How to do walking meditation (plus free ‘Mindful moments’ video course)

Dear Integral Meditators,

This week’s post has two components. The second is a series of five free videos for you to follow along to that I did with the Movement for modern life yoga website in the summer. The first is an article on how to do walking meditation.
For those in Singapore final reminder of the two workshops this Saturday, 10th December: an Introduction to mindful walking meditation & in the afternoon a Meditations for going with the flow of the present workshop, you can find the full details by following the links!

In the spirit of mindfulness in the moment,

Toby


The Basic Fundamentals of Walking Meditation

Many people who think of meditation often think of a formal exercise involving sitting still on a chair or cushion with our eyes closed. It can come as a bit of a surprise to such people to find out that walking can be considered a form of meditation practice, and that walking meditation can become a major part of our daily routine, contributing substantially to or overall consciousness development and sense of inner peace and centred-ness. It is well worth investing the time and effort in learning to do walking meditation, as we spend a substantial portion of our day walking from one destination to another, and if we know how to walk in a meditative manner, then time spent walking can become time spent relaxing and meditating!

Walking meditation can be simply defined as any walk that we undertake where we are using the process of walking to develop our mindfulness, awareness of the present moment and other states conducive to inner peace and happiness. Below I describe some very simple walking meditation techniques that can be used by anyone. Be sure to begin your walking meditation with a conscious decision to stop worrying about your personal life, work projects etc., and to focus on enjoying the process of walking in the here and now!

Initial concentration builders:

Method 1
Walking at a pace that is comfortable for you note how many steps it takes you to breathe in and breathe out, then combine your observation of your breathing with your steps. Let’s say it takes you three steps to breathe one in breath and three to breathe out. As you take each step on the inhalation inwardly say to yourself “In”, and as you breathe out with each step say “out”. So the basic pattern in this example would be in, in, in, out, out, out, in, in, in, out, out, out and so on. Try and get yourself into a rhythm use it to keep your attention in the here and now.

Method 2
A simple variation on method one. Let’s stay with the rhythm of three steps in and three steps out. As you breathe in you recite “step, step, focus”, as you breathe out “step, step, relax”. Continue in this way using the last step of the inhalation to prompt yourself to focus, and the last step of the exhalation to prompt you to relax. If you like you can substitute other words for the focus/relax combination, for example here/now, present/awareness, calm/ease. Choose a combination that is effective and pertinent to you!
Method 3
Pick an object a distance in front of you, such as a tree. Then, as you walk toward it, try and be mindful of the tree and of the present moment with each step and each breath that you take. Once you reach the object, relax for a few steps/breaths, then pick out another object in the distance to focus on in the same way. Build your mindfulness based upon your awareness of the physical object, your breathing and your steps.

Once you have a little bit of focus:

Method 1
As you walk and breathe, pick one sense power, such as your hearing or sight. Try and focus on that sense power mindfully, being aware of all the information that is coming into your awareness through that sense door. So, if you choose your hearing for example, try and pick out all the sounds that are available to you, the wind in the trees, the bird calls, the distant waterfall, the traffic, and so on… Pay full attention to this one sense power with each step, try and experience this as if it is the first time that you have heard, seen or felt it.
Method 2
Once you have some experience of method 1, expand your sensory awareness to take in the whole experience of walking in the present moment. With each step and breath try and experience walking in and experiencing the physical and sensory world as if for the first time. Allow time to disappear, so that the full power of the present is able to impact itself upon your being.

© 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


Mindfulness in moments free video course:

Simply click on the links to follow along to a five minute meditation on the following topics. You can experience the entire course in its fullnessfor free simply by clicking on the individual links below:

  1. Mindfulness of the body
  2. Finding focus through mindfulness of the breathing
  3. Mindfully releasing stress
  4. Mindfulness of your thoughts
  5. Cultivating stillness

A little more on the mindfulness in moments course:
Perhaps you’re completely new to mindfulness, or perhaps you’ve always been meaning to give it a go. Perhaps you’re just curious to know what it means and what’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation anyway? Either way, meditation and mindfulness teacher, Toby Ouvry, is here to help.
The Mindful in Moments Challenge is designed to help anyone get started and begin reaping the benefits of a daily mindfulness practice. Mindfulness can help you to find inner peace, deal with stress and empower yourself to gain control over how you experience your reality.
Our minds are always focused on something, it’s just a case of whether that is causing us to feel happy and balanced or disconnected and unhappy.  Learn to use mindfulness to become aware of where your mind is going in just 5 minutes a day!


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday December 10th 9.30am-12.30pm – An introduction to mindful walking & meditation workshop
Saturday December 10th 2pm-5.30pm – Living life from your inner center – Meditations for going with the flow of the present moment


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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The resilience of gentleness

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you think about inner strength and resilience, what sort of qualities come to mind? This weeks article is one that I wrote at the beginning of 2015, observing how strength can be mindfully derived from cultivating a connection to gentleness.

For those in Singapore, final call for Saturday afternoons workshop on Mindful Resilience – Sustaining effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure through meditation and mindfulness all welcome!
Also, for everyone, wherever you are, its not too late to start participating in the Resilience through love online and live mindfulness course.

In the spirit of gentle strength,

Toby


The resilience of gentleness

One of the ‘meditation words’ I have taken for this year is self-care. Normally I take 2-3 words and focus upon them over the course of a year and let the themes and mysteries within them gradually reveal themselves. Meditation means to dwell deeply, so staying with just one, two or three words for a year and spending time each day investigating them deeply can be a beautiful and rewarding meditation practice!
One of the things that I have observed about focusing upon and trying to practice self-care each day is that each time I take the time to do a little self-care, I start to feel a little more inwardly resilient; it becomes a little easier to feel happy, a little easier to be benevolent to others, a little easier to acknowledge and face the challenges in my life I might want to wish away.
This is one of the interesting things about developing a quality; when we develop it we find that we start to simultaneously develop its opposite quality in a way in which we may not have expected. Gentleness gives rise to strength; stillness gives rise to dynamism; focus gives rise to relaxation. This week or over the next few days, if you like, try doing something each day that is a deliberate and appropriate expression of self-care. See how you can grow your inner resilience by using the method of gentleness.

© 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 – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

3rd December, 2-5pm – Mindful Resilience three hour workshop

Saturday December 10th 9.30am-12.30pm – An introduction to mindful walking & meditation workshop
Saturday December 10th 2pm-5.30pm – Living life from your inner center – Meditations for going with the flow of the present moment


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Building resilience through love (Live & online mindfulness courses with Toby in December)

stone-heart-pondDear Integral Meditators,

What if I told you one of the best ways to build your inner strength and resilience was through love? From tomorrow there will be the opportunity to participate in a three module course on mindful love and loving. It can be done both live (if you are in Singapore) and online if you are not. Full details are below. If you click on the links related to each module, this will take you to the articles that explain some of the techniques we shall be employing. I invite you to participate!
For those in Singapore, on Saturday Dec 10th there is also the opportunity to participate in my 3 hour Mindful resilience workshop.

In the spirit of resilience through love,

Toby


Building inner resilience with mindful love – A three week live & online course

In the run up to the Christmas season, why not bring more love into your life to enjoy and share with others through mindfulness & meditation? This course aims to give you a wealth of practical mindfulness techniques to:

  • Create to a robust, naturally loving relationship to yourself and your world
  • Leverage more fully upon, appreciate and derive strength from the love that is already around you and within you
  • Bring your experience of giving and receiving love into a healthy, mutually supportive dynamic
  • Find sources of love that are unconditional and inexhaustible (even when you are in challenging circumstances)
  •  Bring personal and universal levels of love together within your mind, body and heart to effect healing & pleasure as well as enhance your motivation & energy

This is a three week live & online course that consists of three modules:
Module 1: Love as the Journey Towards Wholeness; Three Awareness Perspectives
Module 2: Meditating on enlightened love the easy way
Module 3: Giving and receiving: The energetic dynamics of love

Each module consists of an article (linked to above), a one hour live meditation & talk, plus a short, 10minute MP3 meditation practice that you can use to connect to the essential practice of that module anytime.

Two modes of participation; live and online:
Live: If you are in Singapore, you can participate in this course by attending either the Tuesday evening ( on 29th Nov, Dec 6th & 17th) or Wednesday evening (on Nov 30th, Dec 7th, 14th meditation classes.
Online: If you are participating online you will be sent the links to listen to and/or download modules 1-3 on Thursdays the 1st, 8th and 15th of December respectively.

If you are reading this after the start date of the first module, you can still participate in the course, as the preceding modules can be sent to you, and you can digest them in your own time and at your convenience!

Cost of the course:
For the whole course: SGD$55 (Equivalent US$38, €35, GB£30approx) MAKE PAYMENT FOR WHOLE COURSE HERE VIA PAYPAL
For individual modules: SGD20
MAKE PAYMENT FOR INDIVIDUAL MODULES HERE VIA PAYPAL (please indicate the module that you would like to purchase in the comments section of the payment form)

About the facilitator: Toby is a mindfulness expert and the author of the book ‘Engaged Mindfulness – What mindfulness is and how to apply it to our daily lives’.
After originally training as an artist, subsequent to his degree, Toby spent ten years doing his foundational training in meditation & mindfulness, specializing in the Tibetan Tradition which included five years as an ordained Buddhist monk…(click here for full bio details)


Other upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in December

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

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

3rd December, 2-5pm – Mindful Resilience three hour workshop

Saturday December 10th 9.30am-12.30pm – An introduction to mindful walking & meditation workshop
Saturday December 10th 2pm-5.30pm – Living life from your inner center – Meditations for going with the flow of the present moment


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Relaxing your way to enlightenment

Dear Integral Meditators,

What is the relationship between relaxation and enlightenment? Is it possible to do both at the same time? The article below explains a mindfulness practice for doing just that; relaxing your way to an experience of your own enlightened nature!

For those in Singapore who may be looking for a day of enlightened relaxation, do check out the Engaged Mindfulness workshop this Saturday 26th Nov!

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Relaxing your way to enlightenment

In the time before meditation and mindfulness became fashionable as a method for relieving stress, basically people practiced them to ‘become enlightened’, but what does that mean? One (not the only) central understanding of enlightenment is simply the capacity to recognize and identify with the state of formless, timeless, pristine consciousness that lies behind and supports both our sensory awareness and our thinking mind. On this level of self and experience we are simply consciousness itself. As such the primal consciousness that lies at the heart of you is the same as the same as the one that lies at the heart of me; we are all just different bodies and personalities sharing the same primal identity as consciousness itself.
For many of you the above paragraph might seem quite abstract, not necessarily something that you find easy to relate to on an experiential level. What I want to do here is to explain how to combine a simple, progressive relaxation technique with resting in your own enlightened nature, so that you can combine basic mindful stress relief and relaxation with the beginnings of enlightened awareness. It is really a very simple!

How to relax mindfully into your own enlightened nature using progressive muscle relaxation
Become aware of your physical body. Take an area of your physical body where you feel tension or fatigue. For a few seconds tense the muscles in that area of the body until they start to fatigue a little. Then release the muscles and relax your body as deeply as you can for a short while. As you are doing so, try and release the muscle tension as fully as you can, and simply rest in the state of pure consciousness that arises when you relax deeply like this. With part of your mind try and pay attention to this experience and recognize this absence of thought and mental activity as the experience of your own primal consciousness or enlightened nature. Go through your body, tensing and relaxing the muscles that are holding tension progressively. Tense the muscles, then relax them and really rest in the state of pure awareness and ‘letting go’ that you experience when you release the muscle tension.

Applying the technique to the mind and emotions
You can apply the same technique to your mind and emotions. For example, you can bring to mind some mental stress that you may be experiencing. Look for the feeling of that stress in your body. Having detected the area of the body where it is, tense the muscles in that area of the body as described above. When you release the muscles focus upon the releasing of the emotional and mental stress as well as the physical relaxation, then spend a while relaxing as deeply as you can in and into that space of open, spacious awareness.

If you do this regularly, over time you will become more physically and psychologically relaxed and gain the ability to deal with specific aspects of your own stress more effectively. You will also become more and more familiar with the experience of open, spacious consciousness beyond the thinking and sensory mind. This experience of consciousness itself can then act as the basis for building experiential intimacy with your own fundamentally enlightened nature. This practice is as easy to do as regular mindful progressive relaxation techniques, but is much more profound.

© 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 – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat

3rd December, 2-5pm – Mindful Resilience three hour workshop

Saturday December 10th 9.30am-12.30pm – An introduction to mindful walking & meditation workshop
Saturday December 10th 2pm-5.30pm – Living life from your inner center – Meditations for going with the flow of the present moment


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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Becoming mindfully unfocused

Dear Integral Meditators,

It’s tough to keep focused these days, when there are seemingly so many things demanding our attention. In the article below I explain a method that I use for regenerating my mental energy and willpower when they are feeling a little run-down…

In the spirit of soft focus,

Toby


Becoming mindfully unfocused

Becoming mindfully unfocused is a technique I use specifically to relax and regenerate the energy of my mind when it has been working hard and needs a break, or when I feel my willpower is low and needs to gather its strength. The short-term effect is the experience of feeling mentally and physically refreshed, but I also feel that in the long-game of aging over the years this type of method can help prolong the shelf-life and functioning of my mind, brain, willpower and nervous system.
To practice mindful non-focusing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and take a few breaths to relax your body-mind and bring it into the present moment.
Then imagine that your brain has a kind of ‘sleep mode button’, that when you switch it, it goes into a kind of semi-sleep, semi-awake mode; you are still awake and aware, but most of the ‘thinking’ function of the brain has been shut down. It’s like you are asleep and awake at the same time. In this ‘sleep mode’ allow your body, mind and heart to relax as deeply as they can. Now allow your mind to become unfocused, in the same way that for example a movie camera dilates to a ‘soft focus’ where everything is slightly blurred, soft and indistinct.
At this point with your thinking brain in ‘sleep mode’ and your mind in ‘soft-focus mode’, simply work on relaxing into and sustaining that state of mindful non-focus. Allow it to help you rest your mind and regenerate your energy. The key is to apply just enough ‘effort ‘ to sustain this state of being mindfully unfocused. It is a little bit like having a nap, whilst at the same time increasing the capacity of your conscious mind to remain awake and attentive in a state of deep relaxation and ease.
A final point here is that this state of restful unfocused-ness is one that we are dipping in and out of unconsciously at various times during the day, so this technique like many other mindful methods is a way of connecting to an already existing state of mind, using mindfulness to put it to positive use to our own ends.

© 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 – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat

3rd December, 2-5pm – Mindful Resilience three hour workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Being the center of your universe (not the universe!)

Dear Integral Meditators,

There’s a big difference between being the center of the universe and the center of your universe. The article below explores how to make mindful use of your position in the big scheme of things!

Final reminder for those in Singapore of this Saturday’s Tree of Life meditation workshop

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Being the center of your universe

Often, when we say to someone ‘you are not the center of the universe you know!’ we do so in order to indicate that they are being somewhat self-centered, and that their perspective of themselves is over inflated. Actually, mindfully recognizing that you really aren’t the center of the universe, and that in most ways you are really pretty insignificant can be a very useful perspective to leverage upon. By deliberately recognizing your non-central position in the grand universal plan we can cut our problems down to size, overcome the anxiety and stress that comes with being overly self-centered, and create a lot more mental space within which to relax. Insignificance has its uses!

On the other hand, whilst you are not the center of the Universe, you are the center of your universe, that is to say the universe of our own life. In terms of being the center of your own universe and life, what you do, say and think is of crucial importance. You are the owner of your life, and every choice you make affects your experience significantly. Moreover, if you don’t take steps to influence and direct your life in the way you want it to go, who is going to do it for you? We can receive the help and input of others, but fundamentally we are the ones responsible for our own lives. In this sense we are always the most important person in our life.

So there are two positions we are defining and being mindful of:

  • I am not the center of the universe, so I can relax and stop being so neurotic about all my insignificant problems and challenges
  • I am the centre of my universe, so what I chose and do is of vital and central importance to my life. It’s not anyone else’s job to ‘save’ me, I need to be the master of my own ship!

At different times we can adopt one or other of these views according to what is appropriate for our needs and circumstances, and combine them to help us in our daily life. For example if I think about my work for my business today, on one level none of it ‘matters’ in the big scheme of things. I’m not the center of the universe, and if I should ‘fail’, die or simply go bust, then only a very small number of people will be affected or even notice. So I can relax and get comfortable with my own insignificance, nothing is worth getting unnecessarily worked up about! On another level, my business (teaching and promoting mindfulness meditation) depends upon me entirely, if I don’t take responsibility for my projects, no one else will make a living for me, and the people that I can positively impact will not receive that benefit. So what I do really does matter and is of crucial significance! Similarly, my own happiness is directly affected by the amount of care I take of myself, so what I so matters there, as well as in significant relationships such as the one I have with my daughter.

None of it matters, and all of it matters a lot.

You are not the center of the universe, but you are the center of your universe. You might like to play with this as a mindfulness practice over the next few days, using both perspectives in tandem to help you relax and keep you motivated!

© 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 – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat

3rd December, 2-5pm – Mindful Resilience three hour workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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The Yin & Yang of mindful thinking

Dear Integral Meditators,

Managing your basic thinking processes is one of the most important life-skills that you can develop. The article below explores one simple mindfulness method that can really help!

For those in Singapore, quick reminder of the Tuesday evening class starting on the 8th!

In the spirit of the thought filled journey,

Toby


The Yin and Yang of mindful thinking

As I continue to coach people in the art of mindful thinking it continues to strike me how tricky people find basic positive thinking and care of the thinking mind. This short article is an attempt to explain in simple, practical terms how to think in a way that supports our happiness and wellbeing at the same time as taking care of wounded, negative or challenging thoughts that arise.
The basic principle of this practice is this; deliberately think two constructive thoughts, and then acknowledge a more negative or challenging thought. So, if I take myself right now as an example I bring to mind two good things I’ve experienced in the last 24 hours:

  • I enjoyed listening to Ken Wilbur’s Full body mindfulness module on the bus to work this morning
  • I enjoyed my meeting with colleagues yesterday where we discussed our future plans for collaboration

I note and dwell upon these two positive experiences for a moment, letting my appreciation sink in. On the basis of this simple, positive experience, I then seek out a more difficult or challenging thought or perspective that may be bothering me. For example:

  • I feel somewhat run down physically due to my workload right now

I then spend a few moments simply being aware of, acknowledging and taking care of the feelings associated with this challenge, making my peace with it. Then I go back to constructive thinking and seek out two positives:

  • I enjoyed the conversation I had with my daughter last night
  • I feel grateful for the fact that I can help the healing of some niggling sports injuries I have using mindfulness (great skill to have at my disposal)

I dwell upon these thoughts and the feelings associated with them, so that my sense of my world being basically ‘good’ is re-enforced. Then I deliberately seek out a troubled part of my mind to take care of.  Looking at my mind as an example right now:

  • I feel sad that I don’t have more time to devote to environmental concerns, or to spend more time in and with nature

Again, I mindfully acknowledge that thought, consciously taking care of the feelings associated with it, approaching it with compassion.

And so it goes on. Whenever there is a spare moment I come back to this mindfulness of thoughts; deliberately seeking out and enjoying two constructive thoughts before I then look for a challenging thought/perspective to take care of and process consciously. If I do this mindfully through-out the day, then my mind is going to really start to feel strong and resilient, as my reality is increasingly experienced through the perspective of my positive thoughts, and any challenging thoughts and feelings within me are made to feel supported and cared for (as opposed to feared, rejected or indulged in). One thing that I notice about this practice is that it really affects my physical energy quite tangibly, there is no doubt that having a strong mind helps the body to feel strong to a certain extent and degree!
Like my other integral mindfulness practices, this can be done as a sitting down exercise (even a written one using a note pad), or simply something to be mindful of as you are going about your daily activities.

© 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 – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Body-heart-mind scanning

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is it possible to release physical, emotional and mental stress in a single practice? This weeks article is principally a description of a meditation technique for doing just that, and implicitly building a stronger, more resilient body-mind connection within yourself.

Until the 26th I-awake technologies has a 50% sale on all their meditation technologysound-tracks, You can read my thoughts on the use of this type of technology HERE.

In the spirit of an integrated body,mind and heart,

Toby

 


Body-heart-mind scanning

If you are familiar with mindfulness practice to any degree, then you will probably have heard of body-scanning, the practice of scanning through the different areas of the body looking for tension and consciously releasing it. In the technique below I describe a simple body-scan in conjunction with a ‘mind and emotion scanning process’ that enables us not just to ease physical tension, but also to become aware of and release tension within our mind and ‘thought-body’ as well as our emotions and ‘emotional body’. The aim and effect of this technique is to effect a greater degree of relaxation within ourselves, at the same time as synchronizing/harmonzing our body, heart and mind together.

The practice

Step one – The physical body scan
Sitting or lying comfortably with a relatively straight back, use your awareness to mentally scan progressively through each area of the body, from the crown of the head down through the face, neck, torso, arms, hips legs and feet. If you like as you are checking each part, you can first tense the muscles in that area to feel them fully, then relax them completely. This second ‘tensing and relaxing’ method is an option you can try.

Step two – Connecting to and relaxing the mind, heart and instincts
The mind – Having scanned through the body once, now focus your attention in the brain and forehead area. As you breathe in and out feel the brain becoming more and more relaxed. As it does so, feel yourself letting go of your thoughts and thinking; relax the mind as deeply as you can.
The heart – Now come down to the heart and chest area, as you breathe awareness in and out of your heart area, become aware of any emotions that may be present there. As you exhale, feel your chest and heart relaxing, and your emotions calming and stilling.
The instincts – The third stage in this section involves moving your awareness down into your belly and abdomen. Bring awareness to the rising and falling of the abdomen as you breathe. As you breathe in this way, become aware of the energy of your instincts and biological life force. As you exhale down in the belly, feel yourself calming your instincts and letting go of any primal, fight or flight tension.

Step 3 – Going deeper into mindful flow
In the final stage, pick one area of your body to focus on, the brain area, the heart or the belly. For 3-5 breaths focus upon the sense of ease and relaxation in that part of the body, then spend a few moments holding your attention still in that area. Repeat this pattern of 3-5 breaths followed by a few moments of still-attention for the remainder of the meditation, going deeper into a state of mindful flow.

Practising in daily life
In daily life you can do short periods of body-heart-mind scanning, with almost no extra effort. For example, if you were to do a 1-3-minute practice, once in the morning, afternoon and evening where you briefly scan and relax the body, then spend three breaths each relaxing the brain & thoughts, the heart & emotions, and the abdomen & instincts, this would have a tangible and positive effect on your stress levels and ability to stay centered under pressure.

© 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 – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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Two types of choice-less awareness

Dear Integral meditators,

This weeks article focuses on two different ways of being mindful of your choice-making process. As well as the article I have two free videos for you:

Two events this coming Saturday 22nd October if you are in Singapore. Firstly theMeditations for Quietening the Mind workshop from 9.3oam-12.30, and secondly theMindfulness & Movement session I’ll be doing at Lifechiro from 2-5pm with my good friend Dr Jesse Timm.

In the spirit of choice-less awareness,

Toby


Two types of choice-less awareness

What is your current relationship to making choices in your life?

In traditional Buddhist mindfulness practice practicing ‘choice-less awareness’ means to witness whatever comes up in your field of awareness as a detached observer, without commenting, judging or getting involved in what arises. You are aware of what is arising without making any choices or trying to affect it; whatever is there is there; simply watch, observe and relax.
The fundamental benefit of this practice is that it gives you the peace of mind arising from being able to separate your ‘I’ from the contents of your consciousness. You are the owner of your thoughts, feelings and impulses, but you are not the thoughts, feelings and impulses.

Type two: Deliberate non-choosing
A second type of choice-less awareness involves simply deciding to abstain temporarily from making decisions and choices. The goal here is to deliberately set aside time where we make no choice or decision at all, simply resting in the circumstances that we find ourself in, and relaxing*.

The anxiety of being ‘caught between’ choices.
The reason for cultivating this second type of choice-less awareness is that much of our mental anxiety is created around our relationship to the decision-making process:

  • What is the right or best thing to do in this situation?
  • What if I make the wrong decision?
  • I don’t know what to do here
  • What if I am blamed for this?

If we are not careful we can spend a lot of our time in a state of low-grade anxiety, worrying about the dilemmas and choices in our life. For many of us this has become a habit to the extent that, even when we do make a choice that solves a problem, rather than deriving satisfaction from that, our attention simply seeks out another dilemma to worry about!

Stop your inner debate!
The idea with the mindful ‘non-choosing’ is to stop worrying by deliberately suspending our choice making capacity. This enables our mind to relax, regenerate its energy and return to sanity. To practice this as a sitting meditation, for the designated time you have set aside create a boundary; ‘For the next X minutes I will make no choices about my life, nor will I debate or weigh up issues. I will enjoy the simple pleasure of unburdening myself of my choice making responsibilities and being more present’.

Conscious choosing
The idea with conscious non-choosing is not that we don’t make choices at all, ever. Rather it is that that we develop the skill of temporarily putting down our choices in order to enjoy a more relaxed mind, better quality of life and reduce our anxiety.
The flip side of dropping our choices is to then spend the time when we are making choices in a more focused, mindful manner. We deliberately identify the important choices that we need to make today, this morning or in the next hour, and bring our full intelligence to that choice-making processes.
A good question to ask yourself to facilitate conscious choice-making is ‘what are the two most important choices that I need to make today?’ Identify the two choices that must get made today, and focus your intelligence on making them as well informed as possible!

Note from para 3* If we are doing this while engaged in some form of activity, for example walking, then we will obviously have to make small choices (to go left or right for example). The point here is to avoid our mind debating between two or more options in an abstract way. The immanent, small choices that we have to make in the moment (go left, go right) we can just make as required.

© 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 – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Saturday 22nd October, 9.30am-12.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Saturday 22nd October 2-5pm – Mindfulness & Movement session at the LifeChiro Center

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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Mindfully dropping (and picking up) your story

Dear Integral Meditators,

We all have a story, or a history. Is your story and the story that your telling yourself helping you or hindering you in your life? How can mindfulness help you to develop a constructive and enjoyable approach to your past? The article below considers these questions…

In the spirit of mindful amnesia,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

Saturday 22nd October, 9.30am-12.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Saturday 22nd October 2-5pm – Mindfulness & Movement session at the LifeChiro Center

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat


Mindfully dropping (and picking up) your story

The heavy bag of our story
For many of us our ‘story’, our past, our history is something that we are carrying around with us all the time. Unless we are careful it can end up like a heavy bag that we never put down, sapping our energy. It can define what we believe we are capable of; filling out mind with what could have been, what we did wrong, what we wish we could change and so on…

You can drop your story
Because we carry around our story so habitually, we can forget that it is possible to simply decide to ‘drop’, or put down our story and to mindfully experience the present moment unburdened by the past.

Conscious amnesia; entering the present by dropping the past
One simple technique I use is to imagine that I have amnesia, I literally can’t remember who I am, what my name is, what has gone on in my past. I enter into the moment with a ‘blank slate’ so to speak, and enjoy the radical way in which my reality becomes simplified.

The joy and strategic value of dropping your story
I find dropping my story on a regular basis allows me to recover my lightness of spirit, my playfulness and ability to connect to the simple joy of the moment as I find it.
I also find it a useful exercise when I am feeling overwhelmed at work or by life. It enables me to strategically re-find my center and, (having dropped my story for a while) to come back to my challenges with greater clarity

Dropping your story and meditative states
Dropping out past offers us the ‘liberation of being a nobody’. Until we drop out past we don’t realize how much our past is defining how we experience ourselves in the present. It also  offers a point of entry into the timeless present; that deeper dimension of the present moment that is not defined by our immediate circumstances, and that is always whole, complete and perfect as it is.

Picking up and improving your story
Once we have learned to drop our story, this then invites us to pick up our story again, and deal with it more consciously and creatively. We can approach the events of our past with more care, curiosity, courage and appreciation, rather than feeling burdened by it.

Summary practices

  • Notice how you carry around your story and how it sometimes acts as a source of anxiety, limitation  and heaviness.
  • Realize that you don’t have to carry your story around with you all the time, you can drop it and inhabit the present moment more fully!
  • Spend periods of time consciously and deliberately dropping your story, practising ‘conscious amnesia’. Notice and enjoy the freedom and clarity that it offers.
  • Pick your story up again mindfully, using its accumulated wisdom to inform your daily life, without allowing its wounds and habits to define and limit your choices and aspirations.

© 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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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