Inner interior design – Structural calm & the state of stillness

“Create ‘inner furniture’ that is conducive to calm. This then helps you create more easily and deeply your inner ‘room’ of stillness”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article explores how you can combine structures and states of consciousness together in your everyday practice.  It is a subject we will explore in this  Tuesday and Wednesday evenings meditation session, you’d be welcome, live-in-person, or online.

Also please note change in time for the Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat, it is now Saturday March 19th, not 26th as was previously.

In the spirit of inner furniture,


Inner interior design – Structural calm & the state of stillness

Two types of consciousness work
It’s a useful distinction to understand that there are two basic and complementary ways that we can work with our consciousness; states & structures.
States are primarily what we work with in meditation. We cultivate a state of calm, a state of focus, a state of acceptance, a state of love and so forth. A state is like a mood, and atmosphere, an energetic experience. The idea is to give ourself a range of states through meditation that we can drop into and hold competently in a way that we can use them regularly and at will in our daily life, so that they can enhance our enjoyment, competence and balance.
Structures of consciousness are the moving, habitual components and patterns of our consciousness. A state is a ‘being’ phenomenon, a structure is a ‘doing’ phenomenon. Structures are:

  • The way we tend to think
  • How we deal with emotions
  • Our philosophy and belief structures (conscious and unconscious)
  • The way we manage the parts of our personality (inner child etc…)
  • The way we approach social interactions and conversation
  • The way we fight or flow with our body energy

Room and furniture
You can think about states as the rooms in your ‘inner house’. They are the basic spaces that you spend a lot of your time in. The structures then are like the objects and furniture that you place in the rooms. They are the actual things that you use to sit, work, relax, cut, sleep and so on. This image and analogy is useful for getting a sense of how the two interact, and how both are necessary for wellbeing and functional effectiveness. Working with them is like becoming a good ‘internal interior designer’!
Below I outline a simple one-two practice for creating structural calm and then a state of stillness. It’s an example of how you can put together a state and structure one-two punch that mutually enhance each other.

Working with structures for calm & peace
Sitting comfortably, direct your attention for a period to thoughts, images and memories that help you connect to calm. Here just be creative, for example:

  • “You’ve got time with this work project, its ok to relax for now”
  • The memory of a favourite landscape/s that, when you are there help you connect to calm
  • Anchoring your attention habitually to the breathing
  • You can include physical objects on your environment that when you look at or listen to help you feel calmer
  • The memory of a time when you felt safe, secure, relaxed

Once you start to get going, you’ll discover many ways of using your mind, memory and sensory attention in a structured way to move you toward calm

Working with states for stillness
You will have probably found that by cultivating structures that connect you to calm, that you will be feeling calmer already. From here we can then move into cultivating a state of stillness. We can do this very simply by breaking it down into three components:

  • Focusing on being physically still, and inviting the movement in our mind to start to slow
  • Dropping time, letting go of past and future, becoming fully present
  • Releasing our awareness of the space and directions around us. Coming back to our body, and allowing our awareness of our environment to fade

When we let go of time, movement and space, we move into a state of stillness. Just stay with the breathing and relax into the state of stillness.

Putting them together in daily life
Having a set of mental structures and focus points in your life gives you a way of creating ‘inner furniture’ that is conducive to calm. This then helps you create more easily and deeply your ‘room’ of stillness. The state feeds off of the structure, and the structure can feed off of the state.

Related articlesDropping out of time and into stillness

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2022, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Tues & Weds March 22nd & 23rd – Spring Equinox balancing & renewing meditation

The Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere marks the mid-point between the cooler, darker seasons of the year and the lighter, warmer ones. The forces of day and night, light and dark are of equal strength. As such it represents time to emphasize balance and harmony, both in our life and meditation practice.

It is also good time to attune the life-force in the earth and creative energies within ourselves. We will be taking the time to get in touch with the new ideas, energies and creativity within ourselves as they emerge like new plants and flowers in spring.

Saturday March 19th, 9.30-11.30am
 – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

In a sentence: Experience unique Qi gong and Taoist breathing techniques to improve your immune system, energy level, psychological wellness and enhance your meditation…read full details


Life-fullness – The Integral Life-Coaching Program with Toby

Are you looking a coach who can help you to:

  • Meet the challenges, stress and changes that you face in a more effective and mindful way
  • Become happier within yourself, in your relationships and at work
  • Be actively accountable for finding a sense of balance/well-being in your life and fulfilling your personal potential?
  • Guide you to find and operate from a deeper sense of meaning, motivation and connectivity in your life?
Read full details

All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Ongoing January-March – Zen: The ordinary path to enlightenment – Meditating with the Ten Ox Herding pictures

Tues & Weds March 22nd & 23rd – Spring Equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday March 19th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

Integral Meditation Asia

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


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