Mindfully Expanding into Tension, Challenges and Growth

Dear Integral Meditors,

I’m keeping it very practical with this weeks article, it is a way of using your body awareness to enhance the way you approach emotions and situations you find challenging, enjoy!

Quite a lot of meditation and mindfulness courses to enjoy over the next few weeks, starting this Tuesday evening with the Meditation skills class. This is then followed by the 2nd opportunity to attend the Greenworld Meditation workshop on Sunday 2nd of March. On that same day there is a Walking Meditation workshop in the morning.

Finally, date for your diary, the Main March workshop will be Meditations for Integrating your Ego, Soul and Spirit which I should have the full write up for by the next newsletter.

Yours in the spirit of expansion,

Toby


Upcoming Meditation Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia 

Tuesday 25th February, 7.30-8.30pm: Monthly Meditation Skills Class and Coaching Session

Sunday 2nd March, 8-10.30am: An Introduction to Walking Meditation Workshop

Sunday 2nd March, 2.30-6pm: Meditations for Connecting to the Greenworld – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism

Sunday 16th March, 2.30-6pm: Meditations for Integrating your Ego, Soul and Spirit (Full details out shortly)


Mindfully Expanding into Tension, Challenges and Growth

This is a simple but profound somatic mindfulness exercise designed to change our perception and experience of threatening and difficult energies and situations.

Normally when we experience challenging emotions, difficult situations, anxiety and so forth our fundamental reaction is to energetically ‘contract’ away from it. This is experienced as a kind of energetic tightening or contraction within our chest.
The idea is to practice feeling the anxiety and rather than unconsciously contracting away from it, to consciously expand into it.

Step 1: Bring to mind a situation that is causing you anxiety, fear, discomfort etc in your life. Could be a relationship, a financial uncertainty, whatever.

Step 2: Observe the instinct that your body-mind has to contract away from the difficult energy. This is experienced most often as a tightening in the centre of the chest. It is almost like an effort to turn away from or deny the issue. Take a bit of time here to see and experience this as clearly as you can.

Step 3: Now, whilst holding the same situation in mind consciously relax/de-contract the energy in your heart. As you breathe out feel your energy opening and expanding into the circumstance and the feelings surrounding it. By doing this, invite your body-mind to be friendly with the challenge you are facing. Do this for a few breaths or even a few minutes. Observe how this simple expanding into, rather than contracting away from changes the dynamic of your experience. Get comfortable with the discomfort.

Step 4: Now ask yourself the question “What is it that this situation offering me? What opportunities for growth and creativity are there?”

I was a reading Harry Potter to my daughter last night, and Professor Dumbledore said to Harry whilst they were in a dark cave, crossing a still lake filled with dead bodies “It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more”.
If we make a habit of expanding into our own challenges rather than contracting away from them, perhaps we might find the same kind of thing?

© 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


Sample feedback from meditation coaching client:

I was a relative mess when going to see Toby. Talking to someone always helps, but Toby’s easy “beginner’s” meditation sessions were a great way to control the anxiety I was suffering. I also found Toby relating his personal experiences to my own as a great way of telling me that I wasn’t alone. I would recommend this style of coaching to other people. Whilst Toby has had a different background to most of us, he is an “every day” guy which helps one relate to their own issues and makes the “strange new world” of meditation, easier to approach. Toby is a professional operator – BW

Click HERE to find out more about Toby’s 1:1 Coaching Services

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Meditating with the Mirror Self

Dear Integral Meditators,

This mid-week article outlines a creative meditation practice on an aspect of self that I think of as the “mirror self”. One of its main purposes is to stimulate the potential of our imaginative capacity to effect real and dynamic changes in our life.
The meditation is an example of what I have been calling a Greenworld meditation practice, so here is a final reminder of the Greenworld Meditation Workshop I will be running this Sunday 23rd February, and repeating due to demand on Sunday 2nd March.

Below the article you can find full details of the Walking Meditation that I will be running, also on the 2nd March, 8-1030am.

Finally, if the article below looks a little long for you, then you might just enjoy watching the three minute reference to the ‘mirror world’ in the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, in the scene entitled “up is down” ;-)

Yours in the spirit of the creative imagination,

Toby


Meditating with the Mirror Self in the Greenworld

This is a technique for connecting to a primal and dynamic aspect of ourself that is mythic and imaginative in nature. Its purpose is to experience a new dimension of ourself that is unfettered by the habits of our conventional personality and that offers us a new level of creative participation in our world.
To say that the mirror self is mythic and imaginative in nature is not the same as saying that it has no objective reality, but it is to say that it exists within the reality of the creative imagination.

What or where is the Greenworld?
The mirror self resides in Greenworld. The Greenworld is a place that exists within the primal imagination of the planetary being and group consciousness. It is not so much a physical world so much as an energetic one. It is a place that all of us participate in to a greater or lesser degree in our dreams and imagination. However, rather than being merely a by-product of our imagination it is rather an actual  place that we contact and visit through controlled and conscious use of our imagination.
It has various names in the different spiritual traditions of the world. In Celtic Greek and Roman tradition it is sometimes called the Underworld. In the Tibetan Tantric tradition (which I originally trained in extensively) it is called Dakini Land. It is said to be the land of nature spirits and spiritual beings of various sorts, as well as the land where we may find the spirit of our ancestors.
You might also say that it is a world that has been contacted by artists thru-out the ages for for imaginative inspiration.
I call it the Greenworld. I have been engaged in meditations that directly or indirectly involve it for about 15 years now, and it is a practice that I hold very dear to my heart.

What is the mirror self?
The mirror self, simply put is that aspect of ourself that resides in the Greenworld right now. Since the Greenworld does not exist within the confines of conventional time and space, you could say that our mirror self is ever present, simply waiting to be discovered by us.
The Greenworld is almost like a pure inner world that mirrors out outer world. Hence the self that we meet there we call the ‘mirror self’.
Again, you won’t gain a satisfactory experience of your mirror self by looking for rational and linear ways of connecting to it, for it is connected to by means of the creative imagination. In the integral development of consciousness rationality and the creative imagination are not seen as contradictory to each other, rather as complementary capacities that we can develop together within our consciousness.

The meditation 

The meditation is rather simple:

  • Sit quietly. Be aware your body-mind and bring it to a place of relative stillness by focusing on the breathing for a short while. Then focus your intention on the desire to connect to your mirror self within the Greenworld.
  • Now imagine that you look down between your feet, and see there appears to be another, upside-down you beneath you. It is as if you were sitting on a mirror; the soles of your feet touch the soles of his/her feet. As you look down, s/he looks up.
  • See the form of your mirror self. Likely s/he looks like you but different. Her clothes may come from a much earlier time in history. His body is solid and yet also luminous and radiant. You may notice particular colours and energies around and within her body. Notice and currents of energy that you may feel rising from your mirror self through the soles of your feet.
  • Now imagine that your world ‘flips’ upside down, so that you become your mirror self. Experience yourself as your mirror self. What is it like? How does your body feel? What is the mode of thinking and feeling in your mind?
  • What you are ready ‘flip’ back again and return to the outer world. Take the experiences and perspectives that you gained from your mirror self into your daily life. If you like you can keep an awareness of your mirror self by imagining him/her beneath you whenever you look down, the soles of your feet in contact with hers!

© 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


An Introduction to Walking Meditation Workshopkuhonbutsu-feetDate: Sunday 2nd March 2014

Time: 8.00-10.30am

Location: Singapore Botanic Gardens, meet by the steps at the Exit of the Botanic Gardens MRT next to the Nursery Gate of the Botanic Gardens (click on link above for map!)

One line summary: Learn how to practice meditation and mindfulness as a walking practice.

Overview: Increasingly many people are becoming aware of a need to find a sense of inner calm, peace and centeredness in order to cope effectively with the stresses and strains of modern life. However, it seems equally difficult to find the quality time for a practice such as meditation or mindfulness that can actually help us to accomplish this.

A solution to this can be found in walking meditation. All of us do a certain amount of walking in our life. By learning mindful walking we can combine the time that we spend walking with time spent cultivating our inner peace, stability and happiness. It is a win-win situation!

This 2.5 hour workshop will be located in the peaceful surroundings of the Botanic Gardens,

The RESULTS that you can expect to gain from engaging in this workshop are:

  • Confidence in practising the basic fundamentals of walking meditation and how to integrate it into your daily routine
  • Knowledge of the technical theory behind walking meditation practice
  • The ability to connect to positive mind-states as well as greater levels of physical energy whilst walking

The level of this workshop: Suitable for beginners, or more experienced meditators looking to integrate mindful walking into their repertoire.

Basic Workshop Structure:

First hour: Warm up, Introduction to basic walking meditation techniques for awareness of good posture, developing relaxed concentration and inner silence/spaciousness. Time for Q&A.
Second hour: Integrating elements of thinking, feeling and imagination into walking meditation in order to generate and enhance both our physical energy as well as positive mind states. Time for Q&A
Final half-hour: Integrating awareness of nature and the natural landscape into our walking meditation in order to enhance positive energy exchange between ourself and our environment, and receive healing and balancing energy from natural elements of the landscape such as trees and water, sun and sky.

In addition the class itself you will also receive: Backup notes covering the basic meditation techniques covered in the class

Feedback from past walking meditation workshops:

1: ”The outdoor walking helped me easily connect to nature on a holistic scale and feel energized nurtured and a strong sense of belonging (perfect timing) it put things into perspective. I felt incredibly at ease and peace.”

2. ”I was amazed at how simple Toby’s steps are, and how ‘portable’ walking meditation can be as a practical, everyday energy balancer or enhancer. You can literally take it wherever you go, wherever you are …in the park, on the beach, in a busy airport, and even in the confines of your own home. An instant, private oasis of tranquillity at your feet!”

Cost of Workshop: $65 per person

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE WALKING MEDITATION CLASS BY CREDIT CARD

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-9675027

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Re-awakening to Your Vital, Creative and Spiritual Energy

Dear Integral Meditators,

What are you looking to get from your meditation practice? Different types of meditation practice lead to different results. This weeks article looks at the aims of Greenworld meditation, and outlines a simple technique that you can do to enjoy some of the benefits of this type of practice, most prominently a re-awakening of your vital, creative and spiritual energy.

A couple of quick reminders and one announcement. Firstly for the upcoming Greenworld Mediation Workshop on Sunday 23rd February, if you enjoy the article, then it would definitely be worth  considering coming along. If you are not able to make the 23rd, then there will be a second opportunity to participate on Sunday 2nd March, from 2.30-6pm.

Secondly, on 2nd March as well I will be facilitating an from 8-10.30pm Introduction to Walking Meditation Workshop in the morning at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, everyone is most welcome to attend!

Yours in the spirit of inner vitality,

Toby


Classes For February at Integral Meditation Asia

Sunday 23rd February, 2.30-6pm: Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism

Tuesday 25th February, 7.30-8.30pm: Monthly Meditation Skills Class and Coaching Session 

Sunday 2nd March, 8-10.30am:  An Introduction to Walking Meditation Workshop


Re-awakening to Your Vital, Creative and Spiritual Energy

I was talking to someone who regularly attends my workshops the other day about the upcoming “Meditations for Connecting to the Greenworld” workshop. She had been under the impression from the title that the point of a Greenworld meditation would be something to do with being eco-friendly, recycling and so forth.
Actually the Greenworld meditation practice has nothing directly to do with these types of thing, although practising it will in all probability change quite radically the way in which you see yourself in relation to the Planet and to Nature.

So, what is the main purpose of Greenworld meditation? 
Greenworld meditation functions to connect us with a tradition of spiritual practice that has been practiced by people all over the planet for millennia. It is a perennial form of meditation practice, that is to say that it has been long lasting, recurrent and continuing throughout human history. It is a spiritual practice that does not belong to any religion.
Greenworld meditation puts us in imaginative contact with the forces of life within the Planet, and by relating to these living forces we are able to:

  • Heal and regenerate our own vital (sexual), creative and spiritual  self.
  • Participate in the returning to health of the Planetary being/Mother Earth, and play our part in the healing and regeneration of the vital, creative and spiritual energies within nature.

How does Greenworld meditation do this? It works primarily by using our creative imagination to put us in touch with the living and energies of the planetary being and encouraging us to participate in those energies in a fulfilling and health giving way.
The nice thing about the Greenworld meditations is that they are essentially very simple, but once activated they effect changes and transformations within us that are often profound and, subtly or not so subtly life changing.

A Simple Greenworld Meditation
This meditation aims is to connect our own vital, creative and spiritual energy to the same three energies within the planetary being, so that they flow through us freely, and we in turn are empowered to participate in them fully.

Stage 1: Sit comfortably. Be aware of a direction in front of you and behind you, to your left and to your right, above and below. See and feel yourself in the centre of the six directions and spend a short while stilling your body-mind in this centre point.
Stage 2: Visualize yourself in a landscape within nature that you associate with healing, health and regeneration. Sense the Planetary being beneath you as a living force and energy. See the energy from the planetary being flowing up into your body through the soles of your feet, filling your whole body with living energy and light. In particular see three energy centres being filled and energized:

  • The middle point in your lower abdomen , the centre of your body’s vital, relational and sexual energy
  • The point within the centre of your chest, the centre of your body-minds creative and higher imaginative energy
  • The point in the centre of the brain as the centre of your body-minds higher mental and spiritual energy.

Be aware now of the sky and stars above you. See their light and energy coming down through your crown and energizing your head, heart and abdomen with their energy.
Sit comfortably and allow the vital, creative and spiritual energies of the Planetary being below and the sky and stars above feed, heal and re-awaken your own vital, creative and spiritual energies.
This can be done as a short 5 minute energization exercise, or as a longer more contemplative one where you spend a few minutes focusing on the vitality of each of your three energy centres.

I’ll be writing an article mid-week next week on taking this one stage further by engaging in a practice called Connecting to the Mirror Self in the Greenworld.

© 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


Sample feedback from Meditation coaching client in 2014:

“I found the sessions were easy to follow and at the same time effective. The principle or technique taught was pretty pragmatic/logical, hence easy to understand and practice.
I have seen a good improvement on my approach and handling of day to day ups and downs, since I do the daily meditation at home.
I would definitely recommend other people to attend the sessions.” – DL

Click HERE to find out more about Toby’s 1:1 Coaching Services

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What is Mindfulness? – Remembrance, Penetration, Assimilation +1

Dear Integral Meditators,

This mid-week article attempts to give a really practical working definition of mindfulness that will enable you to see how it might be applied to multiple circumstances in your own life.

 

Yours mindfully,

Toby


What is Mindfulness? – Remembrance, Penetration, Assimilation +1 

What is mindfulness?

To be more present is the most common generic answer that you might receive when you ask such a question. What I want to do in this article is to give a clear working definition of mindfulness and its process, and talk a little about its applications. This working definition has four parts.

Part 1: Remembrance
First of all to be mindful of something means to keep it in mind. Therefore if you want to practice mindfulness you need to be able to develop the skill of being able to remember, or keep in mind that which you wish to be mindful of over an extended period of time, without forgetting it. To take the simple example of the breathing, if you wish to practice mindfulness of the breath you need to be able to focus on the breathing without forgetting it!

Part 2: Penetration
So, why bother being mindful of the breathing (to stay with this example). The purpose of being mindful of the breathing is to gain an intimate knowledge of it, to understand it truly, or to put it another way, to penetrate it. If you are mindful of the breathing for a while you start to discover its nuances; how it reflects and describes your emotional state, how it relates to how you feel about your body, how it reacts to the different thoughts as they pass through your mind. Previously the breathing seemed like an uninteresting object. Now as a result of being mindful of it, it begins to reveal its secrets and wisdom to us. The penetration of our object is the second part and goal of mindfulness practice.

Part 3: Assimilation
Stage three of mindfulness practice is to assimilate the knowledge and wisdom that your remembrance and penetration have given to you, and to make them a part of your life. When we discover the wealth of information and knowledge that our breathing is giving us about our emotions, thoughts and body, we can then start to use that knowledge to do things like:

  • Treat our emotions with more compassion and positive control
  • Help us to deal with stress and anxiety more wisely and detect it earlier
  • Help us carry our body in a more relaxed and confident way
  • To open our mind out to our reality even when we may feel like closing it.

This third stage of assimilation is the process of learning to apply your mindful insights in a way that has real, tangible effects on your daily life.

Stage 4: Expression 
The fourth stage of mindfulness practice is to then demonstrate and communicate the essential energy and wisdom that you have gained into your daily life. To demonstrate to others what it means to be mindful of your breathing and the benefits that come. You can do this just by example, or there may be some form of formal way in which you teach it.

So, there you go, Mindfulness = the process of remembrance, penetration, assimilation and expression. The nice thing about this definition is that you can use it to develop mindful penetration of any number of different objects. For example there are 33 different objects that I outline in the “One minute mindfulness” section of my meditation blog. Once you know what mindfulness consists of you can even create your own mindfulness practices to help you accomplish the goals that you have in your own 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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From Distraction to Intuitive Imagination (Meditation secrets for running a business)

Dear Integral Meditators,

Meditation and mindfulness help us to overcome our distractions, but they also activate deeper and higher aspects of our active and dynamic mind. This weeks article explores one way in which this is so and outlines a technique you can use in your daily life.

Finally, I have placed another coaching feedback at the bottom of the newsletter for those that may be interested in gaining some insight in to what the sort of results are that come from doing coaching work with me.

Yours in the spirit of intuitive imagination,

Toby


Classes For February at Integral Meditation Asia:

Thursday 13th February, 7.30-8.30pm: Advanced and Intermediate Integral Meditation Class and Coaching

Sunday 23rd February, 2.30-6pm: Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism

Tuesday 25th February, 7.30-8.30pm: Monthly Meditation Skills Class and Coaching Session


From Distraction to Intuitive Imagination (Meditation secrets for running a business)

Meditation starts as a process of reducing the distractions and fantasies of the everyday mind and moving into a space of stillness.
As we progress in meditation however, a new form of intuitive activity and imagination starts to emerge from the stillness. It is different in nature from everyday distractions and has great meaning and practical use.
This “intuitive imagination” differs from the everyday distraction of the ego in that:

  • Our everyday distractions are basically a combination of the events of our life in combination with out egos fantasies about them.
  • These everyday ego fantasies/distractions have the nature of a conceptual struggle to arrive at solutions to the challenges of our life.
  • Our intuitive imagination emerges from a place of stillness and awareness and comes up with succinct images and ideas, mostly effortlessly, that inform us as to what the best creative solutions to our life challenges may be.
  • In short our distracted ego struggles, our intuitive imagination flows.
  • When our intuitive imagination is functioning effectively, it is not that the ego is no longer present; it is just that it is in a state of relative harmony and balance. It no longer trying to be in control of everything, but is happy to be along for the ride.

One example of the way in which I use my own experience of intuitive imagination is in the everyday running of my company, Integral Meditation Asia. As fundamentally a one man show I basically have to do everything, from accounts to content creation, to marketing, to website, to coaching to class teaching. On top of this is also childcare and of course the everyday running of a household (after ecstasy the laundry as the saying goes, followed by more laundry…).
So basically each day I have a multitude of business activities that all seem to be asking me to do them “right now”, and my poor confused ego does not know which one to pick! So here is what I do:

  1. Stilling: I sit down and still my mind for a few moments
  2. Considering the totality: I bring to my awareness the totality of my business activities, and my feelings about those activities, I let my intuitive mind just flow over this totality, taking it in
  3. Asking the question: I then ask the question “what is the most important activity that I can do for my business today?” I don’t try to figure this question out, I just sit with it with a sense of curiosity
  4. Receiving the image: After what is often a very short while my intuitive imagination will feed me an image of the activity that MAY be the most worthwhile thing to do, but at the very least will be productive, and if I do it mindfully it will generally be enjoyable.
  5. Repeat if necessary: I then do that activity. If later in the day I face a similar dilemma, I repeat the process.

The above example illustrates the way in which I use my intuitive imagination in my everyday work. It is also the way in which I create most of my art work.
To begin practicing it in your own life you simply need to select the area of your life that you want to work with, and apply to it stages 1-4 of the process I have outlined above, repeating as and when necessary.
© 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


Sample feedback from Meditation and Shadow coaching client in 2014:

“I got more than I was expecting!  I thought I was coming for some generic meditation training, to help me focus and meditate more effectively.  What I’ve had is deep emotional coaching, a much better understanding of what meditation is about and how it can be brought into day to day life to help deal with whatever emotions come up.  In addition I’ve now had 3 very different meditations to practice, all tailored to my personal needs.
Would you recommend coaching with Toby to other people, and for what reason?
I already have!  Because I’m sure everyone gets very personal attention and the coaching is tailored to individual needs, it feels very flexible and creative.”

Click HERE to find out more about Toby’s 1:1 Coaching Services

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Finding Your Spiritual, Physical Home

Dear Integral Meditators,

Where is your spiritual home? The midweek article below explores one answer to this.

Quick reminder for those who may be interested in the “Meditations for Connecting to the Greenworld” workshop, tomorrow Thursday February 6th is the last day to catch the early bird offer.

Yours in the centre,

Toby


Finding Your Spiritual, Physical Home

What do you think of when you think of the words ‘my spiritual home’?

One way of relating to this question is as the place on earth, the geographical location where you feel most deeply connected and nurtured, perhaps the place where you were raised, or a place where you “found yourself”.

A classical meditators way of relating to this question is to identify the formless timeless dimension of existence, beyond all places and locations as our spiritual home, the place where we find God or Enlightenment.

Within the path of the Greenworld there is a different answer; home is simply in the centre of the six directions. Wherever you go, wherever you are, there is a direction in front, a direction behind, a direction to the left, a direction to the right, a direction above and a direction below. Your spiritual home is in the centre of these, “wherever you go, there you are!”

This may all sound quite obvious, but it is also very profound. The centre of the six directions is a place that you can recognize and rest in at any time, regardless of whatever else is going on in your life.

Sitting or standing simply recognize the direction in front, and behind, to the left and to the right, above and below. Feel your body mind and soul in the centre of that space. Looking for home? There you are.

© 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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Six Types of Inner Stillness

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at the topic of stillness and how we can cultivate it, both in general and specifically in meditation. Even when we are busy, there is  a certain stillness present in each moment of our life that we can tap into if we know how!

For those interested in the Meditations for Connecting to the Greenworldworkshop, a quick reminder that the early bird price is still available up until this Thursday 6th February.

Finally, I’ve placed a sample feedback from a 1:1 coaching client beneath the article below, just to give those who may be interested an idea of the sort of experiences and results that come from the sort of coaching work that I do with people.

Yours in the spirit of stillness,

Toby


Classes For February at Integral Meditation Asia:

Thursday 13th February, 7.30-8.30pm: Advanced and Intermediate Integral Meditation Class and Coaching

Sunday 23rd February, 2.30-6pm: Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism

Tuesday 25th February, 7.30-8.30pm: Monthly Meditation Skills Class and Coaching Session


Six Types of Inner Stillness

We talk about meditation as a way of stilling the mind, but how many different types of stillness are there? Like the proverbial cake you can cut stillness up in different ways, but here are six that I find experientially useful.
The first three can be experienced and cultivated by anyone, the second three take a little bit of work in meditation to get a handle on, but they are worth being aware of even if you aren’t quite there yet, so that when you do get there you can recognize them!

  1. Stillness after activity – This is the stillness that we notice when we cease doing a busy activity, or when we pause in between tasks during the day. Normally we experience these stillness’s as incidental and perhaps don’t pay them much attention, just going onto the next activity. However by acknowledging these spaces and relaxing into them when they occur, we can actually increase our daily experience of stillness quite dramatically without any extra effort.
  2. The stillness we find in landscape – When we sit outside with the sky above us and a landscape around us, even if there is activity in that landscape there is a space of stillness that comes from simply becoming aware of an extended horizon around us, the solidity of the earth beneath us, the life of the world around us and the space of the sky above us. Just sitting in the still point within these four aspects of our surroundings.
  3. The stillness between thoughts – You could also call this the stillness that arises from the absence of thoughts. We connect to this mental stillness by simply noticing the spaces in between our thoughts, relaxing into them and extending them. When we become good at this we create a space in our mind where there is an relaxed, open stillness undisturbed by thoughts.
  4. Luminous stillness – This is a stillness that comes from resting in the experience of stillness for a while in meditation. If for example you were to rest in the stillness between thoughts for a time there starts to be a feeling within the body initially, then the mind, of bliss and light. The quality of the stillness becomes an stillness pervaded by a tangible energy of bliss in the body and mind. It is a kind of living stillness. Needless to say this is very relaxing and regenerative.
  5. Primal stillness – This is an experience of stillness that lies beyond luminous stillness. When the physical and mental bliss subsides you are left with a primal experience of stillness where you feel you are in an ‘empty’ place, outside of time and space. (See stage three of the five levels of meditation practice).
  6. Non-dual stillness – This type of stillness simply means that you have gotten to a stage where you can recognize and be partly resting in any one of the six types of stillness above whilst also engaged in some form of activity. So activity and stillness begin to come together to form a single, non-dual experience as you go about your life.

So, why cultivate stillness? I’d like to end this article with a quote from Herman Hesse that I think answers that question: “Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself”.
© 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


Sample feedback from Meditation and Shadow coaching client in 2014:

“The lovely, simple techniques you shared have enabled me to be honest with, and about, myself in such a way that is really liberating. I’ve been surprised at how quickly I’ve experienced the benefits….  I love the honesty and practicality of this process and the fact that it’s leading me towards a better understanding and acceptance of myself and ultimately (I hope) to tapping into my full creative potential – in whatever form that may take.”

Q: Would you recommend coaching with Toby to other people, and for what reason?
“Yes, definitely. You created a safe, supportive environment, were willing to share your own personal experiences, were able to listen and tune into what I was struggling to articulate. I felt like you allowed the sessions to take the form they needed to take rather than sticking to a pre-set formula, which was really helpful because it gave me the opportunity to share and ask questions without feeling that I was scuppering an agenda. The fact that you record the sessions is very helpful.”

Click HERE to find out more about Toby’s 1:1 Coaching Services

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Five Inner Skills we develop Through Meditation

Dear Toby,

What skills are you trying to develop as a meditator, and how would you measure your meditation practice as successful or not? In the article below I outline five fundamental skills that need to be developed equally in my opinion in order to make our meditation practice successful and qualified.
Although it is only my opinion, these five skills are those that I have observed are common to virtually all forms of meditation school, and hence they can act as a kind of template for building our own meditation practice making it as balanced and rounded as possible.

Enjoy!

Toby


Five Inner Skills we develop Through Meditation

This weeks’ article is kind of the companion version to last weeks on theFive Stages of Meditation Practice . Whereas the five stages focuses on the general development of a meditation practice from beginners to advanced, the five skills outlined below are generally developed together in tandem with each other as one progresses through different levels of meditation practice.

Skill 1: Stilling and focusing the mind
This is perhaps both the first and the last of meditation skills; learning to still the thinking mind and moving into a space of inner stillness. From this stillness we can then move into a state of focused activity in meditation. Stilling the mind forms the basis of any subsequent meditation practice and gives us access to temporary peace of mind whenever we wish to find it in our daily life.

Skill 2: Developing ones creative imagination skills
This means developing the ability to consciously and deliberately create and visualize meaningful images so that we can see, feel, smell hear and taste them within our inner vision.
It also means sensitizing our inner vision to any spontaneous images, thoughts and information’s that  may start to pop into our mind during meditation that have some form of meaning. This second aspect of developing our creative imagination means learning to distinguish between random, meaningless distractions and images that have meaning and value.

Skill 3:  Healing and regeneration
This is the skill of being able to connect to that which is wounded, damaged and in need of healing within ourself and help it to become well.

Skill 4: Directing energy
This is the skill of learning to be sensitive to the subtle energy in our own body and within our environment. By becoming sensitive in this way we can gradually learn to consciously direct this energy in ways that is beneficial to ourself and others.

Skill 5: Mediation
This skill means developing the capacity to connect to ‘higher’ or ‘deeper’ energies within our consciousness and learn how to mediate that deeper positive, creative energy into the outer world through our own body-mind.
Actually, we are all mediating some form of energy into the world all the time (positive or negative according to our mood, emotional state, use of words etc…). Meditation gives us the capacity to start mediating energy in a conscious way from the inner world into the outer world by learning to embody certain primal energies, for example love, creativity, wisdom and so on…

All of these five skills start by being developed formally in our sitting meditation practice, but over time they increasingly become a part of our everyday awareness. As we go about daily life we

  • Remain in touch with a sense of stillness even when active
  • Make conscious, positive use of creative images
  • Act to heal and regenerate that which is damaged within ourself and others
  • Direct subtle energy appropriately and mediate positive energy into the world through our conscious daily activity with others

© 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 Five Stages of Meditation Practice from Beginners to Advanced

Dear Integral Meditors,

With so many different types of meditation practice around, how do you identify what the stages of meditation training common to all systems really are? This weeks article is an attempt to answer that.

At Integral Meditation Asia I am trying to develop systems of meditation that are easy to follow and practice, and yet include ways of developing these five stages in authentic ways. This article is basically a map that, if you have it in your head as a template you can learn to recognize these stages as your practice develops.

 

Toby


The Five Stages of Meditation Practice from Beginners to Advanced

Meditation and mindfulness practice covers a large and diverse spectrum of activity, from simple stress management to the quest for spiritual enlightenment. What I want to do in this article is outline five stages of meditation practice that covers this whole spectrum of meditative activity in a summarized but hopefully practical format.
These five stages are perennial in nature. That is to say that they are common to all traditions of meditation, eastern or western. In any particular tradition (Buddhist, Kaballistic, Hundu, Christian etc..) the particular form and explanation differs, but these stages exist just the same.

Stage 1: Balancing the gross body-mind
When we begin meditation the first task is to bring our everyday body and mind into a state of balance and focus, so that they can function effectively in daily life to give us greater happiness, enhanced focus in our tasks, greater appreciation of our enjoyments, as well as improve our awareness of emotions and relationships.
Even at this first stage there are many levels, but they are all centered around developing calmness, focus and self-knowledge on an everyday level (for more info on this stage see my article “The First Task of Meditation”)

Stage 2: Balancing and activating the subtle body-mind
After meditating for a while we start to become more and more aware that there exists within us a subtle level of bodily and mental energy that lies behind our physical body and everyday thinking-mind. Working with awareness of this subtle, deeper level of our body-mind leads gradually over time to the  activation of  the abilities of our subtle body-mind, such as greatly enhanced intuition, greater empathy and compassion, psychic sensitivity, capacity for energetic healing and so on…

Stage 3: Recognizing and resting in the formless-timeless dimension of existence
After developing competency at stages 1&2 we start to become increasingly aware of a formless-timeless dimension of awareness that lies behind, around and within our body, mind and world.
Initially we sense this as a kind of witnessing awareness. Then, over time as we move deeper and deeper into this formless-timeless dimension it acts more and more as a state which we identify as our deeper self, or true self; a place where we can go to rest and regenerate our energies at any time, and that is a source of both deep inner peace and almost infinite creativity.

Stage 4: Developing ones inner-world communication skills
The “inner worlds” are the subtle worlds of energy and intelligence that lie beyond the physical, everyday world. Having developed stages 2&3 in our meditation practice we start to develop greater conscious awareness of how we are interacting with this inner world.
In our outer word we have work colleagues, friends, places we visit to relax and so forth. In a similar way at this level of meditation practice we start to build a network of working partners, friends and connections that are the equivalent on the inner world level.

Stage 5: Developing and integrating a non-dual experience of stages 1-4.
Having built our experience of stages 1-4 in our meditation practice eventually when we sit down to meditate we experience all four dimensions of our meditation as an organic and integrated whole. For example as we rest in the formless-timeless dimension (stage 3) we may be aware of how our gross and subtle body-minds are coming into a state of energetic balance and harmony (stages 1&2). Occasionally we may have flashes of insight and creativity that arises in our mind stimulated by some form of inner world communication (stage 4).
At the level of stage 5 we are comfortable with all the preceding stages, and our meditation mostly “does itself”. As the Thai teacher Ajahn Chah said, our mind becomes “Like still water that moves, and like moving water that is still”.

A martial arts analogy:
If you think about progressing to basic mastery of levels 1-4 in meditation as being like becoming a black-belt at Aikido, you become a basic level meditation master.
After you achieve your black-belt in Aikido there are a further seven “dans” or advanced levels that you then start to work on. So if you imagine stage 5 is the meditation training equivalent of working on your “dans”; you are focusing on turning your basic mastery into a fully integrated, fluent functional whole.
© 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 First Task (and Achievement) of Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

At its best meditation is a practice that leads over time to a personal, direct and stable experience of enlightened awareness that is not defined by any religion, theory or philosophy. This weeks article explores the first step…

Toby


The First Task (and Achievement) of Meditation

The first task and result of a decent meditation practice is to create a unified body-mind. This means to become aware that our mind and body are in continuous relationship with each other. When we have a thought in our mind, this translates into a physical energy and posture in our body. For example when our body feels tired or refreshed this easily and often affects the dialog that we are having in our mind.

For most people this relationship, whilst intellectually understood is not seen and experienced in reality; when we are caught up in our mind we become unaware of the posture and energy of our body. When we are focused on our bodily feelings our mind often gets left out.
So then the first task of meditation is to use awareness and mindfulness to see how our mind and body affect each other and to help them to communicate and work together as a single unit or partnership, rather than working against each other and causing each other friction.
When through awareness and meditation we are able to create a unified body-mind then two positive results come:

  1. Our unified body-mind starts to perform at a level that is far greater than our body and mind could ever do as individual units. As a result our capacity for creative growth in all areas of our life increases. Whether in our work, our relationships, sports or spiritual development the capacity to develop and maintain a unified state of body-mind dramatically increases our potential and performance.
  2. The harmony created between our body-mind creates a space of concentrated stillness.  This stillness and harmony gives us a deeper inner peace and stability within which we can start to access higher, deeper and more subtle levels of consciousness that lie beyond our everyday body-mind. Thus it acts as a doorway to the next level of meditative or consciousness development.

An image of the unified body-mind
In integral literature the unified body-mind is sometimes called the Centauric level of development. A centaur is a mythical creature with a human head and torso with the lower body of a horse, half animal, half human. Thus the centaur symbolizes the unity of our animal body and rational mind, our instincts with logic, our conscious mind with our unconscious mind.

How to work on unifying your body-mind each day.
Take a topic in your life. It could be to do with work, relationships, any area you want to investigate.
Bringing to mind the subject and allow in your mind to explore it with thought and emotion. Observe the principal patterns of thought/emotion that arise.
Now turn your attention to your body. Be aware of the energy that arises in your body whilst you have been generating the thoughts and emotions in your mind together with the posture that your body has adopted. Observe how thought and emotions create a language of feelings and postures within the body.

Finally, observe with awareness the co-arising of thoughts/emotions in the mind together with feelings/posture within the body. See how they are a single, unified, symbiotic experience. Take this awareness of your unified body-mind as your object of awareness for the remainder of the time you have set aside.

Working with this exercise even for a short time each day over a period of time will help you to instinctively start to view the body-mind as a unified entity and to experience the benefits that result.

© 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 Workshops (Below are the dates, times and titles, click on the link for full details)

Wednesday 22nd 7.30-8.30pm – Advanced and Intermediate Level Monthly Meditation Class and Coaching Session with Toby


Special Coaching offer at Integral Meditation Asia for December 2013-January 2014!

Sign up for three 1:1 coaching sessions with Toby (either MeditationStress Transformation or Shadow coaching) for only Sing$435! (Usual price Sing$600).

This is a great opportunity to get some very personally focused coaching for a great price. The only condition is that the three sessions must be completed in the month that they start, so start in December the sessions must be completed in December, likewise start in January the three sessions must be completed in January.

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