Bare attention – developing your inner ‘bird-watcher’

Dear Integral Meditators,

Some meditation and mindfulness practices get more complex as we become better at them. Others stay simple, but continue to grow in depth. The practice of bare attention explained below is an example of the latter, a simple practice that stays simple, but grows in depth.

In the spirit of mindful observation,
Toby

PS: Coming soon for those in Singapore: Meditations for creating a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention – A six week course.


Bare attention – developing your inner ‘bird-watcher’

Bare attention is a foundational mindfulness practice. Its function is to provide us with a point of stability amidst the constant change and challenges of our daily life. It also provides us with a space within which we can observe what is going on reflectively and non-reactively, which in turn increases our ability to learn from our experiences as they are arise.
To practice bare attention means to put down our impulsive, ‘doing’ mindset (‘do this, do that’, ‘should, shouldn’t’, ‘must, mustn’t’) and rest in an observational, detached state of awareness.
Instead of identifying with what arises, we watch with curiosity in a non-judgmental manner.
When you are practising bare attention you are not so much concerned with whether what is arising is ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, rather you are simply concerned with maintaining your position as the observer.
To practice bare attention means to watch what comes up within the field of your awareness without adding or subtracting from it; without repressing and/or denying it, or indulging it or over identifying with it.

Your inner bird-watcher
When I was young and living in the Philippines, my father used to take my brother and I out into the jungle, up mountains and into swamps with his bird-watching friends to, well, spot birds! Most of the time was spent walking quietly and cautiously thought the landscape looking around intently. When we saw signs of bird life or found a good vantage point we would stop and watch for a while, trying as much as possible not to make noise or disturb the birds we were watching. By staying quiet like this we were able to watch the birds behaving naturally, as if we weren’t there. The key of course was not to move suddenly, or make noise, if we did that the birds flew away!

Practicum
So, practising bare attention is like becoming an ‘inner bird-watcher’. You simply take up your observing position and watch the field of your awareness closely with curiosity, trying not to get involved in what you see or disturb it. Your ‘field of awareness’ consists of your environment and senses, your bodily sensations and emotions, your mind, thoughts and memories. From your position as the ‘inner bird-watcher’ you watch this landscape with detached, non-judgmental attention. That is the essential practice.

If you do this regularly in your formal practice you will start to notice that your ability to maintain this position of bare attention under pressure in your daily life will increase. You will have access to a point of calm and stability even when experiencing strong emotions, physical discomfort, mental anxiety, or challenges from other people or your environment.
© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from April 18th&19th – Meditations for creating a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention – A six week course

Saturday April 22nd, 2-3pm – ‘How to develop your capacity for inner sight, and seeing inner worlds’

Saturday 29th April, 10am-5pm & Monday 8th May, 10am-5pm – How to do Soul Portraits Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Mindfulness, beauty & slowing the effects of ageing

Dear Integral Meditators,
Youthfulness and ‘staying young’ is something that a lot of people are concerned with for many different reasons. The article below explains how mindfulness can help us age slower, more gently and more gracefully.

In the spirit of beauty,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore and want to practice some mindfulness due to the article, do check out the  Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat on the 8th of April, and the upcoming Meditations for creating a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention – A six week course.


Mindfulness, beauty & slowing the effects of ageing

If you look at the ageing processes of those around you, people your age, some younger, some older, you will notice that they seem to age at different rates. Some look truly young for their age, whilst others seem literally physically older and worse for wear than they are.

What are you in control of?
As an ex-Buddhist monk I have spent and do spend quite a lot of time recognizing and accepting the inevitability of old age and death, as well as the things that accompany it. But I am also interested in how I can age well, age slower, and bring as much of my youthfulness into my ageing process as I can. One of the ways in which we can start to exert positive control over the way we age and the preservation of our youthfulness is through regular mindfulness. Here are a few reasons why:

Energy preservation – Mindfulness practice invites ergonomic use of our physical, emotional and mental energy. It invites us to be aware of how to not burn our life force up needlessly, and to set a pace of acting, thinking and being that is conducive to ageing slower.
Excess tension in the body leads to lines – what is the effect of that line that you habitually crease your forehead with when you stare at your phone? Extend it over 5, 10, 15, 20,40 years and you have permanent lines. When you practice mindfulness you create a habit of a relaxed face and body, breaking up that line-creating tension in your face!
Excess tension and stress leads to bad habits – If you are mentally and physically stressed this very easily leads to bad habits in our diet, lifestyle, sleep patterns and so on that accelerate our ageing. By practising mindfulness we reduce our negative stress and you’re youth depleting habits that go with it.
Preserving the life force through focus – Whenever we focus our mind, our energy gathers and dwells within our body, enhancing and preserving our life-force, encouraging its strength and resilience.
Not letting your life force seep away through distraction – A distracted mind dissipates our life-force, and accelerates the degenerative process of ageing. Just once allowing your attention to be distracted by your phone habits or compulsive thinking won’t kill you, but habitual and chronic distractions over a period of months and years really affects the way you age.
Attention builds natural positivity – When you are regularly making your attention relaxed, focused and present, you naturally start to feel more positive; its like pressing a ‘reset’ button in your body-mind, you come out feeling good. Do this over months and years, and you’re going to look seriously different as a result!
None of the above costs anything, just your own applied effort to building some mindfulness practice in your life!

Smiling and releasing – An anti-ageing mindfulness practice
Here is a really simple mindfulness practice for reducing the effects of age and preserving your natural beauty, youth, looks and vitality. It focuses on the face, but you can easily apply it to other areas of the body:

  • Gather your attention onto your face, use the breathing if you like
  • Become aware of the parts of your face that are tense or tired, for example around the eyes.
  • Place your attention and awareness gently in the area around the eyes. Raise the corners of your mouth to a half-smile and send that smiling energy to the muscles around the eyes. Use this attention to the area around the eyes to focus your mind at the same time as releasing the muscular tension and encouraging healing life-force to flow to that part of the face. Hold for a while.
  • Repeat with other areas of the face.

Wishing you health, beauty and long life!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

Saturday April 8th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from April 18th&19th – Meditations for creating a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention – A six week course

Saturday April 22nd, 2-3pm – ‘How to develop your capacity for inner sight, and seeing inner worlds’

Saturday 29th April, 10am-5pm & Monday 8th May, 10am-5pm – How to do Soul Portraits Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Technology & why mindfulness is now a necessary skill

Dear Integral Meditators,
You may have noticed that mindfulness has really caught the public eye over the last few years. One reason for this is that it really is custom-made to help us negotiate the demands of the technological age in a healthier manner. The article below considers why.

Beneath the article to will see there is some information about a sound technology called ‘Neurohacks‘. I use this technology quite a lot myself, and this particular product is a good place to start if you have an interest.

Toby

PS: Heads up for the new Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat on the 8th of April if you are in Singapore!


Technology & why mindfulness is now a necessary skill

In a word, technology. Prior to smartphones our need to manage our mind and our information-digesting habits was determined to an extent by our environment. If we were at a library or at a computer station we could seek out information, but when away from these and other such resources we were limited in our access to distractions. For example, when we were traveling we were limited to the book we had in our bag, and the people around us that we could talk to. Our environment ‘forced us’ to slow down, digest the events of our life a little more slowly, and ‘dial down’ a little.
Now, with the advent of mobile phones we have access to distractions and information at almost all times. At the slightest hint of boredom, anxiety or disquiet we can whip our phone out and distract ourselves, messaging, surfing the web, playing games and so on. All this continuous distraction has a price to be paid for it, in terms of for example:

  • Our concentration and attention span
  • Our ability to feel content
  • Our ability to mentally and physically rest and regenerate
  • Our social skill and ability to relate to others in real time
  • Our ability to hold and pursue deeper trains of thought within ourselves
  • Our ability to be creative and imaginative

Moreover, our smartphones and other devices are highly addictive, creating compulsive activity and habits on a scale that requires thought, presence and psychological maturity not to get sucked into. Compare the above ‘price of technology’ list to the potential benefits of a mindfulness practice, either formal or informal which are:

  • The building and increasing of our attention span
  • The ability to feel content in the moment, in a state of non-distraction
  • The capacity to consciously relax and move into a regenerative state of body, mind and heart
  • Greater awareness of others and our environment
  • The tendency to be curious and follow trains of thought deeply
  • The capacity to learn from our experience in the moment

From this we can start to see that really, mindfulness is custom made to help us deal more effectively with the challenges of technology, and without it we are all at risk of becoming technology and smart phone addicts and paying the price for it without even realizing it.

Creating a mindfulness practice around your hand-phone
One simple way to create an informal mindfulness practice for yourself is to create some ‘mindful rules’ around your handphone. For example, make a list of three such as:

  1. I won’t do any messaging on my phone before breakfast
  2. When commuting, I won’t distract myself by surfing the web or using social media unless there is a definite meaningful purpose
  3. After 10.30pm I won’t use my phone unless in case of an emergency.

Something like that, whatever feels appropriate and realistic for you. Now you have three mindful boundaries around your smartphone that you can use to make your relationship to it healthier and less addictive, as well as helping you to build more focus, quality down time and deeper reflective periods for yourself.
Whether you choose to start practising mindfulness using your phone, or some other formal or informal method, the time to get started is always now!

Related article: Mindful concentration in an age of distraction
Motivating Yourself to Meditate Part 1 – Looking at How You Can Meet Your Needs Through Meditation

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby
Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)
Saturday April 8th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat
Saturday 29th April, 10am-5pm & Monday 8th May, 10am-5pm – How to do Soul Portraits Workshop



Get your life on track with Neurohacks

Here is a wonderful new product from iAwake Technologies: Neurohacks. Four powerful brainwave entrainment tracks to support you throughout the different cycles of your day: a morning wake up track, an afternoon recharge track, an evening relaxation track, and a prepare-you-for-deep-healing-sleep track.
Click HERE to find out more and to listen to the free sample track.


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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On boredom, creativity & ‘mindful fishing’

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can being mindful of our boredom make us more creative and enhance the quality of our life? The article below considers the answer to this question in a practical way.

In the spirit of ‘mindful fishing’,
Toby

PS: New schedule of live classes and workshops is out, check out the list below the article!


On boredom, creativity & ‘mindful fishing’

One of the problems of having distractions always available to us at hand which we all do now with handphones, is that we are not forced to encounter and learn to value the state of boredom. Why is boredom valuable? For the purposes of this article I want to suggest that boredom is a valuable state of mind as it often happens when we are transitioning from a functional, non-creative, information-consuming mental state to a creative, imaginative mind-state.
What do I mean by this? Let’s say I am coming home from work on an evening. My work tasks have been completed, and I find myself on the train or bus. My functional mind that I have been using at work now starts to get bored because there is nothing to do; it wants some information to consume, a distraction, it does not want to have to sit still and simply ‘be’ because it finds it uncomfortable.
At this point, what normally happens is we reach for our phone and distract ourselves by reading the online news, texting, playing a video game and so on. This re-engages our functional, doing mind, distracts us from our anxiety, and alleviates our boredom temporarily. It doesn’t necessarily make us happy per-se, it just alleviates the discomfort of the boredom.
But let’s say we are feeling bored on the train and we resist the temptation to distract ourselves, and just sit with the state of boredom, sinking into it patiently. What we find will then starts to happen is our mind will begin to shift from a consuming, non-creative state to a slightly deeper, creative, contemplative state. Put another way, instead of looking to be entertained or distracted, our mind will start coming up with its own creative content and entertainment, it starts to produce rather than consume.
Once this shift happens we naturally transition out of our ‘bored’ mind state, and begin to enjoy the relaxed, contemplative, imaginative state that our mind has now moved into, because of having patiently tolerated and moved through our boredom.
Basically, what I am advocating here is that when we find ourselves getting bored, instead of looking impulsively for distractions, we can mindfully relax into that state of boredom. This in turn will enable us to transition from a non-creative, functional mind state to a creative, contemplative, ‘self-entertaining’ state. In this creative state, we discover the part of us that is ‘the artist and philosopher’ in our life; that part of us that is self-directed and self-entertaining. This part of ourself enjoys thinking for him/herself, enjoys finding her own opinions, enjoys seeing things from new angles and thinking thoughts that have not occurred to us before.

Transitioning boredom though ‘mindful fishing’.
The next time you are in a place where there is nothing to ‘do’ (Eg: a commute home) and you sense your mind getting restless, bored and looking for a distraction, recognize the opportunity at hand to transition to a more creative mode. Relax into your boredom, perhaps imagine yourself fishing by a lake, just looking at the line and the water in front of you; relax into that state of ‘waiting for a bite from the fish’. In this case the ‘bite from the fish’ that you are looking for is the emergence of creative thoughts and ideas as you transition into your creative contemplative state. This happens not by trying hard, but relaxing into the boredom and allowing your mind to ‘change gears’ naturally, by itself, without being in a hurry.
So, the next time you start feeling bored instead of finding something to distract yourself, try a bit of mindful fishing!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Saturday April 1st, 1.30-5pm – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop

Saturday April 8th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat

Saturday 29th April, 10am-5pm & Monday 8th May, 10am-5pm – How to do Soul Portraits Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The warmth of non-judgment

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can we integrate the practice of non-judgment into our life in a way that really makes a difference? The article below explores this theme…

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore we will be meditating on non-judgmental awareness in class this Tuesday and Wednesday evening


The warmth of non-judgment

Recall a time when you were with a person with whom you did not feel judged. By not feeling judged I mean that you felt as if you were in a safe space with them. You could be who you were without being rejected; even if you felt who you were at that time was not particularly nice, or when you had judged yourself to be ‘bad’, ‘nasty’, ‘sad’, a ‘loser’ and so on….The non-judgmental space that this person created for you was warm, it felt like you were still appreciated and cared for even though you were imperfect, upset or afraid.
Once you have spent a little time remembering in this way, now see if you can create that safe, non-judgmental space for yourself in this moment. See if you can gently extend unconditional warmth and caring toward all parts of yourself, suspending all the normal judgments that you would normally instinctively impose upon yourself. This non-judgmental space has two qualities:

  • Firstly, there is the detached quality of non-judgment, kind of like an objective, third person experience
  • Secondly there is the friendliness, warmth and curiosity arising from paying attention to and being interested in yourself

These two qualities combine to create the warmth of non-judgmental-ness.

In mindfulness, there is often a lot of emphasis placed upon the practice of non-judgment. When we do this, sometimes we mistake this to mean that we observe ourself or others with complete detachment, with the human warmth and curiosity removed. Good mindful non-judgment however asks that we retain our human sensitivity and vulnerability when practising non-judgment. It is this retention of warmth and humanity that gives mindful non-judgment much of its healing power, enabling it to act as a gently dynamic healing force in our relationship to ourself, other people and our world.

Not judging the judgment
When we first start to practice mindful non-judgment, we will often catch ourselves making judgments before we can ‘stop’ the value assessment being made. Our mind is often impulsive in this way. When this happens, rather than being discouraged, we can simply practice not-judging-the-fact-that-we-have-made-a-judgment (!) This ‘not judging the judgment’ is an important stage in nurturing our non-judgmental ability, letting it develop gradually its own time, without us feeling unnecessary pressure.

Why not try setting some time aside on a regular basis to:

  • Create that warm, curious, aware space within yourself
  • Practice non-judgment about yourself within that space and,
  • Gradually extend that warm non-judgment to others in your life as you go about your day. If we can do it with ourself we will find we can do it with others more easily!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Tues&Wed, 21st&22nd of March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring equinox balancing & renewing meditation


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Five Steps To Creating Your Own Meditation Objects

Dear Integral Meditators,
Is it possible to create your own, personal objects of meditation, your own ‘mindful vocabulary’? The article below explores how you can start doing exactly that, today!

In the spirit of creative awareness,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore final call for this Saturdays’s Qi gong workshop.


Five steps to creating your own meditation objects (Building your own mindful vocabulary)

For me meditation is not just about following a formal set of rules and processes like a robot, it is about being creative and building my own mindful language of living ‘meditation objects’ that I experience in a very personal way and that moves me, changing the way in which I experience my world. This article explains a simple method by which you can create your own meditation objects using a simple, five stage process, using compassion as an example:

Stage 1: Select and define your object – If I want to meditate on compassion I need to come up with a working definition. When doing this by yourself, you have full license to define it in your own way, but here is mine for the sake of this example: Compassion is a state of mind that arises when I experience care or love for others or myself, I understand the ways in which they or I suffer, and I develop the wish to alleviate that suffering, or at least express understanding and/or healthy empathy.

Stage 2: Contemplate in a freeform way around your object – Having defined it, now ask key questions about your experience of compassion such as:

  1. When have I personally experienced compassion in the past, what did it feel like?
  2. Which people I know, personally or from the public sphere really embody the energy of compassion for me?
  3. If I practised 10% more compassion today, what might change in my perception and experience?

Contemplate these questions one by one in a freeform way. Explore the ways in which you have experienced compassion, who inspires you in terms of their compassion, and what the benefits of compassion might be in terms of bringing it into your own life.

Stage 3: Focus in – Having contemplated in a general way, now select the most powerful experience of compassion that arises from stage 2; the most powerful memory, the most inspiring person, or the most motivational insight into the benefits of compassion. The defining characteristic of your selection is that it must move you personally, such that the emotional experience/energy of compassion arises in your body, it is not just an intellectual abstraction.

Stage 4: Sink into, absorb – Once you have decided on the particularly powerful object of compassion in stage 3, you then simply focus your attention gently upon your object, allowing the feeling and power of it to sink deeply into your awareness, creating a gentle but powerful impact. It can be nice at this stage to mount the feeling of compassion in the breathing; as you breathe in feel yourself connecting and experiencing the compassion, as you breathe out feel yourself sinking into and absorbing the experience.

Continue to explore in daily life – After the formal meditation, keep looking for ways to explore, feel and express compassion in your life. Flex the ‘compassionate muscle’ that you have started to build in your meditation as you go about your daily activities, looking for ways to integrate it into your way of going and being in the world.

So there you go, a five stage process for building your own meditation objects. What objects of meditation would you like to build into your own practice this week?

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Saturday 11th March 2-5.30pm – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels & for Self-Healing – A 3.5 hour workshop

Tues&Wed, 21st&22nd of March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring equinox balancing & renewing meditation


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Goodwill as your object of mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

How much more warmth, benevolence & emotional richness can you bring into your life through simple acts of attention? The answer is a lot, as I explore in the article on goodwill below…

In the spirit of warm attention,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore do scroll down after the article and have a look at some of the events for March, including a Qi gong workshop, and Spring Equinox meditation!


Goodwill as your object of mindfulness

With all the anxiety and uncertainty that we face today, in conjunction with our minds tendency to exaggerate the problems that we face at the expense of the good things, it can seem that the world and people around us are a little short of goodwill. One of the things that I have been working with over the last week or so is really trying to notice and appreciate the goodwill that comes my way during the day from different people and sources. As I have continued in this practice, it has really struck me how much goodwill there is around me, and how nice it feels to really note it and enjoy it when it happens.

For example, if I look back over the last day or so:

  • I am aware of the goodwill expressed toward me from the students in the two mindfulness classes I have taken
  • I am aware of the goodwill extended to me by the barman who served me a drink this evening, and by the friend I met
  • I am aware of the goodwill extended to me by my neighbours and colleagues, helping me out with some minor menial tasks
  • I notice the almost continual and explicit goodwill coming from my family members
  • I appreciate the time and effort some acquaintances have taken to extend a welcome to my daughter and I and include us in their social circle
  • I appreciated the goodwill a shop assistant extended to me selling me a hard drive for my computer at the sale price, even though technically the sale date had gone past already
  • I noticed the incidental smile and goodwill of the bus driver as he re-opened the door when he saw me running for the bus.
  • I note the professional help and endorsement that I have received from colleagues, helping introduce me to new clients

The abundance of goodwill
When I focus in this way it seems like there is really a huge abundance of goodwill being directed at me by a large number of people. Much of this is easy to miss because it is so regular and everyday; it is just normal. But then if its normal then it means I have a huge amount of goodwill to tap into each day right?

Spreading the goodwill
Having been mindful of the goodwill I am receiving each day, I start to feel like I have something of a surplus of goodwill. So then perhaps I can start spreading it around to other people I meet, give it to them with a smile or a small act, or a bigger act. I can choose to be a source of goodwill almost as an act of gratitude for all the goodwill that I objectively and genuinely receive each day from others.

Does this practice of mindfully noticing, receiving and then giving goodwill sound like fun? Give it a go and find out!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey

Saturday 11th March 2-5.30pm – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels & for Self-Healing – A 3.5 hour workshop

Tues&Wed, 21st&22nd of March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring equinox balancing & renewing meditation


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The what, why & how of mindful attention

Dear Integral Meditators,

What happens when you start to pay attention to the way in which you are paying attention? The articles below explores this topic!

In the spirit of mindful attention,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore we shall be doing a class on mindful attention & awareness tomorrow, Wednesday evening. And last call for the Shamanic meditation workshop on the 25th, & Monthly mindful meal at One Heart!



The what, why & how of mindful attention 

Mindfulness can be thought of as essentially a form or attention training. By improving the way in which you pay attention to the different elements of your life you can improve the quality of your experience and the intelligence with which you interact with what you meet.
One simple but profound way of being mindful is to ‘pay attention to the way in which you are paying attention’. This can be broken down into three stages; the what, the why and the how.

The what – this first stage involves asking yourself the question ‘What am I paying attention to in this moment?’ It involves taking a step back and watching your mind, observing the movement of your attention, without interfering or trying to alter what you experience. You will observe that your attention focuses on things in a certain way, and often with a certain inner commentary with regard to what you are focused on.

The why – the second stage involves reflecting upon the question ‘Why am I focusing upon this object in this particular way?’ For example:

  • My own body with distaste
  • This future event with anxiety
  • This other person with longing

Try and understand the motivations and habits behind the way in which you are focusing on things at any given time. At this stage you are emphasizing observation, curiosity and the quest to understand, rather than to change anything.

The how – the final stage of being mindful of attention is to as yourself ‘How can I improve my experience in this moment by adjusting the way in which I am paying attention? To continue with the three examples above:

  • Is it possible to pay attention to my body with less judgment and more gentleness?
  • Could the future event be exciting or pleasant to think about if I adjust the way in which I pay attention to it?
  • Is longing an optimal way of focusing on this person, or could I replace it with curiosity, openness and/or liking?

It may be that you are happy with the way in which you are focused upon your object, but quite often if we have done stages one and two, we will naturally become aware of (often quite small) adjustments that we can make in our attention that will improve and optimize our experience.
Quite often stages two and three of the mindfulness of attention practice will start to happen quite organically as a consequence of the first practice of ‘what am I paying attention to in this moment?’.
You can do this as an actual sitting meditation practice, or you can just come back to these questions regularly in your daily life in order to improve both your awareness of attention, and the way in which you apply it.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Tuesday 7th February & Wednesday 8th February – Lunar new year meditation 2017: Tapping into the confidence, motivation & honesty of the Rooster

Friday 24th February, 7.30pm – TGIF meditation & meal: Nourish your body mind & soul at Oneheart!

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Breaking the cycle of negative stress with compassion

Dear Integral Meditators,

What is the relationship between your stress and your compassion? If you brought a bit more mindful compassion to bear upon your stress, what might change? The article below explores these questions. Enjoy!

In the spirit of compassion,

Toby

PS: If you are in Singapore we shall be doing a class on compassion tomorrow, Wednesday evening.


Breaking the cycle of negative stress with compassion

Compassion happens when caring attention comes together with the awareness of suffering or pain; for example, when we see someone we care about and they are in pain, the empathy that we have for their pain, and the wish we may have to ease or remove their pain is compassion.

The cycle of negative stress
Quite often when we are under stress we withdraw our awareness, care and compassion in an attempt to escape from the discomfort that arises from the stress. This often happens in our relationship to ourself, for example:
When our body is fatigued, instead of extending compassion to our body, we distract our attention from the fatigue of our body in order to try and escape our pain. Unfortunately, by withdrawing our awareness and disconnecting from our body we deny it the opportunity to recover and heal, and we also further deplete our physical energy through the act of distraction (surfing our phone or such like). This in turn makes our body more tired, which in turn gives rise to more fatigue, which in turn accentuates our stress.
When we experience emotional discomfort, instead of extending care and compassion to the feeling, we instead withdraw attention from it or deny, hoping that it will go away. By doing so often we find ourselves wasting energy trying to distract ourselves from the emotion we are feeling, and over time it simply gets worse.

Keeping the door open to compassion, breaking the cycle of negative stress.
In the two examples above we can change our experience of the stress cycle we experience by extending compassion to what we expereince. For example:

  • When we feel physical fatigue we can extend awareness to the tiredness in our body, giving it compassion and care. We can learn that by doing so we can release some of the fatigue and invite fresh energy into that area of the body, breaking the cycle of negative stress.
  • When we experience uncomfortable emotions, instead of running away from them we can extend awareness, care and compassion to them. By doing so we can start to look after them properly, experiencing them mindfully, and allowing them to be released. In this way we can disrupt our cycle of habitual negative emotional stress, and emerge into a new space of greater emotional intelligence and resilience.

Practice: Keeping the door of compassion open
Whenever you notice a tendency or impulse to withdraw attention from yourself or others due to stress or pain, see of you can keep the door to compassion open in your mind and body, even if it is only just a little. Observe how this starts to change your relationship to stress and disrupt the negative cycles of physical and psychological tension that you habitually become trapped in.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Tuesday 7th February & Wednesday 8th February – Lunar new year meditation 2017: Tapping into the confidence, motivation & honesty of the Rooster

Friday 24th February, 7.30pm – TGIF meditation & meal: Nourish your body mind & soul at Oneheart!

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The spectrum of mindful attention

Dear Integral Meditators,

Not all mindful states require the same level or type of focus. If you understand how you can vary the intensity of your mindful state, you can be more effective in applying it to your daily life. The article below explores how…

In the spirit of mindful focus,

Toby


The spectrum of mindful attention 

The state of ‘being mindful’ exists upon a spectrum, from highly intense and focused to very relaxed almost to the point of sleep.
If we understand this, we can cultivate a level of mindfulness that is appropriate to the task at hand, and that serves our needs most effectively. For example:
High focus & intensity – Emailing at speed, playing a competitive sport, or making a business deal (particularly with unknown or unproven partners).
Low intensity – Relaxing and thinking as little as possible when commuting home, when trying to fall asleep, or when we have woken up at night and wish to fall asleep again
Medium intensity (balanced between focus and relaxation) – going for an evening walk or hiking, having dinner with a date, relaxing and watching a movie or documentary.

A useful question you can ask yourself before doing something is: ‘What is the level of mindful focus that is most appropriate for the task or activity I have ahead of me?’ Your answer then enables you to calibrate your level of focus appropriately.

Other useful questions to explore might be:
What are the times when I have experienced intense focus in the past? What did it feel like? 
What are the times when I have felt completely relaxed in the past? Can I bring a part of that relaxation in to my body in this moment?

Experimenting with the spectrum of mindful focus in your own meditation practice. 
The below exercise is based around a twelve minute timeline, but you can adjust it to a length that suits you.

  • Set up a simple mindful flow pattern; 3-5 breaths focusing on the breathing, then relax your body for a few moments, then repeat the pattern alternating between focusing on the breathing and relaxing the body in an ongoing cycle.
  • For the first three minutes of the meditation, really emphasize building clear sharp focus on the breathing and the body, as clear and sharp as possible. Then, for the next three minutes, keeping to the same pattern of 3-5 breaths/relaxing the body, make the process as relaxed as possible, moving toward (but not entering into) a sleep state.
  • For the second half of the meditation, spend the first three minutes moving back towards intense, clear focus, and then for the final three minutes emphasizing relaxation.

The idea here is to develop the skill of moving consciously back and forth along the spectrum of attention, from single pointed focus to less focused relaxation and back again. This in turn will enable you to bring an appropriate, balanced attention your different daily activities according to what is needed.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Tuesday 7th February & Wednesday 8th February – Lunar new year meditation 2017: Tapping into the confidence, motivation & honesty of the Rooster

Saturday 4th February, 2-5.30pm – The six Qi gong healing sounds: Qi gong for self-healing & inner balance workshop

Friday 24th February, 7.30pm – TGIF meditation & meal: Nourish your body mind & soul at Oneheart!

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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