Is calmer always better?

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is the goal of meditation and mindfulness always to make you calmer? The article below considers this question from a number of angles that are important to consider in our day to day practice…

In the spirit of dynamic calm,

Toby

For those in Singapore, this weeks Tuesday & Wednesday class will be meditating on ‘Enlightened Imperfection‘, all welcome!


Is calmer always better? (Passionate preferences)

Is the goal of meditation and mindfulness always to make you calmer? Yesterday I was talking with a friend in the tech and start-up industry who was telling me the story of how he came to mindfulness practice. In short he became so stressed due to his work that he started having physical heart and chest pains. Upon going to the doctor, he was told there was no physical problem, it was mainly psychological stress. It was at that point that he started meditating.
Many people come to meditation and mindfulness in a similar way; the absence of calm in their life forces them to seek out a way of dealing with their stress, and they start using mindfulness meditation as a way of moving toward a less frenetic and frantic state of body, mind and heart.

The spectrum of mindful attention
Once we get beyond mindfulness as an ‘emergency band-aid’ way of calming down, we discover that mindfulness and meditation when done well does not always mean becoming calmer. In fact the help us consciously move ourself along a spectrum of attention. This spectrum of attention moves from a state of total calm & relaxation on one end (On a scale of 1-10, let’s call this 1) and a state of dynamic passion and action on the other end (on our scale of 1-10, this would be 10).
Your ‘job’ as a mindfulness practitioner is to bring the level of mindful intensity appropriate to the particular task at hand, in order to optimize your experience of it both in terms of your effectiveness, and your ability to experience happiness. Here are some examples of how this can go wrong or right:

The lower expression: 
Negative calm – Not enough passion: Let’s say I am having a discussion with my partner about our relationship. If I remain totally calm and dispassionate to the point of dis-interest, this is not going to serve the purpose of our discussion.
Too much passion: To continue with the above example, if in my discussion with my partner I become too passionate and not calm enough, then this can sabotage the conversation as well, so here too much passion becomes negative stress.

The higher expression – Mindful passion or mindful engagement:  In the discussion with my partner I need to bring my emotions and passion to the conversation to communicate that I care, and invest deeply in the process of the relationship. I need passionate engagement, with just enough calm to keep the conversation reasonable, considered and polite!

The above is an example of informal mindfulness in everyday life. Similarly, in our formal meditation practice we need passion and motivation in order to avoid our sense of meditative calm becoming too robotic and cold (see last week’s article on ‘Witnessing like the Sun’). So, in both our formal and informal practice of mindfulness and meditation, there needs to be a balance of calmness and excitement, a harmony between relaxation and focus, an equilibrium between our passion and our detachment. Sometimes we need to dial town toward the calm end of the spectrum, but equally sometimes we need to deliberately engage more passion, excitement and positive urgency!  This deliberate engagement of passion is as much a part of the conscious meditative process as cultivating our inner calm.
Each experience in our life is different, and being mindful in each moment helps us to determine the optimal balance of calmness and passion for that particular situation.

Related articlesThe spectrum of mindful attention
Engaged detachment

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday August 19th, 10am-5pm, & Monday August 21st,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Witnessing like the Sun

Dear Integral Meditators,

Taking a position as an observer or witness is a fundamental position that we practice when being mindful, but can it make us too cold and detached? The article below explores this theme, and how to build an integrated and balanced witnessing practice.

For those in Singapore, this evening’s  Wednesday class will be on ‘Meditation & spiritual alchemy‘, all welcome!

In the spirit of inner light,

Toby


Witnessing like the Sun

Taking a position as an observer or witness is a fundamental position that we practice when being mindful:

  • We learn to watch our thoughts without interfering, repressing, denying or encouraging.
  • We observe our reactions & responses to what people say to us, noting without judging.
  • We try and hold a third person perspective when we are engaging in daily activities, noting our behaviours and the behaviours of others as consciously as possible.
  • We learn to experience emotions without being completely consumed and over-identified with them. There is a part of us that remains at the center of the experience, balanced amidst the imbalance of our feelings.

There can be an extreme of this witnessing position, whereby we become too detached, too cold, too robotic in our mindful witnessing practice. If we go to this extreme then we can find our mindfulness practice detracting from the quality of our life, as it impairs our ability to engage in experiences with passion, engagement, emotion and humanity. With integral mindfulness, we are trying to set up a complementary, supportive relationship between our emotional engagement in life, and our ability to witness, observe and detach. These two qualities should be working with each other, not against each other!

Witnessing like the Sun
One way in which we can avoid the extreme end of mindful detachment is by practising witnessing like the Sun. From one point of view the sun shines on us with total objectivity. It is so huge, and we are so insignificant and tiny (relative to it), it has no involvement or investment in our life at all. It shines upon us as if by chance, with monolithic objectivity. But, at the same time the Sun is also warm, life-giving, bright and joyful. When we see the Sun we feel enlivened, encouraged and optimistic. So, when we practice mindful witnessing, either in formal practice or informally during the day, we can practice as if we are the Sun, combining objective detachment with warmth, benevolence and joy as we watch!

When my phone content was wiped
Yesterday I traded in my old phone for a newer version. In the process of doing so the shop assistant accidentally wiped out a bunch or photos and Whatsapp messages that had a lot of sentimental value for me. After realizing what had happened, I was feeling pretty angry and upset, and a bit emotionally traumatized at the loss. Realizing I was upset I switched on my ‘mindful witness mode’, but made sure that I combined it with engagement and passion, so that I was able to experience the emotions without repressing them, say what I wanted to say to the shop assistant about the f*#ck up (possibly more polite than he deserved, but I think I got the message across), and went about seeing if I could recover the images and information from other sources. In short I tried to practice witnessing like the Sun, shining the light of my objective awareness on the experience with warmth as I experienced the emotional roller-coaster. Two hours later, with most of my emotions processed, and almost all the important info recovered, I could relax and enjoy my new phone, calmly!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday August 19th, 10am-5pm, & Monday August 21st,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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‘Turtling up’ – Dealing mindfully with information overload

Dear Integral Meditators ,

One of the most challenging aspects of living in the information age is that, as it implies, there is so much information around that we are asked to digest. The article below considers how formal & informal mindfulness can help us with this.

For those in Singapore, this Tuesday & Wednesday‘s class will be on the ‘What lies beyond stillness‘, which will be about accessing deeper levels of creativity through meditation & mindfulness.

In the spirit of equilibrium,

Toby


‘Turtling up’ – Dealing mindfully with information overload

One of the most challenging aspects of living in the information age is that, as it implies, there is so much information around that we are asked to digest. One of the big things that meditation and mindfulness can offer us is a way with dealing with this challenge.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by my workload, and the pace at which I am having to move in which to cope with it. Many of the mornings I wake with a sense of having just a bit too much information to deal with. As I sit down to breakfast, part of me is tempted to grab my phone and start reading the news online. Often is not so much that I am interested in the news, it is more that I want a way to escape the feeling of having too much information to cope with. The ‘instinctive reasoning’ is that I can escape my feelings of being mentally overwhelmed by distracting myself with more information. The problem with this strategy is that if I spend breakfast surfing more news and information, my mind will need to digest even more information, and I will get up from breakfast feeling even more overwhelmed!
Consequently, I have made a conscious choice to leave my phone alone during breakfast, focusing instead on being aware of the way my mind, emotions and body feel, deliberately slowing down a little, and doing less as I eat. Consequently, I get up from breakfast feeling more mentally rested, and that I have more ‘mind-space’ with which I can ‘digest’ the challenges of my day.

‘Turtling up’ – Dropping your outer and inner senses
My choice during breakfast above is an example of an informal mindfulness strategy to cope more effectively with information overload. Every day we actually have many such opportunities to reduce the amount of information that we are having to process.
One formal mindfulness and meditation practice we can do is simply withdrawing our attention temporarily from our outer and inner senses.

  • Our outer senses give us information about what is around us in the outer world.
  • Our inner senses give us information about how our body and emotions are feeling, as well as what we are thinking, remembering or otherwise using our mind for.

To practice ‘turtling up’ is to withdraw your attention from your senses, like a turtle or tortoise gathering its head and limbs inside its shell. You simply find a quiet spot for a while and withdraw your attention from your outer and inner senses, finding and relaxing into a still space within the centre of your body-mind. A tortoise inside its shell can still hear stuff going on outside, but it feels like it is a distance away. Similarly, you gather your attention inside your body and away from the activity of the mind and senses. You might still hear things, and your mind may still be active to a degree, but you are experiencing it ‘from a distance’ so to speak. You are relaxing in the still quiet space ‘inside your shell’.
The function if ‘turtling up’ is to enable your mind and senses to recover from information overload. By emptying our mind of information for a while, we enable it to regain its equilibrium, regenerate its energy and recover the ability to engage and digest information effectively and happily.
This week if you like you can try practising ‘turtling up’ for short periods of time I your day to help you thrive in the information age, rather than being a victim of it!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday August 19th, 10am-5pm, & Monday August 21st,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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What happens when you take a mindful pause?

Dear Integral Meditators,

Where are the places in your day where you could start taking a mindful pause, and what might the results and benefits be? The article below offers a practical reflection on this…

For those in Singapore, this Tuesday & Wednesday‘s class will be on the Four ‘lessnesses’ of enlightenment, which should be fun. Also, heads up for the new  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop , which you can catch on either the 15th or 17th of July.

In the spirit of pausing,

Toby


What happens when you take a mindful pause? (Breaking with habits)

On most Sunday afternoons, I drop my daughter back at her mother’s place after a day out together and make my way home. My habit after dropping her off is to take out my phone, put my earphones on and listen to some music as I walk and talk the bus back. Last Sunday however I found that I had forgotten my earphones. Unable to listen to music, initially I could feel my mind feeling displeasure about the fact that I couldn’t do what I normally do; enjoy music. After I mindfully made the effort to accept the situation, and my minds displeasure, I was able to relax and think to myself ‘I wonder what I might be able to do with this time?’ Over the course of the 20minute journey to my place, here is what happened:

  • Firstly, I came back to my physical body and spent some time moving my awareness into and taking care of the parts that were tired or stressed. I was able to tangibly reduce the amount of ambient pain and tension on my body, which in turn led to a certain amount of gentle pleasure and regeneration in my body.
  • Secondly I spent part of the time getting in touch with and ‘digesting’ some of the quite intense emotions that had been stirred up over the course of the day and the weekend. I could acknowledge the challenging emotions that were present and take care of them. I was also able to enjoy and appreciate in a deeper way the pleasurable and positive emotions that were there. This led to a deeper sense of peace and ‘at homeness’ in my experience of myself in the moment, as well as some genuine love for the others that I had been with over the weekend.
  • Thirdly, I turned my attention to my business for a short while. I planned activities and prioritized my tasks for Monday. This ‘future focused’ mindfulness enabled me to feel greater enthusiasm for my work, as well as clarity around what I needed to do.
  • Lastly, I even remembered to do a few eye exercises (You know, the ones that really help to slow the deterioration of your sight, but that hardly anyone does??) which I have been meaning to start a habit of for a while.

You can see that there were four good results that came from the original ‘forced pause’ that not having my earphones created for me. It illustrates perfectly what happens when we break a habitual, unconscious pattern, and allow ourself to take a mindful pause. Once the resistance has been overcome, our mind naturally starts to seek ways to use the time in ways that promote awareness, recovery and wellbeing within ourselves.
As well as the ‘accidental’ mindful pauses such as the example above, I also deliberately create spaces in my day to pause between tasks. Often the initial experience is resistance; my mind wants to be ‘getting on’ with what I do out of habit but, after a short while this dissolves, and it starts to think creatively in the moment. Often mindful pausing helps us to shift from automatic, habit-based thinking to creative, intelligent, non-habit based thinking.
Where are the places in your day where you could start taking a mindful pause, and enjoying the results?

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from June 6-7th – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday July 15th, 10am-5pm, & Monday July 17th,  10am-5pm –  Shamanic mandala meditation & art workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Mindfully building your mental & emotional resilience 1 – The cycle of mindful positivity

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can we make our minds and emotions more resilient? One method is to build our store of strengths and positivity. The article below explores a simple, practical method of  going about doing this….

For those in Singapore, Summer solstice meditation tonight, Wednesday at 7.30pm!

In the spirit of emotional & mental resilience,

Toby


Mindfully building your mental & emotional resilience 1 – The cycle of mindful positivity

How can we make our minds and emotions more resilient? One method is to build our store of strengths and positivity, the other is to make the way we deal with our challenges and energy drains more ergonomic, authentic and skillful. This article outlines a three stage process for doing the first, building mindful positivity. I will write about the second method at a later date. Here are the three basic stages:

1. Recognition of the good – From a mindfulness perspective, building positivity can be achieved on a basic level simply by spending definite time each day recognizing and paying attention to things that are positive, that we appreciate, that we are proud of, that we have achieved, that we are lucky to have, and so on, in our life. Recognition of these things contextualizes our daily experience in a positive light.

Feeling the good – It’s not enough just to recognize intellectually the things that are good, we are lucky to have and so on. We have to take these things and mindfully dwell upon the positive feelings that they generate in our body and emotional being. For example today I had a meeting with a client that was a really warm, positive exchange of insights and values. In order to gain the maximum positive energy from that experience I need to dwell more than just intellectually upon the experience. I need to accept, experience and feel the positive feelings that the meeting gave rise to, experiencing them in my body.

Embodying & expressing the good – As a final aspect of this ‘mindful digestion’ of positive energy, I can look for ways to express and act upon my positive experience. This in turn will create more ‘fuel’ for the first stage of my mindful positivity process ‘Recognition of the good’. So, we find this positive, three stage cycle becomes circular and mutually re-enforcing in our lives, helping us build our mental and emotional resilience.

Building mindful positivity as an exercise
This can be done very simply, as an exercise that lasts just a couple of minutes, or as a longer, more extended one.

  1. Spend some time dwelling upon the things that you appreciate, are excited by and/or consider good in your life. Direct your attention to these with appreciation
  2. Select one of these things (eg: for me my meeting with a client described above). Focusing upon it ask yourself the question ‘Where is the positive feeling I am getting from this experience located in my body, and what does it feel like?’ Bring your attention to the part of the body that the feeling is located in. As you breathe in allow yourself to experience the feeling fully, as you breathe out allow the good feeling and emotions to flow out from that part of your body into your body as a whole, filling you with positivity, enthusiasm and gentle excitement or appreciation. Make the experience as real and visceral as you can on an emotional and body level. Stay with this stage as long as you like, enjoy it!
  3. Finally, ask yourself, ‘How might I go about expressing or communicating these good feelings in my life to enjoy them further and spread them around?’ Try and find ways to follow up on the answers to this question after you have finished the exercise.

Related article: Mindfully balancing positive thinking with healthy realism

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from June 6-7th – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

June 20th & 21st – Summer solstice  balancing and renewing meditation 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Turning frustration into motivation

Dear Integral Meditators,

Frustration & friction are experiences we normally consider undesirable, but what if there were a way that we could start to take advantage of them? The article below considers how we might start to do this…

In the spirit of motivation,

Toby


Turning frustration into motivation

Last week I was feeling frustrated about the slow pace of a project that I was working on with colleagues. Although the work should have been simple to do, somehow all sorts of complications arose, both in the actual work and in our communication with each other. As I was experiencing this I noticed that there were two things coming up for me:

  1. The effort and friction coming simply from trying to work out a solution
  2. The frustration, emotional friction and resistance coming up inside me because the project was proving more difficult than I thought, and I did not want it to be difficult.

In this situation, I could see very clearly that there was no way to avoid the first part; I had to exert my effort and intelligence to patiently find solutions to the problems. However, I also started to see very clearly that the energy and effort that I was expending on feeling frustrated about what was happening was largely energy wasted.
Often emotional friction and frustration are a substantial drain on our energy. This is not necessary, but in order to avoid it we need to learn how to transform the friction into motivation. I’m going to outline how to do this in three simple stages; accepting, releasing and transforming.

Stage 1 – Accepting – Seeing and accepting frustration 
When we find ourself frustrated with and fighting our reality, the first thing we need to do is see what is happening, and accept the fact that we may be frustrated and upset. In the case above I needed to see and accept my resentment that things were not as easy as I wanted them to be.

Stage 2 – Releasing – Becoming ergonomic & working with what is there
Often the simple act of accepting our frustration enables us to let go of it, at least to a degree. This then frees our energy and intelligence to focus upon solving the actual problem at hand. To use my example above, by seeing and accepting my frustration I am able to start releasing it. I can then focus the energy that was previously trapped in my frustration toward simply solving the problems at hand. This gives me a quiet and stable patience, making me more effective at dealing with the issues.

Stage 3 – Transforming frustration into motivation
Stage two has already begun the transformation process; energy previously trapped in emotional frustration has been re-directed toward the task at hand. As we get better at this, we start to experience finding the solution to the challenge as a motivation that we can enjoy and delight in solving. Rather than feeling despondent and agitated, because we accept the difficulty patiently, we can be curious about how we may solve the problem. Difficulties no longer make us despondent and agitated, they make us motivated and determined.

So the next time you notice yourself frustrated with a situation, and stuck in a state of emotional friction, and wasting energy, you might like to see if you can mindfully apply this three stage process to your experience:

  1. Notice and accept your frustration
  2. Release your frustration so you can focus on the actual task at hand
  3. Finally, consciously re-direct the energy inside you trapped in frustration, transforming it into motivation and determination.

Becoming good at stage one is really the key that unlocks the door!

Related article: When Vulnerability Ceases to be a Problem – Three levels of self-confidence

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from June 6-7th – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday June 17th, 2-5pm – Developing mindful self-confidence – A three hour workshop
June 20th & 21st – Summer solstice  balancing and renewing meditation 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Is your meditation a type of therapy, an art-form or a spiritual practice?

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is your meditation an art-form, a therapy or a spiritual practice? Can you combine these three things together into a single meditation practice? The article below examines this question!
For those in Singapore the Practical meditations for spiritual awakening classes begin tonight & tomorrow (Wednesday) evening with a class on the topic of the three types of meditation, and this Saturday we have the Integral meditation & mindful walking retreat. All welcome!

In the spirit of integral meditation,

Toby


Is your meditation a type of therapy, an art-form or a spiritual practice?

Your meditation is a therapy if you are doing it to fix something inside you that is broken. Meditating to cope with stress, heal an emotional wound, to pacify/heal our addictions and demons is a form of therapy.
Your meditation is an art-form if you are using it to push the boundaries of your inner skill, power and capability. It is where you take risks, push the limits of what you thought possible, and experience new ways of seeing, feeling creating.
Your meditation is a spiritual practice when you rest in a state of no boundaries, where the barriers between yourself and the universe dissolve into light and there is just pure being-ness, one-ness, opulence and radiance.
The chances are that your meditation oscillates between these three types in an organic way, but it is extremely useful to be able to differentiate them in these three ways because:

  • There are times when you need to stop trying to fix that which is broken in you and start taking some risks
  • There are times when pushing your boundaries is doing more harm than good, and you need to create a healing space for yourself
  • There are times when you need to get off your butt and stop getting absorbed in the timeless wonder of it all
  • There are times when you need to take a holiday from the bounds of time and space and rest in the regenerative-radiance of your original being
  • There are times when you’re universal, original being explodes into action and demands that you start expressing your inner and outer art-forms. If so, you’d better act on this or watch out!

Related article: The Three Purposes of Meditation

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from June 6-7th – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat

Saturday June 17th, 2-5pm – Developing mindful self-confidence – A three hour workshop
June 20th & 21st – Summer solstice  balancing and renewing meditation 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Mindfully balancing positive thinking with healthy realism (Steering clear of cynicism and the Pollyanna complex)

Dear Integral Meditation Asia,

Is it possible to balance positive thinking with healthy, critical realism? The article below explores some mindful pointers for doing both, together in a mutually supporting manner.

The class schedule for June is out, see the schedule below the article. It includes Practical meditations for spiritual awakening , an Integral meditation & mindful walking retreat & a Developing mindful self-confidence workshop.

In the spirit of mindfulness,

Toby


Mindfully balancing positive thinking with healthy realism (Steering clear of cynicism and the Pollyanna complex) 

One of the basic skills for dealing with stressful situations and becoming more mentally balanced (and therefore more mentally resilient) is to know how to balance positive thinking with a healthy sense of realism. To do this, one of the keys is to understand that both positive thinking and realism have both a ‘higher’ expression, and an extreme or imbalanced expression.

Positive thinking
The higher expression of positive thinking involves:

  • Seeing the positive side of every situation.
  • Thinking and envisioning the best possible outcomes.
  • Thinking from a sense of fullness rather than lack.
  • Taking responsibility for the situation and our role in it.
  • Ensuring that what you think and say about a situation are framing it in a helpful and constructive light, and not a negative one that will sabotage a potentially fruitful outcome.

The lower, imbalanced or negative expression of “positive thinking” involves what is commonly called the Pollyanna complex the characteristics of which are:

  • Turning a blind eye to the very real drawbacks, risks and dangers of a situation due to naiveté, underlying fear or just because we believe we can just ‘think’ our way to a positive result.
  • Choosing to trust people, groups or inner aspects of yourself who are really not reliable. Sometimes this is naiveté, sometimes we have become attached to an outcome that causes us to not want to see what is really there.
  • Confusing realistic risk assessment (necessary) with negative thinking that will sabotage our positive thoughts and visualizations (unnecessary and dangerous).

Healthy realism
The higher or positive expression of realism involves:

  • Being able to take a good hard look at a situation and make an objective or scientific assessment of the real risks or drawbacks of the different courses of action that we might choose. If you doubt the objectivity of your own perspective, get someone else’s.
  • Not being attached to outcomes. Attachment to outcomes blinds us to risks and drawbacks.
  •  Without being cynical, knowing when others are not revealing the truth about a situation, or when we may be hiding the truth from our self.

The lower, unhealthy extreme or imbalanced expression of realism involves:

  • Undue cynicism
  • Being a victim of circumstance
  • Thinking the worst due to fear, anxiety or anger
  • Any time where there is undue or unhealthy emphasis on the worst-case scenario

So, in conclusion mastery of this aspect of transforming stress involves

  • Combining the higher expression of positive thinking and healthy realism together
  • Avoiding imbalanced extremes of either.

Practicum:
This week you might like to take a particular life circumstance and, bringing it to mind ask yourself:

  • What are the positives in this situation that I can enjoy, develop and appreciate?
  • What are the risks, drawbacks or dangers that I need to be aware of and integrate into my response to what is going on?

It can sometimes be helpful to actually write down the answers to these questions, but either way, the idea is to set up a mindful way of processing your reality positively and intelligently, avoiding undue cynicism and the Pollyanna complex.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from June 6-7th – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat

Saturday June 17th, 2-5pm – Developing mindful self-confidence – A three hour workshop
June 20th & 21st – Summer solstice  balancing and renewing meditation 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Meditation as an act of being rather than doing

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can meditation help us improve the quality of our life? The article below explores this topic in a practical way.

In the spirit of being,

Toby

PS: For those in Singapore, reminder that tonight (Tuesday) & also Wednesday evening there is are meditation classes on Creating inner space & insight through witnessing, click the link for details!


Meditation as an act of being rather than doing 

The title of this article is extremely useful definition of meditation, and one that is very appropriate for information and action overloaded, busy lifestyles. One of the basic challenges that we face today is that there is always so much that we seem to need to ‘do’. Not only that, even when there is nothing left to do, because we have been programmed to “do things” all the time, we just invent stuff to keep ourselves busy. The process of simply sitting down and enjoying the present moment has become an alien and uncomfortable experience for us!
It is also a great definition in the sense that it helps us to see that meditation can include a very broad range of activities, as it is the state of mind that makes an activity meditation, not the particular activity itself. For example if you are sitting in formal meditation on your meditation seat, but your mind is wondering about all that you have to do after you get up, that is not really meditation. However, if you fold clothes and you do so with an awareness of what you are doing and with an appreciation of who you are as a human being, then that is a form of meditation. We refer to ourselves as are human beings not human doings, and whenever we generate an appreciation of that being-ness within us, and the being-ness of the Earth and other living things around us, then we are naturally moving into a meditative state of mind.
Another way of putting this is that a state of being-ness focuses on the quality of our subjective experience, whereas doing-ness focuses on the quantitative, objectively measurable nature of what we are doing. What meditation gives in terms of our daily life is a sense of depth in the quality of our experiences.  Meditation offers a gateway to appreciation, connectedness and depth that we have lost touch with because of an over emphasis on quantitative achievement in our life.
The classic book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M Pirsig is, in large part, an exploration of how modern culture has gradually lost its sense of appreciation of the qualitative experience of life through its obsession with quantity, efficiency, getting things done and generally ticking boxes of all descriptions. To become a meditator is to decide that ticking boxes is no longer good enough for you, and you want to reclaim the quality of life that is rightfully yours. This can be found simply by deciding to appreciate what you have right now, and cultivate your being-ness. Your being-ness is the natural human spirit within you that, when you are in touch with it makes us capable of feeling happy, fulfilled and complete in the here and now, even amidst the ongoing messiness and imperfection of our life.

From the above we can see that, in a sense no specific meditation technique is needed to move into a state of being. It is simply a matter of setting aside time regularly to slow things down for a while, and really being present to the experiences you are having at any given moment in your day or life. However, there are specific meditation practices that we can engage in that lend themselves to being-ness. Here are a couple should you wish to explore further:
What does it mean to meditate on non-doing?
The Man or woman of No Rank

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Monday 15th & 29th May, 10-11am – Bi-monthly Monday morning meditation classes (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings – Meditations for creating a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention – A six week course

Saturday June 3rd 10am-5pm – One Heart Celebration Day

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat

 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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How much effort do I need? – Mindful ergonomics

Dear Integral Meditators,

Coping with stress, fatigue, getting what we need to do done is a challenge for all of us. One of the ways in which mindfulness can really help us in this regard is by encouraging us to put only as much effort as we need into a task in order to get it done, no more, no less….The article below explores this topic!

For those in Singapore, heads up for the  Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment workshop on Saturday 20th May, 2-5.30pm. Anywhere you are, you can view my three short stress transformation videos here:

How to begin transforming your stress
The Deeper Purpose of Stress Transformation
Toby talks about directing and transforming anger

In the spirit of transformation,

Toby


How much effort do I need? – Mindful ergonomics

Coping with stress, fatigue, getting what we need to do done is a challenge for all of us. One of the ways in which mindfulness can really help us in this regard is by encouraging us to put only as much effort as we need into a task in order to get it done, no more, no less. For example:

  • If I am now sitting at my computer typing this article I can be mindful to keep my body relaxed as I type, and relax my mind as I direct my mental attention to the task of writing. If I am not mindful in this way, it is very easy for me to be holding tension in my shoulders and arms, and mentally ‘trying too hard’ to think through my writing. By mindfully relaxing my body mind, I expend less energy on the task and get it done better.
  • If I am walking down the street I can be mindful to use only the muscles that I need to propel myself forward at the pace I need. Often when we walk we are unconsciously holding tension in our face, upper body and so on that is causing us to expend energy for no real purpose. When I relax my body consciously as I walk I am literally conserving energy that I can then use for other things.
  • If I am with someone who is emotionally upset, I can extend care and compassion toward them whilst consciously relaxing and not allowing their intensity of emotion to overtake my own feelings. I can extend care and compassion without exhausting myself emotionally.
  • If I have a stack of tasks to engage in, I can consciously choose NOT to allow the mental tension to overtake my physical and emotional bodies. Instead I can deliberately set up one task at a time, and keep relaxed as I do each one. This way I get more done and expend less energy.

If we keep engaging with this type of ‘mindful ergonomics’ we create a win-win situation in our daily tasks. We get more done with less energy expended, so we have more energy available for other activities, enjoyments and pleasures. More than this the task that we are engaged in in the moment becomes more enjoyable and we tend to be more effective at doing it!

The practice
At the beginning of or during any given task, simply ask yourself the question “How much effort do I need to do this task?” Come back to your body, mind and emotions and see if you can release any unnecessary tension of effort that is eating up your energy when it does not need to be doing so. Seek out the balance point of applying enough energy to get what needs to be done done, and otherwise keeping relaxed.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Monday 15th & 29th May, 10-11am – Bi-monthly Monday morning meditation classes (East coast)

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings – Meditations for creating a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention – A six week course

Saturday 20th May, 2-5.30pm – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A 3.5 Hour Workshop

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat

 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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