Breathing from your belly, ducking under your thoughts

Dear Integral Meditators,

Effective meditation can often be based around a simple technique. In the article below I describe one practice that has delivered enduring value for me over the days, months and years. Enjoy trying it out!

For those in Singapore, a heads up for the Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat on the 16th December!

In  the spirit of breathing from your center,

Toby


 

Breathing from your belly, ducking under your thoughts

The meditation I describe below is one I originally picked up from the Qi Gong tradition. You can find variations of in Buddhism and Zen. It involves focusing attention on and breathing from your belly area, (or lower ‘dan tien’/’energy field’ as they call it in Qi gong). This meditation form is particularly useful as:

  • A way of “ducking under” excessive mental or emotional turbulence in our mind, as, physiologically speaking the energy centres that hold our ‘thinking’ energy are above the solar plexus, in the heart and head
  • A way of relaxing our nervous system
  • Creating a regenerative space where the energy of our body-mind can gradually come back into balance and equilibrium

Fifteen minutes or so if this meditation a day is a really good practise for calming yourself in a way that feels very grounded, solid and stable. One might almost say it is a very “physicalizing” meditation! So here it is:

Stage 1 – Bringing your attention down to your belly: Sitting with a comfortably straight back, either cross legged or on a chair (lying down is also ok!), sink your centre of gravity down in your body, from the chest area to the belly. Breathing naturally, place attention upon the rising and falling of your belly as you breathe. Focusing specifically on the abdomen 1-2inches beneath the belly button is ideal. If initially you have trouble sensing the movement, place your hands over your belly, so that you can feel the rising and falling of your belly beneath your palms.

Stage 2 – Locating the lower dan-tien in the belly: Now, go inside your belly. See a soft, luminous ball of light in the center of your lower belly area, about the size of a golf ball. It is at the level 1-2 inches beneath your belly button, but in the center of your abdomen. If you don’t ‘see’ it clearly, try and simply ‘feel’ the ball. Not everyone is visually oriented, and that’s fine. For a few minutes, as you breathe in focus your attention on the ball in your lower belly. See the ball expanding to about the size of a large grapefruit as you inhale, as you exhale see it shrinking back to the size of a golf ball. Do this for a few minutes.

Stage 3 – Relaxing and focusing awareness in the belly: Having found the location of the energy ball in your belly, the rest of the meditation is spent simply relaxing and trying to gently focus your attention and awareness in this part of your body, and letting go of excess conceptual thoughts and mental activity.
If you like you can change the visualization slightly, as an alternative to the expanding and contracting explained in stage 2: Feel light and energy flowing into the belly area and ball of light as you breathe in, and then flowing out of the ball to the surface of your body as you breathe out.
When you feel as if your mind and body have settled down, the main emphasis should simply to enjoy the state of non-conceptuality and relaxation that arise from focusing your awareness in the lower belly area. Allow your mind and body to find regeneration and healing within this deep, calm space.

Enjoy your belly breathing!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Beginning 14th&15th November – Mastering your mind & thoughts through mindfulness – A five-week course

Saturday December 16th, 2-5pm –  Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Solve no problem (& leave no problem unsolved)

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can you reduce your stress and anxiety at the same time as becoming more effective at solving your problems? The article below explores a practical mindful perspective on this…

For those in Singapore, a final reminder of this Saturday morning’s workshop– The Six Qi Gong Healing sounds: Qi gong For Self-Healing and Inner Balance as well as a heads up for the Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat on the 16th December!

In the spirit of treading lightly & purposefully,

Toby


Solve no problem (& leave no problem unsolved)

‘These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.’ ~ Najwa Zebian

This article explores two complementary mindful positions:

  • Firstly, how to let go of your over anxious, problem-solving mind periodically
  • Secondly, the necessity of mindfully taking responsibility for finding solutions to problems that are indeed yours to solve

Position 1: Solving no problem
The challenge: Most of us are compulsive thinkers, and we find it difficult to leave our problems and challenges alone. Instead we spend much of our time carrying our problems around like a burden. Let’s say I have a problem with a colleague at work. All I can think about is how my relationship with them is ‘not right’ and what I should do to ‘fix’ the problem, or show them what they need to do to ‘fix’ themselves and their attitude(!) Even when I am not with them I am thinking about the problems we have. It becomes a burden that I cannot put down. You can think of many other examples of this from your own life I am sure!
The practice: So, the practice with ‘solving no problem’ is to sit mindfully and simply put down all your problems and worries; learn to leave them alone! You simply sit and practice non-striving, and non-fixing. When a problem or challenge comes into your mind, you notice it but resist trying to fix it or find a solution to it. You give yourself and your mind a break from all problem-solving activities, just relax!

Position 2: Leave no problem unsolved
The challenge: Many of the very real problems that we face we avoid thinking about. This is because the very thought of these challenges makes us anxious and nervous, so when they come up we either push them away/repress them, or feel various levels of emotional panic. This panic further prevents clear thinking and effective problem solving. Let’s say I feel uncomfortable about an emotional issue with my partner. Whenever I feel the emotion coming up I feel mild panic and confusion, so I immediately shove it too the back of my mind, out of the way so I don’t have to dwell on it. However, since the problem is to do with my partner and I, at some point I have to say to myself ‘How am I going to take on and solve this problem?’ This question initiates self-responsibility, the act of choosing to take care of what is yours to take care of and resolve.
The practice: Ask yourself the question, ‘What are the most important challenges I face right now, that it is my responsibility to try and resolve?’ Let your mind follow the direction that the question points it in. From this identify one challenge that you want to focus on bringing your full attention to finding a solution to. Focus on thinking about that one thing for say five minutes. Maybe have a pen and paper at hand to write any useful conclusions down.

The result: The idea here is to develop the capacity to both:

  1. Put problems down for a while, giving yourself a mental break and tread lightly
  2. When appropriate really, focus your intelligence in on solving your problems effectively.

You are able to integrate non-solving and definite solving into a complementary, mutually enhancing pair of mindfulness practices!

Related article: Three levels of non-striving

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Beginning 14th&15th November – Mastering your mind & thoughts through mindfulness – A five-week course

Saturday December 2nd, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Six Qi Gong Healing sounds: Qi gong For Self-Healing and Inner Balance Workshop

Saturday December 16th, 9.30am-12.30pm & 2-5pm –  Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Caring too much?

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you think about mindfulness and meditation practice, you might think of it as a way of becoming more caring and more loving. However, our mindfulness may sometimes tell us that we need to care less. How does this work? The article below considers this question.

Those in Singapore a quick reminder of this Saturdays Mini ME Retreat Mindful Eating Retreat  that I will be doing with Tiffany Wee & Elaine Yang, & the workshop I will be doing on  Saturday December 2nd, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Six Qi Gong Healing sounds: Qi gong For Self-Healing and Inner Balance Workshop

In the spirit of balanced caring,
Toby


Caring too much?

If you think about mindfulness and meditation practice, you might think of it as a way of becoming more caring and more loving. However, our mindfulness may sometimes tell us that we need to care less. How does this work?
The principle of the middle way indicates that any virtue practiced to an extreme becomes a vice. Too much strength without gentleness can become cruelty. Too much work-ethic without rest becomes burn-out. Similarly, too much caring without the ability to detach and be objective can get in the way of both our happiness and effectiveness. Here are three examples:

1. If I have a deal that is important to my business, and I go into a meeting with the client caring too much about the outcome, the intensity of caring may cause me to speak impulsively and come across nervous to them. This may impact their confidence in me. If on the other hand I can combine my care about the outcome with a little more objectivity and lightness, I will be free to speak and act in a more optimal manner in the meeting.

2. When I spend time with my pre-teenage daughter, sometimes she is a delight; happy and  talking freely and enthusiastically. Other times there seems to be no way whatsoever to get a positive response from her during the entire time. If I care too much about her being happy, then every time she is difficult or miserable, then my over-caring will make it impossible for me to relax. I’ll be wanting to ‘fix’ her mood all the time. I won’t be able to just let her go through her moods in a natural way. If I can dial down the intensity of my caring being a little more objective, then I won’t take her mood so personally. I’ll enjoy it when she is happy, and when she is not, if there is nothing I can do to help, then I will be able to accept her position. I can allow her to go through her process of growing up in the way she needs to, without me ‘getting in the way’!

If in my romantic relationship I care too intensely about ‘fixing’ an issue that me and my partner are having, I may not be able to let the issue go. I may over analyse it, and keep bringing it up in conversation in ways that are detrimental to the relationship. Sometimes it works best to care a little less intensely, relax and give the relationship time and room to breathe.

Note to beware of: The flip side is not caring enough:
In all the above examples it would also be a bad thing

  • To be too flippant going into a business meet. If they think you don’t care, that’s equally likely to bring a bad result
  • If I am not watching my daughter’s mood with enough care, I may fail to see when an intervention is really the best thing to do
  • Sometimes it really is the best thing to do to bring up a difficult topic with our partner, and work through it even though it is confronting.

It is all about balance, and finding the level of intensity of care that is optimal to the circumstances. Another way of saying this is that too much caring becomes attachment, and attachment brings bad results.

Mindfulness practice – Dialing the intensity your care along a scale
To develop mindfulness around caring, in any given situation ask yourself ‘What is the optimal intensity of care that I need to bring here?’ Observe whether your care is too much and getting in the way, or not enough. Gently de-intensify or intensify the level of your care so that it is ‘right’ for the circumstance. Then proceed to do what you need to do, or not-do accordingly.

Related articles:
Transforming Our Attachment into Care
For Every Suffering a Joy (Cultivating Positive Non-Attachment)
Engaged Equanimity
Is calmer always better?

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Beginning 14th&15th November – Mastering your mind & thoughts through mindfulness – A five-week course

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

Saturday December 2nd, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Six Qi Gong Healing sounds: Qi gong For Self-Healing and Inner Balance Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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


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When receiving is giving and giving is receiving

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would happen if you brought your mindful attention to the way in which you currently give & receive? The article below offers a practical way of exploring this. It also suggests a way of deriving sustainable happiness & pleasure from both receiving & giving.

Toby


When receiving is giving and giving is receiving

When we give to receive:
Quite often the reason we give to others or act to benefit them is because it makes us feel good or better about ourselves. If there is something that we feel is broken inside us we can almost look to our acts of generosity as a way of gaining some form of redemption. The fact that we are consciously or unconsciously looking to gain something from our act of giving in this way does not invalidate the act, but it makes us aware of two things:

  • Acts of giving can be as much acts of the ego as any other type of action in our life.
  • Acts of giving are also acts of receiving; by giving to another we receive certain healthy feelings as a “payback”. For example we may feel good about ourselves and/or taking our mind away from the difficulties in our life.

On giving when we receive:
If you are the sort of person who finds it easy to give in the above way, you may also find yourself not allowing others to give to you. Your way of gaining the love and acceptance of others is through giving, so when others act to give to you, there may be a certain resistance to “receiving” their act of giving.  For example, you may feel uncomfortable to be the receiver of, let’s say kindness, consideration or pleasure, rather than the giver of it.
You know how much joy you can feel when you give to others. So, if you think about it, one of the greatest acts of giving that you can provide for others is by learning to receive their acts of kindness and giving toward you with grace and acceptance. By receiving the generosity of others in this way we set up a sustainable cycle of giving and receiving love in our life. This provides a sustainable source of happiness for both ourselves and for others.

A suggested practicum:
For the next week try and do one act of receiving, and one act of giving each day.

  • When you practice receiving, do it gracefully, recognizing that your very act of receiving in this way is an act of giving to the other person.
  • When you practice giving, recognize that this is an act where you benefit as much as the receiver. Extend appreciation for the service that the other person is providing you as the recipient. Also, welcome and enjoy the good feelings that arise in you from your own act of giving, have fun!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Beginning 14th&15th November – Mastering your mind & thoughts through mindfulness – A five-week course

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The Gifts & wounds of Our Ancestors

Dear Integral Meditators,

Happy Samhain & All Hallows eve (aka Haloween) everyone! Its a great time to sit down & do a bit of reflection on our genertic & spiritual ancestors. The article below offers a few pointers for gentle contemplation.
Those in Singapore, if you fancy doing a meditation on the subject then do com along tonight or tomorrow: Tuesday 31st October & Wednesday 1st November, 7.30-8.30pm – Samhain Meditation – Acknowledging the gifts and wounds of our ancestors

In the spirit of the light within the darkness,

Toby


The Gifts and Wounds of Our Ancestors

Living as securely, affluently as we do to today, and having the choices that we have has a lot to do with the efforts of past generations. Specifically to us as individuals, our immediate ancestors, parents, grandparents and great grandparents have a lot to do with the opportunity we have today to lead a happy, fulfilling and creative life today. You could say we are the inheritors of their gifts.

Conversely we are also an inheritor of their wounds, their unresolved inner conflicts, their vulnerabilities, their struggles, their blindspots & their burdens. Quite often the gifts and the blindspots of our ancestors are interrelated. For example:

  • I am aware of the gift of freedom that I was given from my Grandfathers in their fighting, surviving and perhaps killing in the two world wars. I am also aware of the emotional wounds and handicaps that come with such a sacrifice.
  • I am also aware of the gifts of my Grandmothers as women; their sacrifice and their patience. I am also aware of the wounds that they carry from playing this role and the limitations that it placed upon them.

Thematically, many of the issues that we may now be facing in our life are a continuation of the patterns of previous generations. For most people this goes on quite unconsciously, but by bringing mindfulness and reflection to our relationships to our ancestors we can develop the capacity to consciously guide and direct the energy that flows into us from our ancestors, and thus make better use of it.

A mindful reflection on your ancestors
Take the image of an ancestor that you wish to connect with and reflect upon, perhaps from an old photo. Visualize this image in front of you and allow your mind to mindfully free-associate for a while; notice the feelings, images and memories that may come up.
Now ask your ancestor (as if they are actually present) three questions:

  • What are your gifts to me?
  • What are your wounds?
  • What is it that you wish to communicate with me at this time?

Listen for the answers that come back, and dwell for a while in a state of:

  • Appreciation for gifts received
  • Healing and release of wounds inherited
  • Clear understanding of their message from them to you at this time in your life

We are the ancestors of future generations
Another question that we need to ask ourselves regularly is of course; what are the gifts that I wish to pass onto future generations, and what are the wounds they will have to deal with if I remain the way I am currently?

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Beginning 14th&15th November – Mastering your mind & thoughts through mindfulness – A five-week course

Saturday 18th November 9.30am-12.30pm – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life: Practical Meditations And Techniques For Working With your Shadow-Self three hour workshop

Saturday 18th November 2-5pm – Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self three hour workshop
Satu
rday November 25th 10am-4pm
 – Mini ME Retreat #2 : Mindful Eating + Reiki Sound Bath with Tiffany Wee & Elaine Yang


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The art of developing a mindfully thick skin

Dear Integral Meditators,

As you may know the expression ‘having a thick skin’ refers to being psychologically strong enough not to be hurt by the insults of others. The article below explores how we can develop a ‘mindfully thick skin’ & combine the benefits of being mentally strong with being emotionally sensitive and open. Enjoy!
In the spirit of strength & sensitivity,

Toby

PS: Next week for those in Singapore: Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th October – Meditating with your Shadow Self; Finding Freedom from What Holds You Back in Life – A 1 hour talk & introduction


The art of developing a mindfully thick skin (Make it semi-permeable)

When trying to develop and appropriately thick skin to deal with the challenges and attacks that life and our relationships throws at us we can fall into two extremes:

  • We can be too sensitive to what others say or do to us, making us emotionally vulnerable and negative at the slightest hint of criticism
  • We can become too insensitive, blocking not just the attacks that other people direct at us, but also the love, compliments and positivity. This starves us of the positive emotion and feeling that we need to be emotionally healthy and inwardly whole

To avoid either of the two extremes we need to develop what could be thought of as a “semi-permeable thick skin”.
This semi-permeable psychological skin::

  • Protects us from verbal attacks and negative energy from others
  • Guards against negativity coming from our own “inner-critic” the voice in our head that always sees the mistakes that we make
  • Enables us to strain out the negativity and take on the positive lessons when we or our work are critiqued by others
  • Protects us from negative ambient energy, for example in an office where there is a lot of anger, competitiveness or jealousy

However, it allows the following to penetrate our energy field and mind, allowing us to appreciate them fully:

  • When someone complements us, we take it in and appreciate it in a positive manner
  • We are able to receive emotional support and kind words from others. Loving in relationships is about receiving as well as giving
  • When we are offered something of beauty in a now-moment. For example, seeing a sunset as we ride on the bus, receiving life-energy from trees as we walk through the park
  • When it is appropriate to feel grateful and appreciative of something good that is happening in our life

Exercise for developing your semi-permeable thick skin
See yourself surrounded by a semi-permeable bubble of protective golden light. In crowded environments you can shrink it to the contours of your body, so it becomes like a body glove.
During the day practise learning when to consciously open up your golden bubble and allow positive energy into your energy-field (as in the examples above), and when to consciously close it down and make it an impermeable wall of protection (as in the examples of attacks above).
The idea with this exercise is to be able to consciously oscillate between being appropriately open and vulnerable (able to take positive energy in) and appropriately closed and protected, blocking negative attacks and energy, preventing it from damaging or crippling us.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th October – Meditating with your Shadow Self; Finding Freedom from What Holds You Back in Life – A 1 hour talk & introduction

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Asserting Positive Selfishness

Dear Integral Meditators,

For most people the word ‘selfish’ has exclusively negative connotations. The article below explores the important idea of ‘positive selfishness’ & how using it mindfully is a really important life-skill!

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Asserting Positive Selfishness

What is positive selfishness?
Positive selfishness is the recognition that you have a right to:

  • Pursue your own happiness and to be happy
  • To be fulfilled & pursue your life goals/interests
  • To rejoice in and derive pleasure from being alive, and inhabiting your own creative, expressive space as an individual

With positive selfishness, you are simply recognizing your right to the above three experiences. You are notsaying your happiness is more important than anyone else’s, in fact if you are a ‘positive egotist’ you would tend to vigorously uphold the rights of others around you to happiness, fulfillment and healthy pleasure.

Negative selfishness
Positive selfishness needs to be separated from negative selfishness. A negatively selfish person sees their happiness/desires (etc…) as being far more important than anyone elses. They are prepared to use any means possible to get their way. For such a person the welfare of others is insignificant. In contrast, the positively selfish person sees the welfare of others as an innate right, to be defended with the same passion as one’s own rights.

What is your ego?
A useful definition of the ego is ‘our unifying center of awareness’. It is the point of consciousness or self-awareness around which our habitual thoughts and feelings arrange themselves. Having a strong, healthy center of self-awareness (ego) that is able to make conscious choices, assert needs and take responsibility is essential for living a successful life. One of the main points of a mindfulness practice is to build a strong, healthy, functional ego.
Many people enter a spiritual path, or a path of meditation saying they ‘want to give up their ego’. Since most people haven’t really developed a healthy functional ego in the first place,  ‘giving up their ego’ is a strategy that is hardly destined for success.

The hidden paradigm: Bad = the selfish egotist, Good = the selfless sacrificer
One of the unconscious ideas that we inherit from many of our cultures and religions is that  “Good people ‘sacrifice’ their happiness for the benefit of others, whilst bad people are selfish egoists”. Positive selfishness asserts that it is possible to pursue your own fulfilment, whilst at the same time encouraging and enabling others to become happy and grow in their own way.
For example, in a romantic relationship, you can enjoy and derive pleasure from the other person, in a ‘positively selfish way’. In fact, what could be more insulting to the other person than to say to them “I am only here for you, I am not getting any pleasure from the experience myself!!!” Mutually satisfying joy and pleasure can be derived by each partner being ‘positively selfish’, whilst at the same time practising care and concern for the other person.

A positive selfishness mindfulness practice: Creating a win-win relationship between your own and other people’s interests.

This week as a fun exercise, in different situations you might like to ask yourself the questions:

  • What might it mean for me to be positively selfish here?
  • How can I assert my own needs and desires in a way that is complementary to the needs and fulfilment of those around me?

Have fun and see what answers arise from these questions. Enjoy being positively selfish!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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

Saturday 21st October, 2-5.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th October – Meditating with your Shadow Self; Finding Freedom from What Holds You Back in Life – A 1 hour talk & introduction

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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Am I happier now than when I was a Buddhist Monk? (Repetition and inner growth)

Dear Integral Meditators,

How much do you value your happiness? How much of it is in your hands, as opposed to fate? How much effort does it really take to become consistently happy in the way you ‘want’ to be? In the article below I share some of my own story and experience on this topic.

If you like the article & are in Singapore, I will be doing a session on ‘How to rest naturally in the present moment’ in tonight’s Tuesday class, as well as at the Wednesday class.

Full details for workshops for October are below the article.

In the spirit of mindful happiness,

Toby


Am I happier now than when I was a Buddhist Monk? (Repetition and inner growth)

After I graduated from University in 1994, I spent the next eight years focusing very intensively on meditation and inner growth. This included four years as a monk within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In 2002, I left the ordained life and founded my own mindfulness training business in Singapore, which I am still fully involved in and passionate about.

One of the questions that I am asked quite often at talks, workshops and classes that I facilitate goes something like this: “Are you happier now than you were as a Buddhist monk, leading a relatively simple, worry free life of meditation?”

To this my answer is always emphatically ‘yes!’ for the following reason: I am happier now because, since moving back into the life of a layman, I have been practising the basic happiness skills that I learned as a Buddhist monk repeatedly for many years and I have got better at them. As a result my happiness has steadily improved year in, year out over the sixteen years since I left the ordained life.  I can also say with confidence that my basic happiness levels will continue to steadily improve in the years to come. This will happen in spite of the added stresses that comes from running a business, marrying, divorcing, starting a family, being a father, a partner and all of the other aspects of ordinary life that I am now fully engaged with.

For me this really boils down to the value of consistency and repetition. Quite often when people think about inner transformation there is a gap in their mind between the amount of effort they THINK it will take to change bad habits, and the amount of effort it ACTUALLY takes. When they realize that the change that they are looking for will take longer than they thought, they get discouraged and give up.

So, what we are looking for from a ‘mental fitness’ point of view is developing the ability to practice good mental, emotional and spiritual habits slowly and steadily over a long period of time. This means becoming more like the tortoise than the hare in that traditional children’s story about the race between the hare and the tortoise. We do not want to start off with a lot of enthusiasm, only to lose it when the going gets tough and give up. Rather we need to practise gentle, sustainable effort over a long period of time, without being in too much of a hurry to see results quickly.

This can be difficult for people in this day and age as we are living in a society that has such a quick-fix mentality, where results are wanted instantly. In my experience there are no such methods for deep sustained happiness and fulfilment. Rather, this comes from repeating good happiness habits again and again until they become hard wired into our system. Once they are hard wired in this way, then happiness really does become effortless because it is just a subconscious habit, and natural way that we have of viewing and engaging our world.
In conclusion, the basic message of this article is: find out what genuine good quality happiness habits are, then repeat, repeat, repeat!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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

Saturday October 21st, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

Saturday 21st October, 2-5.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th October – Meditating with your Shadow Self; Finding Freedom from What Holds You Back in Life – A 1 hour talk & introduction

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Applying the Three C’s of Engaged Mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

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

In the spirit of engaged mindfulness,

Toby


Applying the Three C’s of Engaged Mindfulness

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

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

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

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

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

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Enlightenment as a chase

Dear Integral Meditators,

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

In the spirit of the chase,

Toby

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


Enlightenment as a chase

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

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

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

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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