On boredom, creativity & ‘mindful fishing’

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can being mindful of our boredom make us more creative and enhance the quality of our life? The article below considers the answer to this question in a practical way.

In the spirit of ‘mindful fishing’,
Toby

PS: New schedule of live classes and workshops is out, check out the list below the article!


On boredom, creativity & ‘mindful fishing’

One of the problems of having distractions always available to us at hand which we all do now with handphones, is that we are not forced to encounter and learn to value the state of boredom. Why is boredom valuable? For the purposes of this article I want to suggest that boredom is a valuable state of mind as it often happens when we are transitioning from a functional, non-creative, information-consuming mental state to a creative, imaginative mind-state.
What do I mean by this? Let’s say I am coming home from work on an evening. My work tasks have been completed, and I find myself on the train or bus. My functional mind that I have been using at work now starts to get bored because there is nothing to do; it wants some information to consume, a distraction, it does not want to have to sit still and simply ‘be’ because it finds it uncomfortable.
At this point, what normally happens is we reach for our phone and distract ourselves by reading the online news, texting, playing a video game and so on. This re-engages our functional, doing mind, distracts us from our anxiety, and alleviates our boredom temporarily. It doesn’t necessarily make us happy per-se, it just alleviates the discomfort of the boredom.
But let’s say we are feeling bored on the train and we resist the temptation to distract ourselves, and just sit with the state of boredom, sinking into it patiently. What we find will then starts to happen is our mind will begin to shift from a consuming, non-creative state to a slightly deeper, creative, contemplative state. Put another way, instead of looking to be entertained or distracted, our mind will start coming up with its own creative content and entertainment, it starts to produce rather than consume.
Once this shift happens we naturally transition out of our ‘bored’ mind state, and begin to enjoy the relaxed, contemplative, imaginative state that our mind has now moved into, because of having patiently tolerated and moved through our boredom.
Basically, what I am advocating here is that when we find ourselves getting bored, instead of looking impulsively for distractions, we can mindfully relax into that state of boredom. This in turn will enable us to transition from a non-creative, functional mind state to a creative, contemplative, ‘self-entertaining’ state. In this creative state, we discover the part of us that is ‘the artist and philosopher’ in our life; that part of us that is self-directed and self-entertaining. This part of ourself enjoys thinking for him/herself, enjoys finding her own opinions, enjoys seeing things from new angles and thinking thoughts that have not occurred to us before.

Transitioning boredom though ‘mindful fishing’.
The next time you are in a place where there is nothing to ‘do’ (Eg: a commute home) and you sense your mind getting restless, bored and looking for a distraction, recognize the opportunity at hand to transition to a more creative mode. Relax into your boredom, perhaps imagine yourself fishing by a lake, just looking at the line and the water in front of you; relax into that state of ‘waiting for a bite from the fish’. In this case the ‘bite from the fish’ that you are looking for is the emergence of creative thoughts and ideas as you transition into your creative contemplative state. This happens not by trying hard, but relaxing into the boredom and allowing your mind to ‘change gears’ naturally, by itself, without being in a hurry.
So, the next time you start feeling bored instead of finding something to distract yourself, try a bit of mindful fishing!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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 Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Saturday April 1st, 1.30-5pm – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop

Saturday April 8th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat

Saturday 29th April, 10am-5pm & Monday 8th May, 10am-5pm – How to do Soul Portraits Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The warmth of non-judgment

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can we integrate the practice of non-judgment into our life in a way that really makes a difference? The article below explores this theme…

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore we will be meditating on non-judgmental awareness in class this Tuesday and Wednesday evening


The warmth of non-judgment

Recall a time when you were with a person with whom you did not feel judged. By not feeling judged I mean that you felt as if you were in a safe space with them. You could be who you were without being rejected; even if you felt who you were at that time was not particularly nice, or when you had judged yourself to be ‘bad’, ‘nasty’, ‘sad’, a ‘loser’ and so on….The non-judgmental space that this person created for you was warm, it felt like you were still appreciated and cared for even though you were imperfect, upset or afraid.
Once you have spent a little time remembering in this way, now see if you can create that safe, non-judgmental space for yourself in this moment. See if you can gently extend unconditional warmth and caring toward all parts of yourself, suspending all the normal judgments that you would normally instinctively impose upon yourself. This non-judgmental space has two qualities:

  • Firstly, there is the detached quality of non-judgment, kind of like an objective, third person experience
  • Secondly there is the friendliness, warmth and curiosity arising from paying attention to and being interested in yourself

These two qualities combine to create the warmth of non-judgmental-ness.

In mindfulness, there is often a lot of emphasis placed upon the practice of non-judgment. When we do this, sometimes we mistake this to mean that we observe ourself or others with complete detachment, with the human warmth and curiosity removed. Good mindful non-judgment however asks that we retain our human sensitivity and vulnerability when practising non-judgment. It is this retention of warmth and humanity that gives mindful non-judgment much of its healing power, enabling it to act as a gently dynamic healing force in our relationship to ourself, other people and our world.

Not judging the judgment
When we first start to practice mindful non-judgment, we will often catch ourselves making judgments before we can ‘stop’ the value assessment being made. Our mind is often impulsive in this way. When this happens, rather than being discouraged, we can simply practice not-judging-the-fact-that-we-have-made-a-judgment (!) This ‘not judging the judgment’ is an important stage in nurturing our non-judgmental ability, letting it develop gradually its own time, without us feeling unnecessary pressure.

Why not try setting some time aside on a regular basis to:

  • Create that warm, curious, aware space within yourself
  • Practice non-judgment about yourself within that space and,
  • Gradually extend that warm non-judgment to others in your life as you go about your day. If we can do it with ourself we will find we can do it with others more easily!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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 Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Tues&Wed, 21st&22nd of March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring equinox balancing & renewing meditation


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Five Steps To Creating Your Own Meditation Objects

Dear Integral Meditators,
Is it possible to create your own, personal objects of meditation, your own ‘mindful vocabulary’? The article below explores how you can start doing exactly that, today!

In the spirit of creative awareness,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore final call for this Saturdays’s Qi gong workshop.


Five steps to creating your own meditation objects (Building your own mindful vocabulary)

For me meditation is not just about following a formal set of rules and processes like a robot, it is about being creative and building my own mindful language of living ‘meditation objects’ that I experience in a very personal way and that moves me, changing the way in which I experience my world. This article explains a simple method by which you can create your own meditation objects using a simple, five stage process, using compassion as an example:

Stage 1: Select and define your object – If I want to meditate on compassion I need to come up with a working definition. When doing this by yourself, you have full license to define it in your own way, but here is mine for the sake of this example: Compassion is a state of mind that arises when I experience care or love for others or myself, I understand the ways in which they or I suffer, and I develop the wish to alleviate that suffering, or at least express understanding and/or healthy empathy.

Stage 2: Contemplate in a freeform way around your object – Having defined it, now ask key questions about your experience of compassion such as:

  1. When have I personally experienced compassion in the past, what did it feel like?
  2. Which people I know, personally or from the public sphere really embody the energy of compassion for me?
  3. If I practised 10% more compassion today, what might change in my perception and experience?

Contemplate these questions one by one in a freeform way. Explore the ways in which you have experienced compassion, who inspires you in terms of their compassion, and what the benefits of compassion might be in terms of bringing it into your own life.

Stage 3: Focus in – Having contemplated in a general way, now select the most powerful experience of compassion that arises from stage 2; the most powerful memory, the most inspiring person, or the most motivational insight into the benefits of compassion. The defining characteristic of your selection is that it must move you personally, such that the emotional experience/energy of compassion arises in your body, it is not just an intellectual abstraction.

Stage 4: Sink into, absorb – Once you have decided on the particularly powerful object of compassion in stage 3, you then simply focus your attention gently upon your object, allowing the feeling and power of it to sink deeply into your awareness, creating a gentle but powerful impact. It can be nice at this stage to mount the feeling of compassion in the breathing; as you breathe in feel yourself connecting and experiencing the compassion, as you breathe out feel yourself sinking into and absorbing the experience.

Continue to explore in daily life – After the formal meditation, keep looking for ways to explore, feel and express compassion in your life. Flex the ‘compassionate muscle’ that you have started to build in your meditation as you go about your daily activities, looking for ways to integrate it into your way of going and being in the world.

So there you go, a five stage process for building your own meditation objects. What objects of meditation would you like to build into your own practice this week?

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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 Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Saturday 11th March 2-5.30pm – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels & for Self-Healing – A 3.5 hour workshop

Tues&Wed, 21st&22nd of March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring equinox balancing & renewing meditation


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Goodwill as your object of mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

How much more warmth, benevolence & emotional richness can you bring into your life through simple acts of attention? The answer is a lot, as I explore in the article on goodwill below…

In the spirit of warm attention,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore do scroll down after the article and have a look at some of the events for March, including a Qi gong workshop, and Spring Equinox meditation!


Goodwill as your object of mindfulness

With all the anxiety and uncertainty that we face today, in conjunction with our minds tendency to exaggerate the problems that we face at the expense of the good things, it can seem that the world and people around us are a little short of goodwill. One of the things that I have been working with over the last week or so is really trying to notice and appreciate the goodwill that comes my way during the day from different people and sources. As I have continued in this practice, it has really struck me how much goodwill there is around me, and how nice it feels to really note it and enjoy it when it happens.

For example, if I look back over the last day or so:

  • I am aware of the goodwill expressed toward me from the students in the two mindfulness classes I have taken
  • I am aware of the goodwill extended to me by the barman who served me a drink this evening, and by the friend I met
  • I am aware of the goodwill extended to me by my neighbours and colleagues, helping me out with some minor menial tasks
  • I notice the almost continual and explicit goodwill coming from my family members
  • I appreciate the time and effort some acquaintances have taken to extend a welcome to my daughter and I and include us in their social circle
  • I appreciated the goodwill a shop assistant extended to me selling me a hard drive for my computer at the sale price, even though technically the sale date had gone past already
  • I noticed the incidental smile and goodwill of the bus driver as he re-opened the door when he saw me running for the bus.
  • I note the professional help and endorsement that I have received from colleagues, helping introduce me to new clients

The abundance of goodwill
When I focus in this way it seems like there is really a huge abundance of goodwill being directed at me by a large number of people. Much of this is easy to miss because it is so regular and everyday; it is just normal. But then if its normal then it means I have a huge amount of goodwill to tap into each day right?

Spreading the goodwill
Having been mindful of the goodwill I am receiving each day, I start to feel like I have something of a surplus of goodwill. So then perhaps I can start spreading it around to other people I meet, give it to them with a smile or a small act, or a bigger act. I can choose to be a source of goodwill almost as an act of gratitude for all the goodwill that I objectively and genuinely receive each day from others.

Does this practice of mindfully noticing, receiving and then giving goodwill sound like fun? Give it a go and find out!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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 Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey

Saturday 11th March 2-5.30pm – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels & for Self-Healing – A 3.5 hour workshop

Tues&Wed, 21st&22nd of March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring equinox balancing & renewing meditation


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The what, why & how of mindful attention

Dear Integral Meditators,

What happens when you start to pay attention to the way in which you are paying attention? The articles below explores this topic!

In the spirit of mindful attention,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore we shall be doing a class on mindful attention & awareness tomorrow, Wednesday evening. And last call for the Shamanic meditation workshop on the 25th, & Monthly mindful meal at One Heart!



The what, why & how of mindful attention 

Mindfulness can be thought of as essentially a form or attention training. By improving the way in which you pay attention to the different elements of your life you can improve the quality of your experience and the intelligence with which you interact with what you meet.
One simple but profound way of being mindful is to ‘pay attention to the way in which you are paying attention’. This can be broken down into three stages; the what, the why and the how.

The what – this first stage involves asking yourself the question ‘What am I paying attention to in this moment?’ It involves taking a step back and watching your mind, observing the movement of your attention, without interfering or trying to alter what you experience. You will observe that your attention focuses on things in a certain way, and often with a certain inner commentary with regard to what you are focused on.

The why – the second stage involves reflecting upon the question ‘Why am I focusing upon this object in this particular way?’ For example:

  • My own body with distaste
  • This future event with anxiety
  • This other person with longing

Try and understand the motivations and habits behind the way in which you are focusing on things at any given time. At this stage you are emphasizing observation, curiosity and the quest to understand, rather than to change anything.

The how – the final stage of being mindful of attention is to as yourself ‘How can I improve my experience in this moment by adjusting the way in which I am paying attention? To continue with the three examples above:

  • Is it possible to pay attention to my body with less judgment and more gentleness?
  • Could the future event be exciting or pleasant to think about if I adjust the way in which I pay attention to it?
  • Is longing an optimal way of focusing on this person, or could I replace it with curiosity, openness and/or liking?

It may be that you are happy with the way in which you are focused upon your object, but quite often if we have done stages one and two, we will naturally become aware of (often quite small) adjustments that we can make in our attention that will improve and optimize our experience.
Quite often stages two and three of the mindfulness of attention practice will start to happen quite organically as a consequence of the first practice of ‘what am I paying attention to in this moment?’.
You can do this as an actual sitting meditation practice, or you can just come back to these questions regularly in your daily life in order to improve both your awareness of attention, and the way in which you apply it.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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 Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Tuesday 7th February & Wednesday 8th February – Lunar new year meditation 2017: Tapping into the confidence, motivation & honesty of the Rooster

Friday 24th February, 7.30pm – TGIF meditation & meal: Nourish your body mind & soul at Oneheart!

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Breaking the cycle of negative stress with compassion

Dear Integral Meditators,

What is the relationship between your stress and your compassion? If you brought a bit more mindful compassion to bear upon your stress, what might change? The article below explores these questions. Enjoy!

In the spirit of compassion,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore we shall be doing a class on compassion tomorrow, Wednesday evening.


Breaking the cycle of negative stress with compassion

Compassion happens when caring attention comes together with the awareness of suffering or pain; for example, when we see someone we care about and they are in pain, the empathy that we have for their pain, and the wish we may have to ease or remove their pain is compassion.

The cycle of negative stress
Quite often when we are under stress we withdraw our awareness, care and compassion in an attempt to escape from the discomfort that arises from the stress. This often happens in our relationship to ourself, for example:
When our body is fatigued, instead of extending compassion to our body, we distract our attention from the fatigue of our body in order to try and escape our pain. Unfortunately, by withdrawing our awareness and disconnecting from our body we deny it the opportunity to recover and heal, and we also further deplete our physical energy through the act of distraction (surfing our phone or such like). This in turn makes our body more tired, which in turn gives rise to more fatigue, which in turn accentuates our stress.
When we experience emotional discomfort, instead of extending care and compassion to the feeling, we instead withdraw attention from it or deny, hoping that it will go away. By doing so often we find ourselves wasting energy trying to distract ourselves from the emotion we are feeling, and over time it simply gets worse.

Keeping the door open to compassion, breaking the cycle of negative stress.
In the two examples above we can change our experience of the stress cycle we experience by extending compassion to what we expereince. For example:

  • When we feel physical fatigue we can extend awareness to the tiredness in our body, giving it compassion and care. We can learn that by doing so we can release some of the fatigue and invite fresh energy into that area of the body, breaking the cycle of negative stress.
  • When we experience uncomfortable emotions, instead of running away from them we can extend awareness, care and compassion to them. By doing so we can start to look after them properly, experiencing them mindfully, and allowing them to be released. In this way we can disrupt our cycle of habitual negative emotional stress, and emerge into a new space of greater emotional intelligence and resilience.

Practice: Keeping the door of compassion open
Whenever you notice a tendency or impulse to withdraw attention from yourself or others due to stress or pain, see of you can keep the door to compassion open in your mind and body, even if it is only just a little. Observe how this starts to change your relationship to stress and disrupt the negative cycles of physical and psychological tension that you habitually become trapped in.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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 Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Tuesday 7th February & Wednesday 8th February – Lunar new year meditation 2017: Tapping into the confidence, motivation & honesty of the Rooster

Friday 24th February, 7.30pm – TGIF meditation & meal: Nourish your body mind & soul at Oneheart!

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The spectrum of mindful attention

Dear Integral Meditators,

Not all mindful states require the same level or type of focus. If you understand how you can vary the intensity of your mindful state, you can be more effective in applying it to your daily life. The article below explores how…

In the spirit of mindful focus,

Toby


The spectrum of mindful attention 

The state of ‘being mindful’ exists upon a spectrum, from highly intense and focused to very relaxed almost to the point of sleep.
If we understand this, we can cultivate a level of mindfulness that is appropriate to the task at hand, and that serves our needs most effectively. For example:
High focus & intensity – Emailing at speed, playing a competitive sport, or making a business deal (particularly with unknown or unproven partners).
Low intensity – Relaxing and thinking as little as possible when commuting home, when trying to fall asleep, or when we have woken up at night and wish to fall asleep again
Medium intensity (balanced between focus and relaxation) – going for an evening walk or hiking, having dinner with a date, relaxing and watching a movie or documentary.

A useful question you can ask yourself before doing something is: ‘What is the level of mindful focus that is most appropriate for the task or activity I have ahead of me?’ Your answer then enables you to calibrate your level of focus appropriately.

Other useful questions to explore might be:
What are the times when I have experienced intense focus in the past? What did it feel like? 
What are the times when I have felt completely relaxed in the past? Can I bring a part of that relaxation in to my body in this moment?

Experimenting with the spectrum of mindful focus in your own meditation practice. 
The below exercise is based around a twelve minute timeline, but you can adjust it to a length that suits you.

  • Set up a simple mindful flow pattern; 3-5 breaths focusing on the breathing, then relax your body for a few moments, then repeat the pattern alternating between focusing on the breathing and relaxing the body in an ongoing cycle.
  • For the first three minutes of the meditation, really emphasize building clear sharp focus on the breathing and the body, as clear and sharp as possible. Then, for the next three minutes, keeping to the same pattern of 3-5 breaths/relaxing the body, make the process as relaxed as possible, moving toward (but not entering into) a sleep state.
  • For the second half of the meditation, spend the first three minutes moving back towards intense, clear focus, and then for the final three minutes emphasizing relaxation.

The idea here is to develop the skill of moving consciously back and forth along the spectrum of attention, from single pointed focus to less focused relaxation and back again. This in turn will enable you to bring an appropriate, balanced attention your different daily activities according to what is needed.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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 Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Tuesday 7th February & Wednesday 8th February – Lunar new year meditation 2017: Tapping into the confidence, motivation & honesty of the Rooster

Saturday 4th February, 2-5.30pm – The six Qi gong healing sounds: Qi gong for self-healing & inner balance workshop

Friday 24th February, 7.30pm – TGIF meditation & meal: Nourish your body mind & soul at Oneheart!

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Mindfully ‘eating’ your thoughts

Dear Integral Meditators,

There are three ways in which we can use our mind in order to ‘digest’ our thoughts and experiences. The article below explores how we can use mindfulness to consciously integrate these three into our daily life, so that they are supporting each other, and helping us to enhance the quality of our life.

In the spirit of eating your thoughts,

Toby


Mindfully ‘eating’ your thoughts

In order to ‘eat and digest’ the information coming into and from our mind, we need to be competent in three modes of processing that information. These three modes are thinking, reflecting and non-thinking.

The first mode, ‘thinking’ involves actively using our cognitive intelligence to problem solve, seek information, stimulate action, strategize, assess risk, and generally actively create thoughts regarding our life. For many people this is the ‘default’ mode that they use their mind for. Many of us are compulsive thinkers to the extent that, even when there is nothing really urgent to think about or solve, we invent a bunch of thinking and problems to solve just so as we don’t have to sit with the discomfort of our relationship to, and feelings about, ourself. This first mode of using our mind, thinking, in the analogy of ‘eating our thoughts’ might be likened to the process of creating and eating food.

The second mode of using our mind is ‘reflecting’. Reflecting involves a much reduced pace of actual thinking and thought creation; it is mainly concerned with observing and dwelling contemplatively upon the experiences we may have had during the day. It principally uses awareness and acceptance to look back upon and ‘digest’ what we are going through. It enables us to process our life constructively in the same way that sitting quietly for a period after a meal enables us to digest our food and obtain nutriment from it.
The third mode of using our mind is ‘non-thinking’ which is where we deliberately cease processing our world mentally and cognitively for a period of time in order to renew and regenerate our energy. In terms of our ‘eating’ analogy, non-thinking corresponds to the ‘emptying’ part of the metabolic process; If you kept eating and digesting food, but never ‘emptied’ your bowels and intestines, then they would very rapidly become a bursting, fetid mess. In a similar way emptying our mind through non-thinking cleanses and empties our mental space, enabling us to receives new experiences and to think and contemplate them in fresh ways. For many people meditation practice is explicitly the way in which they at least try and practice the discipline of non-thinking.

To come back to the eating analogy, it is clear to everyone that in order for our body to remain healthy we need to eat, digest and then empty the waste product of our eating. Similarly, in order to ‘eat’ properly mentally we should have periods each day where we are consciously focused either upon thinking or contemplating or non-thinking, integrating these three processes in a balanced way into our life.
In terms of your mindfulness practice, one basic question to ask yourself is “What is it most appropriate for me to be doing right now; thinking, contemplating or non-thinking?” and then act upon the answer that comes back to you.
We can also structure our day formally into sections where we deliberately think and problem solve, sections when we are reflecting/digesting, and sections when we are simply emptying. This can be done in an organic manner, for example by choosing to emphasize reflection rather than thinking on the bus home, or simply choosing to drink our coffee whilst thinking as little as possible and emphasizing ‘emptying’.
Simply understanding these three modes of using your mindfulness to apply them consciously to your life can be tremendously empowering!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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 Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Tuesday 7th February & Wednesday 8th February – Lunar new year meditation 2017: Tapping into the confidence, motivation & honesty of the Rooster

Saturday 4th February, 2-5.30pm – The six Qi gong healing sounds: Qi gong for self-healing & inner balance workshop

Friday 24th February, 7.30pm – TGIF meditation & meal: Nourish your body mind & soul at Oneheart!

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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Mindfully dancing between doing and being (the four stages of engaged mindfulness)

Dear Integral Meditators,

Mindfulness is a process that can be equally applied to dynamic action and contemplative reflection. The article below explores how you can combine active and passive forms of mindfulness into a four stage ‘engaged mindfulness’ practice.

Wishing you all the very best for the upcoming Lunar new year of the Rooster!

Toby


Mindfully dancing between doing and being (the four stages of engaged mindfulness)

Engaged mindfulness can be distinguished from mindfulness in general in that it is specifically designed to help us bridge the gap between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ in our life, or our passive-reflective modes and our active-dynamic modes. It can be summarized in a four-stage cycle that we can apply to any situation and circumstance. The first two stages are primarily observational, whereas the second of the two stages are often more dynamic and action based.
The four stages are as follows:
Awareness – The first stage is primarily observational, we are committing to becoming as aware as we can of what is happening in this situation, both within ourselves, and in the environment.
Acceptance – The second stage involves accepting the reality of what we find as wholly as possible, even if that reality is in conflict with what we want to be there.
Respons-ibility – At this stage, having brought ourselves to accept fully the reality that we find ourselves in, we then practice taking mindful responsibility for our role in the situation; ‘What is it that I need to take responsibility for here, in a way that will be most beneficial for both myself and others?’
Assertion and/or action – Having become aware of and accepting of the situation as we are able, and having taken responsibility for our role, the final stage of engaged mindfulness involves asking the question ‘What is it (if anything) that I need to do here? We then take action according to the answer to this question.

We can apply this four-stage process to any circumstance. It can be with regard to our inner world of thoughts and feelings, or to do with our outer world of relationships, work and value exchanges with our environment.

An example – requesting payment
Recently I decided I needed to address the issue of outstanding payments from clients from last year (start the year of the Rooster with a clean slate so to speak). I was aware that I did not feel entirely comfortable making this request, so I did the four-stage process:
What do I need to be aware of here? – Literally people owe me money, emotionally I feel a little uncomfortable asking for it, as well as feeling a little annoyed that they haven’t paid yet. I’m also aware of the immanence of certain bills that need to be paid at the end of this month….
What is it that I need to accept? – One main dimension that I discover I need to accept is my emotional discomfort about the situation. In order to deal with it effectively I need to be ‘comfortable with the discomfort’ of the emotions present.
What do I need to take responsibility for here? – Clearly no one else is going to do the awkward task of asking for the money, and no one is going to take care of my awkward emotions, it has to be me, this is my responsibility and there is no-one coming to ‘save’ me!
What do I need to do? – In this situation, I need to clearly take care of my emotions, and write the emails. Based upon having done this I can then relax and rest at ease with the situation, knowing I have done what I am capable of doing as far as I am able.

As mentioned at the beginning, engaged mindfulness is designed to help us create a mutually supportive and re-enforcing dynamic between our modes of doing and being, or reflection and action. This week you might like to apply the four stages mindfully to a couple of your daily challenges, and see how it changes your experience.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Special 1:1 Coaching Offer at Integral Meditation Asia in January
The beginning of the year can be a great time to spend quality time on getting your mind, body and heart prepared for the challenges you are facing as the year progresses. With this in mind I will be offering a special 20% discount offer on all 1:1 meditation and mindfulness coaching services for the month of January at Integral Meditation Asia. This is a saving of Sing$120 if you book as set of 3x 60minute sessions, or Sing$44 per single session…click HERE for full details!


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Starts Tuesday and Wednesday January 10th/11th 2017 – Transformation through mindful intention –a three module meditation course

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Ongoing Mondays & Thursdays – Morning integral meditation classes with Toby

Saturday 4th February, 9.30am-1pm – The six Qi gong healing sounds: Qi gong for self-healing & inner balance workshop

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism
Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Being mindful of the non-present moment

Dear Integral Meditators,

What if, instead of being mindful of the present moment, you decided instead to be mindful of the non-present moment? The article below explores this theme….

In the spirit of studying the non-present,

Toby


Being mindful of the non-present moment

Trying to stop all the different ways in which your mind moves out and away from the present moment can be tricky, effortful and sometimes discouraging for a lot of people. One technique we can try if our mind is active and intractable is simply to study and observe all the different ways in which our mind is not in the present moment. To put it another way we can meditate on the non-present moment!
For example, if I look at my mind in the moment I can see:

  • There are flashbacks from a movie trailer I saw recently
  • There is a discomfort with the absence of distraction, part of me wants to be distracted
  • There is the knowledge that with the click of a button I could be away from this word document and watching the highlights of the squash ‘tournament of champions’ final last night in New York last night
  • There is the part of my mind planning the way in which I am going to spend my time today
  • …and wondering about what sort of excitement might be in my more distant future
  • My mind is assessing how I can avoid the worst of a head cold bug that seems to have latched onto me
  • The physical discomfort I have makes me want to think of things in the non-present moment to take myself away from the unpleasant feeling…

And so I go on like this, studying closely all of the things that are taking my mind away from the present moment.
Some interesting side effects of this way of being mindful can be:

  • By studying the non-present moment more closely our mind quietens down substantially and becomes more present, without effort on our part
  • We have a strong sense of the non-present activity being in the present moment; it is all happening now. By observing the movement of our mind we become aware that all this non-presence is going on in the broader sphere of the present moment. Consequently, without stilling our mind we find ourselves to have contacted the present moment in a strongly experiential way
  • We discover a lot of things about ourself, and why it is we avoid the present moment. Put another way, our self-knowledge increases.

So this week, if you like spend a few minutes each day being mindful of the non-present moment, either in formal meditation or just when you have a gap.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Special 1:1 Coaching Offer at Integral Meditation Asia in January
The beginning of the year can be a great time to spend quality time on getting your mind, body and heart prepared for the challenges you are facing as the year progresses. With this in mind I will be offering a special 20% discount offer on all 1:1 meditation and mindfulness coaching services for the month of January at Integral Meditation Asia. This is a saving of Sing$120 if you book as set of 3x 60minute sessions, or Sing$44 per single session…click HERE for full details!


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Starts Tuesday and Wednesday January 10th/11th 2017 – Transformation through mindful intention –a three module meditation course

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Ongoing Mondays & Thursdays – Morning integral meditation classes with Toby

Saturday 4th February, 2-5.30pm – The six Qi gong healing sounds: Qi gong for self-healing & inner balance workshop

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism
Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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