Categories
A Mind of Ease Integral Awareness Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Life-fullness Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Motivation and scope

Invisible, or effortless self-leadership

“At the highest level of self-leadership, all the different aspects of our inner self feel loved, cared for and empowered by the conscious self”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at three levels of mindful self-leadership. It gives some pointers as to what they are, how to spot them in your own self-leadership style, & make progress toward becoming the ‘invisible, or effortless inner leader’.

This week’s Tues & Weds evening class will be on this subject, you are welcome to join us, live or online.

Finally, for those interested in developing inner resilience, on Saturday 9th March I’ll be doing my Mindful Resilience – Practices for sustaining effectiveness, happiness & clarity under pressure workshop.
 
In the spirit of self-leadership,
 
Toby



Invisible, or effortless self-leadership
 
For several years now I’ve been using chapter 17 from the Tao Te Ching as part of my ‘Mindful leadership & self-leadership programs. What I want to do in this article is to look at it from the point of view of self-leadership, breaking it down into three stages. I may look at the leading others aspect of the chapter in a later article.
Here is the original text:
 
Tao Te Ching – Chapter 17 (Steven Mitchell translation)
 
When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

 
If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

 
Level 1 – The invisible leader:
 
‘When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists’.

At the highest level of self-leadership, all the different aspects of our inner self feel loved, cared for and empowered by the conscious self. Each of them knows their place in the scheme of the different levels of self (personality, soul, spirit) and time has been developed helping them to feel confident regarding their capability in their role. As a result, the conscious self does not have to do too much to lead. A person who has reached this level of inner growth experiences the ups, downs, and challenges of life more as an even minded flow, that he or she is able to adapt and work with without too much effortfulness. Of course, there is some degree of willpower involved in what they do, but it is deployed discreetly and gently, rather than being the main ‘motor’ with which we power ourself through life.  
 
Level 2 – The monarch:
 
‘Next best is a leader who is loved.’
I sometimes think of this level of leadership as being like a monarch, king or queen. If we are at this level, we spend a lot of time and effort actively motivating ourself in a benevolent manner, learning to inspire the parts of ourself that lack confidence, heal the parts of us that are wounded, and go beyond the limits of our current self-concept. This style of self-leadership is pro-active. The conscious-self must demonstrate to the different parts of our inner self (or our sub-personalities) that it is trustworthy, so that they can get behind it and push forward as a team. At this stage our inner selves need active guidance, they need to feel nurtured and safe, they need a degree of ‘positive self-talk’. At this second level of leadership, life is quite effortful, but because the dominant energy of inner leadership is appropriate self-love and care, the journey is felt and experienced as one that is going to good places and positive directions.
 
Level 3 – The dictator
 
‘Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.’

I’m putting the last two levels of self-leadership as one, which is essentially leading ourself as a despot or dictator! Here the primary energy within self is self-loathing or hatred. There is a general sense of inadequacy, not being enough, a lack of self-respect. The only way we can motivate ourself to get things done and move forward in our life is through fear and/or agression:

  • ‘If you don’t get this degree people will think you are stupid’
  • ‘Work out because if your fat you won’t be accepted by others’
  • ‘Do what I say or I’ll be criticising you inwardly for the next week!’

The experience of leading oneself like a dictator is that life is very effortful, anxious and progress is a rather tortuous and exhausting process.
 
Most people’s self-leadership process is kind of a mixture of stages two and three. Identifying stage three as a possibility, and practicing it can accelerate the rate at which we grow and integrate it into our lives. This offers the possibility for an easier journey, with progress that seems to happen naturally, by itself even. Our personal path evolves like the final verse of the chapter, with a few of my words in brackets:
 
“If you don’t trust the people (the different inner parts of yourself),
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts (the conscious-self leads by example).
When his work is done,
the people (
the different parts of our inner self) say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

 
 
Related articleBecoming a Self-determining entity – Five stages to mindful self-leadership
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



Follow Toby on
LinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease creative imagery Enlightened Flow Inner vision Insight Meditation Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindful Self-Leadership Presence and being present Zen Meditation

Resting under the tree of non-doing & unbeing

“Trees are not trying to be anyone or anything else. They rest within their own natural dignity, their sense of inner sufficiency and completeness. What if you could be like that too?

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at the practice of non-doing as a way of moving into being, & then deeper into non-being. It’s a key to effortless effort in meditation & in life! If you enjoy it, then it will form a central part of this week’s Tuesday & Weds meditation class. So do feel free to pop in, either live or online!

A couple of new events up for February: Saturday 17th, 9am-12pm – Integral love & compassion meditation workshop, &  24th, 9-11.30am – Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat.

Last but not least, I’ve posted an integral meditation training page for my Simple, positive, creative & aware practice. Click on the link to watch the video, listen to the guided meditations & read the related article! 
In the spirit of non-doing,
 
Toby


Resting under the tree of non-doing & unbeing
 
This is a simple meditation form to take you from doing, to non-doing/being, to unbeing. The image it uses is that of a tree. Beneath the guided meditation are three stories/quotes from which the meditation is partly inspired. Dropping into a space of non-doing and unbeing is a particular type of silence practice. If you practice it regularly you will find it an invaluable resource to relax, regenerate and come back to your life with new eyes and new inner strength.
 
Meditation: Resting under the tree of non-doing
 
1. Imagine yourself sitting under a tree. It’s a useless tree in the sense that its wood is so knotted it cannot be made into anything by a carpenter. The only thing it is ‘good for’ is sitting under and doing no-thing. When you sit underneath it, it provides shade, calm and peace. It is a wonderful place to be and non-do.
 
2. You can also sense that the tree is entirely happy to be itself. It is not trying to be anyone or anything else. It rests within it’s own natural dignity, it’s sense of inner sufficiency and completeness. As you sit under it, you can feel yourself getting in touch with your inner wholeness and natural dignity. You are just fine as you are. You are a complete being.
 
3. Resting whole and complete like the useless tree, when a thought arises, ask yourself the question ‘Who is it that is thinking the thought?’ Turn your attention inward toward the consciousness that produced the thought. Let your attention return to simply being aware rather than thinking, like a person returning to the shade of a tree after being in the hot sun. Go deeper into being, non-doing and non-thinking.
 
4. From being, now reach into the deeper stillness of Un-being, the Void out of which all Being comes.
 
Return to your outer awareness and close the meditation.
 
Reference 1: The Useless Tree by Chuang Tzu
 
Hui Tzu said to Chuang: I have a big tree, The kind they call a “stinktree.”
The trunk is so distorted, so full of knots,
No one can get a straight plank out of it. The branches are so crooked
You cannot cut them up in any way that makes sense.
There it stands beside the road. No carpenter will even look at it.
Such is your teaching– big and useless.
 
Chuang Tzu repliedSo, for your big tree. No use? Then plant it in the wasteland
In emptiness. Walk idly around, rest under the shadow; No axe or bill prepares its end.
No one will ever cut it down. Useless? You should worry!
(Here is the full Thomas Merton version)
 
The Cedar Tree by Thich Nhat Hanh

“A cedar tree doesn’t have any desire to be a pine or a cypress or even a bird. It’s a wonderful manifestation of the Cosmos just as it is. You are a manifestation of the Cosmos. You are wonderful just like that.”
 
Resting under the tree of non-thinking – Quote from Ramana Maharshi ‘Who Am I?’

“The mind moves without rest, alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been out in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. Similarly, the mind of one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman (Self-as-consciousness)
 
Related articleWhat Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing? (And why We should be interested in doing It)

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


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease Essential Spirituality Inner vision Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Life-fullness Meditating on the Self Meditation techniques Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Mindfulness Zen Meditation

Effortless adaptation – Solving all your problems & none (II)

‘Witnessing is a practice that solves your problems without changing them. They are still problems, but they are not problems in the way they were. It solves all your problems and none at the same time.’

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at meditative effortlessness from the perspective of witnessing practice. It’s a playful variation on a past article on ‘That which solves all your problems & none‘ from back in 2014. If you enjoy it, then it will form a central part of this week’s Tuesday & Weds meditation class. So do feel free to pop in, either live or online!

It’s a slightly longer article, so you might find it worthwhile reading it in two or three parts, coming back to it at different times… 
 
In the spirit of the effortless,
 
Toby


Effortless adaptation – Solving all your problems & none (II)

You can’t master what you are over identified with

This article is about how to adapt and flow with challenges in our life in as ‘effortless’ or ergonomic manner as possible. We can divide our challenges into ‘problems’ and ‘situations’.  In a previous article entitled ‘Wanting what you like, or liking what happens?’ I made the distinction between the two as follows:
“A lot of the things that we have labelled ‘problems’ in our life are more like ‘situations’. A problem is something that by definition has a solution. A situation is more a set of circumstances that we find ourself in. There may be no apparent solution to the situation, or the solution would cost more than it would be worth to ‘solve’ the problem. In this case we have to simply accept and work with what is. If we can harmonize our relationship to what ‘is’ today, meaning our situations, then chances are we will find ways to enjoy it and derive some value from it.”
If we want to solve and adapt effortlessly, a primary principle is you can’t master what you are over identified with. Here we are going to explore how to become more objective in our challenges, therefore struggling less as we adapt and solve.
 
The ultimate subject of consciousness

Initially in meditation (and then in daily awareness), if we look within, we can divide our consciousness into two:

  1. The objects within consciousness, or the content that we can observe
  2. The subject of consciousness, or that which is observing, AKA ‘the witness self’

During the day, quite often (almost always in fact), we confuse the subjects of consciousness with the objects of consciousness. We identify with our physical body and sensations, emotions, and moods. We identify with our story, our idea of who we are, as well as our beliefs and worldviews. All of these can be observed, watched, made into objects. The ‘self’ is, to use a Zen expression, ‘the ultimate subject of consciousness’. It is that within us that observes, which we can experience and be, but that we cannot watch as an object. You can rest in the witness self, but you can’t ‘see’ it. This is because it is simply consciousness itself, with no characteristics of form or time. It just ‘IS’!
 
Witnessing to adapt & solve

One of the beauties of sitting as the witness self is that it helps us to gradually dis-identify with the things in our consciousness that we are currently identified with. By doing this we make our challenges as well as the thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with them objects rather than subjects. This means that its much easier to work with them and master them, because they are not ‘me’ or ‘mine’. I can be more objective, calm, strategic and (holistically) compassionate because I am not over identifying with what is going on. If you apply witnessing to any challenge, you are going thru, it will help substantially. Here are two examples from the last week:
 

  1. In a conversation with a friend, I was told a story of someone who had been aggressive and racist to him. Later in the day I felt strong anger and protectiveness about this. I noticed I was strongly identified with this ‘protector/guardian/’ aspect of myself. I modulated it simply by witnessing it; making it an object of awareness rather than ‘me. This helped me to integrate the good parts of this part of my personality, without wasting energy getting caught up and attached to the energy it generated in me.
  2. I had a discussion which verged on an argument. I noticed that there was a part of me that I identified with that was very concerned about being ‘right’. Noticing and witnessing this part of self helped me to transform it from subject to object, and accept the situation without wasting mental, emotional or verbal energy. Relatively effortlessly it helped me to keep focused on what I considered important in the day, without getting ‘trapped’ by my identification with rightness.

Through witnessing around your challenges, you can change your experience of them without much of a struggle, using the technology of witnessing. I can’t recommend highly enough building your competency around this domain of mindfulness. Life gets a lot easier, free-er and more creative, even in the face of intractable and long-term circumstances.
A final somewhat Zen sentence for you: ‘Witnessing is a practice that solves your problems without changing them. They are still problems, but they are not problems in the way they were. It solves all your problems and none at the same time.’

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


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease Energy Meditation Integral Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Confidence Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Presence and being present Walking Meditation

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
 


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease Energy Meditation Inner vision Integral Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Presence and being present Zen Meditation

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
 



Follow Toby on
LinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
Awareness and insight Inner vision Insight Meditation Integral Awareness Life-fullness Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Mindfulness Presence and being present Shadow meditation Stress Transformation

Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at the practice of transcending & including. It is an important practice for everyone, but particularly if you are on a path of inner growth, as you are actively transcending and including as your path evolves.

This week’s Tuesday & Wednesday meditation continues our journey into Therapeutic mindfulness, and will look at the theme of transcending & including. If you enjoy the article, feel free to join us!

In the spirit of inclusion, 
 
Toby


Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves
 
As you grow you get inwardly, as well as outwardly bigger
Babies identify only with their physical body up until around 18months. Up until the age of 4 years, we can only take a first-person perspective: ‘me’, ‘I’ & ‘mine’. Growing older as children and teenagers, we see ourself as a part of a ‘we’ space, our family, our friends, my team. If we become fully fledged rational humans, we learn to take a healthy third person perspective, an ‘it’ space, where we consider everyone to have value, and our circle of concern becomes world-centric, universal and much bigger.
As we continue this growth further onto higher levels, our self-sense gets bigger and bigger, more and more inclusive. Our ‘I’ becomes more & more universal in nature.
 
The principle of transcending & including
When we grow it’s not that our older, smaller selves cease to exist, it’s just that they get transcended. My child-like egoic self is still there when I grow to the next stage, it’s just that it becomes only a part of what I am, held and contextualized by the bigger, more inclusive self of the next stage. The bigger self transcends, but includes the smaller self.

  • The ‘transcending’ part of this means that we grow beyond our previous limited sense of who we are
  • The ‘include’ part of this ensures that the smaller self feels secure and honoured within the new self structure.

A simple example: Yesterday I spent quite a lot of time playing with my three year-old. This meant my ‘inner child’ coming online and me being ‘childish’! However, my child-self was held by my mature or adult self. For my daughter, she ‘is’ the child. For me as an adult I act in a child like way, but he is held by a bigger self-sense that is the adult. My adult self transcends and includes my child self.
 
Avoiding allergies & addictions
Transcending and including needs to be done in a healthy manner otherwise:

  • If I transcend the previous stage too much, instead of detaching from it healthily, I disassociate with it, it becomes an ‘allergy’, something foreign. For example if I dissociate with my inner child, outer children become incomprehensible, silly and foreign. Inwardly I lose the ability to be playful, joyful and spontaneous. I become a stiff, repressed adult, ‘allergic’ to child-like behaviour
  • If I include the previous stage too much, a part of my identity gets ‘stuck’ at that level. I find myself compulsively becoming child-like in some situations, the behaviours feel like ‘addictions’. I keep regressing to this level uncontrollably. To return to the child analogy, I might usually keep a good diet, but then keep sabotaging that by eating one biscuit, and then the whole packet. My self-regulation becomes periodically child-like and chaotic!

 
Mindful therapeutic integration
To work therapeutically with the transcend and include principle, take any part of your smaller selves as the object. For example, you could take:

  • Your child self
  • Your eating urges
  • A part of you very identified with a past trauma
  • A part of you identified with a particular belief

The list here is very large. Sitting in a mindful state you simply bring it to mind, and watch it. As Ken Wilber says, you imagine you are video -taping it as an observer. The part of you that observes simply witnesses it with a ‘transcend and include’ approach:

  • The ‘transcendent’ part of it means that your witness has a sense of itself as something bigger than and separate from the part of self you are observing
  • The ‘include’ part of it means that your witness self acknowledges, accepts, and gently embraces the smaller self.

If you do this, the idea would be that any ‘addictions’ or ‘allergies’ that you have developed to smaller parts of yourself as you have grown beyond them will gradually be released. You will find yourself in an increasingly balanced and integrated relationship to your smaller selves, free from addictions and allergies.
 
Related reading:  Creating an inner therapeutic mindfulness space
Suppression & repression – the difference, & it’s importance
Bodies within bodies – Witnessing with your energy bodies
The body is in you – How to go into deep meditation quickly

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Categories
A Mind of Ease Awareness and insight Energy Meditation Inner vision Life-fullness Meditating on the Self meditation and creativity Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Confidence Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Mindfulness Motivation and scope Presence and being present

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Categories
Awareness and insight Concentration creative imagery Energy Meditation Inner vision Integral Awareness Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Life-fullness Meditating on the Self Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Confidence Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Mindfulness

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 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Categories
Enlightened Flow Enlightened service Inner vision Integral Meditation Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Life-fullness meditation and creativity Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindful Confidence Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Motivation and scope Presence and being present Zen Meditation

Your daily life as a meditation retreat

“The time to make progress in your meditation practice is always ‘now’, so if by an act of choice and imagination you can see each day as an ‘active-retreat’, then this is really going to accelerate your growth”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores the potential of each day of your life to develop your active-meditation practice, by seeing it as a retreat!
Also, if you want to really help kick start this,  the Integral Meditation Two Day Retreat on the weekend of the 28/29th October  is a fantastic way to do it!

Also excited to announce the new Integral Life Practice Sessions, starting on Saturday 11th November, 9am-12noon, do click to see the format.
 
In the spirit of life-as-meditation,
 
Toby


Your daily life as a meditation retreat
 
Don’t wait for a retreat to do meditation
It is great to be able to do a meditation retreat, and the experience can be genuinely transformative. But for most of us, the vast majority of our time is spent with work, family and the everyday challenges and joys of daily life. The time to make progress in your meditation practice is always ‘now’, so if by an act of choice and imagination you can start seeing each day as a type of ‘retreat-in-the-world’, then this is really going to accelerate your capacity to grow as a meditator.
 
What you need to make your daily activities a meditation?
All very well to say ‘My daily life is a retreat,’ but how can we develop the capacity to use daily activities as forms of ‘active meditation’? Below is a list of qualities that we can bring to the table:
 
Intention & enthusiasm (urgency)
We begin the process with intention; “I am going to see today and its challenges as a form of active meditation, to facilitate my inner growth, to benefit my circle of family, friends and colleagues, and to make a benevolent impact on the world.” From this intention, we then generate a degree of curiosity, enthusiasm, and determination. It all starts from the choice to live on purpose!
 
Creating your basic meditation space
The basic goal of any meditator is to be ‘primarily present, secondarily thinking.’ This means a successful day retreat would be spent being just a little more present, and a little less lost in thought. To do this the basic mantra is:
Not lost in thought, not falling asleep, anchored in the present, and aware of my focus point in the present.
The ‘focus point’ in terms of your day retreat, is simply the next task or activity at hand, that is your meditation object.
 
Mindfulness & alertness
To stay ‘primarily present’, you need to remember that that is what you are trying to do (mindfulness), and alert when you loose track of it (alertness). Mindfulness and alertness are the tools that you employ to make any activity a ‘meditation.’
 
Ergonomic, focused flow
Mindful activity relies upon a state of body-mind that is balanced between focused and relaxed. If you try to hard to focus, you’ll get tense and tired quickly. If you are too relaxed, you’ll get distracted easily and succumb to inertia. As you do your activities, experiment with what it feels like to do it with this balanced, ergonomic state of ‘flow.’
 
Alternating focused & field awareness
As you go through your day, there will be times when you are paying attention single-pointedly to one task, and then ‘panning back’ to take in the big-picture of the day. ‘Single-pointedness’ and ‘field awareness’ are two basic types of meditation practice. We can use this skilful alternation between the two to navigate our day in a meditative manner.
 
Review time
Some time at the end of the day, or when lying down before sleep can then be used to assess what went well in your ‘retreat.’ What activities were really good ‘meditations’, and what were the ones where you ‘got lost’? What can you try tomorrow to do a bit better? What lessons have you learned? With your review time, you can use one day to make the day after an incremental improvement.
 
As the Navy Seal motto goes: “When faced with a challenge, we sink to the level of our training. Train hard!” With skill we can train hard, with gentle consistency and make every day a ‘meditation retreat’!
 
Related articleWorking Samadhi – The way of the mindful warrior
Envisioning & presence – Climbing the mindful mountain

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



Integral Meditation Asia

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

Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Categories
creative imagery Inner vision Insight Meditation Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Life-fullness Meditating on the Self meditation and creativity Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindful Confidence Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Stress Transformation

Re-working your ego by expanding your self-concept (AKA: Van Halen therapy)

In a situation where your self-concept doesn’t believe you can meet & solve a challenge, you can do one of two things. You can give up, or you can change your idea of yourself, making it one that can work with what is presenting

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article explores how to work mindfully with your ego & self concept in a creative, empowered way. If you enjoy it, then you are invited to come along to the Tuesday or Wednesday meditation class, where we will be focusing on this subject. 

A couple of dates for your diary, in addition to the Two day meditation retreat on Oct 28-29th:

In the spirit of turning subjects into objects,

Toby 


Re-working your ego by expanding your self-concept (AKA: Van Halen therapy)
 
The Ego is
One of the definitions that I like for the ego is simply ‘the unifying centre of awareness’ of a person. It is the self-sense that sits in the middle of you as you navigate your daily experiences. Ego is not a positive or negative term, but a neutral one. However, we can say that a person has a strong or functional ego, which is a good thing, or a weak, dysfunctional ego which is not a good thing. Our ego also operates according to ethical values, or a lack of ethical values, and this distinction also makes an ego a relatively ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ thing. These values can be held consciously or unconsciously by the ego in question.
 
Your self-concept is
Your idea of who you are. It is the mental template that you have built up over your life about:

  • The ‘type’ of person you are
  • What is possible & not possible for you
  • The story of how you became who you are

…and so on. Your self-concept generally creates a sense of what you can and can’t do in life, what you like and don’t like. When you are faced with a challenge, your ability to deal with that problem is intimately related to your self-concept. Your self-concept projects onto the situation what it thinks and believes. In a situation where your self-concept doesn’t believe you can meet and solve a challenge, you can do one of two things:

  • You can give up, or
  • You can change your idea of yourself, making it one that can work with what is presenting

 
Relating imaginatively to a new idea of yourself
I remember one time when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by always having to ‘put myself out there’ as a creative and as a small business owner. I really felt out of my comfort zone. It felt alien to my idea of myself, it felt uncomfortable and exhausting. I had a dream one night of being with Daid Lee Roth (ex-lead singer of Van Halen). I was hanging out with him on the void-deck of an HDB block of flats in Singapore. Preparations were underway for a concert, and after chatting enthusiastically to me for a short while, DL-R just got up on stage with his band and did the concert, singing and dancing around half-naked, and just letting go and enjoying himself with the small group of people that was there.
I woke up feeling light, energised, and encouraged. In the subsequent days, week’s, and still to this day (the dream was years ago) I often think of this dream, and imagine myself being like David L-R, just dancing though my life, meeting what is there with enthusiasm, spontaneity, and not being afraid of a bit of exhibitionism.
This idea, and working with it imaginatively really changed my self-concept, and consequently my sense of what is possible, what can energise me not drain me, and so on. In short, I re-worked my ego using a new image-template.
 
Using this expanded self for inner healing & growth
So, the basic idea is that if you have a psychological block that is holding you back, or you don’t think you care ‘capable’ of achieving something, you create an image or idea of yourself that can, and then start relating to that image.
 
Paths beyond the ego
If you are connected to the Soul level of things, quite often you will find that ideas, images, and happenings occur in your life that you can readily use for this type of work, so pay attention!
The ego is the mental/psychological level of self, so there are a number levels of self beyond ego on the soul and spiritual level of things. However, the ego and self-concept are really ‘lynch-pins’ between the upper and lower levels of self, so we really need to work on making our self-concept a healthy, resilient, wise and fun-loving one!
 
Related readingYour bright shadow – The one who can do what you can’t

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 last week’s video: ‘Subjects to objects – How meditation helps you grow to greater degrees of freedom’

Summary: This video discusses two main subjects related to meditation. The first part explores why and how a meditation practice helps individuals grow as individuals. Meditation is described as a process that transforms subjects of consciousness (e.g., body, emotions, ego) into objects of consciousness, leading to reduced identification with these aspects and increased inner freedom…watch full video


Integral Meditation Asia

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

Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram