Soft Forms of Psychic Self Defence

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at some somewhat counter-intuitive forms of inner psychic defence, which I hope you will enjoy and be able to relate to.

Yours in the spirit of strength in softness,
Toby

 


Soft forms of Psychic Self-Defence 

Normally when we think of psychic self-defence, both in the sense of defence from the negativity of others, from an energetically negative environment, or from our own negativity (depression, anger, jealousy etc…) we tend to think in terms of positive thinking, visualizing defences around us (a golden bubble of light that deflects the negativity etc…), fighting the negative, blocking it out, not letting it in, never giving up. These are what might be called the “hard” forms of psychic self defence, rather like karate and judo are called “hard” martial arts in the sense that they fight force with force, in a pattern of blocking, throwing and punching.
Of course there are the “soft” forms of martial art, which involve taking the force of your opponent and using it against them. This soft technique involves yielding to your opponents attack, and then re-directing the energy. The principle of the soft forms of psychic self defence that I am about to try and explain work on this same principle of non-resistance to negative forces. You let them flow in and around you using the principle of non-resistance, but the act of non-resistance itself acts as the dissipator of the negative force, rendering it non harmful. The soft forms of psychic self defence are in some ways a little more “advanced” than the hard forms, but they are well worth the effort because once you get the hang of them dealing with negativity becomes far less effort-full, and far more ergonomically efficient. Negativity is understood as simply an energy that can be flowed with and re-directed, rather than something to fear.

To explain these soft forms of psychic self defence I am going to use two images, because they speak very well to the “feeling” of the technique.

1) Sinking to the bottom of the swimming pool. 
Lets say I am fighting a regularly occurring depression. That  depression is like a swimming pool. Normally my way of dealing with it is to fight it, trying desperately to keep my head above water, but often finding myself struggling desperately at mid-depth, feeling surrounded by the movement of the emotion. The soft form of defence is this; rather than trying to stay afloat, deliberately I completely relax the mind and allow myself to self to sink down to the bottom of my “swimming pool of  depression”. At the bottom I simply rest and relax, surrounded by the water, deeply intimate with the emotional centre of the depression. I stay there quietly for a while, resting at the bottom of the pool (which is at the “centre” of the emotional vortex of the depression. When I am ready, having regained my strength, I push off from the bottom of the pool toward the surface. Because I have found the bottom of the pool, it is easy to push powerfully and easily back to the surface.

2) Removing sticks from the river bank
I’m talking to another person, who is downloading a lot of negative emotion and bile at me, and I am not feeling strong, in fact I am feeling overwhelmed by their negativity.  In this analogy the other persons “river of consciousness and energy”  is flowing into my river of consciousness. All of my own negative issues are like branches sticking out from the side of the river bank into the water. Any negative energy coming from the other person that is similar to any of my negative issues gets “caught” on the one of the branches, thus getting stuck and building up in my mind and energy system, making me feel overwhelmed.
The technique here is to mentally take out all of the branches from the river of my consciousness. As I feel the persons energy flowing over and through me, I note that some of my issues get triggered by their negativity. However, rather than tensing up, I consciously keep my body and mind relaxed, so that any negative energy flowing onto my river of consciousness from the other person does not get “stuck” but rather flows straight through me and out of my energy system, meeting nothing to get “caught” on.

So, two images there. The soft forms of psychic self defence are subtle and kind of counter intuitive, which is why using images and analogies works best to try and explain them. However, if you use the images I have given above I think it should not be too difficult to get a practical feeling for them, and begin to experiment with the soft form of psychic self defense in your own life.

© 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 Pattern of Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article on the pattern of meditation is really a summary of one of the big themes that has come out of the last two meditation workshops that I have done in January. I think if we understand this basic principle then it really helps to gain clarity on the what and the why of meditation.

Yours in the spirit of healthy patterns of consciousness,

Toby
     

The Pattern of Meditation

Each of us has three different facets of our fundamental, moment to moment experience:
1.       Our experience of physical or sensory awareness, and the objects within it.
2.      Our experience of mental awareness, and the thoughts, images, feelings and emotions within it.
3.      Our experience of awareness itself and the experience of inner spaciousness that it gives rise to.

If you think about your mental and sensory worlds as being like clouds, and the experience of spacious awareness itself being like the open sky, then this gives you a good image to work with.
If you think about your spacious awareness as being the water in a huge ocean, and the physical and mental appearances as being like the waves on the surface of that ocean, then that gives you another good image. One of the interesting things about this second image is that the waves are made of the same substance as the ocean. In terms of our analogy this hints that the mental and physical appearances to our mind arise from the ocean of conscious awareness itself, rather than being something separate.

For a non-meditating person, their consciousness tends to move to and fro between the first two types of awareness. It goes from attention to body to mind, from physical awareness to mental awareness, from thinking to doing. The only time that such a person really rests deeply in their experience of spacious awareness is when they are asleep, which they can’t remember, and so it is not much use to them!*(see note at bottom) As a result of this basic pattern of consciousness, most people remain totally identified with their body and mind as their ‘self’, and are unable to enjoy, rest in and leverage upon the third type of consciousness; spacious awareness.

The fundamental task of someone who meditates is to change the pattern of their consciousness so that it no longer goes only from body to mind, body to mind, body to mind, but rather alternates evenly from body to mind, to spacious awareness in equal amounts. The integration of spacious awareness into the consciousness pattern of a meditator enables them (amongst other things) to:

  • Relax regularly and deeply even when in the midst of busyness and stress
  • Overcome neurotic over-identification with their body and mind (or thinking and doing)
  • Become responsive to life rather than reactive
  • Become much more spontaneous and creative in their life, and think outside of the societal programming that they have been brought up with

Beginning to Integrate Inner Space into Your Life
To begin integrating spacious awareness into your life all you need to start doing is to notice that in each moment of your awareness there are three things available to you; what appears to your physical senses, what appears in your mental awareness, and the spacious awareness that surrounds and contains the first two. Just for short, regular periods of your day pay attention to this and, rather than focusing upon your body and thoughts, just rest in the experience of spacious awareness, focus on the sky itself, rather than the clouds.

*Long term meditation practice does include developing conscious awareness during sleep, and thus leveraging on the natural deep spacious awareness of the sleep state.

© 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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On Real Men, Daffodils and Chihuahuas

Dear All,

This weeks article looks at ways in which we can encourage ourselves to get out of the ‘ordinary appearances’ that so often prevent us from living a full and vibrant life.

Quick reminder of this coming Wednesday’s  “Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen” . There are maybe three or four places left, so if you do want to come I do need to know, thanks! If you can’t make the Zen class physically, but are interested in the MP3 recordings of it, then it is available in this format.

Wishing you a week of non-ordinariness,

Toby

Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in January 2013

Wednesday 16th January, 7.30-9.30pm: “An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen”

Sunday 26th January – 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: ”Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-68714117


On Real Men, Daffodils and Chihuahuas

Ordinary appearances
From the perspective of Tibetan Buddhist Tantric practice, one of the main obstacles to us breaking free of our patterns of suffering and pain, and living in a truly creative and liberated state is ‘ordinary appearances’. Put very briefly this means that we see what arises in our daily life as the ‘same old same old’, rather than the reality (from a tantric perspective), which is that each moment of our life is a living encounter and dialog with the divine who/which is in each moment encouraging us to recognize our own inner creative nature, and encouraging us to dance and sing our way through life, rather than remaining stuck in the banal, the unthinking mainstream, the unexceptional and often actually being afraid to connect to and be “who we really are”.

Things that take you out of the spell of ordinary appearance
Some afternoons I jog down the canal to an exercise station to do a little bit of fitness work. Often at about that time there is another guy there, maybe in his 50’s. He has a kind of David Beckham mid-90’s hair cut, with red highlights, and he jogs down with his dog, a Chihuahua that last week was carrying a daffodil in its mouth as it trotted along beside him. I think he must be some kind of night club owner or something, but the thing that strikes me about him is that he is clearly entirely comfortable with his lack of conventionality. We normally have a friendly chat about man-stuff (actually mostly sound approximations, his english isn’t that good, and my mandarin is similarly limited, but with man-talk it is mainly about making the right primal sounds to let each other know that it is one ‘real man’ talking to another, right guys?) before we go off and sweat away in our own corner of the playground.
For me, seeing this slightly eccentric but entirely ‘comfortable in his own skin’ guy, within his flower carrying dog reminds me that life is not ordinary. Seeing him each week makes me smile and laugh a bit, and encourages me to keep on pursuing my own ‘out of the ordinary’ path with humour, enthusiasm, care and creativity despite the obstacles that come up.

Breaking the consensus of ordinary appearance in the world
Like me I am sure that you to have some slightly out of the ordinary people, sights and happenings that occur in your life each week, or if you think you don’t, then have a look out this week and see what you can find. You can use these encounters if you want just to consciously jolt you out of your ordinary, mundane perception of your life, and see your life as an opportunity to dance a little (inwardly or outwardly) to the tune of the divine, and to connect creatively, fully and with care to who you are, who you meet and what you are doing.

© 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 Inner Sharks of the Mind

This weeks article takes an example from nature as a way of gaining insight on how to deal with the disturbances in our mind that we might normally try and run away from. Sometimes an image really does speak a thousand words, and I find this particular image very helpful in both dealing with my own issues and also trying to communicate to others how to work with inner challenges in a more meditative and watchful manner.

Yours in the spirit of staying on the tail of the shark,
Toby

The Inner Sharks of the Mind

There is quite a famous nature documentary sequence where a seal is being attacked by a white shark. Having escaped from the shark’s jaws one time, rather than making a run (or swim) for it, the seal instead stays behind the sharks tail, following it very closely, until it gets close enough to the land to quickly leap on shore. Rather than running away or confronting the shark the seal dealt with the threat by staying close to the shark, watching and following it very closely.
I find this image an extremely useful one when thinking about how to deal with imbalances, fears, attachments and other negative or volatile forces in our mind. The temptation can be when we sense a threat to our inner well being is either to run away from it (or go into denial), or to get into a confrontation or battle with it. Both of these techniques take a lot of energy and sometimes the act of confronting or running actually creates even more damage.
A more meditative and energy effective method is to act like the seal. When we sense the imbalance or negativity, try to get as close as you can to the experience. Rather than pushing it away, observe its movements closely with as little judgment as you can. Follow the negative emotion, energy or feeling like the seal staying on the tail of the shark; don’t confront or run away from it, just be behind it and watch its movements very closely.
The interesting thing about this technique of watching and following is that quite often the act of watching and following the disturbance will actually act to dissolve away the tension that has been created. By following the thoughts and fears that you are afraid of they actually seem to dissolve away.

Practical Technique

Step 1: Pick a difficult mind that you regularly run away from or get inwardly “beaten up” in a confrontation with. Name it and decide that you are going to try this new technique on it. For example you might think “I am now going to follow the shark of my insecurity, staying on its tail”.

Step 2: Watch your (continuing the example) insecurity, don’t run away from it or confront it, just be with it, relaxing and going with its movements.

Step 3: After a while you may notice that the power of the hold that your insecurity has over you has decreased. When you are ready, simply let go of the insecure mind and let it dissolve away. Then spend a short while resting in a state of non-conceptual awareness and enjoy the feeling of relaxation that arises from temporarily having liberated yourself from one of your persistent fears.

© 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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Are You a Product of the Times or the Subject of Your Own Inner Time?

Hi All,

This weeks article looks at the difference between being a product of outer time, the a subject of your own sense of inner time. Another way of putting this is how can we deal effectively with the outer forces impinging upon our life, whilst at the same time honoring that which is arising from our own sense of individuality?

Yours in the spirit of the harmonization of inner and outer time,

Toby


Article of the Week:

Are You a Product of the Times or the Subject of Your Own Inner Time?

To be a product of the times is simply to be a product of the prevailing cultural, social, biological, economic and other environmental forces that happen to be dominant during the era when you are alive. It basically implies that you as an individual are less powerful than the forces that surround you, and hence it is the surrounding forces that mold you as a person, and not your sense of own inner direction.

To be the subject of your own inner time means to have a sense of your own “inner compass” so to speak, or inner direction, and to be prepared to make your life a product of that inner direction and compass, rather than a product of what you are being told to be from the outside.

Another way of putting it might be that, when you are the subject of your own inner time you become self determining. You can go against the flow within the society within which you live, even if it means a degree of isolation, hardship or unpopularity.

So, to be a product of the times means to be created or formed by forces outside yourself.To be the subject of your own inner time means who you are is more a conscious articulation of that which is inside you.

As meditators, or as people who aspire to conscious and creative living (one definition of a meditator?) two of our main jobs are:

  1.  To be aware that inevitably you are, to a greater or lesser degree a product of your times, and to think carefully about this. What aspects and energies of your times are positive and worthwhile participating in, and which are best not identifying with and working to not participate in? To give an example of this one prevailing energy of our time is that of inter-communication and inter-connectivity. There are lots of positive ways in which we can participate in this, by using the Internet to become well informed and to establish relationships with worthwhile people who can help us grow. However, we would be well advised not to participate in neurotic over-communication and email/sms addiction that so many people seem to have become thoughtlessly caught up in these days.
  2.  To be aware of our sense of inner or subjective time, and regularly ask ourselves “What is it within me that is creatively emerging and wishes to express itself in the outer world?” 

The challenge about that which is emerging from within your own sense of subjective time is that it takes acts of creativity, energy and courage to bring it into the outer world and express, there are no guarantees that people will like it or approve of it, maybe they will even completely ignore it! I often think of Vincent Van Gough as an example of this. During his lifetime he sold only one painting (and his brother owned an art gallery, so he really was totally ignored and under appreciated by the public) and it was only after his death that people gained an appreciation and understanding of what beauty he had created.
So, when you start following your own inner compass and bringing forth that which is within you then hopefully you won’t be completely ignored like Van Gough was, and indeed many people become very appreciated when they start acting appropriately and creatively on their inner urges.  But it may well be that, at least in the beginning you are.
The interesting thing is that if you really are the subject of your own inner time, then even if no one else cares, you’ll do it anyway, and you will enjoy it!

© 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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Engaged Equanimity

Dear Integral Meditators,

The new year beckons, and this is the new year edition of the Integral Meditations newsletter!

2012 has certainly been a deeply transformative year for me, and looking forward to 2013 the promise does seem to be that this will continue. When thinking about the qualities that I would most like to have, and I would most wish for you the readers, I came up with engaged equanimity. Whatever the specifics of 2013, the likelihood remains that life will continue to throw its mixture of blessings and curve balls at us, and the ability to keep caring deeply, whilst remaining strong and stable are qualities that remain always valuable and useful.
Wishing you happiness, growth, insight and love for 2013!
Toby

Engaged Equanimity

To practice engaged equanimity is to attempt to combine the qualities of even-mindedness and inner stability with the qualities of deep caring and a commitment to engage in life fully and passionately without holding back.

A dualistic approach to life often sees equanimity and caring as mutually exclusive, or even opposed to each other. If we are practising equanimity and even-mindedness it seems to imply that we have to be detached and un-involved. If we are practising deep caring it seems to imply that we are committed to a roller coaster emotional ride where our peace of mind and equanimity are largely sacrificed.

A commitment to regular, balanced meditation practice should gradually and naturally give rise to the ability to practice engaged equanimity. As we progress in our practice we discover that it is possible to be fully committed to our life and experiencing intense emotion, whilst at the same time experiencing a part of our mind and awareness that remains relaxed, an observer and witness to what is occurring, abiding in a state of even mindedness and equanimity.

What I want to outline in the remainder of this article is four simple practices that can be put together in order to consistently develop the practice off engaged equanimity. The first three focus on the development of equanimity, the final one focuses on engaging care.

The instructions are deliberately minimal, allowing enough detail for you to experiment and explore them in your own personal experience.

1. Allowing pain and anxiety, happiness and joy to flow through you.
Observe the feelings, emotions and experiences that you normally cling to, whether it be pleasant or unpleasant. Consciously relax your heart space/central chest area and allow your moment to moment experiences of pleasure and pain to flow through you, like a broad river flowing in and flowing out of your awareness. As you breathe in feel these feelings flowing into you, as you breathe out feel them flowing through you, let them go without holding onto them.

2. Make friends with impermanence
Be aware that everything that you are experiencing right now will change and is changing. As with practice 1, be aware of this with both the good and bad in your life. Whatever you wish to remain in your life, and that which you wish was already gone is changing, even in this moment. As you practice awareness of change and impermanence, smile at it, make it a friend and not an enemy in your life.

3. Drop your self
Spend periods of time where you deliberately forget who you are, what you do, what your life history is. Practice experiencing that which is in your outer and inner awareness without your “self” as the centre of the experience. Cultivate the recognition that life works in many ways perfectly well, and sometimes even better when an intense and central experience of “I” is taken out of the equation.

4. Commit to caring
Based upon the above three practices for developing equanimity and even mindedness, the fourth practice is then simply to commit to caring in your life and making a difference in the world in whatever engaged way you feel guided and are capable. With equanimity and even-mindedness as your underlying basis, choose to participate and get your hands a little dirty, choose to be (appropriately) vulnerable and fully alive. Of course this involves risk, and maybe (probably) getting hurt and burned on occasions, but with equanimity as the underlying basis we discover, sometimes to our surprise, that we can take it, and that it is worth it.

© Toby Ouvry 2012/2013, 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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Meditation at Christmas – Mindful Eating

Dear Integral Meditators,

Sincerest best wishes to you and your family for the Christmas season  from myself and Integral Meditation Asia. Enjoy this weeks article!

Yours in the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Mindful Eating As Your Object of Meditation

The Christmas season is upon us, which, amongst other things involves gathering together to enjoy food in (hopefully) good company. With this in mind I got thinking about the different methods I have come across for transforming the act of eating into an act of meditative awareness. In general we eat every day, and so having a method of transforming eating into a mindfulness practice is invaluable for any meditator, as it means that the act of eating itself strengthens ones meditation practice and the practice of states of mind that lead directly or indirectly to the experience of happiness and/or insight.
In particular at Christmas which can have many spiritually and culturally connotations, mindful eating gives us a chance to enjoy the interface between our meditation practice and the enjoyment of delicious food.  I have outlined five techniques below from you can take your pick, or alternate between. With this in mind, here we go:

1. Eating with detachment – Delicious as the food may be, the great wisdom traditions of the world have always advised that food is in fact not a true source of lasting happiness, and have thus recommended that we temper our attachment to what we eat, and enjoy it without getting completely consumed by mindless gluttony. For those that have learned to practice detachment in a balanced way, the insight is that a certain level of detachment actually enhances the pleasure from any given activity, and this is also the case with food. By mindfully eating with a certain level of detachment the amount of enjoyment from the sensual experience of eating actually increases.

2. Eating with an altruistic intention – You can enjoy your food whilst at the same time motivating yourself to use the energy that you get from the food to bring benefit to the world. This is the kind of classic “Bodhisattva training practice” that one finds for example in Mahayana Buddhism. Before one eats one might think something like “My main wish is to be of benefit to others, in order to do this I am now going to sustain my body by eating this food”. With this in mind you can then enjoy your food in the same way that you normally do, but behind it lies a compassionate and loving motivation.

3. Regarding what is eaten as a manifestation of primal bliss and emptiness – This method is primarily a tantric method (for me one I learned within the Tibetan tradition),and consists of regarding the food that is eaten as primarily a manifestation of the causal, formless bliss that underlies that whole of the manifest world. Thus one eats with the recognition that behind the world of ordinary appearances (such as the food one is eating) lies the ever present bliss and spaciousness of spirit. This practice requires a certain level of experience in meditation, but it can be a fun one to play with even on a more elementary level of practice.

4. Eating with appreciation – Before one eats time is taken to appreciate the cooks, the circumstances in one’s life that make such nutritious/delicious food to be possible, the trees, plants and animals that provided the ingredients.  Eating with gratitude and appreciation provides a wonderful inner context for the enjoyment of good food.

5. Eating whilst putting down your baggage and having fun – In meditation classes I often tell people at the beginning of the session to put down their mental baggage before we begin to meditation. Similarly we can take the beginning of a meal as an opportunity to put down our mental baggage and engage in the simple act of eating in the present moment with enjoyment, like a mini eating meditation. If your mind is pre-occupied with its usual nonsense, there is always the danger that we waste the fun and enjoyment of food simply because we are mentally elsewhere!

Enjoy your food!
© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Energetic Self-Healing

Hi Everyone,

I hope this message finds you well, this weeks article focuses on a practical healing technique that you may be surprised at both the simplicity and effectiveness of, enjoy!

The other practical piece of news from Integral Meditation Asia is that there are now structured meditation and life coaching programs, lasting from 3-6 months available. Up to this time I have been doing 1:1 sessions with clients on an ad-hoc basis. This new structure is designed to offer those that are interested in longer term coaching and personal growth work a format that provides both structure and consistency at a price that is very reasonable I think. If you are interested, do feel free to check out the link!

The run up to Christmas always seems to be a time where old established patterns suddenly come into a state of flux, a time of letting go and seeing how, and of trusting.

Yours in the spirit of integrated energy healing,

Toby


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in January 2013

Wednesday 9th January, 7.30-9.30pm:  ”The Essential Meditation of the Buddha: A Two Hour Mini Workshop”

Wednesday 16th January, 7.30-9.30pm: “An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen”

Sunday 26th January – 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: ”Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-68714117


Energetic Self-Healing

One of the things that I have really been struck by over the last year is how relatively easily and quickly I have been able to heal minor injuries in my body (mostly sports related) with the aid of a little meditative awareness, and conscious direction of subtle energy (synonymous with the Chinese concept of “Qi”, or the Yogic word “Prajna”) to the area of my body where the injury lies. I have been meditating and working with subtle energy for a long time, but I really have the feeling that this sort of self-healing through energy awareness is something that anyone can do with a little practice. With this in mind, what I am going to do now is explain a simple technique for energetic self-healing that you can try yourself with any minor injuries, with areas of the body that are tired / weak and need a little healing assistance.

Step 1: Connecting to energy
For this type of meditation I recommend having your feet on the floor, either sitting in a chair, or standing. Actually once you are used to it you can even do it lying down, but in the beginning just to get a feeling for it, I recommend upright with feet on the floor.
Relax and focus your mind deep within the earth beneath you. See within the centre of the earth a huge ocean or reservoir of subtle light, energy and life-force. See this life-force flowing up from the earth into your body through the soles of your feet, filling it from head to toe with light and energy.
Take a few slightly deeper breaths, as you breathe in feel all the cells in your body breathing the light into themselves, being energized and refreshed by it. As you breathe out feel the light and energy expanding through your cellular structure, relaxing the cells and releasing stuck energy and tension.

Step 2: Focusing the energy on the area that needs healing
Now focus your mind on the area of your body that needs healing work. See the light and energy in your body focusing in this part of your body.
For example if it is your shoulder joint, see the light gathering very intensely into that shoulder in general and into the dead centre of the shoulder joint specifically.
Now, as you breathe in really focus the energy intensely in this area, seeing the light going as deeply and intensely as it can into the heart of the injury. As you breathe out feel the whole injured area lighting up like a light bulb. As you are doing this you may feel some sharp pains in the injury as the energy starts to penetrate and circulate through the damaged area.
Breathe like this for as long as feels appropriate, 2-4 minutes should be fine for one go.

Step 3: Relaxing in stillness
Finally, simply spend a short period of time relaxing in physical and mental stillness, and in particular relaxing the injured area as deeply as possible. Just relax in deep stillness for a minute or so, or as long as you wish.

End

If you can do this meditation for five minutes, two/three times a day you may be surprised at the good effects you can get. As I say, I don’t believe you need to be an expert meditator to get solid practical results relatively quickly.

Once you are familiar with the basic process explained above, you can also use this technique to also work on healing damaged emotions and feelings. Basically you use the same technique, but you focus on the area of the body where you feel the damaged emotion/feeling, rather than the physical injury. Other than that the process is basically the same.
© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Light-Heartedness as Your Object of Meditation (Plus January ’13 Meditation Workshop Schedule)

Hi Everyone,

Light-heartedness is the them of this weeks article, a seriously important meditation if you ask me!

The new Integral Meditation Asia schedule of classes is out for January 2013.We have two evening mini-workshops, firstly on the “Essential Meditation of the Buddha” and secondly Zen Meditation (Zen workshop hosted by Gallery Helios), as well as the increasingly popular Mind of Ease meditation workshop on Sunday the 26th of January where we are being hosted by the Reiki Centre.

Do click on the links below for full details of all the courses.

Happy meditating!

Toby


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in January 2013

Wednesday 9th January, 7.30-9.30pm:  ”The Essential Meditation of the Buddha: A Two Hour Mini Workshop”

Wednesday 16th January, 7.30-9.30pm: “An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen”

Sunday 26th January – 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: ”Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-68714117


Taking Light-Heartedness as Your Object of Meditation

Light-heartedness is a state of mind and being that combines the elements of serious mindedness and deep caring with a sense of lightness and fun. It avoids the extremes of either:

  • Being over serious and heavy in our approach, or
  • Resorting to purely superficial/hedonistic fun as an “escape” from the pressures of our life.

Sometimes life can feel like an attritional battle that we are fighting and this is often partly because the imbalanced attitude that we are adopting toward our challenges only adds to the burden. Consciously practising light heartedness is a very good way of increasing our stamina and ability to bear our burdens effectively whilst at the same time having more genuine fun.
The ability to practice light-heartedness arises from the insight that fun and seriousness are not mutually exclusive poles, but qualities that can be (and need to be) combined together in order to experience life fully and richly. When you are having fun with someone whom you care for deeply and seriously, that fun is enhanced and much deeper in quality. When you are in a serious situation and you are able to retain an element of lightness and relaxation, then that serious situation can become fun, and the levels of consequent fulfilment arising from it increases correspondingly.

To be light-hearted is to hold things lightly whist caring deeply.

How to meditate on light-heartedness

“Breathing in I hold it lightly,
Breathing our I care deeply”

Take a situation in your life; at work, at home, in your relationships or whatever. With this situation in mind take a few meditative breaths. As you breathe, focus on the two sentences above:

  • As you breathe in consciously introduce the theme and quality of holding the situation lightly, maybe smile gently to yourself as you do so.
  • As you breathe out open yourself to a deep caring for the situation; don’t duck that which demands that you take this situation with appropriate seriousness.

Continue breathing in this way until you feel as if you have found the balance in your attitude between lightness/fun and caring/appropriate seriousness. You might think of this light-hearted attitude as being like a kind of “playful, involved detachment”. Become familiar with this state of light-heartedness by just breathing with it for a little while longer.

Once you are familiar with light-heartedness as a meditative exercise (and the exercise need only take 3mins or so to practice at any given time) then your job becomes to consciously sustain this attitude whilst in the middle of your daily activities, so that it becomes a habitual approach to what you do. Whenever you feel like you have lost your link to light-heartedness, simply come back to the breathing in the manner described above and re-establish it in your awareness as an approach.

As well as increasing the quality and genuine fun on your own personal experience, I think light-heartedness is a great social skill to have. People naturally appreciate and gravitate towards people who radiate caring and lightness. Why wouldn’t they? Instinctively I believe it is how many of us would like to be, but perhaps don’t quite know how.

This article and meditation technique is an invitation to the “how” of light-heartedness, enjoy!
© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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What Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing?

Dear Toby,

In last week’s article I talked about balancing the development of the ego and the spirit, in this week’s article I take a practical look at non-doing, a powerful practice for developing your spiritual being that also has many benefits on the other levels of your being. It comes under the category of practices that are sometimes described as “effortless effort” or “the pathless path”. So, if making progress with no effort sounds like a good deal to you, read on 😉
I have to say in the history of my own life and practice, in my times of deepest discomfort and unhappiness in have found that this practice has offered me a perennially effective path out, or I suppose I should say it has offered me a perennial “non-path” out.

Yours in the spirit of non-doing,

Toby


 

What Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing? (And why We should be interested in doing It)

Non-Doing: The What and the Why?
The practice of “non-doing” as a meditative “training” (or “non-training”) is most often overtly found in the paths of the Tao and of Zen, but if you look closely you can find analogous practices in all the major wisdom traditions of the world, and in particular those that are consciously teaching and embodying a non-dual path.
To practice non-doing means essentially to practice doing nothing, or no-thing on the physical and mental level and with gentle alertness rest our mind in our own primary awareness. That is to say the awareness that acts as the basis of our daily experience of doing and being, but is normally “hidden by the noise” so to speak. Originally the practice of non-doing was taught as a spiritual practice, that is a method for discovering our own True Nature or Spiritual Self, but the benefits of the practice actually extend to many levels of our being.

The Benefits and Purpose of Non-Doing:

Biological/Body level: On the body/biological level non-doing allows our body to relax deeply and regenerate its energy, as well as encouraging our internal organs and nervous system to come back into balance and harmony. It also sharpens our connection to our physical senses, as well as creating space for us to become more aware of our inner senses (subtle touch, sight, hearing  etc…) and how they function. Of course there is always a certain section of the population who are interested in the development of their “psychic senses” or abilities. One essential ingredient to developing this aspect of inner consciousness development is to spend quality time watching and listening to each moment that arises whilst otherwise doing nothing.

Ego level: On an ego level the practice of non-doing enables us to regularly detach from the goals and activities of our daily life, and reconnect to ourselves as a human-being rather than a human-doing. It gives us the space to assess what is important and what is not, what needs to be held onto and what can be dropped, and creates the inner awareness to make these kinds of decisions consciously and non-compulsively. It also creates time for feeling deeply and allowing our psychological being to “catch up with itself” so to speak, and process whatever baggage we have been carrying around.

Soul Level: Non-doing creates an inner space where we can listen closely and become more aware of the deeper motivations of our soul and callings of our inner heart. It creates space for us to connect to our higher mind and the trans-rational and psychic faculties that go with it. It creates a space where our true depth of being and character can emerge.

Spiritual level: Non-doing is a practice that by explicitly cutting out all of our “doing” and activities encourages us to move into a direct communication the timeless, formless “always already” dimension of or being that was never born, that never dies, that is liberated from suffering and is our “true home”. Non-doing is a “non-exercise” that repeatedly creates an environment for us to recognize that our enlightened nature is, was and always will be something inseparable from our everyday daily awareness. Spiritual enlightenment is not something that we become, it is something that we recognize we are already, but had forgotten.

How to Practice the Meditation on Non-Doing

Step 1: Set aside a period of time, from 3minutes to an hour (whatever you have, and whatever feels appropriate). Short, regular periods of non-doing, say 3-5minutes 3-5 times a day can be really very effective. You can do it as a formal sitting meditation, or just sitting on the couch, having a cup of tea/coffee. Even slow activities like washing up or walking can be a space to practice non-doing. Even though literally  you may in fact be doing the something the activity is simple enough to combine with non-doing practice.

Step 2: Within the time you have allotted yourself here are the “rules”:

  • Be no-one: Forget about who you are, drop your “story”, let go of the continuous ego-conversation in your head about yourself. Don’t worry, it will pick itself up again just fine once you have finished.
  • Do no-thing: Keep your physical and mental activities to a bare minimum. Empty your mind as fully as possible and don’t hold onto any objects that pass through your mental awareness. Physically sit still, or if you are engaging in a simple activity such as walking or doing the washing up, do the activity relatively slowly and with full awareness.
  • Go no-where: Temporarily drop your worldly aspirations, your struggles, dilemmas, anxieties and conundrums. Drop also the things that you normally enjoy and or are attached to filling your mind with. Just be here and pay attention to that.

Relax, be and pay attention to that experience fully.

Step 3:Taking the experience of non-doing into the rest of your life.
As we engage repeatedly in the above two steps, one of the things we start to realize that the person who does not “do” in our life but always “is” can be present in our awareness all of the time, even when we are fully engaged in the busy-ness of our daily life. This awareness can become a rock around which we can build deep inner security, which paradoxically we may find enables us to take greater appropriate “risks” or make big changes in other areas of our life.
The nicest thing about it from a purely energetic point of view is that the practice of non-doing does not require a huge amount of effort, as by its very nature it is all about putting stuff down and doing less! But I guess that is the challenge for many of us; are we prepared to really commit to developing the wisdom of non-doing and make it a priority in our life?
Apart from the benefits mentioned above, one thing I find is that the clarity that comes from non-doing often saves time in the sense that we find more efficient ways of doing what needs to be done and less time chasing our own tail.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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