around what we have become aware of.

Positive – This third type of attention means deliberately paying attention to what good there is in our life, or a situation; what there is to appreciate, feel grateful for, or that is to our advantage. It seeks out reasons to feel happy, glad, optimistic, peaceful, enthusiastic, even if we seem to be surrounded by problems and challenges. Developing our daily skill at this type of attention value adds tremendously to our pleasure and wellbeing. It also increases the chances of us being more effective and energized in the face of problems.

Creative – Finally, the creative mode of attention is where we think and analyze in a focused way in order to find solutions to problems. It is completely different from ruminating, over-analyzing or negative worrying. It simply observes the presenting issue with curiosity (fear or anxiety may be present, but we do not allow them to dominate) and seeks to come up with creative ideas as to how a solution could be found, or a step forward can be taken. The creative mode of thinking is not focused exclusively on the positive. It seeks to know obstacles and problems objectively and realistically and seeks ways to find resolution. This way of paying attention is also creative in the face of non-problems. It seeks to innovate, improvise and enjoy whatever circumstances we find ourselves in!

A suggested practicum: For five minutes, focus on making your mind simple by focusing on your body and senses. Then spend five minutes letting your attention roam, and greeting whatever comes up with awareness, or positivity, or creativity. It can be whichever you prefer, but it must be one. You can repeat this cycle as many times as you like in any sitting. Get used to paying sustained mindful attention to your life in these four ways and notice what starts to change!

Related article: Two fundamental mindfulness and meditation questions

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course

Monday 6.15-7.15 & Wednesday 12.15-1.15 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

Saturday 1st September 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat

Saturday 11th August, 9-10.15am – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Saturday 18th August, 9.30-1pm – Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Two fundamental mindfulness and meditation questions

Dear  Integral Meditators,
What are important questions that you can use to greatly improve your meditation and mindfulness practice, whatever level you are at? The article below offers two…
Final reminder of the Effortless effort insight meditation series starting tomorrow and Wednesday evening, and for those in Singapore the Language of the Shadow workshop this Saturday!In the spirit of mindful questioning,Toby

Two fundamental mindfulness and meditation questions

One fundamental mindfulness question that you can ask yourself is “What is the way in which I am paying attention to my experience in this moment?” Regarding meditation, a central one is Which positive object of attention is going to be most useful to me in this situation, right now?

“What is the way in which I am paying attention to my experience in this moment?”
Let’s look at the mindfulness question first. Mindfulness means being aware of what you are doing in the moment, and how you are paying attention to what you are doing. If you ask yourself how you are paying attention to what is happening to you, then you’ll start to notice the way in which your attention is influencing how you experience what you are going through. You can then ask yourself the question “is the way in which I am paying attention here helping me or hindering me to be both happy and effective?” If you can see that your current way of paying attention is working to produce a good result, then you can stay with it. If it isn’t, then you can try making a mindful adjustment that will make an improvement.
For example, if I am in a meeting, and I am feeling impatient because it has gone overtime, I might notice that the impatience is making me both unhappy in the moment, and less effective at bringing the meeting to a successful conclusion. So, I might then decide to make the adjustment of accepting that the meeting is late, and re-focus my attention on patiently getting the best outcome by listening to the other parties, and communicating well.
It is by making many such incremental adjustments each day that mindfulness can really improve out quality of life and make us more effective at what we are doing.

“Which positive object of attention is going to be most useful to me in this situation, right now?”
A meditator is (amongst other things) someone who is concerned with focusing their attention mindfully around a positive object as they go through their daily life. A ‘positive object’ is one that, when we focus upon it helps our mind to feel calmer, more joyful/loving, more confident, grounded, centered and so on. A positive object influences our state of mind for the good when we focus upon it. There are as many different positive objects as there are positive states of mind. The skill as a meditator lies in focusing on the right positive object. For example:

  • If I am experiencing fear, I might take courage, or the recognition of my immediate physical safety as my object of meditation in the moment
  • If my mind is very busy or distracted, then I might practice attention to my body and senses as my positive object, to settle my mind.
  • If I have just received an experience of good fortune, then I can take appreciation of that good fortune as my object of mindful attention.

The skill of the meditator in this context is selecting the right positive object to effectively meet and enjoy the challenge that s/he is going through in the moment. Since life is always changing, the particular positive object will also change as our day/week/month progresses, so we need to keep aware and making adjustments. We can do this by asking ourself this second question.

So, if you can bear in mind these two questions and ask yourself them regularly, then both your mindfulness and meditation practice are going to become more effective. Enjoy!

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course

Monday 6.15-7.15 & Wednesday 12.15-1.15 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

Saturday 11th August, 9-10.15am – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Saturday 18th August, 9.30-1pm – Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Incremental Breathing – Relaxing and energizing at will

Dear  Integral Meditators,

How can you use your breathing consciously to both energize and relax yourself at will? The article below offers a simple, easy to practice technique.
For those in Singapore, a reminder that the weekly evening meditation classes start again this week, full details here. This Saturday we also have a new  Qi gong meditation workout and meditation, as well as the monthly meditation for beginners workshop.

In the breathing and feeling alive,

Toby


Incremental Breathing – Relaxing and energizing at will

Incremental breathing is a way of using the breath to both energize and or relax our mind and body. Taking a few of these breaths at regular times during our day can really make a difference to the quality of our life, as well as making us more aware and empowered regarding how we can influence the energies of our mind, body and nervous system for the better using such an easy technique. Incremental breathing can be practiced on the inhalation when we want to energize our body, and on the exhalation when we want to calm and relax our body.
Practicing either of these two forms of breathing will be enhanced if we first bring our torso’s center of gravity down low into the belly and breathe with the whole lung. I explain these two points fully in my article on Belly breathing.

Incremental breathing on the inhalation.
As you breathe in, divide your inhalation into three even lengths or ‘sips’ as follows:
Breathe into about 25% lung capacity, pause*, breathe in to about 50% of lung capacity, pause, breathe into about 75% of lung capacity, pause. By this time your lungs are comfortably full. Then, breathe a long, slow exhalation. Repeat 3-9 times.
(*the pause here should be short, a half second or one second max).
Once you have become used to the above technique, as you are inhaling incrementally, feel all the cells of your body becoming more and more energized as you inhale, so by the time you reach the top of your inbreath, your whole body feels full of Qi /energy).

Incremental breathing on the exhalation.
First take a long, measured inbreath to about 75% of your lung capacity, so that your lungs are comfortably full. Then, as you breathe out, divide your exhalation into three even lengths:
Breathe out to about 50% of lung capacity, pause, breathe out to about 25% of lung capacity, pause, empty remaining air from lungs, pause. Repeat 3-9 times.
Once you have become used to the basic process of incremental breathing on the outbreath, as you breathe out incrementally, feel your whole body becoming progressively more and more relaxed.

Once you have practised them individually, you can combine these two techniques together, so that you are breathing in incrementally to energize your body and mind, and then breathing out incrementally to relax your body and mind. The result is a very pleasant combined experience of energy and relaxation that we can take into and use in our life.

For the insomniacs among you, this type of breathing, particularly breathing incrementally on the exhalation can be good to combine with the ”Hands on the belly to relax the brain”technique in the article I published in July. Enjoy your breathing!

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course

Monday 6.15-7.15 & Wednesday 12.15-1.15 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

Saturday 11th August, 9-10.15am – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Saturday 11th August, 11am-12.30pm – Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever

Saturday 18th August, 9.30-1pm – Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Four ways of being mindful in relationships

Dear  Integral Meditators,

How can you use mindfulness to improve your relationship wisdom? The article below offers some specific pointers for practice!

A reminder of the new class series (can be participated in live or online) starting on August 14th: Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course. Beneath the article there is also the details of all the new live classes and workshops lined up in August, language of the shadow, Qi gong sessions and more!

In the spirit of wise relating,

Toby


Four ways of being mindful in relationshipsMindfulness is about training your attention in specific ways. In each area of your life there are ways of paying attention that are going to be particularly useful for mastering that particular domain of experience. Its not like there is just one way of being mindful that you master. For every activity you need to identify the specific ways of paying attention that will going to help you become more mindfully effective in that area. In mindful relationships there are four objects of attention that can be particularly useful to bear in mind and pay attention to. These are the first, second and third person perspectives, plus what you might call a ‘we perspective, or ‘we space’. These perspectives each reveal a particular dimension of how the relationship is playing out, and gives you information that can be helpful in finding a solution to problems and encouraging harmony and wellbeing.
I’ll explain these four perspectives below. To do this as an exercise as you are reading, it might be useful at this point to bring to mind one of your own relationships that you want to look into. It could be a personal one with a lover or family member, or a professional one such as with a colleague or business partner.

The first-person perspective – What it looks like from your point of view.
The first-person perspective is what the situation in the relationship looks like from your personal point of view; from ‘my point of view’, ‘how I see it’. What are you experiencing? What are your feelings, needs, desires and wishes? How do you experience the other person and their behaviour? Spend time opening to awareness of what your experience is in the relationship. Its really important to know where you stand and what’s going on for you!

The-second person perspective – Their point of view
This second point if view means looking at the situation from the other person(s) point of view. How are they feeling, why are they speaking in the way they are? What is their body language communicating? What is their mindset and values? Here you get out of your perspective and try and inhabit their POV as fully as possible. Use your imagination and intuition to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’. Try and understand their perspective as experientially as possible.

The third person perspective – Being a ‘fly on the wall’
In this third position, you observe the interaction impartially. This objective, 3rd person perspective is like being a fly on the wall; you are not personally interested in any of it. You are just gathering information, taking notes, being as empirical as possible. You’ll find this reveals a very different understanding from positions one and two!

Position four – The ‘we space’
This fourth position observes the interactive space that you create between each other, or in the group. You find it by asking questions like ‘What is the dynamic of my relationship with this person?’ and ‘What do we thrive on together, and what creates friction between us?’ Your ‘we space’ is the unique culture that exists in any relationship that you have with another person. Attention to how that dynamic works will give you important insights into what you can do and how you can behave to improve its quality.

Any relationship you have that you want deeper insight into, or want to improve, try taking each of these four perspectives regularly, and then acting upon the insights that you glean from them. Happy observing!

Related articles:  Cultivating Mindful Relationships, and Meditation/Stress-Transformation for Couples
Four Methods for Cultivating Mindful Relationships
Dealing mindfully with anger and conflict in your relationships

Related coaching with TobyHandle stress and have peace of mind

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course

Saturday 11th August, 9-10.15am – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Saturday 11th August, 11am-12.30pm – Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever

Saturday 18th August, 9.30-1pm – Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The healing power of awareness; Four insight meditation techniques

Dear  Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is on insight meditation, and on the natural healing power of our mind, when we allow it. Its a slightly longer article than usual, with four short techniques you can try out!
You can also find below the details of the next series of meditation classes at Integral Meditation Asia beginning mid August, on Insight meditation.

In the spirit of insight and allowing,

Toby


Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week (live or online) course

Details: This is a meditation course that is designed to help you learn to meditate in a way that:

  • Is very relaxing and gentle, requiring relatively little effort to do
  • Naturally promotes healing and wellbeing in both your mind and body
  • Is simple enough for a beginner, but contains many levels that the more advanced practitioner can remain engaged and stimulated by
  • Can have a transformative effect on the way in which you experience stress and tension
  • Can contribute to you feeling mentally, emotionally & energetically ‘young’, flexible and resilient in the face of life’s challenges

If so, then this is a course for you! Click HERE for full details


The healing power of awareness; the topography of insight meditationI want to begin this article by paraphrasing Roger Walsh in a conversation that he had with Ken Wilber. Basically, he said that one of the amazing things about our minds is that, if we let it, our mind has this incredible power to:

  1. Self-heal – that is to heal its inner divisions and move toward wholeness
  2. Self-actualize – that is start to move naturally toward a more enlightened or awakened state of self-awareness, and to
  3. Self-transcend – that is to move naturally toward the next, deeper level of consciousness immediately beyond its present state of growth.

All of this can happen by our simply ‘allowing it’. The way in which we ‘allow it’ is by regularly cultivating a state of relaxed, lucid awareness in our day to day routine. The innate power of this awareness creates a powerful healing and stimulating effect upon our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. The problem for many of us is that we perceive our relationship to our mind as a perpetual battle, where the thing that seems to be standing in the way of our inner healing and growth is the mind itself. It is not natural for us to seek resolution to our inner problems through conscious relaxation!
One very ergonomic form of meditation that we can use in order to start making friends with our mind and access its powers of self-healing is insight meditation. The main activity in insight meditation is to identify and observe the different levels of our mind. Because of this, insight meditation is sometimes called “choice-less awareness”. Whatever comes up, we just watch without getting involved.

Four levels of observing – A basic map or topography of insight meditation awareness
There are four basic levels of mind that insight meditation helps us to cultivate awareness of. These might be called the gross, subtle, very subtle and non-dual. What I want to do is to outline them and offer simple meditation practices that we can do on each of these levels. This way you can get a practical flavour of what insight meditation involves, and start trying it out for yourself.

Level 1: Gross awareness – This is awareness of our physical body, senses and environment.
Sample insight meditation exercise for this level: Be aware of everything that you hear for a period of time. Note all the different layers of sound that your ear awareness is picking up. As I am sitting now I can hear some distant cars, the fan on the table next to me, the typing as my fingers work on the type-pad, I can hear the sound of my breathing in my inner ears. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the layers of sound flowing into your moment to moment awareness. You can practice an equivalent insight exercise for any of your other senses.

Level 2: Subtle awareness – This level observes the flow of thoughts, feelings and images that flow through our mind on a moment to moment basis. On this level there is a range of subtlety, from the everyday thoughts of our waking mind to the more subtle experiences of the dreams and of dreaming. Basically, this is the realm of thoughts.
Sample insight meditation exercise for this level: Sit down and observe the flow of thoughts, feelings and images through your awareness. Imagine that you are like a person sitting by the side the river of your mind, observing the constant ebb and flow of mental images and feelings that passes by you.

Level 3: Very subtle awareness – This level observes the inner space of our consciousness itself, which is formless, space-like , and lies behind our mental and sensory consciousness. If you imagine your thoughts and feelings are like clouds, then your consciousness is like the sky that contains those clouds.
Sample insight meditation exercise for this level: Continue to watch your mind, become aware of the spaces between your thoughts. Allow your awareness to sink deeper and deeper into these spaces. Let the cloud-like forms of your thoughts and feelings gently dissolve away as you observe the sky-like space of your consciousness.

Level 4: Non-dual awareness – This level is where the sense of yourself the observer of your consciousness (as in level 3 above) dissolves away, and you are left with a unified (non-dual) experience of awareness, just a single experience of consciousness with no conceptual idea of observer and observed.
Sample exercise: The way to approach this experience is through the level 3 exercise. The more you practice it, very gradually, over time you will feel yourself moving toward this non-dual state.

So, my basic point in this article is that if you allow your mind to relax consciously and attentively, then you are going to activate its natural capacity for self-healing and growth. If you want a particular in-depth method to develop your minds self-healing mechanism, then insight meditation is one such tool.

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course

Rest of August program coming soon!


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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