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Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

“Remember times when you have felt and experienced a connection to different types of love and compassion. Activate those feelings in the present moment, enjoying them and looking for ways that you can express them to yourself and others today”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores seven different ways you can practice to consciously grow & develop your love & compassion. It contains links to previous articles that I have written in detail in each domain.
 If you want to give your love & compassion a real turbo boost, then come along this Saturday for the Integral love & compassion meditation workshop.

Wishing those that are celebrating it a very happy & prosperous new year of the wood dragon! All welcome online or live for the Lunar New Year Meditation 2024: Connecting to your inner Dragon this Tuesday.
 
In the spirit of expanded care,
 
Toby


Article: Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

1. By consolidating your present experiences of love & compassion

Remember times when you have felt and experienced a connection to different types of love and compassion. Activate those feelings in the present moment, enjoying them and looking for ways that you can express them to yourself and others today.
 
2. Through improving our capacity to give & receive it from ourself & from others
Practice the discipline and joy of being able to both give and receive love. This can be practiced in three ways:

  • In our relationship to ourself
  • In our relationship to other human beings and different orders of life
  • Between ourself and different aspects of place, landscape all the way up to planetary and universal levels

3. Recognizing & appreciating the goodwill that we are receiving all the time from others
Really trying to notice and appreciate the goodwill that comes you way during the day from different people and sources. This goes all the way from the daily consideration of friends, family, and colleagues, to the incidental assistance and benevolence from relative strangers we meet each day. Once you start to see it, we start to see that goodwill, connection and consideration are all around us!

4. Expanding the scale of your love
This can be done in two ways:

  • Transforming your sense of the boundaries between yourself, others and your environment. If your idea of yourself is as the earth herself, then its easy to love all the living beings who live there, as they are extensions of you@
  • Secondly, we can work on expanding the scale of your love & compassion from egocentric (me only) to ethnocentric (my family, tribe, race only) to world-centric (all living beings) systematically as a principle and extension of our loving impulse

5. Developing greater courage & objectivity in our relationship to the pain & suffering that could be increasing our compassion
Here we are working on changing our relationship to our own and others suffering, learning to encounter it with less aversion and repression. By opening our eyes to pain in a skilful manner we can use it to build the strength of our compassion, and potential for compassionate action.

6. Distinguishing three types of relational love, & growing them equally
As well as the scale of our love, we can also develop the types of love that we experience. One way of dividing love into types is agape, filia & eros:

  • Agape is the compassionate and caring love of a larger being to a smaller, dependent one. The classic example of this would be parental love, from mother or father to child
  • Filia is brotherly or sisterly love, or love from peer-to-peer, the love of friendship
  • Eros is the creative love existing between those where there is a mutual attraction. The classic example is that of romantic lovers.

7. Expanding your idea of romance & romantic love
Speaking of romantic love, we can grow it by expanding our idea beyond just being between human lovers. We can experience it also in:

  • Our relationship to ourself, as in between the soul and personality
  • In relation between ourself & spirit
  • With landscape, nature and sense of place
  • In relationship between ourself and art, or ourself and our art/work

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, 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


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Pond & river. What is it that moves, what is it that is still?

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at moving stillness as our object of meditation. It’s a capability that, when you start to get a practical handle on it can have a deeply transformative influence on your life!

If you enjoy it, then do check out the  Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course! that I’ll be starting this  week, both live & online on Tuesday & Wednesday evenings. 

You can also view my course  video on Effortless effort – Moving water that is still, still water that is moving

Final reminder, this Saturday 13th January, 9.30am-12.30pm I’ll be facilitating An Introduction to Integral Mindfulness & Meditation Practice 3 hour workshop. Great way to kick start your meditational year!
 
In the spirit of moving stillness,
 
Toby


Pond & river. What is it that moves, what is it that is still?
 
An important dimension of the practice of effortless effort is to bring stillness and movement together into a harmonic with you. This facilitates the ability to relax into our life and daily tasks ergonomically and effectively. It also enables us to combine two things:

  • Functional productivity, meaning getting our ‘to do list’ done in an effective manner
  • Creative productivity, meaning we are flexible and spontaneous, as well as capable of envisioning and articulating possibilities that have not yet come about

Ajahn Chah, the late well known Thai meditation teacher described the meditative state as ‘still water that moves, and moving water that is still’. When we are beginners at meditation, it seems like movement & stillness are the opposite of each other. Either we are still and relaxed, or we are thinking and active. To bring these two parts together into a state of effortless effort, we need to identify what part of our body-mind is always still, and what part of our body-mind moves.
If you look at your experience moment to moment, it seems relatively clear that your mind, body, and emotions move when they are activated. When they become still temporarily, we start to notice the space of consciousness itself, which, because it has no form is always still. The mind, body and emotions move within the stillness of consciousness. So then, in order to practice ‘moving stillness’ we need to be able to access the stillness of consciousness, and then let our movements of body, mind and emotions move without losing our connection to that stillness. As you can imagine, this takes practice and with this in mind, here is an exercise that you can try out in order to develop your capacity.
 
Pond & river
Imagine yourself sitting in a landscape with a still pond on once side, and a relatively rapidly moving river on the other side.

  • Focusing on the pond, let your mind become still and quiescent like the pond, relax into the stillness for a while. Notice that when you do this you will start to contact the actual, ever-present stillness of your inner consciousness. The image connects you with the presence of your always-still consciousness-itself
  • Then focus on the river, letting your mind feel into the activity and dynamism of the water. Try and ‘flow’ with the movement as you breathe
  • Now bring them together, centre in the stillness of the pond, then brining the sense of movement into the stillness. Initially this might feel a little unnatural, or even jarring, and you might lose your focus a few times. But with a bit of practice you will be able to combine the ‘noise’ of the river with the stillness of the pond.
  • As a final section to the meditation, spend a short while envisioning yourself going about your daily activities. As you do so feel yourself connected to the stillness of your consciousness, whilst at the same time physically,, mentally and emotionally interacting with your world. Imagine yourself to be like ‘moving water that is still & still water that moves’

This meditation will then give you the basis to start practicing effortless effort, bringing together stillness and dynamism as you meet the challenges of the day!

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2024. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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What your body posture communicates to you

“The way in which we feel about our life and ourself shows up in the way we carry and hold our body. A healthier overall body posture & tension level will help you feel not just better in your mind and heart, but younger in your body!

Dear Integral Meditators, 

Wishing you all the very best for 2024! This week’s article is a reflection on mindfulness and body-posture, lots of things that we can have fun exploring in this area…

Tuesday & Wednesday classes start again this week with the2024 New year ‘Beginners mind’ meditation.
And if you enjoy the article, then do check out the9/10th January start of Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course!
 
In the spirit of embodiment,
 
Toby


What your body posture communicates to you (& new year beginners mind meditation)
 
The way in which we feel about our life and self shows up in the way we carry and hold our body. If you sit on the street and watch people walking past you, you’ll start to notice all sorts of ways in which this shows up in their way of moving. If you then start to observe your body posture as you walk, or sit or move, you’ll start to see how your doing it to.
One of the important insights about this is that it also works the other way around: You can get your body posture to communicate messages to your mind. Here is a simple example. I was walking along the street this morning to the bakery. I was feeling a little agitated and short tempered. Behind these feelings was a sense of life being a little hard, and that I needed to ‘armour’ against it. Becoming aware of this, I then looked at my manner of walking, my body tension, posture, and facial expression. All of them in one way or another were expressing subtly how I was feeling. I also had the sense that my body being in this posture was re-enforcing my mindset; because my body was this way I ‘felt’ that the world was like this, and that my mindset should stay on guard and edgy. Taking all of this in and observing it, I then did the following: Acknowledged how I felt and why. Then I consciously relaxed my body and explored what a body posture and walking gait would look like if I felt that:

  • Happiness and wellbeing were a natural, appropriate state for me to be in
  • That I felt confident, capable, and relaxed in the face of my life challenges
  • That everything in my life was ‘workable’ with, and that there was no need to feel overly threatened by it

For the duration of the rest of my walk home, I explored walking and moving my body in a way that expressed and embodied this. Needless to say, by the time I reached home I felt quite different emotionally and mentally, as well as physically.
You can explore this yourself when you walk, and sit. You can also take it as an object of meditation in your sitting practice. The three characteristics that I outline above are good for what I would call as sense of effortless effort, but you could explore what it would be like to walk compassionately, or freely, or harmoniously or any other quality you want to cultivate. Another powerful thing about working this way is that, because it is about embodiment, there is no danger that it remains just an intellectual exercise, it naturally works its way down into our physical and felt experience in daily life.
Another final proposition to consider; if you can develop a healthier overall body posture and tension level through this practice, then it will affect your physical health and the way in which your body ages. You will feel not just better in your mind and heart, but younger in your body!


Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2024. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com
 


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Practising non-striving with your ego 

“Superficially it might look like non-striving is primarily a method of relaxing and recovering well. But understood more deeply we see that it is a way of becoming more effective in the way that we exert effort in our life”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article continues to consider different aspects of mindful effort,  inner power & what that really means. My January course on Effortless effort, will be exploring this in some detail!

Head’s up for the free Winter solstice balancing & renewing meditation (Online only) this Wednesday 20th December 7.30-8.30pm SG time. It’s a nice way to bring the year to a mindful close!

In the spirit of wings, 
 
Toby


Practising non-striving with your ego
 
What is non-striving?
In a previous article on non-striving I defined non-striving as:
A refusal to be in conflict with yourself and your life. Put another way, rather than seeing yourself in an adversarial relationship to yourself and your circumstances, you practice accepting and working with what is there.
 
Non-striving in relation to effort
Non-striving as a mindfulness practice is designed to help us become efficient in the way we apply effort in our lives. It looks for areas where one part of us is locked in a conflict with another part, and seeks to diffuse that conflict. Having diffused the conflict non-striving seeks to align the different elements of the self with each other, so that they are directed towards a common goal.
If the self is singular and pointed in one direction, then effort toward a particular goal tends to feel easy and naturally powerful. The more division within the self, the more effort it takes to do something, because there are elements of you that are pulling in different directions.
So then, superficially it might look like non-striving is primarily a method of relaxing and recovering well. But understood more deeply we see that it is a way of becoming more effective in the way that we exert effort in our life. It enables us by helping our inner energy to harmonize and unite.
 
Non-striving & the ego
Our ego (both the positive, negative & neutral versions of it) is often very pre-occupied with achievement, and in comparing our achievements to others. Quite often the way in which the ego conceives of effort in achieving is to strive effortfully against the competition, against our inner laziness, against the obstacles. Non-striving seeks to reframe this effort, creating a sense of co-operating and working with what is, both inwardly and outwardly, so as to move forward as seamlessly and effortlessly toward our goal. It seems like non-striving is trying to work against the ‘struggle’ of our ego, they are opposing each other. This is worth dwelling on a little.
 
“Who is it but the ego that needs to overcome the ego?” – Chuang Tzu
 
Let’s say we are in meditation, and we are trying to get into a state of non-striving. But there are certain inner conflicts that just keep popping up, so we keep trying harder and harder to let them go. One key understanding here is to see that the part of you that is trying to ‘let go’ is also the part of you that is preventing the non-striving. All non-striving asks you to do is accept and work with what comes up in a non-conflicting manner, to relax with what is. It’s only your ego that needs to ‘let go’ and, irony of ironies ‘overcome your ego’!
Using Chuang Tsu’s quote above as an object of sitting meditation can be a great way of really refining your non-striving practice, and getting rid of some of the subtle ego-conflicts that get in the way of deeper practice.
A final quote that also ties quite closely into non-striving, focused around suffering:
 
There are two kinds of suffering. There is the suffering you run away from, which follows you everywhere. And there is the suffering that you face directly, and so become free” – Ajahn Chah
 
Wishing you well in your path and exploration of non-striving!
 
Related articleThree levels of non-striving

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com
 



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Effortless effort – Making everything workable

“The art of Effortless-effort makes difficult things feel manageable, & effort over a long period of time sustainable, even quietly joyful”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

Just starting to get my thoughts together regarding the  Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course coming up in January. The article below explores a few working definitions and practices

In the spirit of skillful sustainability,
 
Toby


Effortless effort – Making everything workable

When Chogyam Trungpa, the famous Tibetan Buddhist Master was asked “What is Dharma?” (Dharma means the teachings of the Buddha), he replied “Dharma means that everything is workable.”
The other day I was texting a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. He asked “How is everything?” to which I replied “With acceptance, everything is workable.” This made me recall the Trungpa quote, then leading to a few thoughts about the principle of ‘Effortless effort’.
You might think about Effortless effort as a way of accepting and working with the reality that you are presented with. It is a ‘state’ of being that then leads into a way of doing that works with whatever we are facing.
‘Effortless effort’ could also be described as ‘Doing though non-doing’, also known as ‘Wei wu wei’ in Chinese (translating into ‘effortless action’). It is a philosophy of life & way of meditating found explicitly in the Zen, Chan & Taoist schools of meditation. Implicitly it is found in most of the great wisdom traditions of the world. It indicates skilful and ergonomic ways of working with life that facilitate balance, resilience, creativity & wisdom.
 
The feeling of Effortless effort (E-E) in the body
One of the things that I really enjoy and appreciate about E-E is the sense of flow and energy efficiency that it brings. It makes difficult things feel manageable, and effort over a long period of time sustainable, even quietly joyful.
The state of E-E can be described as a way of holding your body, as well as a state of mind. As a bodily state, here are some pointers:

  • The muscles are soft, with only enough tension in them to perform the presenting task. For example, if you are standing or sitting upright, the crown may be high and the body upright, but the centre of gravity is low in the belly, so that the chest and shoulders are not carrying their own weight. Hands and arms are loose, and the belly is not holding onto emotional stress.
  • The feeling of the inner self is one of comfort in the body, or ‘comfort in your own skin’. There is an absence of rush or panic, even, and particularly in the face of persistent stressors
  • The body feels at home in its environment. There is a sense that the world is a friendly place, where you are things are workable. As a sensation in the body, there is a feeling of trust in process, a sense of quiet alertness and relaxed attention

An everyday reflection
This morning I had a coaching appointment cancelled at short notice. So, I thought it would be nice to take my daughter to pre-school. I took her, but forgot to bring her nap-time bedding. I had planned to work on this article before going to work, but now I had no time, because I had to go back to the school. Pausing, relaxing, and  working on the principle that ‘everything is workable’, I transferred the article from my computer to my phone, and use the extra time on public transport to continue to edit my article. Through-out the process, I simply focused on staying calm, feeling flexible and accepting. Having come up with a simple battle-plan, I relaxed into it’s execution. I consciously worked on being smooth and ergonomic, working with the situation rather than fighting it.
This is a very simple example, but hopefully it gives you a feeling for how to start working with E-E in everyday situations. If you can practice daily actions with E-E, then you will burn up a lot less energy, and arrive at the evening feeling less fatigued, with your mood more positively disposed. A final point, if you get good at E-E during the day, when you sit down to meditate, you will find that you are already near a state of meditation, and that moving into formal meditation feels more like slipping into a warm bath; a natural, easy transition from doing to being!
 
Related readingWorking Samadhi – The way of the mindful warrior
Mindful ergonomics – Making the most of your energy
 
Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


In case you missed this week’s other article: Shamanic meditation – Psychopomping & other non-ordinary adventures
 
Shamanic meditation, often described as ‘Shamanic journeying’ occurs mainly in the dream state, which is to say the psychic and subtle levels of mind. You might think of shamanic meditation as a type of ‘conscious dreaming’ done whilst meditating…read full article


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Shamanic meditation – Psychopomping & other non-ordinary adventures

“Shamanic meditation, often described as ‘Shamanic journeying’ occurs mainly in the dream state, which is to say the psychic and subtle levels of mind. You might think of shamanic meditation as a type of ‘conscious dreaming’ done whilst meditating”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article focuses upon Shamanic meditation. The first section is a ‘learning piece’, with the second part being a personal reflection of my experience in the field. If you are interested in this form of meditation then do consider coming along on the weekend of the 25th/26th for the Shamanic meditation workshop retreat

Finally, a reminder of the seasonal class this coming Tuesday & Wednesday, Deepavali -connecting to your inner light.

In the spirit of journeying,
 
Toby


Shamanic meditation – Psychopomping & other non-ordinary adventures
 
Three levels of reality, three levels of meditation
 
The great wisdom traditions often divide reality into three basic domains, or levels of consciousness:
The waking state, characterised by the senses and our gross (as in dense) physical environment.
The dream state, characterised by images thoughts and subtle worlds on the level of mind. The lower level of the dream state might be described as the ‘psychic’ realm, the higher and more refined level as the ‘subtle’ realm. The dream world and the world of mind of course also occur in the waking state, but the waking state is characterised by the occurrence of sensory awareness, and the dreamworld is characterised by the temporary cessation of sensory awareness, in the dream-world we inhabit exclusively the worlds of mind.
The dreamless, deep sleep state, characterised by the cessation of both mental and physical forms, and the appearance of a very subtle, almost infinite formless state of consciousness.
Each of these three levels of reality is has its own world and worlds.
 
Shamanic meditation: Working in the ‘dream-world’
Shamanic meditation, often described as ‘Shamanic journeying’ occurs mainly in the dream state, which is to say the psychic and subtle levels of mind. You might think of shamanic meditation as a type of ‘conscious dreaming’ done whilst meditating.
Initially we can practice shamanic meditation to acclimatise to the domain of reality reality that it focuses on. However, part of the point of practising is that we then start to be able to access these states of ‘non-ordinary/dreaming’ reality consciously and at will, even when not in formal meditation. This basically means that we integrate shamanic practice informally into our daily waking life.
 
Foundational elements of shamanic journeying, its purpose and function
Traditionally, Shamanic meditation has five main elements
1. The Underworld Journey – Connecting with Ancestral and Underworld guides
2. The Overworld Journey – Connecting with Spiritual and Overworld guides
3. Soul Retrieval – Recovery from soul loss
4. Meeting and connecting with one’s guardian spirit, or performing guardian spirit retrieval.
5. Non-benevolent spirit extraction or removal
6. To act as a Psychopomp, or guide for the dead and/or lost souls.
 
To practice Shamanic meditation would then mean that each of the above capabilities gradually becomes a part of what you ‘do’ in everyday reality, informally, in the same way that you would go to work, do the shopping, put the kids to bed and so forth…
 
Everyday Psycho-pomping – The Spanish soldier
This story is a simple example of what I mean. As mentioned above, one of the activities of a Shaman traditionally is acting as a Psychopomp, or guide for the dead and/or lost souls. I had some awareness of this before I started doing shamanic meditation, as I had already been a meditator for a while. But once I started Shamanic meditation as a discipline I noticed that increasingly often I would be contacted by deceased or lost souls who needed a bit of a hand transitioning to the next world, they were ‘stuck’ so to speak. Generally, before bed they will let me know that they are around and seeking assistance, and then when I go to bed, I will then expect them to come to me sometime in the night, and we can do what needs to be done. This happens quite regularly, and it is just a part of my daily life activity.
One time when on holiday a village in the mountains of Asturias, Spain, my family and I walked down from our Air B&B to a quiet restaurant with some older villagers inside. We sat outside on a bench that clearly was not used very much, and where there was an old cat to keep us company. After a pleasant meal we walked back to our accommodation, and went to bed fairly soon after.
I couldn’t sleep in the bed I was in with my partner, so I went into a spare bedroom at the top of the stairs. Lying down there I then went into a light reverie, where I saw what looked like an old soldier walking up the street to our house. Understanding what was about to follow, I prepared myself to meet him, and he duly came in the house and walked up the stairs. It was a little comedic, because I didn’t speak Spanish, and he didn’t speak English! But suffice to say he had been killed in the Spanish civil war, and had been in the village since (his favorite bench being the one we had sat on for dinner), and having seen me he saw (and felt ready) for the opportunity to move on. I then helped guide him ‘into the light’ so to speak, and then went to sleep.
That is an example of one of many, it was interesting because it was one that my partner and daughter also ‘felt’ something around, and so for me it was a little bit of a shared experience that we could talk about, rather than one I just do and keep to myself.
 
Related articleMindfulness, Meditation & Non-Ordinary Reality
 
Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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The conscious-self – Your inner CEO

“Your Conscious-self is: The captain of your inner ship directing the crew, The CEO of your consciousness, setting the direction of your inner organization, & the conductor of your inner orchestra, co-ordinating all the different sub-elements of the self into a coherent unity”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores the theme of the Conscious-self, and it’s importance in the health and wellbeing of our self-sense and personality. If you enjoy it, then do consider coming along to the Mindful Presence Masterclass & group coaching: The Inquisitive Sumo Wrestler – Turning up to life calm & curious , where we will be looking at mindfulness practices to create a high-functioning Conscious self. 

If you like you can combine the Masterclass with the Qi gong class as an  Integral Life Practice Session. It’s a morning you will come out of feeling at the top of your game!

In the spirit of your inner CEO,
 
Toby


The Conscious-self – Captain of your ship & CEO of your body-mind
 
The Conscious-self is that part of you that is aware in the present, and of what it finds in the present moment. This includes:

  • Sensory orientation in your environment
  • Co-ordinating what is going in within the body
  • Content of mind; thoughts, emotions, patterns of mental activity
  • The activity of your subconscious mind
  • Awareness of awareness itself, and where we are directing it through attention in any given moment

 
The Conscious-self is responsible for the wellbeing of our body, mind, and emotions. It oversees our choices and decision-making process. It is in charge of how we deploy our energy and resources. It is in charge of our life-plan and self-discipline. All the different sub-personalities that exist within ourself should be marshalled by and taken care of by the conscious-self. Think of your Conscious-self as being like:

  • The Captain of your Ship directing the crew
  • The CEO of your consciousness, setting the direction of your inner organization
  • The conductor of your orchestra, co-ordinating all the different sub-elements of the self into a coherent unity

 
The Conscious-self (C-S) is supported by your higher mind (your soul-level or philosophical/principled self), and your Overmind, or spiritual being. These appear mainly as aspects of our values, imagination & intuition that the C-S can access and refer to for guidance. The C-S is in charge of co-ordinating our ego and personality in everyday life, directing it towards a sense of effectiveness in the face of challenges, and happiness in its various forms. The Higher and Over-mind’s are like a wise inner ‘Board of directors’ that the C-S can refer to for advice and wisdom.
 
Leading yourself through life
The Conscious-self is, in essence the leader of your consciousness. As the leader, its main functions are:

  • Creating a compelling vision for the rest of the personality to follow, that can take us boldly and enthusiastically into our future from where we stand in the present
  • Getting the ‘buy in’ from the rest of the personality. For example, if a part of us is feeling doubtful about the vision, the C-S needs to listen and help the doubter to come along for the ride.

This leadership function is very much like the CEO of a company; The main job is envisioning the future creatively, getting the buy-in from the team, and then delegating tasks to the team members. The C-S delegates to the other parts of self, tells them what to do and why they are doing it!
 
Contemplation
 
Being present as your conscious mind – In meditation, get used to sitting and centring yourself in your conscious-self. Practice being present to the content of your consciousness, observing the movement of the different elements. Get used to distinguishing the C-S as the Captain and CEO in charge, and the other activities of your consciousness, which are what your C-S oversees.
 
Observing your relationship to choices – Notice how comfortable your C-S is with making choices and taking responsibility. Notice when you want to ‘duck’ choices, feel anxious and confused, want to give away responsibility for what you need to decide on. Work on getting more comfortable, confident, and responsible in this space.
 
Inspiring and supporting – From your position as the C-S, the CEO of consciousness, the captain of your ship, set an inspiring direction:

  • For the next 3-5 years,
  • For the next year, 6 months, 3 months
  • The next month, week, day,
  • For the next activity today!

Create a vision for your life that the rest of your body, mind and personality can follow. Then delegate tasks, and support your sub-selves, getting them on board and up for the program.
 
In conclusion, a high-functioning Conscious-self is the key to effective self-leadership, and to organizing your life effectively. The proposition would also be that the better at self-leadership you become, the better you will tend to be at outer leadership…
 
Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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Energy Meditation Inner vision Insight Meditation Integral Meditation Meditating on the Self Meditation techniques mind body connection Presence and being present Qi gong spiritual intelligence Zen Meditation

Bodies within bodies – Witnessing with your energy bodies

“Liberation in meditation is achieved by progressive, healthy levels of dis-identification with our different bodies, and the recognition that they are ‘in us’ as the witnessing consciousness, rather than we being ‘in them’. This then liberates us into a much more playful, creative and loving relationship to life ourself and others. Healthy dis-identification leads us toward a fuller, richer, deeper experience of life, rather than a blander one!”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores the concept & experience of ‘energy bodies’, & the relationship between them & inner freedom. 
If you enjoy it, then the Shamanic meditation workshop retreat on Sat/Sun Nov 25th/26th November is about learning to ‘travel’ in your subtle energy bodies, so that may be of interest.
Also, theIntegral Life Practice Sessions, are very much about working with your different bodies, and getting them all into shape!

Finally, this week’s Tuesday & Wednesday class is the Seasonal classSamhain – Healing the wounds & receiving the gifts of our ancestors. It’s a nice way to appreciate and capitalize on our ancestral inheritance…
 
In the spirit of inner freedom,
 
Toby


Bodies within bodies – Witnessing with your energy bodies
 
We can all recognize our physical body, and if someone askes you to focus on your physical body you could probably do it for a while with a reasonable degree of proficiency, distractions aside. According to the meditative traditions, we have not just one body, but a series of bodies across a range of energy from gross to subtle to very subtle. There are different ways of describing it, but here is a relatively typical one:

  • The gross physical body, corresponding to the literal weight-&-mass aspect of our body
  • A vital, or etheric body corresponding to our biological life force, that surrounds and interpenetrates our physical body, but it is an ‘energy body’ rather than a physical body
  • An astral or emotional body, subtler still than the etheric, that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical and etheric
  • psychic or mental body that corresponds to our thinking self, more subtle than the three lower levels, surrounding & interpenetrating them
  • causal, or very subtle body, made of formless consciousness, that contains all the lower levels

There are ‘levels within each level’ so to speak, but the above gives you a basic idea. You can get a sense of each ‘body’ by observing them in meditation:

  • You can practice mindfulness of the physical body, and the sensations within it. You can further observe the more subtle movement of energy within the etheric or vital body
  • You can get a sense of your astral & psychic bodies by watching your thoughts and emotions, and getting a sense of the ‘body of energy’ that holds and contains them
  • As a slightly more advanced practice you can watch consciousness itself, and get a sense of the very subtle ‘body of energy’ that corresponds to the experience of awareness itself.

Practising all three of the above levels over time, you will get a sense of each body being contained, or held by the next level of energy-body.
 
Combining this with witnessing practice
‘Liberation’ in meditation is achieved by progressive, healthy levels of dis-identification with our different bodies, and the recognition that they are ‘in us’ as the witnessing consciousness, rather than we being ‘in them’. For example, we can observe that:

  • Often it feels as if our ‘I’ is sitting inside our physical body, we are it and it is us. If we take a position of ‘self as the consciousness that witnesses the body’, then we can flip this, reflecting that “I am not within my body, my body is within me”. The physical body becomes an object of consciousness (an ‘it’), rather than the subject (an ‘I’)
  • Similarly, we can notice that often our sense of self is locked inside our thoughts and emotions, we mistake our mental and emotional activity for ‘me’. Noticing this in meditation, we can perform a similar ‘flip’ of perception; “I am not my mind and emotions, my mind and emotions are within me.” Again, here we are identifying the ‘I’ as the witnessing consciousness, not the thoughts & emotions that are the ‘content’ of consciousness
  • A ‘level three’ practice is to observe the formless awareness of our consciousness body, and discern that there is ‘consciousness’ and ‘the observer of consciousness’. Once again, after noticing this we do a ‘flip’; “I am not within my consciousness, my consciousness is within me”.

The above practices gradually lead to a sense of self that is related to but different from our gross body, mind and consciousness. Our ‘I’ becomes liberated from, or ‘free’ from identification with the things that are not it.
The practical effect of witnessing our bodies in this way is that our life becomes much less stressful. Even when faced with challenges, sufferings and tribulations, we can sustain a sense of even-mindedness because we take it less personally. There is less ‘I’ caught up with the drama. This then liberates us into a much more playful, creative and loving relationship to life ourself and others. Healthy dis-identification leads us toward a fuller, richer, deeper experience of life, rather than a blander one!

Related articles:  The body is in you – How to go into deep meditation quickly

Watching & then dropping the watcher

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com  


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Distinguishing suppression & repression

“Suppression can be used positively and strategically to enhance our effectiveness and wellbeing in life, whereas repression almost always results in long term inner turbulence and interference in our ability to see and work with our present life as it is”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

The distinction between suppression & repression is an important one for preserving our overall sense of inner balance & harmony. One requires temporarily foregoing emotional expression, the second engaging emotion that we might not want to face. 
If you enjoy the article, then do consider coming along for the Therapeutic mindfulness course starting next week. The aim in a nutshell is to re-wire your relationship to your past in order to engage your present & future with vitality & enthusiasm.

Also, quick reminder of the workshop this weekend: Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree
 
In the spirit of controlled flow,

Toby 



Suppression & repression – the difference, & it’s importance
 
Why is it important to know the importance between these two?
Its important to know the difference between these two because one can be used positively and strategically to enhance our effectiveness and wellbeing in life, whereas the other almost always results in longer term inner turbulence and interference in our ability so see and work with our present life as it is.
 
What does it mean to supress?
Speaking in emotional terms, to supress means to be aware that you have that emotion, and to exert self-control in order not to express it in the moment, for example:

  • I might be very angry, but refrain from expressing it right now
  • I might feel sad, but put on a ‘brave face’
  • I might feel affection and want to hug someone, but it just might not be appropriate for the situation

Conscious suppression enables us to go away with our feelings and deal with them later, in a way that is appropriate. It prevents us doing things that we may later regret or consider unhelpful. Done skillfully, we can consider it a good ability to have! This is with the caveat that, having suppressed the emotion we do not then repress it…
 
What does it mean to repress?
To repress an emotion (or an experience that brings up painful emotion) means to push it out of our conscious awareness, and into our unconscious. It means to ‘pretend’ to ourself that the emotion and/or related experience does not exist, that we do not, in fact have then at all.

  • I am angry, but when asked, “Anger, what anger? Why would I be angry”
  • Rather than consciously putting on a brave face while feeling sad, I simply am not sad (even though I am)
  • I am scared by my affection for someone enough to simply squash it and pretend I don’t have it

Repression constricts and uses up our energy (to repress takes effort). It means we have to lie to ourselves. It messes up our rational thinking, turning it into rationalisation of the denial we want to be true. It often results in our feeling and expressing other surface emotions that are really all about the repressed emotion, for example:

  • I am angry (the repressed), so I react by feeling sad and bursting into tears (the expressed)
  • I am sad (the repressed), so I lash out and attack my colleague (the expressed)

Repression makes us suffer, often unconsciously. It makes us less capable in the face of reality. It can create unhealthy physical habits, and in the longer term it can even start to cause physical health issues.
 
Can you supress & then repress?
Of course, you can supress and emotion that you know you’re having, and then conveniently ‘forget’ about it later through repression.
 
Observing your own habits & patterns mindfully
So, the thing here is on a practical level start to watch yourself in real time and assess your patterns of repression and suppression. Just observe honestly and notice if you are using suppression in a healthy or unhealthy manner, and what emotions/experiences you tend to outright repress. Re-working your habits in this domain will serve you well for the rest of your life!
 
Processing old repressions
Of course, all of us have a bunch of repressions from or recent and distant path. Part of the function of Therapeutic Mindfulness is to dig these out and bring them to resolution, so that they stop interfering with our present life and our aspirations for the future. You can see a recent reflection of mine on my own inner child process by clicking the link. The effect of processing past repressions is almost always a resurgence of life force, and an enhanced sense of the joy of being alive.
 
If you enjoy this article, then do consider participating in my new course  An introduction to therapeutic mindfulness & meditation – Re-discovering your inner vitality & joie-de-vivre. It starts 26/27th Sept, and can be participate on live, online or via recording.
 
Related articleFrom resignation to positive acceptance

Article © Toby Ouvry 2019, 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 


Special Coaching Offer for the Month of September – Free 20minute coaching session with Toby

For the remaining two weeks of September Integral Meditation Asia is offering free 20minute coaching sessions with Toby!
If you have been interested in the idea of getting some personal coaching on a particular issue or challenge, and/or want to explore what 1:1 meditation coaching can do for you in terms of both your quality of and direction in life, this is a great opportunity to find out what it is like with Toby. These 20minute sessions can be done on Zoom or via Whatsapp.
You can find read the general write up of Toby’s Life-fullness Coaching here, & his other forms of coaching here.
You can read feedback and reviews from Toby’s coaching sessions here

To arrange your 20minute session or for further enquiries: Email info@tobyouvry.com, or W-App65-96750279


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Progressively recovering your joie de vivre (Meditating with your inner child)

If you are prepared to do the work, it seems there truly are no edges to your level of inner joy

Dear Integral Meditators, 

The photo of the child with this article is me when I was around 8 or 9. I keep it on the fridge. I noticed last week that the fridge magnet marked ‘l’excitacion’, or excitement in French had been placed on my forehead, which inspired me to write about my own ongoing journey in the domain of Therapeutic mindfulness. 
If you enjoy the article, then do consider participating in the upcoming Therapeutic mindfulness course, which is full of practices to help you re-connect to the joy of living, and move beyond long-held fears.  

And final heads up for this Wednesday’s Autumn Equinox meditation, either live or online!
 
In the spirit of exitacion,

Toby 



Progressively recovering your joie de vivre (Meditating with your inner child)
 
When I left my life as a Buddhist monk, aged 31, I had been practising eastern meditation forms in a very disciplined manner for a decade. I had experienced many wonderful and amazing meditation states, and had a solid working experience of the awakened state/enlightenment experience. Despite this I noticed that there were still parts of my everyday consciousness that seemed to have been untouched by all this work. I found that certain types of anxiety, irritability and fear had not gone away, and sometimes seemed even worse. This was partly why I left my life as a monk, because I felt I needed to broaden my search for answers to these unresolved areas. The answer was not just ‘do more meditation’, I had to do something differently.

One of the things that I focused on that year was exercises specifically based on the psychological level of my being, based around western theories of trauma and around working with emotional states. I began regular work with my ‘inner child’, exercises including visualization, dialoguing, breathing and body-work. I was very surprised how much work there was to be done! I considered myself pretty well-adjusted as a person, which I think I was, but even so, there was so much to re-connect to, so much to work with, so much to discover. During this period, I really felt I recovered much of my joie de vivre, and got a badly needed ‘second-wind’ for my inner growth that powered me into the next decade of my life.
But the amazing thing about this is that even though I felt that I now had a very good relationship to my inner child (and other sub personalities), it is a process that does not seem to end. Fast forward to the beginning of this year. At the beginning of the year, I often check in with my ‘inner family’ in meditation. When meeting my inner child, I had this experience:

I am walking along the middle of a shallow river that I used to play in as a child. I come to a bridge from which I used to look down at the big fish swimming in and out of the dark water underneath. On the sand to one side of the bridge I see my inner child. I wade over to him, and we squat for a while looking under the bridge. Then he smiles to me and we begin to walk into the water and under the bridge (I never went under the bridge as a child). We stand in silence looking and feeling the fish around our feet, in gentle awe and excitement. After while we walk on and out from the other side of the bridge. We walk on to a meadow next to the river. My child-self utters a cry, and starts to run around the meadow, whooping, and laughing out of pure joy, I watch on, quite amazed, and aware of a new level of joy in myself that I have never experienced before.

After the meditation, this new level of joy within myself has persisted, and it seems clear to me that some level of inhibition or fear in my child has been resolved. This is a full fifteen years after starting my active relationship with him. So even now my life and experience are expanding and growing from my inner work with my child self and other related therapeutic mindfulness practices aimed at building a strong inner-self psychologically. If you do the work, it seems there truly are no edges to your level of inner joy.
   
 
Related articleMeditating with your child self
Creating a therapeutic mindfulness space
Wake, up, Grow up, Clean up, Flow – The Art of Enlightened Flow
 


Special Coaching Offer for the Month of September – Free 20minute coaching session with Toby

For the remaining two weeks of September Integral Meditation Asia is offering free 20minute coaching sessions with Toby!
If you have been interested in the idea of getting some personal coaching on a particular issue or challenge, and/or want to explore what 1:1 meditation coaching can do for you in terms of both your quality of and direction in life, this is a great opportunity to find out what it is like with Toby. These 20minute sessions can be done on Zoom or via Whatsapp.
You can find read the general write up of Toby’s Life-fullness Coaching here, & his other forms of coaching here.
You can read feedback and reviews from Toby’s coaching sessions here

To arrange your 20minute session or for further enquiries: Email info@tobyouvry.com, or W-App65-96750279


Integral Meditation Asia

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

Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram