Awareness and insight Integral Awareness Meditating on the Self

Using Your Misfortune to Enhance and Transcend Your Experience of Good Fortune

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you’ve had a good week, this weeks article continues the theme of last weeks article on Paradox as Therapy , looking at ways in which we can hold apparently contradictory states of awareness together in order to develop and enhance our inner wisdom.

Yours in the spirit of inner wisdom,


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Using Your Misfortune to Enhance and Transcend Your Experience of Good Fortune

Normally we think of our good fortune and happiness as being in contrast or opposition to our misfortune and unhappiness. This article and the exercise outlined aims to help us to use our difficult experiences to:

  • Cultivate mindful acceptance of our challenges
  • Cultivate greater appreciation of our good fortune and wellbeing
  • Find a space of awareness that lies beyond and is transcendent of both that which makes us unhappy in life and that which makes us happy.

Here is what you do:

Stage 1: Select an experience of suffering, pain or misfortune in your life. Let’s say in this example that I am feeling unappreciated and uncared for by a close friend whom I expected more support from. So, the first thing that I do is to become mindfully aware of the feelings of hurt that I am experiencing in this circumstance. I sit with awareness of the feelings of being unloved/uncared for as they are. I don’t try to change them, I just accept them as they are, holding them with mindful awareness.

Stage 2: I now select an experience of good fortune/happiness that contrasts directly with the original negative experience. So, in the example here I would deliberately bring to mind people whom have demonstrated real care and appreciation of me. I focus on remembering all the times when they have demonstrated this care and appreciation, and allow this feeling of being cared for and appreciated to register fully in my mind.

Stage 3: I now become aware of a part of my mind and awareness that remains the same whether I am feeling uncared for (as in stage 1), or cared for (as in stage 2). I cultivate awareness of that part of myself that is beyond the ordinary changeability of my daily experiences, that remains a quiet witness or observer to all “different weather” of what happens in my daily life. This pure witnessing awareness is always tranquil and peaceful, even blissful in a way that transcends ordinary happiness and suffering.

Stage 4: Now I alternate between awareness of stages 1, 2 & 3 for a while, taking them all in without favoring one or another of the three. I feel the pain of being uncared for, I feel the pleasure of being appreciated and supported; I experience that part of my awareness that is beyond both ordinary pleasure and pain. Allow all three experiences to be in your mind; don’t favor one or the other. Make your mind big enough for all three.

To conclude, finish with a brief period of mental resting and equanimity.

The effect of this exercise when done regularly is to:

  1. Develop equanimity and stability when experiencing discomfort, pain, misfortune, emotional unhappiness and so forth
  2. To use our misfortune to deliberately stimulate our feeling of good fortune and appreciation of what we have
  3. To gradually learn to go beyond ordinary happiness and suffering and locate our fundamental sense of self in a place of awareness that lies beyond the fickle events of our daily life.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website