The quickest way to de-stress

The quickest way to de-stress…is to stop thinking about yourself

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is an ‘instant insight’ type piece, if you get it, a lot of good things follow! It also aims to give some context for the practice of dropping the self, it is designed to strengthen, not weaken our overall, healthy sense of ‘I’.
If you enjoy it, then do consider coming along to this Saturday’s Zen meditation deep dive mini-retreat. Also the new Meditation class series starting 14/15th June The Wisdom of Awakening series: Meditations for irreverent clarity & authentic vigilance is very much an exploration of this type of wisdom.

Finally, I’ll be doing the Mindful Life-skills for Teenagers three day course on 27-29th June. If you have any teenagers who you think would enjoy developing these skills, then this is the course for them!

In the spirit of dropping,



The quickest way to de-stress

…is to stop thinking about yourself.

The self as the center of your neurosis
If you reflect upon any of your experiences of stress, related to anxiety around the future, regrets, lack of something, getting fired…All of them have at the center of the experience you. The sense of a self sits at the middle of it all, facilitating and holding together the whole thing.

Practicing dropping the self
If you want a temporary liberation from this stress and inner tension, practice the discipline of putting down the self for a while. As a mindfulness exercise the trick here is to de-centralize your awareness; of course you’ll still be experiencing a body, thoughts, feelings and so on. But what you are trying to do is to not grasp at them as a part of your ‘I’. For example:

  • I can be aware of the sensation of my body without identifying it as mine
  • I can imagine that any thoughts that may be present ‘have no thinker’

Somatically, it’s good to relax the chest and central zone of the torso, where much of that holding onto self happens physically and energetically. If you can create a body that has dropped the feeling of the self, then dropping it mentally is much easier! As a mindfulness practice you can sit down and try and do this in an undistracted manner. Start with 3-5mins, and build up from there.

The liberated self
When you drop your conventional self-sense in this way, you notice that there is a new ‘self’ that starts to emerge, one that is not stressed by the comings and goings of your life events, but that remains bright and clear in the face of both enjoyment and difficulty.

Dropping the self is not distraction or evasion
Dropping the self in this manner is completely different from and not to be mistaken for avoiding yourself through distraction and ‘keeping busy’ in order to ‘not think about stuff’. This type of ‘keeping busy’ is more a way of pushing your stress ‘under the carpet’ so to speak. Of course, when you repress or suppress it is still there and comes out in other ways…

Thinking about yourself less
In your daily life, once you have a sense of the exercise on dropping your self you can practice thinking about yourself somewhat less, and with more objectivity. This is a way of managing your self better, without letting it become overwhelmingly intense and all pervasive. When you are very stressed it is actually very difficult not to be ‘selfish’ because there is this overwhelming sense of ‘I’ all the time. When you think about yourself less, you can be less selfish, whilst at the same time asserting your needs, wishes and preferences in life in an appropriate manner.

The complementary polarity: Self-responsibility
When we drop the self and think about it less, the complementary attitude to this is to live also with a strong sense of self, and of self-responsibility. This sense of self is a non-neurotic, confident, warm and expansive self-sense that feels able to deal with life without getting overwhelmed, and enjoys problem solving and being challenged to grow. The self-responsible ‘I’ can grow much more easily in an environment where the obsessive-compulsive self has been let go of.

Related articleDropping the self

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

Starts Tuesday /Wednesday 14/15th June – The Wisdom of Awakening series: Meditations for irreverent clarity & authentic vigilanceIn a sentence: Learn the art of ‘instant awakening’ and playful wisdom through integrative meditation
Overview: The Wisdom of Awakening series is an ongoing series that looks at different ways to ‘wake up’ and live your life fully and playfully through meditation. The premise of the sessions is that inner wholeness and wisdom are not something that are far away, rather they are something that we can awaken to ‘instantly’ through certain types of mindful attention…. Read full details

Saturday 11th June, 9.30am-12noon – Zen meditation deep dive mini-retreat

These 2.5hour Zen ‘mini-retreats’ are a chance to go into much deeper meditation states than you would be able to in your own personal daily practice, or even if you came to a one-hour class. Using sitting meditation methods in combination with breathing techniques and gentle stretching/mobility exercises Toby will guide you into deep meditative flow states that create the experience of a calm, unified, harmonized, resilient body, mind & heart…read full details

Monday-Weds 27-29th June – Mindful Life-skills for Teenagers – A three day course

As a teenager, what were the life-skills you wish you had been taught, in addition to all your school subjects? These sessions are specifically designed to help teens develop their real inner skills that help them be:

  • More effective at achieving their chosen goals
  • Build confidence,
  • Build resilience around stress and
  • Increase their capacity for fun and enjoyment as they learn.

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 – The Way of the Mindful Warrior – Meditating with the Warriors creed

Saturday 11th June, 9.30am-12noon – Zen meditation deep dive mini-retreat

Starts Tuesday /Wednesday 14/15th June – The Wisdom of Awakening series: Meditations for irreverent clarity & authentic vigilance

Saturday June 25th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

Monday-Weds 27-29th June – Mindful Life-skills for Teenagers – A three day course


Integral Meditation Asia

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


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