Dualistic appearance – What you see, and what you think you see

Dear Integral Meditators,

What you think you see and what you actually see are two separate things, often going on simultaneously. The article below explores how this happens in our life, why its important, and how we can start to work with it mindfully.

In the spirit of clear vision,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:
Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby
Saturday 8th October 9.30am-4.30pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop


Dualistic Appearance – What you see, and what you think you see

One of the most useful distinctions I learned from my time as a Buddhist monk was that there is often a difference between what you think you are seeing and what is actually there. This was called in Buddhist-speak ‘dualistic appearance’. The technical definition of dualistic appearance is:
 ‘The appearance of an object to our mind together with our generic, or conceptual image of that object’.
Essentially this means let’s say you see for example a person. In the first instant of seeing that person you see them literally, physically as they are in front of you. In the next instant your mind will then project your idea or concept of what you think they are upon that person. So from that point on you are seeing two things as you look at them:

  • The person as they literally appear in front of you
  • Your idea of what you think they are, that you project (often unconsciously) upon them

Some examples:

  1. I’m feeling angry after a day at work. Someone unintentionally obstructs me on the pavement as I walk home. What literally happens is someone obstructing me physically. A moment after I experience this I project the image of a complete idiot blocking my way who is intensely annoying. The person literally blocking me is what’s actually there. The image of the ‘idiot’ that I project onto them is a conceptual image of my own creation. Two appearances in the same moment; one is ‘real’ and one is a projection of my mind.
  2. Let’s say I’m feeling anxious and insecure. I’m having a normal day, but because I’m feeling anxious and insecure I project it upon the people around me in the office. They are basically saying and doing ordinary things, but I am projecting that they may not like me, that they are judging my work and so on. Again we see what is ‘actually happening’ appearing at the same time as what we think and project is happening.
  3. I’m feeling unusually positive, but I’m with someone who is upset and negative. Literally what is appearing to me is a person behaving in a negative manner, but I’m feeling so good and so strong inside that I project a positive image upon them; ‘nice guy really, just temporarily upset(!)’

The essential point here is that in each moment there are two things appearing to us:

  • What we see
  • And what we think or project we see

The first is relatively fixed, the second is flexible, mutable, changeable. If you can change what you project, you can change what you experience!

Things you can mindfully start doing with dualistic appearance

1. In any situation ask yourself the questions:

  • What literally, observably happened here?
  • What ideas and images am I projecting upon what is happening / being experienced?

2. Spend time consciously observing and witnessing your life, projecting as little of your own personal content as possible on the situation. See what this reveals to you.
3. Be aware when you are projecting negative ideas and images on your world. Don’t buy into it. Project less!
4. Practice positive, kind, benevolent images and ideas upon your reality, see how you can change it for the better by doing so.
5. Be aware when other people around you are projecting too, be discerning what you buy into!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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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Three ways of saving and building energy with mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

These days, with so many ways in which we feel our energy is under pressure from distraction, the pace of life and the task of ‘keeping up’ what can mindfulness offer to help? The article below explores this theme in a practical way…

Last couple of days to catch the Special Offer for 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia in September 2016.

In the spirit of a deeper source of energy,

Toby


Three ways of saving and building energy with mindfulness

In my recent book ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ I outline three types of mindful attention; neutral, positive and catalytic.

  • Neutral objects of mindful attention are those such as your breathing or your senses that when you focus upon them make your mind calmer & more peaceful.
  • Positive objects are those such as hope, appreciation and love, objects that make your mind more energized, excited and optimistic.
  • Catalytic objects are those types of object that we find difficult of disturbing to focus upon. When we focus upon catalytic objects mindfully, we use them to build up our inner strength and eventually learn to find the inner energy and ‘hidden powers’ that these challenging experiences offer to us.

Saving and building energy with these three types of object
Each of these three objects of mindful attention offers us a way of saving and/or building energy. Neutral objects enable us to rest, recuperate and regenerate our energy. Positive objects enable us to find more energy by looking at our world in a positive way. Catalytic objects enable us to find energy in places and situations that would normally drain us of energy. Here are three practical examples from my last twenty-four hours:

  • I was traveling in between meetings on a bus this morning, feeling tired. I consciously came back to my body and breathing for the duration of half the bus journey, minimizing my physical, mental and emotional activity by focusing on my senses as I sat. By doing this I was able to rest my body-mind and regenerate my energy before I arrived at my next meeting.
  • Coming back this afternoon from another meeting, I made a conscious attempt to mentally list and appreciate all the good things that had come out of my meetings today so far. This led to a good feeling and a sense of having more energy as a result of paying attention to these positive outcomes.
  • Over last weekend I spent time in my spare moments exploring, entering into and accepting feelings of being lost, broken and insignificant. By deliberately seeking out these catalytic states (that instinctively we tend to push away, deny or run from) I was able to enter into them, feel at peace with them and discover the power, energy and freedom that each one of them reveals when we embrace them
  • What power and energies might I start to find by embracing catalytic objects? For example: By accepting and entering into the feeling of being broken I begin to relax and feel whole, its opposite. When encountering and standing with the experience of being lost, I start to feel at home with it, which leads to the ‘finding’ of a deeper part of myself. By accepting feelings of insignificance I discover a renewed sense ofcourage to assert myself benevolently in the world. Essentially every scary mind/emotion/experience that we encounter has within it a hidden gift, an energy and strength for us.

As with all integral and engaged mindfulness practices, you can practice focusing on neutral, positive or catalytic objects as a formal meditation sitting down, or as something that you do in the midst of your daily activities. All of the above examples were informal practices that I did in between events; just ways of focusing my attention mindfully to process the day ergonomically and find more energy.  This week if you like you can set yourself the task of spending a bit of time each day seeking out neutral, positive and catalytic objects in your own life and using them to nurture and build your own healthy energy levels.

Related article: Seven Ways to Mindfully Save and Create More Energy

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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 (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby
Saturday 8th October 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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Using your senses to support your mind

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you are in a mental tangle, one of the simplest ways to untie yourself is by returning to your senses. The article below explains how!

For those in Singapore, a reminder of this coming Saturday’s Free book talk on Engaged Mindfulness at 2pm, all are most welcome!

In the spirit of coming to our senses,

Toby


Special Offer for 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia in September 2016

From 6-22nd September there is a 15% discount offer on all 1:1 meditation and mindfulness coaching services at Integral Meditation Asia! Click HERE for full details.


Using your senses to support your mind

We all know the expression ‘when s/he came back to his senses’ when it is used to indicate that a person has temporarily gone mad or crazy, and lost touch with reality. They regain their contact with reality by ‘coming to their senses’. When our mind is full of hyper-busy thoughts and difficult emotions we can actually use attention to our senses as a way of coping more effectively with the experience, calming ourselves and becoming more resilient. Paying attention to our senses can also help us to deal with challenges such as insecurity or lack of confidence, emotional sensitivity, depression, and fear of aloneness.
The technique of coming back to our senses can be used not only as a way of dealing with mental or emotional dis-orientation, but also as a way of enhancing pleasure, ease and appreciation in our lives, particularly around the experience of sensory pleasure.

Coming back to your senses
To do this exercise you simply need to take your attention away from your thinking mind, and direct it toward your sensory experience in the present moment. So for example now as I am sitting at my computer I can pay attention to:

  • The weight of my body on the chair,
  • The quality of the light through the window
  • The sound and feeling of the wind, and the call of the birds, as well as the distant traffic sounds
  • The physical movement of my breathing
  • The colours of the objects in my room

If I focus my attention on these objects of my sensory awareness, then naturally I take my attention and energy away from my mind and the thoughts and emotions I may be experiencing. My senses act as a literal anchor for my attention in the physical world, helping me to re-acquaint myself with the present moment and reduce the habitual movement of my mind as it see-saws from past to future…
You can use this method as a formal sit-down meditation technique, or just as a way of paying attention when you are out doing your daily activities, and want to steady yourself.

Two examples:
I used to find going out to busy shopping malls pretty unpleasant and dis-orienting, with all the movement, people, energy and friction (as I experienced it). Mentally my impulse used to be to detach from my physical experience and retreat ‘into my mind’ in such situations, but I found that did not really help my, in fact it only made it more unpleasant. Now in malls I do the ‘returning to my senses’ technique; using the physical sensory experience of being in the mall to anchor my attention and stabilize my mind and emotions. I wouldn’t say I now enjoy the experience of being in a mall particularly, but the challenge if being in crowded spaces like malls is now not a big issue for me.
Last Sunday I went for a walk by a reservoir with my daughter. Three quarters of the way around I could feel the heat and fatigue starting to set in a little and my mind beginning to complain/get bored. Focusing on my senses allowed me to quieten my mind, enter into the experience of being by the water, with the trees, engaging in the simple act of walking in a way that was deeply pleasurable and satisfying.

So remember; the next time you are being run ragged by your mind, return to your senses!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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 (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

8th & 17th September, 7.30-8.30pmFree book talks on ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ by Toby

Saturday 8th October 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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Just tea/solve no problem (Plus special coaching offer for September)

Dear Toby,

How can drinking tea help us understand mindfulness? What would happen if you practiced the discipline of  ‘solving no problem’ regularly? These are the topics of the article below…

For those in Singapore, a reminder of this coming Thursday’s Free book talk on Engaged Mindfulness at 7.30pm, all are most welcome!
If you have been thinking about doing some mindfulness coaching, details of a coaching offer in September are immediately below.

In the spirit of just tea,

Toby


Special Offer for 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia in September 2016

From 6-22nd September there is a 15% discount offer on all 1:1 meditation and mindfulness coaching services at Integral Meditation Asia! Click HERE for full details.


Just tea (solve no problem)

When you drink tea (or coffee) without adding milk or sugar, this releases the therapeutic and detoxifying qualities of the chemical elements within the tea into your body, where they can start to bring benefit to your physical health and wellbeing.
Similarly, when through mindfulness meditation you stop thinking so much, relax, and focus upon simply being conscious and aware, this releases the naturally therapeutic qualities of consciousness itself into your body mind and heart, where they can begin healing and regenerating your challengeg.
Releasing the therapeutic qualities of tea is relatively simple in the sense that all you need to do is simply not add the sugar or milk. Releasing the therapeutic qualities of consciousness itself is a little more challenging in that temporarily removing thoughts and strong emotions from our mind requires conscious effort. Although technically we are ‘doing less’, for most of us there is a chalenge involved (initially) in just relaxing and not thinking, as our mind is instinctively drawn to activity, problem solving, projection, recalling memories and so on. To release the natural healing power of our consciousness-as-it-is, we need to learn to spend periods of time doing as little as possible mentally.

Solve no problem
One exercise I enjoy doing in order to reduce mental activity and allow my mind to rest in a state of just-being-conscious is to practice the injunction of ‘solving no problem’. This simply means that, for the time that you have allotted yourself you are not allowed to do any mental problem solving; don’t solve anything! Normally much of the activity of our mind is directed toward trying to solve this problem (or perceived problem) at work, revisiting a conversation and trying to ‘fix’ it, trying to find ways of being safe or risk free, and so on. So now you watch your mind and anytime that you see it starting to work on a problem or resolve an issue, you stop it! You simply relax; there is nothing to solve, nowhere to go and nothing to do!

Yesterday I was feeling particularly tired and frazzled whilst on my way to work on the train. I had 25minutes of commute time and, although my mind was full of issues that I felt I needed to ‘solve’, I figured now would be a very good time to release the therapeutic power of just being conscious. So I set myself the exercise of ‘solving no problem’. Every time my mind moved toward solving an issue, I simply stopped and let it go. This enabled my mind to become progressively simpler and more relaxed, and I could feel my body starting to flood with the comfortable, warm feeling of simply being conscious, without my consciousness being dissipated by thoughts or worries. I arrived at my place of work feeling refreshed and ready to go (or at least a lot readier to go than I had been feeling previously).

PS: Obviously you can still solve problems in your life, just not when your practicing the ‘solve no problem’ exercise! You might find you actually become a better problem solver as a result of periodically learning to stop compulsive and habitual dwelling upon and worrying about the challenges in your life.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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 (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

8th & 17th September, 7.30-8.30pmFree book talks on ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ by Toby

Saturday 8th October 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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Happiness or impulse fulfilment?

Dear Integral Meditators,

In this day and age when so many of our impulses can be fulfilled at the click of a button or browser, managing your impulses mindfully is an increasingly important life skill. The article below looks at how we can distinguish between impulse fulfilment and actions that lead to genuine happiness.

In the spirit of attention to impulses!

Toby



Engaged Mindfulness – What mindfulness is and how we can apply it to our daily lives
Last two days to purchase Toby’s new book at the 20% launch price discount! (up until 31st August)

 

 


Happiness or impulse fulfilment?

When you do something are you doing it because it is really going to make you happy? Or are you doing it simply out of impulse and habit? This is an important question to ask yourself, because having the impulse to do something doesn’t mean that that action will result in fulfilment, wellbeing or happiness.

Defining happiness
For our purposes right now, let’s say happiness has two types; goal oriented happiness and non-goal oriented happiness. These two are interrelated but:

  • Goal oriented happiness is functional. We derive it from actions which lead to achievements. For example, if I keep my attention focused on my work and writing this morning, I will get to lunch and experience the happiness and satisfaction of having achieved my work goals. Goal oriented happiness may involve discomfort, sacrifice and the setting aside of short term impulse fulfilment to achieve, and this is very important to understand!
  • Non-goal oriented happiness is our capacity to rest at ease in the moment, feeling good not because we have achieved something, but because we are in touch with life as we experience it in the moment, on a slightly deeper level. This can be prompted consciously through mindfulness meditation, or it may come upon us when walking or running, listening to music, being with a loved one and so on…

The defining factor of both types of happiness is that they make us feel good in a real and appropriate way.

The deception of impulse fulfilment
Deceptive impulses are ones that prompt us to do something that we think will make us happy, but in reality lead neither to goal oriented happiness or non-goal oriented happiness. Rather they lead to more discontent, insecurity, anxiety and so on. Two examples:

  • I wake up in the morning. I’ve got work to do, but I’m tired, so I switch on my phone and surf the online paper for a while. The impulse to do this is an avoidance tactic to delay the effort of starting work. While I read the news I’m not feeling great because deep down I know I’m avoiding what I need to do. When I finish reading, I don’t feel happy, I’ve dissipated my (already finite) energy, and I haven’t gotten closer to my work goals, and thus am farther away from my goal-oriented happiness. So the impulse to surf my phone promised me happiness, but it didn’t deliver – it was merely an impulse that took me further away from what I want.
  •  I have had just the right amount to drink at a party, but I have the impulse to take another (and perhaps another!) This does not lead me to be any happier ‘in the moment’, and later in the evening/next morning I might even feel substantially worse! So the impulse fulfilment did not lead to happiness in the goal-oriented or non-goal oriented sense of the word. The impulse actually took me away from my happiness.

The practice  
So the mindfulness practice here is simply to challenge ourself when we notice certain impulses within ourself by asking the question ‘Will this action lead to happiness for me, or is it just impulse fulfilment?’ By asking this question we activate our wise intelligence and willpower to make better choices that will serve our happiness in the long term, and not just erode our wellbeing by pandering to our deceptive impulse fulfilment!
In this day and age when so many of our impulses can be fulfilled at the click of a button or browser, managing your impulses mindfully is an increasingly important life skill.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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 (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

8th & 17th September, 7.30-8.30pmFree book talks on ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ by Toby


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Finding your neutral gear

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would happen if instead of your mind thinking all the time, you were able to find a ‘neutral gear’ that you could shift it into whenever you wanted or needed? This weeks article explores how to do this, and the value of it.

Quick reminder that my new book ‘Engaged Mindfulness‘ is still on special launch offer until the end of the month. You can find out about the book talks that I will be doing on it in September here.

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Finding your neutral gear

A car resting stationary and in neutral gear is the most inactive, or still that an engine can be whilst still being switched on.
‘Finding our neutral gear’ in mindfulness or meditation terms means to learn to relax our mind to the greatest degree that is possible whilst still being alert, awake and aware.
If you imagine you are in a car, perhaps waiting at a traffic lights. The engine is gently ticking over in neutral gear, expending as little energy as possible whilst remaining switched on. The engine is resting, but ready to go when the circumstances change. That is the type of state of mind that you are trying to cultivate when ‘finding your neutral gear’; you are alert and aware, but you your mind is as relaxed and inactive as it can be. It is resting deeply at ease, saving energy but ready to get into gear when circumstances change.

Recovering your psychological and physical energy in daily life
Recently I’ve been going thru an exciting and positive period of my life, traveling some, completing my first book project and other things. It’s been good but it has also been exhausting. Examples of when I use the ‘neutral gear’ technique to help me conserve and regenerate my energy include:

  • When I’m on a plane and can’t actually sleep (tall person, small seat etc….), but want to rest as deeply as I can
  • When driving or doing other mundane activities I consciously do no more than is required for the actual task at hand, and put the rest of my mind in neutral, regenerative mode
  • If I am awake at night and too wired to go to sleep immediately
  • When I feel emotionally sprangled

Neutral gear as a gateway to the unitive state
One basic way of understanding meditation is moving from a fragmented, diverse and busy state of mind to a unitive, whole and singular state of mind. When the neutral gear technique is done as a formal meditation it offers a very ergonomic, energy efficient route to this fundamental unitive meditative state.

Going from a neutral state to love
Once you have cultivated your fundamental unitive state, you may find (as I do) that sitting in a state of relaxed, neutral focus is only one short step away from a state of love. If you like you can bring to mind other people in your life as you are resting in your neutral gear, and just gently (in your mind’s eye) share this feeling of unity and wholeness with them as a gesture of love. This is a very simple and ergonomic way of building the basic experience of mindful love in yourself and in your relationships.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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 (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

 


Integral Meditation Asia

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Toby’s new book ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ is out!

Dear Integral Meditators,

I’m really happy to announce that my new book ‘Engaged Mindfulness – What mindfulness is and how we can apply it to our daily lives’ is out!

I’ve been writing blog articles on meditation and mindfulness or a long time now, this first book of mine looks specifically at some of the most practical ways to understand and work with mindfulness in your daily life that I have discovered through my own experience over the last twenty years or so. It is only available in hard copy.

Engaged Mindfulness is on special launch offer (20% off) until the end of the month, full details are below, do feel free to share the news of the launch with any friends you think may be interested!

In the spirit of the mindful journey,

Toby


About ‘Engaged Mindfulness’: 

‘This is a book on applied mindfulness. It aims to present clear, practical ideas and exercises on how to integrate mindfulness practice into your daily life. The different sections of the book were originally written as articles, reflections on the authors own practice of mindfulness, and the ways that he has found most useful to integrate mindfulness into his life as different challenges have presented themselves.
Each section details mindfulness exercises and practices which you can either try out in a systematic way, one chapter after the other, or in a more organic manner, picking out the practices that you feel most drawn to.
Those who have no experience of mindfulness previously, might like to go to section entitled ‘Some Simple Focusing & Relaxing Practices’, which detail exercises for building basic mindful concentration.
The book is the first of a series, and deliberately kept short. The text is meant to be read slowly rather than in a rush. Taking it a page or two at a time, combining it with a little time for personal reflection is a good way to go.’

You can click here to view the front and back covers, have a read of the introduction and survey the contents: Engaged Mindfulness preview

SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE FOR 1 WEEK: 20% OFF! – SGD$10 SGD$8 per copy (OFFER GOOD THRU END 31ST AUGUST)

TO PURCHASE YOUR COPY/COPIES:
Click HERE to purchase your copy if you are in Singapore (or Malaysia).
Click HERE to purchase your copy if you are ordering from outside Singapore.
Click HERE if you wish to purchase without mail delivery (i.e: You will pick up your copy).

Click here to find out about the book talks by Toby on ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ on the 8th & 17th of September.


Integral Meditation Asia

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The freedom of limitation

Dear Integral Meditators,

If we normally think of limitations as an obstacle to our freedom, how can deliberately creating limitations in our life paradoxically help us find the freedom that we crave? The article below explores this theme!

In the spirit of liberated limitation,

Toby


The freedom of limitation

One way of thinking about meditation is as the freedom of limitation. In meditation we spend a period of time deliberately limiting the activity of our mind. The purpose of this is threefold:

  • In order to gain freedom from the limitation of our own compulsions, addictions and psychological habit patterns.
  • In order to specifically work on developing our mental strengths in a focused manner and
  • To gain access to progressively higher, deeper and more powerful states of conscious awareness.

Normally in our daily life we are not really setting mindful, conscious boundaries around or thoughts and what we focus on. Our mind goes here and there, darting from one object to another. When we sit in meditation, we deliberately set ourself a task, the boundaries of which we remain within to the best of our ability for the duration of the practice. Examples include:

  • Focusing on the body in order to release stress and regenerate energy
  • Focusing on the breathing in order to build concentration
  • Taking the position of the witness or observer of our mind rather than the participant
  • Extending sustained feelings of compassion toward ourself and others
  • Watching the spaces between our thoughts in order to slow our thinking and gradually become comfortable with a state of pure conscious being, or non-thought

The number of examples is as varied as the types of meditation that there are, the thing that they have in common is that each involve limiting our activity in order to gain benevolent control over our compulsive mind, build mental strengths that lead to greater wellbeing, and access deeper, more powerful/peaceful (I put those two adjectives together deliberately) states of consciousness.

The freedom of limitation in daily life
Practising the freedom of limitation can also be applied mindfully to daily life to enhance happiness and increase our productivity (If we practice the freedom of limitation in meditation, this will improve our ability to practice in daily life, but it is not essential).
Here is an example: I got back mid-afternoon today to my apartment, I now have a couple of hours to devote to the things I most want to achieve next. There are many options crowding my mind, many things I could be doing. I mindfully sift through the options and isolate three that I want to focus on in the time I have; that I most need/want to do:

  • Hanging the laundry (sometimes after long neglect this has to come to the top!)
  • Write my newsletter article (right now)
  • Shower and meditate

So, for the next two hours, these are the three activities that I limit myself to and focus my attention upon, a bit like a moving meditation. By limiting myself to these three activities, my mind has the freedom to relax, stop worrying about other stuff, and I can apply my full creative attention to the task at hand (Yes, creative laundry hanging!) The result of this mindful limitation is increased productivity, greater peace of mind and the satisfaction of coming to the end of those two hours having done that which I most want/need to do. I find if you break up the significant periods of your day like this, using the freedom of limitation technique, it’s a naturally mindfulness-strengthening process.
There you are then. Two ways to practice the freedom of limitation, in your daily life and in formal meditation practice!

Related article: The yoga of limitation and choice

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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 (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Finding the center of the wheel

Dear Integral Meditators,

Do you have to still your mind to experience inner stillness and centeredness? The article below explores how to mindfully sustain the experience of stillness amidst all the busyness and activity of your mind and daily life….

If you are in Singapore, the Wednesday meditation class re-starts this evening!

In the spirit of mindful spinning,

Toby


Finding the center of the wheel

The image of the wheel and hub is found in various traditional (Buddhist and Hindu) meditation traditions as a way of describing the meditative process. It can be useful to work with this image in your own practice as a way of finding your inner center faster and more effectively, even when under duress.
Imagine the emotional, mental, relational and logistical activity of your life as being like a wheel spinning in motion. If you are stuck in the rim of the wheel, then you find yourself spinning at a fast pace, running to keep up, feeling dizzy and generally having to work quite hard! If, however you are sitting in the center of the wheel, then you can simply stay still and watch all of the activity spinning around you whilst remaining comfortable and at ease.
In our own lives, we tend to spend a lot of time being identified with the movement in our mind, chasing after it or being chased by it, like being stuck on the rim of the spinning wheel. If we can learn to dis-engage with the contents of our consciousness, then we can move ourself toward the ‘hub’ of the wheel of our mind, watching the movement rather than being pulled around by it.

Resting in the hub as a meditation
Imagine the busyness of your mind and life as like a wheel spinning on a horizontal axis around you. Imagine yourself as sitting on or in the stationary hub or axis in the center. You are able to relax and remain still as the motion and activity spins around you. You don’t need to get rid of the activity and busyness in your mind, you just need to find your center and let the activity ‘spin’ around you. In physical terms you might think of your body and breathing as the hub of the wheel; find your breathing and focus on the central area of your torso (perhaps around the chest level). You are in the middle, in the hub, the thoughts, emotions and activity are spinning around you. Focus upon and relax into this experience for as long as you wish.

Keeping the image in mind in your daily life.
Out of meditation we can continue to bear this image in mind as we go about our daily life, using it as a way of bringing ourself back to our center when we feel ourselves getting pulled out of shape by the events of our life and our reactions to them.

Practising with different emotions.
In both formal mindfulness meditations and informally as you go about your daily life you can practice with different emotions and circumstances:

  • When anxious or stressed
  • When excited or experiencing pleasure
  • When playing your sport
  • When you are dealing with sadness or depression

After practising this technique for a while you will develop a certain amount of equanimity about what you are experiencing. For example, you might be experiencing fear, but you don’t have a problem with experiencing fear; you are in the center of the hub, the fear simply spins around you like the rim of the wheel!

Enhancing your enjoyment and participation in the movement
Practising this technique doesn’t mean that you become permanently detached from your life, in fact it means that you can actually enjoy the movement, emotion, excitement and challenge of your life more fully, because you have a place you can go to which gives you a way of controlling your response to your experience, enabling you to appreciate it more, even when it is not all bliss and rainbows!

Related article: Detached mindfulness – Engaged mindfulness

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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 (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Practical Rapture (On rapture, beauty and mindfulness)

Dear Toby,

Rapture is a state of mind and body that we all experience sometimes, the article below explores how we can build our experience of it through mindfulness, and then start putting it to use…

In the spirit of rapture,

Toby


Practical Rapture (On rapture, beauty and mindfulness)

Rapture –  a state or emotion of wonderment, bliss and heightened perception. A state of feeling deeply and primally connected to life and aliveness felt not just in the mind and heart, but in the body.

Peak rapture
We are all familiar to a greater or lesser degree with times when we have had a peak experience of rapture; when listening to music or contemplating art, in moments of new love or romance, in powerful landscape, when we are in a highly creative state, enthused by an idea or an ideal, the temporary peaks we dip into in good meditations. What are the moments in your life where you have felt most closely connected to a state of rapture? Memories like this are important for us to be mindful of as often they are powerful enough to re-trigger a little bit of that peak rapture in the moment we are in right now.

Everyday rapture
If we are mindful, we also start to notice that there are quiet invitations to rapture all around us; in the wind through trees, in the sight or a flower or cloudscape in the sky, in the feeling of comfort on our skin as we sit in a comfy chair. Rapture almost seems like the ‘hum’ of life that you can connect to anytime that you dip your awareness beneath the surface of your mind and what you are experiencing in the moment. To be in touch with your life and the feeling of being alive is to feel slightly blissful, slightly rapturous.

Accessing rapture through mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation by its nature invites us to dip below the surface of our attention, moving to deeper states of awareness that naturally contain some rapture. For example, within the forest monk tradition of breathing meditation there is a stage called ‘the beautiful breathing’. At this stage, which comes after achieving a certain level of competency focusing attention upon the breathing, the body starts to feel effortlessly comfortable, the breathing becomes smooth and even, and the mind moves toward a state of calm rapture. Once this is achieved, then we become able to access a feeling of quiet, everyday rapture at will, or at least more and more often in our daily life.

Thinking and acting from a place of rapture
You can cultivate your experience of rapture then by:

  • Being mindful of your past experiences of peak rapture, and the ones that come up for you in your daily life.
  • Noticing the everyday moments of rapture that are available to you whenever you take the time to notice them.
  • Cultivate a daily practice of mindfulness, where to learn to consciously dip into sustained states of calm rapture regularly.

One fun thing that you can then try doing is thinking and acting from a place of rapture, which is to say:

  • A place that is creative, playful and a little wild.
  • A place that is fulfilled in the moment.
  • A place that contains natural compassion.

Within the boundaries of what feels appropriate, try bringing your rapture mindfully into your everyday life, relationships and tasks. What might start to change in your life today if you did??

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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 (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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