On Healing and Meditation

Dear Toby,
I don’t know about you, but for me the run in toward Christmas has been a busy one, and I feel my body and mind a little fatigued as a result! With this in mind in this weeks article I thought I’d share one of the very simple healing meditation forms that I use to keep me pepped up and invigorated through challenging times

As you can also see below I’m also putting out a special coaching offer for December and January, so if you have been wanting some really intensive coaching focus on your life-journey and meditation practice, this is a really good opportunity to take advantage of! The coaching can be done face to face or via skype.

Yours in the spirit of healing and wellbeing,

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.


On Healing and Meditation

Traditionally meditation was and is associated with the quest for enlightenment, and for contact with God. More recently it has drawn attention for its capacity to relieve stress and promote inner calm, but what about its capacity to heal the mind and body of sickness and ailments?
There are various traditions of healing meditation, from Qi gong meditation and the Tantric traditions in the east, to the Quaballistic (Tree of Life) and nature based spiritualities of the west, to the tribal Shamanic traditions that you find across the world.
The meditation that I outline below is a very simple healing meditation that I use quite extensively myself. The technique is simple, but the depth at which you are able to practice it depends upon your capacity as a meditator. It can be very effective if you are a beginner, but as you grow and become more advanced, you will find this technique will grow in power and effectiveness as you grow.

A Basic Healing Meditation Form

Sit on a chair with the soles of your feet comfortably on the floor. Take a few moments to focus on your breathing, calm your mind and bring your attention into the present moment.

Focus on the Earth beneath you. See and feel within the heart of the Earth there is a huge ocean of light and energy. See two streams of this energy rising up and connecting with you through the soles of your feet, filling your whole body with light and in particular forming an intense ball of light and energy within the centre of your chest.
Now focus your attention upon the sky above you, feel light and energy from the stars, sky and universe flowing down into your body and filling your whole body from top to bottom. In particular see it gathering in the centre of your chest so that you now have a very bright and intense ball of light and energy in the centre of your chest filling being fed by the energy of the Earth below and the sky above.
See and feel this ball of light and energy as being alive and pulsing with energy.

Optional: Bring your hands up to the level of your chest with the tips of the fingers a few inches apart, palms facing inward toward the ball of light. Use your palms to ‘hold’ and focus the ball of light, increasing its intensity.

See and feel the ball of light in the centre of your chest ‘pulsing’ energy out into your body, filling the organs, muscles etc from the centre of the body out to the skin with healing light and energy.

If you have any particular organ or area of the body that needs healing, or where you are aware of fatigue or blocked energy, see and feel the light going into that area.

Begin by doing this just for 5-10minutes at a time, build up to 20.

One requirement for this meditation is that you view the Earth beneath you and the sky/stars above as being living things, filled with energy and life force that you can tap into and bring into your own body mind for the purposes of healing.
© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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 Four Essential Stages to Transforming Negative Stress into Positive Energy

Dear Integral Meditators,

What are the essential skills that you need in order to transform negative stress into positive energy? The article below is a summary of the fundamental skills needed to effect transformation.

Yours transformatively,

Toby


The Four Essential Stages to Transforming Negative Stress into Positive Energy

When you think of the word stress, what sort of images, ideas and associations come to mind? It might be a nice idea just to pause for a few moments before you read on and explore this question for a few moments in order to connect to your own personal experience of stress.
This article starts with the assertion that stress in and of itself is a neutral energy that can be experienced in a positive or negative way, and that, to a large degree our experience of stress is defined by our approach to the stressful situation, rather than the situation itself.
So what is positive and negative stress? Here are some working definitions:

  • Negative Stress is: Any form of stress that inhibits our ability to respond of adequately, appropriately and successfully to the challenges of life, and to learn from such challenges
  • Positive stress is: Any form of stress that improves our ability to respond adequately, appropriately and successfully to the challenges of our life, and to learn from such challenges.

So, what then are the four stages of transforming your stress?

  1. You have to believe and understand that your negative stress is simply energy that is moving in an inappropriate pattern – For example, if you are feeling anxious, aggrieved and stressed because you are feeling mis-treated by a colleague at work, you have to take the perspective that the situation is highlighting your own inability to deal with aggressive people. Thus it is offering you a positive opportunity to learn how you can deal with such people and learn to thrive on the pressure of their presence.
  2. You have to cease resisting and fully acknowledge your negative stress – When you feel negative stress, the instinct will generally be to avoid, deny and repress the feelings associated with the stress because they make you feel uncomfortable. Whilst your negative stress remains denied and repressed it cannot be transformed. Thus in order to begin transforming it you first need to acknowledge that you have it, and bring it fully into the conscious mind. Continuing the example of the aggressive colleague, you need to fully acknowledge the feelings of anxiety, fear, anger and intimidation that you may feel around them, and explore fully the discomfort that you feel; you need to become comfortable with the discomfort that negative stress causes you.
  3. You have to have an idea of what your current negative stress can be turned into – With step 2 firmly in place, you can then try and identify ways in which you can re-contextualize the situation so that it becomes positive stress and not negative stress. Using our example, we identify our office colleague as a person who is helping us to become positively and politely assertive, and to learn how to hold our own when in their presence. It becomes positive stress not because all of a sudden we become totally comfortable with it, but because we understand that the experience is taking us somewhere and teaching us something valuable.
  4. You have to practise the transformation repeatedly – With your aggressive colleague, the practice them becomes learning how to become comfortable in their presence, even when they are trying to intimidate, to respond firmly, politely and clearly to their negative comments, and to use them to become stronger, more capable, more evolved human beings. The situation becomes an environment where you learn to become a master of life rather than a victim of it.

For your own practice then, simply select a life experience that is currently negatively stressful for you, and apply these four stages to it, see where they take you….

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When You Are Trapped in a Thorn Bush…

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you’ve been under stress or upset recently, you’ll know how strong the feeling is to say or do something to get yourself out of that painful situation as quick as possible. However, often our impulse reactions make things worse rather than better. This weeks article explains by analogy how we can most effectively and quickly get ourself out of our mental and emotional pain by first becoming still.

Quick reminder for those of you in Singapore, Saturday 7th December, 9.30am-12.30pm: Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop, it’ll be more than worth your while!

In the spirit of thoughtful action,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Saturday December 7th – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop


When You Are Trapped in a Thorn Bush….

…the best thing that you can do first of all is to stop struggling. This stops the thorns digging into your skin, thus preventing the short term pain, and enables you to see carefully what you need to do in order to free yourself one by one from the individual branches, eventually becoming free from the thorn bush and the pain altogether.

When we are in a thorny mental and emotional space, the instinct can be for us to keep struggling and struggling, trying to find a way to free ourselves from the pain. Actually, the best thing you can do in such a situation is to first still your mind, create some inner space and perspective from which you can start to move yourself out of the situation, step by step.

From lose loose to win-win
Feeling pain and conflict in your mind often results in you feeling compelled to act, often unwisely and non-reflectively. These unwise actions in turn create more friction and pain, which in turn compels you to act once more in an unwise manner. A vicious cycle is established between your busy, uncomfortable mind and inappropriate, unhelpful actions.
A habit of stilling your mind and body when you are in pain and simply watching/observing for a while creates a space for your natural intelligence and wisdom to start functioning. This in turn enables you to see what needs to be done clearly so that you can act in ways that are actually going to solve your issues. This creates a virtuous cycle where the stillness of your mind enables you to act wisely, solve your challenges and thus create more peace of mind.

So, the next time your mind feels painful, busy, uncomfortable think of yourself as being in a thorn bush; relax, pause and then when you are ready slowly and mindfully remove each of the branches from around you, one by one.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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 Way of the Rat

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you look at my website, articles and workshops, you’ll see there is quite a lot of material on transforming difficulties, re-directing negativity into positive energy and so on. Who taught me all this? Well I had a meeting with a rat 14 years ago that set me on the right track…

Quick reminder, 7th December: Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop, 

Yours in the spirit of fur and claws,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Sunday December 1st – Shadow Meditation Level 2: Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self

Saturday December 7th – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop


The Way of the Rat

When I first came to Asia as a Buddhist Monk in 1999, I stayed for 6 months or so in Johor Bahru at a small Buddhist Centre, whilst making regular trips into Singapore to explore the possibilities of setting up a meditation center there.
Over the 2-3 days of new year period 2000-2001 I was at this small centre, pretty much all alone, and at the time having doubts about my capacity to do the work that I had been asked to do. The meditation center was an apartment on the top story of a shophouse, with the stair well being the only way in and out.
During this period of aloneness and self-doubt, a large rat ran up the stairs from the street and disappeared under a cupboard before I could scare it back out. Realizing I was stuck with it for the night, I shut my bedroom door firmly before bed!
The next morning I was sitting meditating on the floor in the main shrine room, deeply relaxed, when suddenly I felt this pressure on my knee. I opened my eyes and this big rat had crept up on me and now had its front paws on my knee and was staring up at me inquisitively. He only had half of his fur, and was clearly a bit worse for wear! I had actually been in quite deep meditation, and so having a big rat suddenly leaning on my leg and staring up at me really shocked the cr**p out of me! I jumped up very quickly with a yell and he then ran off and hid in my bedroom.
I never saw him again. After checking he had moved out from my bedroom, I left front door open that night, with the metal gate shut, and I think he must have just gone down of his own accord when he found there was nothing much to eat!

Qualities of the rat
My encounter with the rat was the beginning of a series of experiences where I became aware that chance meetings with animals were actually playing and active part in my spiritual path and journey. This was a time in my life where I had really been thrown back on my own resourcefulness and capacity to survive, persist and problem solve as intelligently as I could. What better a companion, example and object of meditation could there be for me than the rat, an animal that survives and thrives in the most difficult, dirty and persecuted of circumstances?

Looking out for animals in your life
If a dragonfly flies through your window and spends a couple of hours with you while you are cooking dinner, or you go for a run and see a snake in the path, it’s worth just exploring what the qualities of the animal are and how its virtues and strengths could be applied to the challenges that you are going through right now. You may find it surprising how quickly your mind can free-associate a tangible and useful meaning between the qualities of the animal and what you need to do.

Re-awakening to our intimacy with the animal kingdom
For our ancestors living close to nature it would have been natural to feel close to animals (to both love and fear them), and to see spiritual meaning in their interactions with them. I think contemporary society has numbed our sense of intimacy with the natural world, but looking out for the coming and going of animals in your life in the way described above can be a first step toward re-awakening our own intimacy with, care for and support from wild creatures, even the dirty ones that live in our drains!

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Meditating on the Sound of Silence

Hi Everyone!

Inner silence is often spoken of as one of the main goals of meditation, but how can you go about getting there? In this week article I talk about something called the “sound of silence” as an object of meditation that can really help enhance our capacity to move into a space beyond thought without too much difficulty.

In the spirit of silence,

Toby


Meditating on the Sound of Silence

When I was young I can remember sitting in my bedroom, or lying on the bed and becoming intensely aware of in inner ‘ringing’ in my ears that became louder and more prominent the quieter my surroundings became. I used to enjoy just listening quietly to this sound and allowing my mind to become free from thought almost effortlessly as a side effect of listening.
Now that I am an adult and a meditator, I find that this inner “sound of silence” makes a very pleasant object of meditation; it is constant, relaxing and, with a little practice you can learn to ‘hear’ it even when there is quite a lot of sound around you. Because it is constant and continuous, it is has a natural relaxing effect on the mind, which gently encourages us to enter into a state of non-thinking.

One way in which you can encourage a greater sense of stillness and silence as you are listening is to focus on your brain and try and find the inner space or cavity in the middle of the brain that the Taoists call the “cavity of original spirit”. This is an actual space in the centre of the brain where, if you place your attention there you find that there is no mental activity whatever, it is literally a silent space that you can find by exploring and finding it using your own awareness. It is in the area where the thymus and hypothalamus are located in the brain, but you really don’t need to know too much about the brains actual anatomy, if you just go into the middle of your brain and explore, you’ll find that there is a specific place where, if you place your attention there it has a naturally quietening effect upon the mind.

Meditating on the sound of silence:
So, a basic meditation on the sound of silence would look something like this:

  • Sit down somewhere reasonably quiet and focus on listening. After a short while you will start to become aware of a gentle high pitched sound within the ear that is ever present, but that becomes especially prominent when everything around is quiet. Once you have found the sound of silence, simply focus on it gently and allow your mind to relax into the experience.
  • If you want to, you can then enhance the depth of the silence by combining your focus on the sound of silence with deliberately locating your attention in the central area of the brain, or “cavity of original spirit” as explained above.
  • Remain focused in this way for as long as you wish, it makes a great short three minute meditation, but you can also use it as a way of moving to deeper, expanded states of consciousness in longer meditations.
  • Once you have finished the meditation, do take time to ground yourself fully into your physical body and environment, particularly if it is a longer meditation!

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Dreams, Meditation and Working with the Bright Side of Your Shadow

Hi Integral Meditators,

The dreams and imagined images in our mind can be a powerful source of inspiration and growth. This weeks article looks at how we can go about capitalizing on positive dream and imaginary images that our mind produces by considering them in the light of our golden or bright shadow, or the positive part of our repressed unconscious.

Wishing you all the best in your inner journey,

Toby


 

Dreams, Meditation and Working with the Bright Side of Your Shadow

The Shadow is the part of ourself that we have repressed or rejected and that lies within our unconscious mind.
Normally when the shadow is talked about it is referred to as the dark, damaged or broken part of our self. However it is also equally true that we reject parts of ourself that are strengths and positive qualities but that we do not believe we are capable or deserving of. For example we might be a potential very good public speaker, but because of excessively shy or humble nature we repress and deny that capacity and have no awareness that it exists within us.
One of the ways that we can start working with our bright or golden shadow is to look for images and figures that come up in our dreams that seem to indicate a part of ourself that we are not aware of that seems to have positive potential. Once we have identified such a dream figure, we can then work with it in meditation in order to find out what part of our bright shadow it represents, and how we can go about integrating it consciously into ourself as well as expressing it in our life.

Here is one example from my own shadow work: A couple of nights ago I had quite an extensive dream with Robert Plant in it (the former lead singer of Led Zeppelin). In the dream I spent quite a long time chatting and hanging out with him, ending in a concert in a small venue with other related figures like David Lee Roth (ex lead singer from Van Halen).
So, observing the prominence and clarity of the dream I decided to do a little bit of shadow work with it, using the 6 step shadow process that I teach in my workshops on the shadow:

Step 1 – Seeing/spotting the shadow: In this case the subject was already clear, the figure of Robert Plant appearing in my dream
Step 2&3 – Feeling and interpreting the shadow: Recalling the dream, the feelings and ideas I felt when I focused on RP were a feeling of ‘shining’; not being afraid to be centre-stage when necessary and also a commitment to staying at the edge of my creative process. Robert Plant as a lead singer quite obviously embodies the ability to be the centre of attention (which I myself have some aversion to), and his life has always been a commitment to never resting on his laurels, and working on music projects close to his heart, even if they are not popular or famous
Step 4&5 – Being it and owning it: Now I have identified the qualities embodied by my dream image – the capacity to ‘shine’ and the commitment to staying on the edge of my creative process. So during this stage in my contemplation I focused on really integrating a sense of these qualities as a part of ME, a part of who I am.
Step 6 – Integrating it: The final stage of the golden shadow practice is then to focus on integrating and expressing this “new” part of ourself into our daily life.
So for me deliberately placing myself in situations where I am being a little more positively extrovert as well as re-committing to staying on the edge of my own creative process becomes my follow up practice.

A Practice for the Week:
Watch what positive images/figures come up in your dreams (or daydreams if you can’t remember your sleeping ones!). Once you have one or more image/figures to work with, practice exploring and integrating what part of your bright shadow they might represent by using the steps outlined above.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Four Zen Meditations

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article focuses on practical Zen exercises based around more or less well known quotes that are in the spirit of Zen. The nice thing about all of them is that they are great simplifiers of the mind, and realeasers of our natural intelligence.

Yours in the spirit of Zen,

Toby


Four Zen Meditations

This article is simply a set of four quotes in the spirit of Zen (note, not all from Zen sources, but nevertheless in the spirit of Zen practice), together with a focused contemplation to go with each.

“Knowledge is learning something every day, wisdom is letting go of something every day” – Zen Proverb
We all know that feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of information coming our way in modern day life. Whilst we definitely need to keep increasing our knowledge, in order to make sure that our wisdom also increases in proportion to our knowledge we also need to spend time dropping our knowledge and resting in a state of simplicity and conscious ‘forgetting’. This means not just once every few months, but once a day!

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God whilst one is peeling the potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes”- Alan Watts
Pick one or two activities each day where you are focused on a non-conceptual experience of the activity itself, with the amount of conceptual thought kept to a minimum.

“The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?” – Confucius
It’s very easy to over think and over-complexify when it comes to the things that we need to do in our life, and the motivations with which we do them. Practise pairing down and simplifying your actions so that they are simple, direct and appropriate responses to the demands of the moment. Don’t over think it!

“Only the hand that erases can write the true thing” – Meister Eckhart
Ultimate truth is a non-conceptual phenomenon. The only way you can get to it is though direct observation, penetration and experience of what is right in front of you. Practice erasing your thoughts and just looking at what is there.

A little further practical Zen tid-bit:

“The only Zen that you find on top of a mountain is the Zen that you bring with you” – Robert M Pirsig

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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How Can We Experience Integral Vision? (And a list of the free meditations posted for October)

Dear Integral Meditators,
Meditation and the development of expanded states of awareness always needs to go hand in glove with psychological development and maturity. This weeks article  looks at one method I use in my coaching practice to help people (and myself, I do use it myself!) to develop a more mature psychological vision of what they are experiencing.

November meditation workshops are mainly focused around Zen practice from an integrated point of view on Tuesday evening 19th December we have  An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Level 1  and then on Sunday 24th November we have  Zen Meditation Workshop Level 2: Journeying Deeper into the Path of Zen  , It you are able to make it , see you there!

Finally, here are the various free audio meditations that I have posted on the IMA website during the month of October in case you missed any of them: Dropping Your Conceptual LeavesMeditating With Your Shadow SelfTransforming Your Stress,Finding a Place Beyond Ordinary Happiness and Suffering.

Yours in the spirit of a more integrated vision of life,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:
Sunday October 27th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life: Practical Meditations And Techniques For Working With your Shadow-Self – A Three Hour Workshop

Tuesday 19th  November, 7.30-9.30pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Level 1

Sunday 24th November, 9am-1pm  – Zen Meditation Workshop Level 2: Journeying Deeper into the Path of Zen 

Sunday December 1st – Shadow Meditation Level 2: Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self


How Can We Experience Integral Vision? 

An alternative title to this article might be “How do you coach psychological insight and growth?” In my coaching with people, one of the main ways in which I help people to increase the quality and power of their mind is to help them increase the number of points of view from which they are able to look at their life circumstances and challenges.

Normally we think about out life challenges mostly from one point of view – our own, occasionally interspersed with how one of the other people in the situation might be feeling or thinking. Not surprisingly, as a result our vision of our life and the circumstances remains very limited and partial.

The aim of the exercise that I will be explaining below is to turn the way you view a life challenge from a partial vision to a more integral or integrated vision.  An integral vision is simply one that is able to take many perspectives on the situation, each of which will reveal a certain part of the REALITY of what is going on. The more points of view you can take in, the more “whole” and integrated your understanding of what is happening will be.

Developing an Integrated Vision on One of Your Life Challenges:

This is an exercise that I sometimes do with clients. You can simply do it mentally as you are reading through it if you like, but it really starts to take off as an mind development tool when you do it as a written exercise.

Begin by selecting a situation or life challenge that you wish to process. Think of it clearly in your mind, or write it down.

Then ask yourself these eight questions, write freely and quickly without over-analyzing:
1) What is my personal experience and perspective of the situation?
2) How might the other person/peoples involved be experiencing the situation?
3) What does a 3rd person or objective experience of the situation look like?
4) What might a “spiritual” (spiritual in your own terms) interpretation of the situation be?
5) Describe the situation in purely sensory and physical terms
6) How would you describe the principle feelings involved?
7) What are the economics of the situation?
8) Of the people involved, who is looking to gain what from the situation?
Now consider what you have written or thought about with each question, considering each one in turn.

Then, finally ask:
9) Taking into account all of the perspectives I have considered above, what might be the wisest way to positively move forward in the situation right now?

The first eight questions are designed to give you an integral or fully rounded vision, or set of perspectives about what is actually happening in your life challenge. This gives you your “integral vision”. With all the insights you have gained, question eight then asks you to make the all important step of turning your vision into action.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Shifting Down the Gears – On Meditation and Power Napping

Dear Integral Meditators,

I’m a great believer in power napping, in fact I am quite a believer in napping in general! This is not just because it is a good way of relaxing, from a meditation training point of view a nap offers a great opportunity to bring the experience of our ordinary everyday mind together with states of deeper, formless awareness. The article below offers a simple technique for making greater and more effective use of a power nap.

Just in case you missed it, here is the link to the Shadow Meditation free audio recordings that I sent our midweek, they are simple and effective ways to start developing an experience of working with your shadow.

If you enjoy the shadow meditations, then do consider joining us on the 27th October for the Shadow Meditation Level 1 Workshop.

Yours in the spirit of effective power napping,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:
Sunday October 27th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life: Practical Meditations And Techniques For Working With your Shadow-Self – A Three Hour Workshop

Tuesday 19th  November, 7.30-9.30pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Level 1

24th November – An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen Levels 2&3 (full details shortly)

Sunday December 1st – Shadow Meditation Level 2: Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self


Shifting Down the Gears – On Meditation and Power Napping

Let’s say you have ten minutes for a power nap during your day. The problem is that, by the time you get to the end of ten minutes your mind only has only just started slowing down fully enough for you to become truly relaxed, so the amount of actual fully rested time you get is not that substantial.
The following technique is one that you can use to slow down your mind in order to achieve a state of mental and physical deep calm and lucid resting relatively quickly. The key is not to try and go from active mind to totally still mind in one leap; rather it needs to be done progressively in stages.

Once you are lying down or sitting comfortably simply become aware of the current activity in your mind. Think of this natural activity and momentum as being like a car in fourth gear cruising along the road at say 50 kmh.
After watching the activity in your mind for a short time, deliberately try and reduce the amount of momentum/activity in your mind just slightly, as if you were shifting down from fourth to third gear in a car, and reducing your speed from 50kmh to 30-35kmh. You can use the exhalation if you like; as you breathe out feel the pace of your mind gently reducing…
Once you are in “third gear” then after a minute or so take the pace of your mind down another increment, like going from third gear to second gear, or from 30kmh to 15kmh. Again, use the exhalation of you like as a way of doing this.
After another minute or so of “second gear”, take your mind down another incremental level, down to first gear, or 5kmh or so. Again use the breathing to do this, or just mentally “reduce speed” just slightly.
Now you are down in “first gear”, your almost at a standstill, the mind is slow and relaxed. When you are ready try and let go of all activity in the mind and simply move into a state of deep, still resting. Stay there for the remainder of your power nap. Even if you can’t keep your mind totally still for the rest of the time, the state of relaxation that you will have achieved by this progressive “winding down” of your mind will still be deeper than it would otherwise be.

You can also use this technique as a method for going to sleep at night, or as a meditation technique for slowing down the mind in general. From a meditative point of view the interesting thing about power napping is that when you do it you can often find yourself in a state of “lucid napping”, where you are technically asleep, and yet you still have an element of conscious awareness. This state of mind resembles (note, not quite the same as) deep states of formless meditation that are achieved by proficient meditators who have meditated for long periods of time. Thus power napping, as well as making us more effective at work can also give us a glimpse of the deeper and higher reaches of consciousness that lie beyond our ordinary waking awareness.
© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Glimpsing Spirit – How do You Meditate on Something That is Beyond the Mind?

Dear Integral Meditators,

For me one of the major benefits of being a meditator is that it opens us up experientially to a place and a space of rest, regeneration and renewal that we can go to at any time. It is a place  that is there for us no matter what else is going on in our life.
You could call this place Spirit if you like, though of course you could call it plenty of other things….

This weeks article is on the subject of that special space.

Yours in the spirit of Spirit,

Toby


Glimpsing Spirit – How do You Meditate on Something That is Beyond the Mind?

If you were asked to give your own definition of Spirit, that is to say of the ultimate, causal domain of reality beyond the world of the senses and of the mind, what would it be?

It is worth pausing for a moment here and seeing what you come up with in response to this question.

How do you meditate on something that is beyond the grasp of the conceptual mind? that is literally transcendent in nature? This is one of the age old problems in connecting tangibly to the spiritual dimensions of reality; it is very difficult to explain using our mind and words.

However, I feel that there are some images and concepts that really can do quite a good job of inviting us into a space where we can start to explore spirit experientially, using the images as a ‘prop’ so to speak, inviting us to go beyond the limitations of concepts.
With that in mind here are two of my favorites. The first is a traditional one from the Western Mysticism* that goes as follows:
“Spirit is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”

The second is a more contemporary postmodern/evolutionary definition of spirit**:
 “Spirit is the non-existence from which the world of existence emerges”

So at this point there is quite a lot of detail I could go into about both of these definitions both philosophically and metaphysically (and post-metaphysically for the integral geeks amongst you), but that would kind of miss the point and power of what I want to convey in this article, and that is that these words are meant to be sat with and contemplated directly in order to reveal the experience to which they are pointing.

They are not a riddle in the sense that there is a right intellectual “answer” to them that you need to find. Rather by focusing upon them in a gentle, poetic and imaginative way with your mind they have the power to start revealing something beyond themselves, giving us a feeling and intimation of that which Spirit is from an experiential, meditators perspective.

What is it that lies at the centre of everything and yet whose edge is nowhere?

What is the no-thing from which the everything emerges in each moment?

*******

*My source here is the “Mystical Qaballah” by Dion Fortune.
** My source here is Andrew Cohen, author of “Evolutionary Enlightenment”

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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