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Interiority – the cave of the heart

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is kind of a sister article to last weeks on the cave and the market place. It focuses on the inner confidence that comes from learning how go within yourself competently.
If you enjoy the article then  do consider joining us live or online for the first of  The Wisdom of Awakening Series: Meditations for bringing integration, depth & vividness to your life , on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the spirit of interiority,


Interiority – the cave of the heart

The disciple asked for a word of wisdom.
Said the Master, “Go sit within your cell and your cell will teach you wisdom.”
‘But I have no cell. I am no monk.”
‘Of course you have a cell. Look within.”

The confidence of going within
One of the things that this (very) short story by Anthony De Mello speaks to is the confidence that comes from going within. As an ex-monk, and as someone who has sat and gone within a lot, I know that, even if my life-challenges seem insurmountable, if I can just sit quietly and really go within the cave of my heart, after a few minutes I will start feeling better as I rest in the stillness. After a little while longer I’ll start to hear and have ideas arising from within that give me new positive perspectives around the problems I’m having. This for me is what the Master means when he says: “Go sit within your cell and your cell will teach you wisdom.”

Committing to go within, listening compassionately and courageously
The challenge for many people is that they do not yet have the confidence that by really committing to going deep into the cave (or monastic cell) of their heart, they will discover many of the answers to their problems. In fact, the first thing that we have to face going within is a more direct awareness of our mental and emotional discomfort. This is the very discomfort that most people are running away from in life and or seeking to drown out!

The cave or cell your heart
So, when we commit to going within, a useful first set of positions to work with are:

  • To really commit to going within with courage and decisiveness
  • Rather than fearing the voices and emotions that we may find there, we can listen to them with a degree of compassion and understanding
  • We can go in there in the spirit of curiosity and with an open mind. What we find might be different from what we think

Stilling the voices in the cave
Once we have committed to going within, to discover the wisdom of our inner voice we need to cultivate and become comfortable with the ‘non-voice’ of silence. To do this it can be useful to work on three simple angles (see my previous article on the cave and the market place):
Stilling time – Letting go of past and future
Stilling space – Withdrawing your awareness from your immediate physical environment
Stilling movement – Stilling your body except for your breathing

Letting the silence of your cave show you wisdom
If you can get comfortable with the silence, then you are standing at the threshold of ‘the voice in the cave/cell of your heart that will teach you wisdom’. Sometimes it speaks as a voice, sometimes as the silence itself, sometimes as ideas and intuitions.
It can be useful for some people to actually imagine a cave or cell that they have been to, to give a bit of atmosphere to their inner cave (after a while you won’t need it, but it’s a great entry point). When I was a teenager, my family lived in Portugal at the foot of a big hill that ended at a beautiful beach on the Atlantic coast. On the top of the hill there was an ancient sacred site called the Santuário da Peninha where there were cells that, centuries ago the monks meditated and worshipped. In the cliffs by the beach at the bottom of the hill there was a lovely cave you could access from the sea. Sometimes I see myself sitting in one of those places at the beginning of the meditation. Perhaps you have an equivalent place that you know and can use at the beginning of your meditations?

Related readingInner sensitivity – Listening to yourself
Inner listening – Three levels of meditating on silence

© 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 Tues /Weds 23/24th November – The Wisdom of Awakening Series: Meditations for bringing integration, depth & vividness to your life

Overview: The Wisdom of Awakening series 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 December 10th, 9.30-12noon –  Zen deep-dive mini-retreat

Session overview: 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


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
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  • 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?
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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)

Starts Tues /Weds 23/24th November – The Wisdom of Awakening Series: Meditations for bringing integration, depth & vividness to your life

Saturday December 10th, 9.30-12noon –  Zen deep-dive mini-retreat

Saturday December 17th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat


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