Applying the Three C’s of Engaged Mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

The ‘three C’s’ are three qualities you can apply to your mindfulness practice to make it more engaged, effective & creative. In the article below I explain how to begin…
If you like the article & are in Singapore, we will be working with these 3 C’s in tonight’s Tuesday class, as well as at the Wednesday class.

In the spirit of engaged mindfulness,

Toby


Applying the Three C’s of Engaged Mindfulness

In my book Engaged Mindfulness I outline ‘the three C’s of Engaged Mindfulness’. These are curiosity, courage & care. These three qualities make the quality of our mindfulness more dynamic and pro-active. They actively shape the way in which we encounter our life in each moment, encouraging us to assert ourselves benevolently in the way we respond to our every-day challenges. What I want to do here is to outline how each of these three C’s can be applied in a practical way, enabling you to be confident enough in your understanding to start practising yourself! Each of the three C’s will be contrasted with an unhelpful mental attitude that we, often unconsciously, approach our life with. With this in mind, lets proceed…

1. Replacing indifference & jadedness with curiosity – It’s all too easy to fall into a habituated way of experiencing our world, where we cease to do our everyday activities with awareness. We become indifferent to ourself & others around us. We cease to feel alive. Indifference & a sense of mental fatigue clouds our capacity to see the opportunity for small joys and connection to life in the moment. Today I went to my barber for a haircut. I always go to this man for my hair because he cuts with attention to detail. I watched him with curiosity and appreciation as he cut my hair. I enjoyed the nuances of our ‘guy talk’ as he cut. It made the visit a life affirming experience which I valued and enjoyed. The value I derived was due in large part to my sense of curiosity.

2. Engaging with courage instead of fear & insecurity – To a greater or lesser degree fear and insecurity are ever present in our lives. If we don’t watch out, these two can end up defining our behaviours and experiences, preventing us from turning up in our life each day and acting in a way that truly represents our values. To bring mindful courage to our life means to be aware of our fear or insecurities. In spite of them, even perhaps because of them, courage chooses to think, act and speak in ways that truly represent our values and creative self-expression. Recently there have been a few inner fears for me as my daughter moves from primary to secondary school; which school will be best? What if we choose the wrong one and she suffers? Deliberately bringing courage to my approach to school choices with her has made the process more enjoyable as well as making me more decisive and effective in my responsibilities (as I understand them).

3. Asserting care instead of intolerance & harshness – When we are tired, when the world has done us a few ‘wrongs’, when we make a mistake, it can be easy to judge harshly and quickly. It can be easy to become intolerant of our own or other’s imperfections. It can feel safer not to care. To assert mindful care in the moment is to learn to leverage on the strength, intelligence and ‘soft power’ of remaining connected to our heart, even when superficially it seems easier to make a snap judgment and withhold our human affection. As I go through the ups and downs of my own life journey, one of the things I have come to value the most from myself is simply a gentle, consistent care and affection. I have learned to extend this to myself even when I am tired, under pressure or have made a mistake. This has made my own experience of myself far more enjoyable, as well as making it easier and more natural to extend that kindness and care to others.

As a mindfulness exercise, try sitting and watching your mind, with one of the three C’s. See how your world, your experience of the present moment and of yourself changes when you encounter them mindfully with curiosity, courage and/or care!

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

Starting Tues/Wed September 5th/6th – September & October Five Class Meditation Series: Cultivating Deep Experience of the Present Moment

Saturday September 30th, 10am-4.30pm – One Heart Open Day!

Saturday October 21st, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree
Saturday 21st October, 2-5.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Saturday November 25th 10am-4pm – Mini ME Retreat #2 : Mindful Eating + Reiki Sound Bath with Tiffany Wee & Elaine Yang


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Enlightenment as a chase

Dear Integral Meditators,

Its possible you might think of enlightenment as a process of sitting down, going within and finding your inner peace. But what if it were a chase where you had to run, jump, be alert, be fast, be awake? The article below explores this possibility!

In the spirit of the chase,

Toby

PS:  If you like the article & are in Singapore, then you might enjoy this: September 19th/20th: Autumn Equinox balancing & renewing meditation


Enlightenment as a chase

If you look at the different ideas of spiritual enlightenment you may have, and those that are presented in mainstream spiritualties and religions, you might think of it as a process of sitting down, going within and finding your inner peace. What I want to do in this article is tell an originally Welsh story from the Druid tradition that presents the process of enlightenment as a dynamic chase. The story is that of Taliesin, the poet-saint of the Celts.
In the beginning, before he becomes Taliesin, our hero is a nine-year-old boy called Gwion-Bach. Gwion-Bach is given a task (along with his grandfather). It is given by the Goddess Ceridwen; to tend to a Cauldron containing the ingredients for an ‘elixir of enlightenment’. This elixir is for her ugly son Aggfaddu. Because he is ugly, Ceridwen wants to give her son the gift of enlightenment, hence the cauldron. The cauldron needs to bubble for a year and a day. Young Gwion-Bach has to tend to the fire underneath, and keep it burning. The elixir will work on the first person who tastes it, so Gwion is told under no circumstances to taste it!
On the last day of the year-and-a-day-cycle, Gwion is sitting next to the cauldron as usual. Suddenly, a boiling drop from the cauldron spits out and lands on his thumb. Because it scalds, Gwion instinctively puts his thumb in his mouth and sucks! Accidentally he has tasted the elixir and thus becomes instantly enlightened. He realizes he has made the elixir useless to Ceridwens son! The next moment he realizes he is in big trouble with the goddess, and runs out of the hut….
As soon as Ceridwen realizes what has happened, she chases after Gwoin in a vengeful rage. There then proceeds a chase through the four elements, earth, water, air and fire. Seeing Ceridwen is on his tail, Gwion back transforms into a hare. Ceridwen transforms into a greyhound. She is just about to catch him when Gwion leaps into a river and swims off as a salmon. Ceridwen transforms into an otter and the chase continues. Again, just as the goddess is about to catch him, he leaps out of the water and transforms into a wren (a bird smaller than a sparrow), and flies off! The goddess transforms into a hawk, and pursues him through the air. She is on the verge of grabbing him out of the air when he again transforms, this time into a grain of wheat, falling into a barn full of wheat grains amongst which he hides. The goddess then transforms into a hen, picks him out and eats him!
But the story does not end there. Gwion then transforms into a baby in Ceridwens womb. After 9months he is re-born, emerging from her as an enlightened baby, declaring his name to be Taliesin! She then puts him in a sealed bag and throws him in a river (what a Mum!), where he is later discovered amongst the reads by a queen, who adopts him as her child.
A few points from this story:

  • Here the hero/ine is pursued by the forces of enlightenment (here the goddess), who are relentless and dynamic in their pursuit.
  • S/he is placed under maximum duress by the pressure from the enlightened forces. S/he is forced to develop and evolve herself to the limits of her ability. The hero must use all of her resources and cunning to survive!
  • Once achieved, enlightenment is a beginning, and not an end, the work begins here!

Your life challenges as a path to enlightenment
One possible way of using this tale is to then start to think of the obstacles and challenges in your life that are putting you under pressure as ‘the forces of enlightenment’. Their pressure is an invitation to you to evolve and develop. You must grow your inner and outer abilities, to move step by step, day by day toward the next level of enlightenment in your life.
If you choose to play this game, then be alert, be ready, the path to enlightenment begins right here, in this next moment….

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

Starting Tues/Wed September 5th/6th – September & October Five Class Meditation Series: Cultivating Deep Experience of the Present Moment

September 19th/20th: Autumn Equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday September 16th, 10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop

Saturday September 30th, 10am-4.30pm – One Heart Open Day!


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The web of time & the intuitive present

Dear Integral Meditators,

We normally think about time as being in a straight line, running from past to present to future. but what it it were more like a web? The article below investigates how we can begin to meditate on the web of time, and the intuitive present that is its gateway.

In the spirit of intuition,

Toby

PS:  For those in Singapore, you can catch a class on the intuitive present tomorrow, Wednesday at 7.30pm. This Saturday 16th is the Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop, & do checkout the One Heart Open Day that my and the crew at Oneheart will be putting on on Saturday 30th September!


The web of time & the intuitive present

According to our concrete, logical, linear mind, time unfolds in a sequence, from past to present to future. Time looks like a straight line.
If you look at the way in which we experience time from moment to moment, you can start to see that we experience time in other ways too. From the point of view of our intuitive, or non-linear mind time can be more like a web, with the present moment in time like being in the center of that web. In each moment we are receiving images, ideas, impressions, feelings and so on from these intuitive dimensions of our being and time.

You might think of your intuitive mind as the non-logical, non-rational part of your mind that includes areas such as the subconscious, the creative and imaginative, as well as the higher, trans-rational mind, our ancestral consciousness and dream states. These parts of our mind do not experience time ‘in a straight line’. The past and the future, things that have happened, things that have not happened all appear in a seemingly jumbled up, but often meaningful sequence.

Some of the information we receive in this way can be quite random and not very useful. However, some of it can be very worthwhile and valuable. Indeed, some of it can be more valuable than the information we receive from our logical mind, as our intuitive mind is connected to sources of information that are beyond the reach of our everyday sequential thinking and thoughts.

Sitting in the web of time as the ‘spider of the intuitive present’
Imagine you are sitting in the ‘web of intuitive time’, with threads all around you connecting you to different parts of time and areas of your consciousness. Imagine you are the ‘spider of the intuitive present’, sitting in the middle of your web, waiting, watching and observing. You are very still, feeling the vibrations coming along the threads around you, receiving different impressions, images and information from your intuitive mind. You simply watch, observe and sift through the information distinguishing that which is worthwhile and interesting from that which is probably not useful.
You can do this as a meditation form in and of itself anytime to attune yourself to the web of time and the intuitive, or non-linear present moment.

A personal example: The Buddha & his coat of many colours
A lot of the information I tend to receive from the intuitive present tends to be in the form of images. For example, a few months ago, I started seeing in my meditations a fat, Buddha like figure (a Maitreya figure for those of you who may know him as the popular Chinese laughing Buddha), wearing a coat of many coloured cloths and colours. He was sitting on a pile of gold coins, and seemed to be radiating abundance and wellbeing. Observing and experiencing this I had a feeling that my business was going to take a turn for the better (financially) over the coming months. Sure enough all sorts of business opportunities started coming in. It isn’t that I would not have had the business if I had not seen the image, but the image was an intuitive guide for me to the landscape of my business for the subsequent few months, which was very useful, and complementary to my ‘hard-nosed’, linear and rational methods of planning my work and income!

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

Starting Tues/Wed September 5th/6th – September & October Five Class Meditation Series: Cultivating Deep Experience of the Present Moment

September 19th/20th: Autumn Equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday September 16th, 10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop

Saturday September 30th, 10am-4.30pm – One Heart Open Day!


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Dipping under & dancing within time

Dear Integral Meditators,

A lot of the mental stress that we feel is based upon our experience of time, so approaching the way in which we experience time mindfully, consciously & with awareness is really important. The article below explores practical ways of beginning to do this.

Toby

PS:  For those in Singapore, tonight’s and Wednesday evenings see the beginning of a new meditation class series: Five Class Meditation Series: Cultivating Deep Experience of the Present Moment  all welcome!


Dipping under & dancing within time

A lot of the mental stress that we feel is based upon our experience of time, so approaching the way in which we experience time mindfully, consciously & with awareness is really important. What I want to explain here is two methods of meditating on time for reducing mental stress when we are under pressure. These methods can be done formally as sitting meditations, or they can be done informally, as contemplations while we are going about our daily lives. Like all meditation techniques they can be used as methods for building our inner strength, focus, concentration and calm. Where these methods come into their own is as ways of liberating us from the ‘tyranny of time’, inviting us to feel as if we are the master of our time, rather than it being the master of us.

The pre-present moment – Getting out of time by dipping under it
Time is essentially a mental construct; past, present and future are essentially ideas that we use in order to function. Whenever you choose to ‘drop’ these concepts, you enter what I call the ‘pre-present moment’. This is the space before time existed, or was brought into our existence by mind. You can open a door to the pre-present moment using your imagination. For example, one technique I teach is imagining yourself as a rock or stone at the bottom of a river. Because you are a stone, you have no thoughts. Time essentially doesn’t exist from your point of view. If you like you can imagine time as the water flowing above you and past you in the river. You simply sit there and relax as the stone; inert, non-thinking, entirely peaceful and relaxed, at the bottom of the river, in the pre-present moment. I sometimes vary this image, for example the other day I imagined myself as sand on a beach, or the seaweed in the water. All of these images are doorways to the relaxing experience of the pre-present moment. By ‘ducking under time’ in this way for short periods, you can return to to your experience of time and your life feeling refreshed and with a new perspective.

The present moment in time – Dancing with linear time
The present moment in time is always right here, and here, and here. The more you can pay attention to your experience of this moment right now, the more you are going to feel that you are able to cope and thrive as the past and future dance around you in your mind. A really simple way to do this is to just use your breathing to center yourself in the present moment. Try and stay focused in the present moment just for three breaths, then relax for a few moments and watch your mind exploring the past and future. Then come back again to the breathing for three breaths. Keep coming back to the breathing for a few rounds, really centering yourself in the present so that you start to feel really solid and grounded there.
As a second stage to this practice, as you are doing your three breaths, at the bottom of your exhalation, rest in the natural point of stillness and presence that is in that pause. By doing this you can further deepen your anchor in the present-moment-in-time.

So, there you go, two simple methods for building a more positive, mindful relationship to time, as well as managing your mental stress more effectively!
© 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, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Starting Tues/Wed September 5th/6th – September & October Five Class Meditation Series: Cultivating Deep Experience of the Present Moment

September 19th/20th: Autumn Equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday September 16th, 10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Nurturing your natural intelligence and natural dignity

Dear Integral Meditators,

One of the most important & enjoyable benefits of being mindful is accessing what I call your natural intelligence & natural dignity. The article below explores how to understand & develop these two skills experientially.

In the spirit of natural dignity,
Toby

PS:  For those in Singapore, tonight’s and Wednesday evenings meditation class will be on  positive non-attachment, click the link for full details!


Nurturing your natural intelligence and natural dignity

Today I want to talk about two very important qualities that you start to build within yourself through mindfulness. Whenever you do any form of activity that stimulates your mindfulness, you create an inner space where there is an opportunity to build what I call your natural intelligence and natural dignity. Understanding and reflecting upon these two qualities helps us to develop them faster and more deeply.

Natural intelligence.
Natural intelligence is simply your innate ability to learn, problem solve and generally figure things out from direct observation and experience of life. When our mind and bodies are relaxed and calm, we all have a natural facility to just look at things and learn about what works and what doesn’t. This natural intelligence does not require a philosophy (though by using it you may develop one), nor does it require complex conceptual knowledge. However, it does require you to be able to have enough confidence and inner calm to start to trust and use it effectively. Here are two examples of where I have developed and used it in my life:

  • At art school as a sculpture student, I had a lot of technical problems that were involved in how to make sculpture effectively; How tall can I build this clay sculpture before it falls over? How can I communicate an emotional idea that I have in my head in a silent three-dimensional form? How can I make an effective sculpture avoiding any unnecessary processes that harm the environment (e.g. fiberglass etc…)? All of these questions can be informed by asking others, looking at other artworks and so on, but for the most part what I needed was just to keep looking, keep experimenting using trial and error, using my natural intelligence.
  • As a mindfulness and life coach. One thing that I have discovered in my teaching and coaching career is that learning different modalities of coaching and learning will only get me so far in terms of bringing real benefit to the diverse group of people whom I coach and assist. The fulcrum of my coaching practice (and the one that I believe makes me the most valuable to others) is the ability to look at people’s lives and situations with my natural intelligence. This enables me to enter into the person’s life, understand its context, observe it, and then on that basis offer a series of suggestions that are going to be relevant and useful to that person and that will help them direct their life in the way that they want it to go.

Natural dignity
Natural dignity is something that every creature has. For example if you look at a mouse or an ant going about its daily business you will start to observe that, whatever dangers it is fending off or jobs that it is doing, they are basically happy to be themselves. An ant is happy to be an ant, it is not thinking about becoming a grasshopper. A mouse is comfortable in its own skin, in its “mouseness”. It is not trying to be something else, and in this you can sense a natural dignity, an unconscious self respect that the mouse possesses in being what it is.
Humans however, amidst all their mental complexity and egoic insecurity very easily lose touch with their natural dignity, the dignity of their humanness and just being who they are. Humans often look at other humans and want to be the other that they see. They look at their bodies and want another, better looking body. They look at their skill sets, consider them inferior and want someone else’s that seem better. Basically we as humans have lost touch with the natural sense of dignity that comes from being comfortable as we are, warts and all. Natural dignity is completely different from being lazy or a slob. Laziness and slobbiness is almost always accompanied by low self esteem and self loathing “I want to be something else, but I have given up trying” it says. Natural dignity is just a sense that you have, when your mind and body are relaxed enough that says “I am comfortable in my uniqueness and the validity of my place in this world and in the universe, and I don’t have to do more than this to feel dignified in who I am”.

Two questions
Here are two questions that you can ask yourself regularly as a form of mindfulness practice, in order to help stimulate your natural intelligence and natural dignity:

  • If I mindfully bring my natural intelligence to bear upon this situation/circumstance/challenge, what does it help me to see and understand?
  • If I center myself within my natural dignity in this situation, what would it change in terms of the way I experience 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, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Starting Tues/Wed August 15th/16th – August meditation three class mini-series: Cultivating engaged-equanimity & positive non-attachment

Saturday September 16th, 10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Liberating your Personal Power

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is another from my archives. It used to be on my ‘mental fitness blog’ when I had it. Apart from a few tweaks, it is the same, as I still agree with what I wrote (Nice when that happens!) If you can understand intelligibly what personal power is, then you can start to work with it mindfully. That is primarily what this article aims to do.

In the spirit of inner power,

Toby

PS:  For those in Singapore: Starting Tues/Wed August 15th/16th – August meditation three class mini-series: Cultivating engaged-equanimity & positive non-attachment &  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop on the 19&21st!


Liberating your Personal Power

What is personal power?
Personal power means making a habit of taking responsibility for the situations that you find yourself in, and for the direction that your life is taking.  You may not be able to control everything that happens in your life, but you can take control of your RESPONSE to all of the things that happen to you.
In this sense you could say that owning personal power gives you a type of liberation. It is a form of liberation because it liberates you from all the inner sufferings, anxieties and problems that you experience when you:

  • Forfeit your ability to choose your response to what is happening to you in any given situation
  • Allow your emotional reactions to slide out of control and cause your thoughts to get locked in a negative spiral
  • Blame things that you are experiencing inwardly on something that someone else has done externally
  • Give up on a goal too early saying “If only this had not happened then I might have made it”
  • Cannot appreciate all the good that is going on in your life because all you see is the bad. This  deprives us of an abundance of both happiness and pleasure that would otherwise be readily available
  • Feel like a victim of circumstance

On being a victim in life
The opposite of owning our personal power is being a victim in life. Nothing saps our energy in life more than having a victim mentality. Many people allow themselves to feel like a victim in life because it is an obvious and manifest truth that we cannot control everything that happens to us. However, as I mention above, this is to miss the point. Being a master in our life and owning our personal power means taking control of our inner response to what happens in our life and thinking, acting and speaking in a way that reflects that.

Two, two minute methods for beginning find liberation in your life through personal power:

  1. Spend a couple of minutes reflecting on the last time you gave up control of your response to life and became a victim. For those two minutes re-live all the pain, suffering and anxiety that you experienced. End the exercise with a firm mental determination “No more will I give away my personal power and become a victim!”

The point is to use past experiences to make you totally determined to mould a new positive future, free from victim consciousness.

  1. The next time you can feel your personal power being challenged by an inner or outer event say to yourself “I may do many things in response to this situation, but the one thing that I will not do is relinquish my personal power and become a victim”. Focus on this determination mentally for a minute or two.  As you then progress to deal with the issue, stay mindful of your determination and act accordingly.

Do bear in mind with the above exercises that the primary aim is to explore and become aware, rather than to achieve. Exploration, curiosity and awareness of our own relationship to personal power and victim consciousness with lead gradually to achievement and progress over time!

© 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

Restarting August 15th: Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Restarting August 15th: Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Starting Tues/Wed August 15th/16th – August meditation three class mini-series: Cultivating engaged-equanimity & positive non-attachment

Saturday August 19th, 10am-5pm, & Monday August 21st,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Trap of wishing you were somewhere else

Dear Integral Meditators,

Whilst on holiday I’ve been looking through some old articles for a ‘mental fitness’ website I used to have that now no longer exists. This weeks articles is one of those that I enjoyed re-reading and editing a little. The original full title was ‘Why you need to commit to what is happening in your life now, whether it is what you want or not, and the trap of wishing you were somewhere else!

In the spirit of not being trapped,

Toby

PS: New meditation class details are out: Starting Tues/Wed August 15th/16th – August meditation three class mini-series: Cultivating engaged-equanimity & positive non-attachment


Trap of wishing you were somewhere else

I’m coming off the back of a relatively busy period in my life, and I’ve caught myself over the last few days mentally drifting off and thinking about how it would be nice to have more time to shoot the breeze, take long leisurely walks down the beach, play more tennis and so on. Then I started to think about times what I really was not that busy. I reflected that, during those times I was often somewhat discontent, looking for more to do, more friends to meet, different ways of filling that uncomfortable space. It seems like wherever I am in my life there is always a part of me that (if I let it) wants to be somewhere else!
I don’t think I am alone here. It seems a very characteristic trait of humans, particularly today, that as soon as something starts to happen in our life, we start wishing to be somewhere else. We start looking for ways to avoid really committing to what it is we find themselves encountering in the here and now.
The trap of this way of thinking and being is that we end up never really living our life in the present moment (see complementary article to this one: What is it that is preventing me from relaxing in the present moment? ). We get into a pattern of resisting what is actually in front of us, not really being there in a fully engaged and authentic way. As a result we no longer really feel as if we are living our life directly, we feel as if we are living life two steps removed from where it really is, and we are wondering where the disconnect happened.
My basic point here is that, whatever is going on in your life right now, commit to it, engage it, live it fully. Going through a busy period? Commit to it. Got some spare time on your hands, enter fully into that empty space, don’t wish yourself somewhere else. Life is hardly ever ideal. If you spend your time avoiding what is in front of you, waiting for the ideal situation to arise, you might find yourself in an actually ideal situation and, out of habit, finding ways of avoiding 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

Restarting August 15th: Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Restarting August 15th: Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Starting Tues/Wed August 15th/16th – August meditation three class mini-series: Cultivating engaged-equanimity & positive non-attachment

Saturday August 19th, 10am-5pm, & Monday August 21st,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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Closing the gap between what you think, say and do

Dear Integral Meditators,

Do your thoughts, speach and actions match up, or is there a gap between them? The article below offers some thoughts on mindfully aligning these different aspects of ourself, and why we should be interested in doing so!

In the spirit of integration,

Toby


Closing the gap between what you think, say and do

One of the main functions of mindfulness is to facilitate integration within the self. This can be done in many different ways. One way is to become more aware of the relationship between what you think, what you say, and what you do. Are they consistent and aligned with each other or not? You can stimulate mindfulness in this area by asking questions such as:

  • Is what I said just now (for example to my friend or colleague) representative of what I really think, or did I just say what I thought they wanted to hear?
  • Have my actions this morning really been representative of the values that I hold in my mind and thoughts?
  • Have I done what I said (to myself or others) I’d do, or is there a contradiction, or gap between my words and actions?

The goal of mindfully integrating your thoughts, words and actions is to:

  • Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
  • To do what you say, and say what you (actually) do, or are going to do
  • To make your actions and speech in the outer world the embodiment of the thoughts and values that you believe in and hold most dear in your mind.

The Payoff

This type of mindful integration takes some effort, honesty, skill and courage. So what’s the payoff? Some of the benefits include:

  • Greater self-esteem and confidence arising from the consistency of your words, thoughts and actions.
  • More natural inner harmony and peace, as these different parts of yourself align with each other and support each other benevolently.
  • Pleasure derived from expressing who you really are in the world, rather than feeling like a fake.
  • A feeling of being more fully alive to your experience of the moment, and bringing the best that you have to it.

Being Strategic in Your Speech and Actions

This type of mindful work does not mean that you just speak and act blindly, without awareness of your context. Of course we need to be aware of what is appropriate, who we are with, and what sort of speech is likely to bring a good result, and what is not.
What it does mean however, is that we do not blindly betray our authentic thoughts and self just to please or appease others in a way that betrays our values, and what we really think and feel. Only we can truly represent ourself to the world, and it is up to us to take mindful self-responsibility for this.

© 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

Restarting August 15th: Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Restarting August 15th: Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday August 19th, 10am-5pm, & Monday August 21st,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Is calmer always better?

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is the goal of meditation and mindfulness always to make you calmer? The article below considers this question from a number of angles that are important to consider in our day to day practice…

In the spirit of dynamic calm,

Toby

For those in Singapore, this weeks Tuesday & Wednesday class will be meditating on ‘Enlightened Imperfection‘, all welcome!


Is calmer always better? (Passionate preferences)

Is the goal of meditation and mindfulness always to make you calmer? Yesterday I was talking with a friend in the tech and start-up industry who was telling me the story of how he came to mindfulness practice. In short he became so stressed due to his work that he started having physical heart and chest pains. Upon going to the doctor, he was told there was no physical problem, it was mainly psychological stress. It was at that point that he started meditating.
Many people come to meditation and mindfulness in a similar way; the absence of calm in their life forces them to seek out a way of dealing with their stress, and they start using mindfulness meditation as a way of moving toward a less frenetic and frantic state of body, mind and heart.

The spectrum of mindful attention
Once we get beyond mindfulness as an ‘emergency band-aid’ way of calming down, we discover that mindfulness and meditation when done well does not always mean becoming calmer. In fact the help us consciously move ourself along a spectrum of attention. This spectrum of attention moves from a state of total calm & relaxation on one end (On a scale of 1-10, let’s call this 1) and a state of dynamic passion and action on the other end (on our scale of 1-10, this would be 10).
Your ‘job’ as a mindfulness practitioner is to bring the level of mindful intensity appropriate to the particular task at hand, in order to optimize your experience of it both in terms of your effectiveness, and your ability to experience happiness. Here are some examples of how this can go wrong or right:

The lower expression: 
Negative calm – Not enough passion: Let’s say I am having a discussion with my partner about our relationship. If I remain totally calm and dispassionate to the point of dis-interest, this is not going to serve the purpose of our discussion.
Too much passion: To continue with the above example, if in my discussion with my partner I become too passionate and not calm enough, then this can sabotage the conversation as well, so here too much passion becomes negative stress.

The higher expression – Mindful passion or mindful engagement:  In the discussion with my partner I need to bring my emotions and passion to the conversation to communicate that I care, and invest deeply in the process of the relationship. I need passionate engagement, with just enough calm to keep the conversation reasonable, considered and polite!

The above is an example of informal mindfulness in everyday life. Similarly, in our formal meditation practice we need passion and motivation in order to avoid our sense of meditative calm becoming too robotic and cold (see last week’s article on ‘Witnessing like the Sun’). So, in both our formal and informal practice of mindfulness and meditation, there needs to be a balance of calmness and excitement, a harmony between relaxation and focus, an equilibrium between our passion and our detachment. Sometimes we need to dial town toward the calm end of the spectrum, but equally sometimes we need to deliberately engage more passion, excitement and positive urgency!  This deliberate engagement of passion is as much a part of the conscious meditative process as cultivating our inner calm.
Each experience in our life is different, and being mindful in each moment helps us to determine the optimal balance of calmness and passion for that particular situation.

Related articlesThe spectrum of mindful attention
Engaged detachment

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

Saturday August 19th, 10am-5pm, & Monday August 21st,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Witnessing like the Sun

Dear Integral Meditators,

Taking a position as an observer or witness is a fundamental position that we practice when being mindful, but can it make us too cold and detached? The article below explores this theme, and how to build an integrated and balanced witnessing practice.

For those in Singapore, this evening’s  Wednesday class will be on ‘Meditation & spiritual alchemy‘, all welcome!

In the spirit of inner light,

Toby


Witnessing like the Sun

Taking a position as an observer or witness is a fundamental position that we practice when being mindful:

  • We learn to watch our thoughts without interfering, repressing, denying or encouraging.
  • We observe our reactions & responses to what people say to us, noting without judging.
  • We try and hold a third person perspective when we are engaging in daily activities, noting our behaviours and the behaviours of others as consciously as possible.
  • We learn to experience emotions without being completely consumed and over-identified with them. There is a part of us that remains at the center of the experience, balanced amidst the imbalance of our feelings.

There can be an extreme of this witnessing position, whereby we become too detached, too cold, too robotic in our mindful witnessing practice. If we go to this extreme then we can find our mindfulness practice detracting from the quality of our life, as it impairs our ability to engage in experiences with passion, engagement, emotion and humanity. With integral mindfulness, we are trying to set up a complementary, supportive relationship between our emotional engagement in life, and our ability to witness, observe and detach. These two qualities should be working with each other, not against each other!

Witnessing like the Sun
One way in which we can avoid the extreme end of mindful detachment is by practising witnessing like the Sun. From one point of view the sun shines on us with total objectivity. It is so huge, and we are so insignificant and tiny (relative to it), it has no involvement or investment in our life at all. It shines upon us as if by chance, with monolithic objectivity. But, at the same time the Sun is also warm, life-giving, bright and joyful. When we see the Sun we feel enlivened, encouraged and optimistic. So, when we practice mindful witnessing, either in formal practice or informally during the day, we can practice as if we are the Sun, combining objective detachment with warmth, benevolence and joy as we watch!

When my phone content was wiped
Yesterday I traded in my old phone for a newer version. In the process of doing so the shop assistant accidentally wiped out a bunch or photos and Whatsapp messages that had a lot of sentimental value for me. After realizing what had happened, I was feeling pretty angry and upset, and a bit emotionally traumatized at the loss. Realizing I was upset I switched on my ‘mindful witness mode’, but made sure that I combined it with engagement and passion, so that I was able to experience the emotions without repressing them, say what I wanted to say to the shop assistant about the f*#ck up (possibly more polite than he deserved, but I think I got the message across), and went about seeing if I could recover the images and information from other sources. In short I tried to practice witnessing like the Sun, shining the light of my objective awareness on the experience with warmth as I experienced the emotional roller-coaster. Two hours later, with most of my emotions processed, and almost all the important info recovered, I could relax and enjoy my new phone, calmly!

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

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday August 19th, 10am-5pm, & Monday August 21st,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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