A Butterfly in the Wind

Dear Integral Meditators,

What does inner strength mean to you, and how do you go about trying to obtain it? In this weeks article I offer a personal reflection on this, and how sometimes we can create unnecessary limits on our inner strength by believing that it can only come in a certain way.

Yours in the spirit of delicate strength,

Toby

 


A Butterfly in the Wind

What does inner strength mean to you, and how do you go about trying to obtain it?

Today I facilitated a Greeenworld workshop. One of the meditations involves travelling within the space of one’s creative imagination to an inner landscape where one meets an animal guide who provides some form of learning, support and friendship that can be integrated into one’s life in an appropriate way.
As my life is in a state of relative instability at the moment I was kind of hoping for a monolithic and strong animal, maybe like a bear or something. Instead when I went to my inner landscape I found myself in a meadow with a delicate butterfly. There was quite a strong wind in the meadow, and the butterfly basically spent its time with me showing me how it was able to bend and flow with the wind in order to keep its foothold on the branch or on my shoulder, despite the fact that its body were so fragile and its wings caught so easily in the breeze. It was a demonstration of resilience and adaptability evolving out of skill and flexibility rather than brute strength or sheer power.
Sometimes we long for strength, but sometimes the very way in which we conceive that strength gets in the way of our finding it. How might it be if we tried to express the strength of butterflies sometimes in our life rather than the strength of a bear or a buffalo?

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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Life-fullness

Dear Integral Meditators,

This mid-week article explores the idea of Life-fullness, if you enjoy it, I’ve recently re-named and re-calibrated my life coaching practice “Life-fullness – The Integral Coaching Program“. If you are interested in finding out more, just click on the link!

In the spirit of life-fullness,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia :

Special offer for 1:1 Coaching For January at Integral Meditation Asia  (Via skype or face to face)

THIS SUNDAY, 18th January,9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism

Sunday 1st February – Mindful Self-Leadership: Take Control of Your Life Direction and Wellbeing Through Awareness, Curiosity, Courage and Care


Life-fullness

One of the words that I have been thinking about over the last six months or so is life-fullness.  It has become so significant to me that I’ve even decided to name my life coaching program after it. What does it mean? Here are a few things that it means to me:

  1. To feel full of life – To feel life full means to allow myself to feel life fully, both the good and ‘bad’, to feel my strength and vulnerability, my virtues and your flaws. It means to care enough about the value of my experiences that I don’t reject or turn away from any of them.
  2. To mediate life flow  It means to allow life-force to flow through me, obstructing it as little as possible, and directing it as skilfully as possible toward the best possible inner and outer goals
  3. To be committed and interested in my life and the lives of others – This means to never as far as possible to ‘switch off’ or to become indifferent. If point one (to feel full of life) above is a commitment to caring, this third point is a commitment to being curious
  4. To participate – To practice life-fullness means to get stuck into life, not to be a mere spectator. It means to contribute, to commit, to take wise chances with (sometimes) unknown outcomes. It means to think about the life-values I hold on a deeper level and practice embodying them as best I can

To feel life, to mediate life, to be curious about life, to commit to participating meaningfully in my life; That is what life-fullness means to me. And these are the four aspects that I try and be mindful of in my own life-fullness practice.

When you think about the word life-fullness what sort of meanings and feelings emerge for you? If you could do one thing over the next few days to make your life more genuinely life-full what would it be?

Related Article: Curiosity, Courage and Care – Cornerstones of the Mindful Encounter

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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Detached Mindfulness, Engaged Mindfulness; Your Inner Scientist and Inner Friend

Dear Integral Meditators,

Engagement and detachment are two different skills. we need to develop both in order to become truly effective mindfulness practitioners. This weeks article explores how, enjoy!

Yours in the spirit of engaged detachment,

Toby

 


Detached Mindfulness, Engaged Mindfulness; Your Inner Scientist and Inner Friend

Detached mindfulness is like developing an inner scientist; it gives you the capacity to look at what is going on within you and in your life with objectivity and calm.
Engaged mindfulness is like developing an inner friend and companion; it gives you the capacity to experience what you are going through with empathy, care and understanding of yourself.

Recently I have been having a lot of strong emotions based around certain life changes that I am having. How can I use mindfulness in an integrated way to deal with these emotions and even make use of them? Let’s take anxiety around the future as an example to work with in this article.

Detached mindfulness (developing my inner scientist) involves me stepping back from the anxiety and observing it in an objective, dis-engaged manner; ‘the anxiety is in my mind but it is not me’, ‘my anxiety is like the clouds, my mind is like the sky, I am the sky, not the clouds’. This type of mindfulness enables me to temporarily reduce my anxiety and calm my body-mind, and the space that it creates in my mind may also enable me to come up with creative solutions and approaches to the challenges that are causing the anxiety.
However, what detached mindfulness does not do is process the actual emotion and anxiety itself, and if I use detached mindfulness only in my approach to my anxiety this may prolong and even make my anxiety worse by causing me to avoid and dis-associate from it in an unhealthy way. To work with my anxiety directly I need to practice engaged mindfulness.

Engaged mindfulness (developing my inner friend) involves me consciously recognizing, owning and experiencing my anxiety; feeling it fully, accepting the reality of it and allowing my body-mind to discharge the emotional force of my anxiety by experiencing it. ‘I now recognize I am anxious around the future’, ‘I can feel my body trembling with anxiety, and I allow this to happen’, ‘I accept I am anxious and take responsibility for it’, ‘I am anxious, but this is not a problem’.
If I practice only engaged mindfulness with my anxiety, I may find myself getting a little over-involved in the emotion, so combining it with detached mindfulness provides me with a ‘safety net’, a place of detachment and observation I can go to when I wish to take a break.

An integrated mindfulness approach involves me using both detached and engaged mindfulness together in order to deal with my anxiety optimally and effectively; I can accept, honour and engage my emotion whilst also having a place of inner calm and detachment I can go to anytime I wish to find temporary relief and perspective from the challenge.

Over the next few days, if you like, keep in mind the image of the inner scientist and the inner friend and practice using both engaged and detached mindfulness alternately as an integrated approach to the challenges you face.

Related article: Engaged Equanimity
© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 


 

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The Resilience of Gentleness

One of my meditation words I have taken for 2015 is self-care. Normally I take 2-3 words and focus upon them over the course of a year and let the themes and mysteries within them gradually reveal themselves. Meditation means to dwell deeply, so staying with just one, two or three words for a year and spending time each day investigating them deeply can be a beautiful and rewarding  meditation practice!

One of the things that I have observed about focusing upon and trying to practice self-care each day is that each time I take the time to do a little self-care, I start to feel a little more inwardly resilient; it becomes a little easier to feel happy, a little easier to be benevolent to others, a little easier to acknowledge and face the challenges in my life I might want to wish away.
This is one of the interesting things about developing a quality; when we develop it we find that we start to simultaneously develop its opposite quality in a way in which we may not have expected. Gentleness gives rise to strength; stillness gives rise to dynamism; focus gives rise to relaxation.This week or over the next few days, if you like, try doing something each day that is a deliberate and appropriate expression of self-care. See how you can grow your inner resilience by using the method of gentleness.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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 :

January 9.30am-12.30pm – Regenerating Your Inner Self – Integral Meditation Half – Day Retreat

Sunday 18th January,9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism

Sunday 1st February – Mindful Self-Leadership: Take Control of Your Life Direction and Wellbeing Through Awareness, Curiosity, Courage and Care


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The Top Meditation and Mindfulness Articles of 2014

Dear Integral Meditators,

I wrote over one hundred articles over the course of 2014. Of these  the top 10 most read meditation and mindfulness articles are listed below. Were they the best? Maybe, maybe not, but they were the most clicked on. I’ve certainly enjoyed revisiting them and taking a little time to digest the practical messages in them!

Nice recent article from Oliver Burkeman on New Years Resolutions with Making, the first he lists is meditation: “First, just start meditating already. You probably saw some of the eleventy-thousand studies in 2014 on how much difference a few minutes’ daily breath-following can make. Meditation could make you happier, more creativeless anxious, even less racist; it may conceivably ease your arthritisslow Alzheimer’sboost your learning ability and reduce cold symptoms. (Spiritual types might dispute that all this is the “point” of meditation, but they’re nice side-effects.)

Please note the Integral Meditation Day Retreat on the 11th January is now a half-day retreat from 9.30am-12.30pm, but still, no better way to start the new year as you mean to continue!

Yours in the spirit of appreciative reflection,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia :

January 9.30am-12.30pm – Regenerating Your Inner Self – Integral Meditation Half – Day Retreat

Sunday 18th January,9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism

Sunday 1st February – Mindful Self-Leadership: Take Control of Your Life Direction and Wellbeing Through Awareness, Curiosity, Courage and Care


The Top Meditation and Mindfulness Articles of 2014

1. Four Mindful Images for Stress Transformation

2. Non-Striving

3. Motivating Yourself to Meditate (and continue meditating)

4. Complementricizing Your Archetypes

5. If you feel properly you will think clearly

6. Finding Your Spiritual, Physical Home

7. Trusting Your Mind

8. When Your Energy Level Follows Your Mind and Imagination

9. The Three Purposes of Meditation

10.  Seriously Light/Lightly Serious

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

 

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The Stability of Uncertainty

Dear Toby,

I wrote the article below at the beginning of December, as the new year comes in I would like to wish you all the gift of the stability of uncertainty. If you have it, then whatever sort of year you have in store ahead of you, you will be fine.

Thanks for reading in 2014, I look forward to connecting with you all in 2015!

Toby



The Stability of Uncertainty

I seem to be going through a whole lot of difficult changes right now in both my personal and professional life. One thing that I’m observing as I do so is my ability to adapt to change and get over setbacks seems to be pretty good, I can feel nervous and lost one morning, but be through it by the afternoon. I can feel panicked by all the things that are not done and not fixed, and process that without falling apart. More than this, whilst I am not enjoying myself in the sense of laughing and cracking jokes, I do seem to be genuinely enjoying myself in the sense of welcoming the challenges and quietly and cautiously enjoying the process of putting solutions together, or at least accepting that there are no solutions when there are none.

I was reflecting last night on what it is that has made this recent process of change easier for me, despite it being in relative terms really quite difficult. The answer that came back to me was that my philosophy of life really seems to have become embedded in the perspective of uncertainty, in a good way. To know uncertainty is a part of your reality means that:

  • You are never expecting things to stay the same
  • You know you can never afford to ‘switch off’ (though you may choose of course to consciously relax and/or rest for periods!)
  • You accept striving to adapt and change with each day as normal and healthy
  • Failing, feeling bewildered, experiencing nervousness and fear are not shocking to you, they are just part of the process, not problems in themselves
  • You are aware that the solutions that you created today will be obsolete tomorrow, and you are expecting to have to be creative in life
  • When you really relax into uncertainty you also become aware that as many good things come from it as bad things, if you can open to then and see them!

When you have an attitude that resists change that wants things to always be the same, this attitude rubs against the natural processes of reality, creates a lot of friction and upset simply because we want and desire things to be one way (certain and fixed) when in reality they are fluid and changeable.
So, ironically I am led to the conclusion that my relative resilience, and speed in bouncing back from the obstacles and challenges in my life is due to my ability to rest in the solidity of uncertainty; the capacity to rest in a view of the world that is compatible with the reality of the world itself, and therefore creates an inner experience of confidence in my ability to cope and thrive in the face of what is going on.
To rest confidently in the solidity of uncertainty I also realize that my most valuable asset is my mind, my ability to think my way clearly things through to the best of my ability. What is the best way to optimize my mind? To be mindful, that is to bring a high degree of conscious awareness to each moment of the uncertainty of my life.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 


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Honesty, Release and redirection -Three Levels of Non-Judgment

Dear Integral Meditators,

Non-judgment is a word that it often used in mindfulness and meditation circles, but what does it really mean? I give my own thoughts on this below.

In the spirit of non-judgment,

Toby


Honesty, Release and redirection -Three Levels of Non-Judgment

Within certain types of mindfulness and meditation practice a lot of emphasis is placed on the practice of non-judgment, that is to say observing what we are seeing or experiencing without making a snap value assesment about it. Here are three levels to consider in any practice of non-judgment that will afford a slightly deeper and more complete experience of it, as well as avoiding a few of the pitfalls that it is easy to make.

Stage one: Recognizing you have made a judgment
Before you let go of a judgment, you need to admit and acknowledge you have actually made a judgment. Spelling out judgments that make us uncomfortable is often not easy;

  • I feel guilty because I am angry with my partner or child
  • I have a racial or cultural prejudice against this person
  • I’m scared and covering it by being aggressive
  • I am jealous of my colleague and their success

If you try and jump to a non-judgmental space before this first stage, you can easily simply use the practice of non-judgment as a way of denying or repressing your judgments, which will actually decrease your capacity for self-awareness and your ability to release and transform your judgments.
You might call this stage honesty, as this stage entails looking nakedly at what is there and admitting what we see and find.

Stage two: Non-Judgment
Having fully acknowledged the judgments that you actually have, you can then spend time accepting and releasing the judgment:

  • I accept and release my guilt for being angry with my partner
  • I accept the reality of my cultural prejudice, and let it go
  • I note and release my aggression and insecurity
  • I note the jealousy that I experience toward my colleague, and whilst acknowledging and owning that feeling, I note that my deeper identity is not that feeling

You might call this stage release, as it involves the actual experience of letting go of the judgment.

Stage three: Better judgment
The experience of non-judgment is a very worthwhile experience in and of itself, and it can lead to some very relaxing states of mind in meditation (See my recent article on the Man or Woman of No Rank), but I believe that one of the main functions of practicing non-judgment is so that we can then replace our habitual and unconscious judgments withbetter conscious judgments. Better judgments come from questions such as:

  • What is a better way to work with my anger toward my partner or child?
  • What perspectives can help me I evolve beyond my cultural prejudice?
  • Can I find a creative, non-destructive use for my insecurity?
  • Can I care deeply about my own professional success without being automatically jealous of my colleague’s achievements?

You might call this stage redirection, as the practice of better judgment leads to the redirection of energy previously caught up in negative judgments into new and life-affirming directions.

As we move towards the new year, what are the judgments that you would like to practicehonesty, release and re-direction around in your life?

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 


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Keeping the Magic

Dear Integral Meditators,

From myself and Integral Meditation Asia here’s wishing you all the very best for the Winter Solstice and Christmas seasons!

Toby


Keeping the Magic

I’m sitting in my parents’ house writing this article the day before Christmas eve, I’ve spent the afternoon with my daughter and her cousins around me getting excited about the presents under the Christmas tree, the old debate as to whether Santa Claus is real has been aired, the attempt to co-erce the parents into disclosing the contents of the presents has been attempted and resisted.
For the kids the world is still magical, wondrous, exciting, enchanted, but what about the adults? For myself my mind is full of the challenging contents of the past year and how it will continue into the next, there is always the temptation to feel jaded, ordinary, worn out. How can we keep the magic in our life, the sense of excitement, the wonder and the youngness of our mind as our bodies gradually get older? Here are a few things that have kept me in touch with the magic and wonder over the last week or so.

  • Firstly I have understood from the Big history project that the entire content of our universe (which is still expanding at the rate of light years per second) originated from a space smaller than the size of an atom. If that isn’t magical and mind blowing I don’t know what is.
  • When I look into the eyes of my friends, my family, people I have known for a long time and people that I meet only momentarily, I realize I am staring into a warm, living space of immeasurable depth and mystery. Sure I experience it most deeply with people I love,  but it never ceases to surprise me how it happens with people I connect and exchange a smile with just once, a momentary exchange of goodwill and humanity
  • When I reflect on the last year in with friends I am drawn back again and again how the difficulties that I have faced have been the platform for my greatest learning’s and growth. There is something retrospectively magical and hilarious about how all the things that I resist and wish away as they are arising change magically into things that I am glad happened/are still happening and feel grateful for
  • There are always opportunities to experience deep, personal love, to give it and receive it, it is always magical and it makes all the difference

What are the experiences, reasons and things that help you keep connected to the magic and the wonder in your life?

Related article and meditation: Renewal

Check out the Upcoming workshops and events at Integral Meditation Asia
© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 


 

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Mindful of Our Conflicting Desires

Dear Integral Meditators,

These days I enjoy my desires a lot, but I didn’t always do so, because they have the power to make me so uncomfortable. The article below explores how you can mindfully explore the challenge of your desires; how to become more comfortable with them and start to tap their potential.

In the spirit of clarity around desire,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia :

JANUARY 2015

Sunday 11th January 9.30am-3.30pm – Regenerating Your Inner Self – Integral Meditation Day Retreat

Sunday 18th January,9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism


Mindful of Our Conflicting Desires

Wanting both excitement and security,

Stability and creativity,
Riches and a simple life,
Success and the easy life,
Deep love without pain,
To do what you wish to do in life but not wanting to be judged by others,
Freedom without responsibility.
A lot of the conflict that we experience in life comes from the fact that we have conflicting or contradictory desires that create lot of inner confusion; we cant let go of either desire, so we end up not enjoying either of the options. For example we may want the pleasure of a deep loving connection, but feel anxious about the way in which it makes us feel vulnerable and open. If we open to the love we don’t enjoy it because the anxiety kills it, but if we don’t open to it, we feel miserable because we are unfulfilled. It can feel like a lose-lose situation.

When I was being trained as a monk, the received wisdom seem to suggest that the solution to this was to simply give up desire, which can give rise to a certain amount of inner peace, but it also feels like a bit of a cop-out. To give up desires for temporary periods can be very healthy, but to give them up altogether is surely an avoidance of both our responsibilities, and much of the meaning and pleasure of a human life.

Another way is to be mindful that each of our desires has a challenge associated with it, and to open to that challenge.

Because I wish to love I have to navigate and accept the anxiety that comes with that open heartedly.
Because I wish to be successful in a certain endeavour I will have to accept the hardship, effort, fatigue and short term failure that may come with it.
Because I wish for a more creative life, I have to open intelligently to the relative lack of certainty that this involves.

Choose and commit consciously to the desire that you truly want. Accept the challenge and burden that comes with it. Enjoy both.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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The Man or woman of No Rank

 

A lot of the suffering, pain and confusion that we experience in our lives comes from the attachment that we have to the roles that we habitually play in our life. The man or woman of no rank is a meditation technique that allows us to:

  • Become more aware of this attachment and over-identification we have with roles
  • Enables us to let go of them and see that we are not these labels
  • Helps us use these labels and identities effectively and appropriately in our life

You can do this contemplation in a formal meditation, or you can do it just sitting casually on your sofa or any quiet space…

Think about the roles and identities you play in your work, observe your identification with them for a while, then set them aside, temporarily let them go, realize you are not this role or label.

Extend the same process to:

  • Yourself as a partner, husband, wife
  • Yourself as a son or daughter
  • As a father or mother
  • As a person from this country, or area
  • From this social class
  • From this level of education
  • From yourself as a man, or as a woman
  • Explore any other areas where you have a strong identity to a role; ‘big strong guy’, ‘the shy type’, ‘the peacemaker’, the ‘fortunate one’ or ‘unfortunate’ one, and so on; any place where you see that you are attached or very identified with a role or label.

Step by step strip away your roles and labels. Rest in the space where you are simply a man or woman of no rank, just a person, not better or worse than anyone else, equal with the highest and the lowest of them all. Sit in a space where you are just a human being, maybe even just a ‘being’. Live this space deeply for a while.
When you return to the world, of course playing roles is inevitable, but if you practice being the man or woman of no rank you can liberate yourself from these labels, and the discover that you can use them consciously to explore and fulfill your own potential, be of service to the people around you and the world.
© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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