Four ways of working with your inner voice

Dear  Integral Meditators,

Whats your relationship to the voices that you find chatting away in your head? The article below offers four ways of becoming more conscious of your inner conversation, and getting it working for rather than against you!
Meditation classes this week will be on how to work with your inner chatter, so same subject as the article. Qi gong workout and meditation this Saturday morning.
You’ll also see below an offer on my 1:1 coaching, if you really want to go a little deeper with experience of calm and wellbeing amidst the storms of life, this is a great opportunity!

Toby


Mindfulness & Meditation Coaching special offer for October
For the next two weeks I have a special offer on my 1:1 meditation and mindfulness coaching sessions:

  • For 3 sessions a month over the next three months (total nine sessions) the offer is $480 per month (Usual price $610)
  • For 2 sessions a month over the next three months (total six sessions) the offer is $350 (usual price $440)
  • Sessions can be done face to face, or via Skype, Zoom or Facetime.

It’s a great opportunity to get some focused coaching for at a reduced outlay. The only conditions are that all sessions must be completed within a four month period of the start date. So, for example if in one of the first three months a session is missed, it can be done during month four.
If you’d like to take up this offer, then simply reply to this email and let me know. If you know anyone whom you think might be interested in it, then do feel free to let them know!


Four ways of working with your inner voice
“Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.” – John Greenleaf Whittier
Your ‘inner voice’ refers to the inner conversation that you are having with yourself in your head during the day. Sometimes this voice can be critical, sometimes it can be supportive. For many of us it can be predominantly a source of insecurity and dis-ease, rather than support. The purpose of working with your ‘inner voice’ mindfully in the ways described below is to help transform it from a potential or actual weakness into a source of strength.
Listening with curiosity – This first exercise is simply observing the voices and conversation you are having in your head. Often when the conversation is taking place we are very identified with the voices, and we often take it very seriously. The idea here is to listen with curiosity, and a sense of detachment and lightness. You’ll notice that there are some ‘positive’ voices, and some kind of ‘negative’ voices. You want to greet both with a little bit of humour and lightness. You are also trying to gently separate your ‘I’ or sense of self from the voices. You aren’t trying to change of ‘fix’ the voice, just listen inquisitively and lightly.Talking back wisely – Method two is to listen to your inner dialogue and to ‘talk back’, gently directing the conversation in a positive way. For example, if your voices are being critical toward you about a mistake or mis-judgment that you made, you can gently point out the reasons why you can be a bit easier and less judgmental on yourself. If you notice that your inner voices are talking about a work project, you can consciously look for and bring in the aspects of the project that are going well, or that you can feel good about. Here you are a participant in the conversation, and gently encouraging it to go in a direction that serves you!

Talking less – This third ‘mindful position’ is to gently encourage the conversation to reduce and ‘quieten down’. You can try gently communicating to yourself and your inner voices that (for the time you are doing this exercise) there really is no need to process or ‘fix’ any of your problems or challenges. Give yourself full permission to relax and think less. You can take as an anchor for your attention your breathing, or one of your senses, and just gently encourage your inner voices to settle down and rest for a while.

Your ‘still small voice within’ – In this final exercise, you listen a bit deeper, beneath the loud chatter of your everyday mind. What you are looking for is a quieter voice within you coming from a deeper level of your consciousness. Its nature is to be kind, and quiet, strong and wise. It’s easily drowned out by the louder voices of the everyday mind, which is why you need to listen for it more closely, in a relaxed frame of mind.
If you like you can even give your ‘still small voice’ a form to key into. For example, you can visualize it as a small candle flame (symbolizing the wisdom of your deeper inner voice) in your heart centre, and focus on it as you meditate, listening to any message that may arise from it. Or you can even visualize it as a person next to you, perhaps a wise man or woman that you can ask questions to about dilemmas that you face.
You can do the above four exercises individually, by themselves. Alternatively you could do them one after the other, for example in a twenty minute meditation you could do each for five minutes, one after the other.
Happy listening!

© 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

Saturday October 20th – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Saturday 20th October 1-5pm – 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 

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Four levels of intention for meditating

Dear  Integral Meditators,

Why do you meditate? This weeks article looks at four possible ways of answering that question, and also a simple way of starting to meditate on intention.

In the spirit of mindful intention

Toby


Four levels of intention for meditating

If you are interested in establishing a meditation and mindfulness practice, its useful to ask yourself the question ‘Why am I doing this?’ and be at least somewhat clear about your motivations for doing so. Our intention for doing something is very important as it acts as a kind of compass or guide as we progress though the different stages of our journey. Formally speaking we can distinguish four basic levels of intention that we can cultivate. Each level helps and assists the other levels.

Level 1 – For self-healing and wellbeing: This first level sees meditation as a way of dealing with the stress and strains of our daily life, encouraging mental, emotional and physical healing. Here we are using meditation as a safe space that we can drop into to whenever we want to rest, regenerate and re-gather our strength.

Level 2 – To build your inner strengths: On this second level we are using mindfulness as a way of making our mind stronger and more effective. We can use it to go from being basically happy to being happier, from being somewhat focused to really focused, to go from ‘getting by’ to feeling really good about ourself and our life. You can use meditation to focus on building any inner quality that you like, rather like a gym for your mind and heart!

Level 3 – To bring happiness and relieve the pain of your circle of influence
Here our motivation for meditation is to heal ourself and build our strengths not just so that we will be happy, but so that we can bring healing and happiness to our own circle of influence; family friends, colleagues. Here we sit and meditate with the intention to be a force for the good in our world, in whatever way we can.

Level 4 – To bring happiness to and relieve the pain of the world
This fourth level of motivation extends our benevolent intention not just to our immediate circle of influence, and those that we know, but extends out to include the whole global community of both humans and non-humans. Here we take on the responsibility and ambition to work for the benefit of all living beings, out of love, compassion and solidarity for them.
In order for this fourth level to be sustainable, we need to build a stable experience of levels 1-3 first, otherwise we will quite quickly feel overwhelmed and burned out by the scale of our ambition. We first learn to become very competent at looking after ourself and nurturing our inner strength, then we practice the care and healing of our circle of influence, then we take on, at least in aspiration the wish to become a caretaker of the world.

A short meditation on intention
Stage 1: Sitting quietly, first bring attention to yourself. Practice gently extending compassion to yourself and your wounds, as well as the ambition to use your meditation to build specific inner strengths.
Stage 2: Then visualize around you your circle of influence; family, friends, colleagues, pets etc… Focus on a loving and compassionate intention to benefit them through your meditation practice, and through your daily actions.
Stage 3: Finally imagine around your circle of influence an ocean of living beings, the human and animal population of the planet. Focus on a loving and compassionate to bring all these creatures happiness and relieve their pain. Just focus on the intention, not the ‘how’, and experience what it is like to hold such an intention.

© 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

Saturday October 20th – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Saturday 20th October 1-5pm – 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 

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Visual keys to subtle meditation states

Dear  Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at how we can start to access subtle levels of consciousness in meditation using simple visual keys. Subtle states of consciousness can make us more creative, calmer, wiser and give us access to greater self awareness and self healing. So all in all they are well worth cultivating!
This weeks Tuesday & Wednesday class will be on how to balance and activate your subtle body-mind in meditation.
This Saturday (9-10.15am) 6th October is the Qi Gong workout and meditation class. On the same afternoon at Space2B (1-4pm) I am doing the  Mindful Resilience: Sustaining your effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure meditation workshop.

In the spirit of subtlety,

Toby

PS: This weeks image courtesy of Penny Ouvry, Wootton Wawen on the Stratford-on-Avon canal!


Visual keys to subtle meditation states

As we continue to meditate, gradually our mind becomes calm and more focused. This in turn enables us to start becoming aware of subtle states of consciousness that are normally covered up by the activity of our everyday mind and activities. Awareness of these states starts to emerge naturally in any meditation practice, but we can accelerate it by meditating upon simple visual keys designed to encourage subtle states. Below I explain examples of such keys to awaken to four subtle experiences:

  • Awareness of our subtle energy body
  • Deeper intuitive and creative awareness
  • Expanded emotional states
  • Formless timeless awareness

You can read a bit more extensively about these states in my past article the Four Subtle Experiences in Meditation.

Stage 1 – Awareness of the rising light
Be aware of your point of contact with the floor or ground. Look down in your mind’s eye into the heart of the earth. See there a huge ocean of light and energy. Imagine it as the energy of the Planetary being. See this light rising and flowing into your body, through your feet, or point of contact with the earth. See your physical body filling with light and energy from the earth until eventually you have a light body, the same shape and size as your physical body, and inhabiting the same space, but made of light and energy. Become aware of the flow of energy through your light body, directing it toward areas of your body that may need healing. More detail of this meditation can be found here: Earth light meditation form.

Stage 2 – Awakening to subtle intuitive states
Within your light body visualize a candle flame in the center of your chest/heart space. Imagine that it embodies the energy of your intuitive, creative and visionary consciousness. Focus on that flame and relax into it. Allow creative thoughts, images and visions to flow into your mind as you relax. If you like you can think intuitively around a particular area of your life or work.

Stage 3 – Connecting to expanded emotional states
Again, using the candle flame in your heart as an anchor, recall times in your life when you have felt a deeper or expanded state of emotion. It could be love, compassion, rapture, wonder, anything like that. The main thing is it was a powerful experience for you. Revisit your memories of that experience, and gently recrate the feeling of it within your heart space. Relax into that feeling and experience.

Stage 4 – Relaxing into formless timeless awareness
Focusing on the candle flame, imagine everything else within your field of awareness gently being consumed by the light of the candle, so that all you are left with is an open spacious feeling of pure light and awareness. Let your attention gently absorb into that state, so that you become familiar with the feeling of it.

The idea here is that we are using the image of the light body and candle flame as an anchor from which we can grow our experience of these four subtle states in a stable, gradual and experiential way. They also act as objects for our mind to focus upon in meditation to build focus and concentration in general. Once you are familiar with them, you can recall your light body and the candle flame as you go about your daily activities. as well. This will help further integrate these four subtle states of consciousness into your everyday awareness.

© 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

Saturday October 6th/20th – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

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 

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Learning to conserve, build and circulate your energy

Dear  Integral Meditators,

How can mindfulness improve your energy levels and energy efficiency? The article below looks at this question in general, but also specifically from a qi gong perspective.
Two classes related to this topic, firstly the Qi gong workout and meditation class this Saturday morning. Secondly this week sees the beginning of a new series:  Five stages of integral meditation practice, from beginners to advanced. A five module course the first class of which will be in how to create an integrated, energetically strong body-mind.

In the spirit of energy,

Toby

 


Learning to conserve, build and circulate your energy (not waste it though dissipation and distraction)

One of the basic principles of Qi gong is that, through our awareness of energy we are trying to learn not to needlessly dissipate or “throw off” our mental, emotional and physical qi. Instead we learn to keep it within our energy field and circulate it within our mind-body continuum. Here are some practical ways in which we waste our qi and life force habitually:

  • Continuous physical fidgeting and habitual muscle tension (often due to lack of awareness of how our busy mind is causing our body to feel uneasy all the time)
  • Discomfort with feeling deep emotion (positive or negative), due to a habitual aversion to the vulnerability that deep emotion makes us feel. In general, deep emotion carries with it large amounts of qi that we can learn to circulate in our energy system. Repressing emotion, or becoming addicted to it/acting compulsively on it, causes us to lose our ability to use its qi in an effective way
  • Doing our physical actions, using much more muscle power than is necessary. For example typing at a computer with our facial muscles locked in an unconscious frown.
  • Compulsive and excessive (mindless or meaningless) speech
  • Compulsive and excessive thinking or worrying

In all the above ways and many more, we dissipate our qi on a daily basis. So, one of the best ways to start practising Qi gong is simply to make it a daily habit and discipline to be aware of how you are using your qi on a moment to moment basis. Ask yourself questions like:

  • “In the last hour, how effectively have I been using my life-force?”
  • “How much physical energy do I really need to walk from one place to another, how can I make my walking more energetically efficient?”
  • “Is the amount of thought that I am giving this problem really ergonomically effective?” (ie: the amount of good results relative to energy spent on the issue)

Here is a simple, 6 minute exercise that you can do to help develop awareness of your qi, and start to build it in your mind and body, rather than dissipate it needlessly. If you do this and nothing else as a Qi gong practice it will help you raise your energy levels:

For first two minutes:
Sit in a comfortable position. Visualize an energy field around your body, the shape of an egg, extending roughly 10-20cms from the surface of your body. Simply sit still, and focus on the physical stillness of your body. Notice the temptations to fidget and don’t follow them. Try to keep all of your energy in the present moment, and within the boundaries of your energy field. Use your breathing, your still body, and the edge of your energy field as your basic points of focus

For minutes 3-4:
Use the core body breathing technique to breathe energy into the core of your body and out to the edge of your energy field. As the qi moves in and out of the core of your body, retain it in your energy field so that you can feel it building and increasing.

For minutes 5-6:
Relax and breathe naturally, your body and energy field will now feel energized. Practice keeping mentally and physically still, whilst at the same time feeling full of energy and life-force.

This final state is the one that we are aiming to make the base line of our daily life and awareness as Qi gong practitioners particularly, but also as any type of meditation and mindfulness practitioner really: Simultaneously relaxed and energized.

© 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

Begins September 26th/27th – Five stages of integral meditation practice, from beginners to advanced. A five module course

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 

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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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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