Fulfillment of the Ego, Fulfillment of the Soul, Fulfillment of Spirit

Dear All,

I hope this message finds you well, this weeks article compares and contrasts the needs and desires of the ego, the soul and the spirit within us, and how we can begin satisfying their different desires for happiness and fulfillment together, rather than have them competing against each other.

When I was in my early twenties I sacrifices a lot of the needs and desires of my soul and ego in order to fulfill the wishes of my spiritual self. Although it was worth it in the sense that I got what I wanted (in terms of spiritual realization), in reality my soul and ego paid quite a price for my spiritual ambition and unwavering willpower. Over the last decade of my life I have come to realize that actually a person can accomplish spiritual realization without having to sacrifice the needs and desires of the soul and ego in quite such a drastic way as I did, and what I try and explain in my teaching practice at Integral Meditation Asia is how to balance the needs and wishes of the ego, the soul and the spirit, enabling them all to grow and develop together in harmony with each other, in such a way that they mutually support each others needs and goals!

Yours in the spirit of integral growth and development,

Toby


Fulfillment of the Ego, Fulfillment of the Soul, Fulfillment of Spirit

What might an integrated fulfilment of our happiness look like? One way of considering this question is to look at three levels of  our being, and how each one of them exerts a different set of demands upon us in terms of what they are seeking, and what will enable them to find satisfaction and happiness.

The three levels of being working with I am calling the ego-self, the soul-self and the spiritual self or true self. All of them are important to our overall level of happiness and fulfillment in life.

The ego-self , personality or “frontal self” seeks happiness primarily through appropriate and satisfying work, relationships and a healthy self-image. The sort of work and relationships that give the ego happiness are generally ones that will give it a sense of worth within the context of the society in which the person lives. The consensus idea of what satisfying work and relationships are, as well as a self-image that “fits in” with the norm of what society thinks of as a happy, successful person are likely to be satisfactory for a person who is only active on the ego level, and largely dormant on the soul and the spiritual level.

The soul or deeper self seeks happiness through the practice of virtue or, put another way through actions that is some way express what is good, and/or what is beautiful, and/or what is true. The soul-self seeks to find and express that which is unique about itself, and to find the sorts of activities and relationships that “makes the soul sing” so to speak.
Often as not the soul will seek these experiences of deeper satisfaction and virtue through a deeper enquiry into what type of work and what type of relationships really give rise to happiness, and how work and relationships can become an expression of deeper meaning and connectivity to life.
This process of enquiry may take the person away from the “societal norms” of what a good job is, or what a happy, meaningful relationship is and move them toward a less conventional way of working, being and relating that is considered somewhat eccentric by others, but which provides a much deeper level of happiness and satisfaction to the individual soul.

The Spiritual Self, or the True Self is the aspect of self that is always and already perfect, complete, fulfilled and satisfied as it is. You cannot satisfy this self by going somewhere or becoming something, you can only find happiness in this self by recognizing it, awakening to it and being it.
One of the primary ways in which you awaken to the spiritual self is through meditation, where you learn to rest in the present moment “as it is” without looking to go anywhere or do anything. The spiritual self is outside the world of time and form. there is nothing that needs to be “done” for us to find it or for it to give us happiness. The happiness of the true self or spiritual self is found simply by recognizing it and resting in it. This is incredibly simply on one level, but our ego (and often our soul also) finds it very difficult to do, as it involves letting go of everything we think we are, temporarily “dying to ourself” so to speak.

“So What Does All This Mean?”

Well, the search for integrated happiness on the ego, soul and spiritual level might then look like this:

  • On the ego level we would find happiness and satisfaction by leading a well organized life where we seek fulfilling work and relationships.
  • On the soul level, within the context of the above well organized life we would make room for a deeper sense of enquiry into the meaning and purpose of our life. We would be prepared also to make changes and accept challenges in our life that would make accommodate the needs and desires of our soul to find deeper meaning and purpose in our life, to make our life an expression of deep goodness, beauty and truth.
  • On the spiritual level we would spend time each day resting in the present moment, recognizing that there is nothing we can do and nowhere we can go to find ultimate fulfillment, as that ultimate fulfillment is here already, and we have never been separate from it.

Is it Easy to Do?

Many of the people that I coach seek out coaching because they are trying to deal with the tensions that come from awakening to a new level of their being. For example if a person has basically been functioning on the ego or personality level, and then awakens to the soul level, then suddenly many of the activities and relationships that they previously engaged in no longer appear satisfactory. They find themselves with new desires that they find difficult to understand. They experience anxiety because they feel as if they are becoming a new person without all of the old securities of the “old self” that they were. As such it is my job to discern the stage that people are at in their development, and help them make choices and engage in practices that will help them negotiate this transformative stage in their life successfully and securely, without avoiding or running away from the genuine challenges involved.

As such trying to balance out the demands of all three of these levels can be a challenge indeed, but the nice thing about engaging in the process of trying is that there are really an infinite number of levels and qualities of happiness and fulfillment that can be found in our life.

A Short Practice:

Once you are basically familiar with the three levels of self outlined above you can try asking yourself these three questions each day:

  • “What does my ego need to help it find happiness and fulfillment today?”
  • “What does my soul need to help it find happiness and fulfillment today?”
  • “What can I do to connect to connect to the happiness and fulfillment that is already present within my spiritual being and true self?”

Listen to the answers that come back from these three questions, and act upon them.
© 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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How to Stop Painful Feelings Becoming Negative Emotions

Dear All,

Normally in conversation we use the word feelings and emotion as if they were the same. This weeks article looks at the distinction that can be made between emotions and feelings, and how this can be used in order to prevent difficult emotions arising from painful feelings. I think you will find it useful!

Many thanks to those of you who signed up fro and attended the first of the Integral Meditation Practice Six week course, it was great to meet and spend time with you last Wednesday, you can read details of this coming weeks class below.

Yours in the spirit of awakened feelings and emotions,

Toby

 


Stopping Painful Feelings Becoming Emotional Suffering

This is a continuation of the exploration of Insight Meditation that I began in last week’s article entitled “Insight Meditation – Improving Your Subjective Experience by Developing Your Objective Perspective” – Toby

The difference between feelings and emotions 
One of the most useful distinctions in Buddhist insight meditation that I have found is the distinction between feelings and emotions. Broadly speaking feelings are simply the experience of that which is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. By contrast emotions arise from a psychological process that involves thinking in a particular way about a feeling. Here are two simple examples:

  1. I see a person who has wronged me in the past, instinctively an unpleasant feelingarises. I then start to reflect on the harm that they have caused me and develop anger or resentment. This anger is the emotion, arising from the psychological process of paying attention to the harm done in combination with the initial unpleasant feelings.
  2. I am sick, giving rise to unpleasant feelings in my body. I start to think about how this sickness is ruining my only two weeks of holiday in the year and I start to develop the emotions of frustration, despair and sadness.

From these two examples we can start to see the basic distinction; pain is simply the feeling arising within the moment. Emotion is that which we experience when we combine a feeling with a psychological process of focusing on the feeling in a particular way.

With regard to painful feelings, quite often we compound the pain they cause us by focusing on them in a way that causes us to experience emotional suffering, as in the examples above. The key therefore in preventing painful feelings becoming full blown emotional suffering is to avoid thinking about them or focusing on them in such a way that negative emotions are caused to arise.

Some sources of painful feelings
The five sources of painful feelings below are a non-exhaustive list, but it gives an idea of the variety of different sources that can cause painful feelings within us. Any of them if focused on in the wrong way can cause negative emotions to arise:

  1. Physical pain arising from sickness or injury
  2. Pain or irritability arising from hormonal or other biological or energetic imbalances within the body
  3. From people who say or do harmful things to us or have done so in the past
  4. From psychological and/or existential anxiety, eg: Worried about not being good enough, fear of dying, fear of stepping out of comfort zone etc…
  5. From spiritual crisis; for example when the old elf or ego structures are collapsing in order for a new level of self sense to arise.

So, what to do?? An Insight Meditation Form for acknowledging and releasing negative feelings 

Here is a brief insight meditation form that we can use to prevent difficult feelings turning into negative emotions:

Stage 1: Breathing in I am aware of my painful feelings,
Breathing out I acknowledge those feelings fully.

Stage 2: Breathing in I experience my tight grasping at those painful feelings,
Breathing out I relax my grasping at those feelings,

Stage 3: Breathing in I detach from those feelings,
Breathing out I extend compassion and understanding to those feelings.

In stage one as we breathe in we become consciously aware of any painful feelings we may be experiencing, as we breathe out we acknowledge them fully. Often we try and repress or deny negative feelings, which in turn allow them to build and transform into negative emotions. Here we are fully acknowledging what is there and giving them the attention they need in order to be addressed.

In stage two we observe how we are clinging to these painful feelings, grasping at them tightly. Then, as we breathe out we consciously release that tight grasping, energetically relaxing our body and mind.

In stage three we detach from those painful feelings, at the same time as extending a feeling of compassion and understanding toward them. We combine the objective experience of detachment with the positive emotional tonalities of compassion and understanding.

Suggestions for Daily Practice
The essential point in this article is that feelings can be distinguished from emotions, and we can prevent negative emotions from arising by avoiding focusing on painful feelings in the wrong way.
The brief meditation technique I describe above can be done as a two minute exercise oras an extended meditation, taking a few minutes to focus on each of the stages. It is a meditation that is worth doing sometimes even if we are not fully aware of any negative feelings inside us, as often it will bring to light negative feelings within us the need a bit of tender loving care, and spending a little time just breathing with them and paying them benevolent.
Of course if there are also practical things that we can do to alleviate the negative feelings, like taking medicine, or having a conversation to clear the air with our partner about a hurt we have then this should be done to!

© 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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Insight Meditation – Improving your subjective experience by developing your Objective Perspective

Hi Everyone,

This week’s newsletter has a new dimension added to it that I am hoping to make a regular feature, which is regular short meditation recordings that I will be creating and posting on my meditation blog for people to listen to and download. This week’s guided meditation is a nine minute insight meditation practice focusing around caring for the physical body. Click on the link to have a listen:

Poem of Care for the Physical Body Meditation Free Recording 

This week’s article below discusses insight meditation using the “Poem of Care” as a practical example. After reading the article I hope you’ll feel enthused about just how simple and effective mindfulness and insight  meditation can be, and feel like you really have an understanding of how it works!

Finally, a reminder of that the Integral Meditation Practice Six Week Course starts this coming Wednesday, 21st October:

“Integral Meditation Practice – A Six Week Course in Mindful Living, Energetic Health and Wise Insight”

The first two classes in this series will be focusing on how to develop competency in integral insight and mindfulness meditation.

Anyway, enjoy the Meditation Recording, and have a great week!

Yours in the spirit of insight,

Toby

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Insight Meditation – Improving your subjective experience by developing your Objective Perspective

Often when people talk about being objective in their life it seems like in order to become so they need to cut themselves of from their subjective or feeling experience of the situation. Conversely in order to really enter into a situation fully often what seems to happen is that we abandon our objectivity and plunge deeply into a feeling-based experience of the situation.

Pushed to an extreme, we can find ourselves caught between these two polarities:

  • Being objective = being cold and uncaring
  • Being subjective = being totally bound up in our feelings and lacking in perspective

Of course what we really need for an enjoyable and balanced life is to be able to bring both our objective and subjective perspectives together in a balanced holism, and this is one of the main benefits that insight meditation can give to us.

How does this work?

The basic dynamic of insight and/or mindfulness meditation (I am using the two terms here synonymously) is this; we begin by deliberately taking an objective perspective on our object of meditation in order to bring fuller conscious awareness of it. After having observed our object of meditation objectively for a while, we then consciously extend a positive subjective feeling or emotion to the object that we have been observing objectively.

Improving your objectivity improves your subjectivity

So, the essential idea with insight meditation is that by initially taking a step back and observing your world objectively, you can then consciously project/extend positive and beneficial subjective feelings into that world that will increase your ability to participate enjoyably and benevolently in that world.

A concrete example please?

Ok, so let’s take a concrete example that I hope will make this clear and easy to understand.

Below you can see a meditation entitled “Poem of care for the Physical Body”, which I composed a few years back. In this meditation the observed object is the physical body. Each “verse” has two lines, and the way it works is very simple; as you inhale you practice taking an objective perspective on your body, and then as you exhale you extend a subjective feeling to the body.

To take the first two lines as an example:

“Breathing in I am aware of my physical body,

Breathing out I extend care and calm to my physical body”

Here, as we breathe in we deliberately step back and cultivate objective awareness of our body. Then as we exhale we consciously extend the positive, subjective feelings of care and calm to our body.

In the second two lines this continues:

“Breathing in I am thankful to my physical body,

Breathing out I extend my love and gratitude to my physical body”

As be breathe in, we objectively recognize that there are many ways in which our body is serving us well in every minute of every day. With this recognition we then breathe out and extend the subjective feeling of love and gratitude to our body.

From this example you can see that insight meditation works to improve our subjective experience (in this case of our body) by working  to improve our objective experience first, and then bringing that objective perspective together with our subjective feelings in benevolent partnership, as opposed to the dissonant conflict that so often exists in us between these two poles of our being!

Here is the full “poem”, please note that you can listen to and or download a short (9min) recording of this meditation on my meditation blog that I have done here:

Poem of Care for the Physical Body Recording

Poem of Care for the Physical Body

1. Breathing in I am aware of my physical body,

Breathing out I extend care and calm to my physical body,

2. Breathing in I am thankful to my physical body,

Breathing out I extend my love and gratitude to my physical body,

3. Breathing in I am aware of psychological tensions I hold within my physical body,

Breathing out I release this tension,

4. Breathing in I feel at home in my physical body,

Breathing out I rest within that homely space.

Final thoughts

Sometimes the conflict between our subjective experience and objective perspective has a complex history that needs a skilled third party perspective to untie the complexity and re-fashion that relationship in a new way. This is one of the main functions of the 1:1 coaching that I offer as a service. However, the regular practice of simple insight meditation forms such as I have explained above can really go a long way to improving the dynamic between our objective experiences and subjective feelings. The Poem of Care for the Physical Body is a short, simple and profound way of beginning the journey of insight-through-meditation.

 

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Guided Insight Meditation: Care of the Physical Body

This is a nine minute guided insight meditation on caring for the physical body, you can simply play it from this page Press play icon below) or download it onto your computer (right click on text below) for personal use.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Care for Physical Body Insight Medi (9mins)

Here is the basic script for the Meditation:

Poem of Care for the Physical Body

1. Breathing in I am aware of my physical body,

Breathing out I extend care and calm to my physical body,

2. Breathing in I am thankful to my physical body,

Breathing out I extend my love and gratitude to my physical body,

3. Breathing in I am aware of psychological tensions I hold within my physical body,

Breathing out I release this tension,

4. Breathing in I feel at home in my physical body,

Breathing out I rest within that homely space.

You can read the article that relates to this meditation and gives some further commentary to it here:

Insight Meditation – Improving your subjective experience by developing your Objective Perspective

Happy meditating!

Toby

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Depth of Pain = Depth of Pleasure

Hi Everyone,

I hope this newsletter finds you well, many thanks to all of you who came to yesterdays Integral Meditation Practice Workshop, it was a pleasure to spend time practicing mediation with you! Please not there is a six week Integral Meditation Practice Course beginning on 31st of October, click on the link below for full details.

This weeks article covers a subject that is very close to my heart, and one of the areas inmy personal coaching practice that I gain the most satisfaction from; how to re-awaken depth of positive emotionality within ourself by contacting “negative” emotional within ourself that we are afraid of, I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of appropriately  liberated emotion,

Toby


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia

Beginning Wednesday Evening 31st October:  Integral Meditation Practice – A Six Week Course in Mindful Living, Energetic Health and Wise Insight Through Meditation

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


Depth of Pain = Depth of Pleasure – The Double Bind (and Double Opportunity) of Emotional Repression

One of the reasons why people find it such a challenge to keep up a daily meditation practice is that it starts to reveal to them painful emotions that lie repressed within them that frankly they would rather remain repressed and forgotten. The process of meditation itself causes a release of the “knots” in the mind that hold the pain that we have repressed down, and  this “untying” gives us access to self-knowledge that frankly we might rather we did not have!

However, there is both a carrot and a stick that we can use to encourage us to face our painful emotions with courage:

The stick is this – Whenever we repress or cut ourself off from a deeply felt painful emotion, we also cut ourself off from the entire deep emotional level on which that emotion is based. Because we cut ourself off from an entire level of deep emotional feeling, we deny ourself not only the painful feelings on that level, but also the pleasurable feelings on that level. So, if we habitually repress  negative emotions, we find that we are also no longer sensitive or receptive to deeply felt pleasurable emotions that make life worth living!

The carrot is this – Whenever we find the courage and self-compassion to reach out to and re-integrate painful repressed emotion within us, as we do so we simultaneously re-awaken a level of emotion within us that is open to deep pleasure, appreciation, joy, sensuality, rapture, hilarity and so on.

One of the most common challenges that people whom I do 1:1 coaching with talk about with me is how they feel cut off from life, they feel emotionally dis-engaged from a world that they feel they should be appreciating, connecting with and enjoying much more. Accordingly, much of the main work that I do with individuals as well as teaching them meditation is to seek out the painful emotions that they most often repress, and bring them back in a benign way into the light of their conscious awareness for healing. When this is done, very often they find that because they are no longer repressing emotions that they are afraid of, they suddenly find that the range of positive emotions that become re-sensitized to is quite remarkable. They become “alive to life” once more”.

Facing up to difficult and challenging emotions in ourself takes courage, but if you are a “spiritual hedonist” like me, and want to reclaim your right to daily emotional depth of pleasure, aliveness, spontaneity and positivity, then you know that the courageous effort is always rewarded in a worthwhile manner!

And finally, once you are used to positively confronting tough emotions, meditating everyday feels no longer so much like a discipline as a pleasure.

© 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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Awakening to the Sensuality of Your Three Bodies

Dear All,

How are you? This weeks article focuses on one of the “three pillars” of Integral Meditation Practice, energy meditation. There are a lot of quite “formulaic” forms of energy meditation, but as I hope the article demonstrates meditating upon energy is something that can come very easily and naturally, and provide profound benefits, not least an increase in healthy pleasure, enjoyment and appreciation of both outer and inner sensuality.

Yours in the spirit of abundant and  pleasurable energy,

Toby


Energy Meditation; Awakening to the Sensuality of Your Three Bodies

Energy body meditation can serve many purposes, amongst others it can:

  • Increase our overall  physical, mental and emotional health  by increasing the flow of energy in our energy system
  • Help us reduce conceptual thoughts and stress in our mind by reconnecting us to the experience of the natural sensuality and pleasure  of our physical and subtle bodies
  • Provide us with access to higher levels of consciousness by awakening our awareness to the energy bodies which support those higher levels of consciousness
  • Sharpen your outer senses, making them more effective in daily life
  • Sharpen your inner senses, thus enabling you to sharpen  qualities such as your EQ (Emotional intelligence), Social Intelligence and SQ (Spiritual intelligence)
  • Increase our natural compassion and empathy for othersYou don’t have to be someone special to start enjoying working with energy in meditation, you just need to have a basic understanding of what we mean by energy, and a simple technique to start to work with that energy, both of which this article aims to provide.

Three energy bodies, not just one
The first thing to realize with energy meditation is that we have at least three basic energy bodies, not just one. These three are:

  1. Your physical energy body, and the subtle qi/prajnic/bioelectric body that supplies that body with life-force
  2. Your mental energy  body, or the body of energy that you possess that supports your activities of mind
  3. Your pure awareness body, or the very subtle and formless energy body that supports and facilitates the experience of awareness itself. This is also called the “causal body”, in the sense that is the ground from which our experience of the mental and physical bodies arises.

You can find these energy bodies in your direct experience now without too much difficulty:

  • The energy you feel in your physical body now is your physical and bioelectric energy body
  • The energy or “feeling tone” that supports the thoughts that are going through your mind right now is your subtle mental body
  • The subtle spacious energy that supports your experience of purely being aware right now is your very subtle energy body

Meditating on your Three Energy Bodies

Step 1: Meditating on the sensuality of your physical body
Sitting or lying down, bring your attention onto your physical body, and simply try and feel it in a deeply sensual manner. As you breathe in and out, breathe your awareness into your skin, muscles, bones, organs, and body as a whole. Breathing and connecting with your physical energy body in this way is actually a deeply sensual and pleasurableexperience. Much of our life is spend chasing or longing for genuine pleasure, actually there is a deeply satisfying experience of pleasure that comes from simply being fully connected to and aware of our physical body!

Step 2: Meditating on the “feeling tones” of your mind
Watch your mind, and the thoughts that arise and pass through it. Become aware thateach thought has a feeling tone, vibration or subtle energy associated with it. These subtle feeling tones arise from the mental energy body that supports your mental activities. You can support the positive harmonization of your mental energy body simply by generating a thought with a positive feeling tone, and focusing on that feeling tone, allowing it to fill your mind like a musical note or beautiful colour.

Step 3: Meditating on the texture of inner space and silence
Notice the inner space and silence that surrounds and interpenetrates the thoughts in your mind. Notice the “feeling” of that inner space and silence; it’s very subtle and comfortable texture, a kind of “living emptiness”. That is the energy of your very subtle or formless energy body which supports your awareness itself. Learning to sit and rest in your causal body allows its regenerative energy to start to penetrate and regenerate both our mind (mental body) and body (physical body), healing unhealthy energetic patterns and creating potential for new positive and creative patterns in our body-mind.

As I hope you can see, basic energy meditation as described above can be performed in a very simple way that is enjoyable, beneficial and profound.
Energy meditation is in my opinion important for all meditators to have at least basic competence at, and this is the reason why I teach it as one of the three central pillars of my own “Integral Meditation Practice” workshops and courses. For me personally it has been a main way in which I have come to see that used in the right way, “bodily” feelings,  sensuality, pleasure and enjoyment can be vehicles for inner growth and development, rather than impediments or distractions.

© 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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When Present Moment Awareness Comes Naturally

Dear All,

Wouldn’t it be nice if living in the present was something that came naturally to us, rather than our having to exert all this effort to drag our minds back into the here and now and away from all our frenetic mental over activity? Well, the good news is that natural present moment awareness is definitely possible, and I can vouch for that. The challenge is that it takes some effort to get to the place of no effort! In the article below I describe what natural present moment awareness is, and how we can start building experience of it into our daily life.

Yours in the spirit of natural presence,

Toby


 

When Present Moment Awareness Comes Naturally

When people come to me for meditation coaching, quite often I will not necessarily emphasize formal meditation in those sessions, so much as a deeper sense of self knowledge and the natural inner harmony that arises from that increase in self knowledge. In this article I want to talk about how present moment awareness can really be seen as a side effect of inner harmony, rather than something that we bring into existence through sheer force of will.

Often in traditional meditation training we are taught how to bring our mind into the present moment by focusing on an object such as the breathing, and learning to take our mind out of the busy linear timeline that it is so often locked into through force of will. We can achieve a certain amount of success in this is if we become familiar with such a meditation practice, but the challenge with it is that it always requires an (often relatively strenuous) act of will, and does not address many of the reasons why our mindACTIVELY AVOIDS the present moment, and  SEEKS OUT the “comfort” of distractions.

Here is my formula for natural present moment awareness:
“Present moment awareness is a natural side product that arises when the instinctive and rational minds move from conflict with each other to harmony with each other.”
Synonyms for the instinctive and rational minds are:

  • The conscious mind and unconscious mind
  • The body self (or biological self) and the egoic (or conceptual) self.

My basic proposition is this, that whenever these two minds, instinctive and rational, conscious and unconscious are in conflict, then this conflict throws us out of the present moment and traps us in that state of distracted conflict.
Whenever the instinctive and rational minds are in harmony with each other, they form a greater or larger self awareness that is naturally and easily grounded in the flow of the present moment.

So, if you want to learn to live a more relaxing life centered in “presence”, then sure, learn a formal meditation technique, but secondly, and equally (perhaps more importantly)work to resolve the stress fear, anxieties that arise from the conflict between your conscious and unconscious minds, your body-self and your egoic (conceptual self).

The next time you find yourself distracted, mentally uncomfortable, unable to focus in the here and now, ask yourself the question “Where is the inner conflict coming from that is preventing me from relaxing naturally into the present moment?” 
If you can answer this question successfully and identify the area of conflict, then are half way to resolving it. One of the other keys to being able to resolve the conflict successfully is being able to create an arena of communication where the conscious and unconscious minds can “have a bit of a chat” and come to an appropriate solution to their conflicts. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. If through enquiry you discover that the unconscious mind is very angry about something, and that the conscious mind has been repressing that anger (hence the conflict), the conscious mind can acknowledge the hurt in the unconscious mind, and perhaps engage in positive action to resolve the situation causing the anger, whilst the unconscious mind can then make the agreement to stop “acting out” so much and disturbing our inner peace.
  2. If the instinctive self has been feeling “sexually frisky”, and the rational mind has been repressing those feelings (because for example it feels them to be inappropriate), then the two minds can have a communication, and perhaps the conscious mind might agree to acknowledge the feelings of the instinctive self, and if possible find a way of expressing them in an appropriate way, and the instinctive self will most probably be MUCH MORE HAPPY to practice contentment and self control now that the conscious mind has acknowledged and expressed recognition if its needs.

This type of dialog work or inner communication work takes a bit of work to develop the skill (which is one of the things that I often do in my coaching work with clients), but the result is a far greater resolution of the inner conflict between the two minds, and an entirely natural improvement in our inner peace, ability to concentrate and rest in the present moment.

Beginning to practice:
As a simple way of starting this work, whenever you notice your mind is distracted, avoiding the present moment, ill at ease, discontent, anxious, ask yourself the question I placed above:
“Where is the inner conflict (between my two minds) coming from that is preventing me from relaxing naturally into the present moment?”
The answers that come back to you questioning in this way are actually the answers that will help you directly build self knowledge and inner wisdom. Articulating your answers to this question as you ask it each day are the building blocks for a gradual increase in your inner peace, natural concentration and effortless present moment awareness.

© 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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Spiritual Fear, Spiritual Courage

Hi Everyone,

When you think of spiritual courage what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Likewise, what does the idea of spiritual fear conjure up in your mind. This weeks article is a contemplation on both spiritual fear and spiritual courage, and how we can start to deal with spiritual fear by leveraging more upon our spiritual courage.

In the upcoming classes section below you will see that the write ups for the Integral Meditation Practice workshop and six week course beginning in October are now complete, feel free to click on the links and have a read about these brand new programs!

Yours in the spirit of spiritual courage,

Toby


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia
An in Depth Look at Meditations For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 
Time: 7.30-9pm
Location: SCWO, 96 Waterloo Street, Singapore. for map click HERE

3rd October, Class 4Focus, Concentration, Peace
A fragmented, distracted state of mind seems to be the norm in the midst of our current, frantic pace of life. The meditation techniques taught in this class specifically address how we can develop the skill of focused, lucid concentration amidst all the distractions and busyness that calls for our attention. Developing focus and concentration not only has the benefit of making us more effective in achieving our goals, it also gives us access to an experience of deep regenerative peace that we can rest in as we travel our life’s many and varied pathways.

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Sunday 21st October– 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: An Introduction to Integral Meditation Practice

Beginning Wednesday Evening 31st October:  Integral Meditation Practice – A Six Week Course in Mindful Living, Energetic Health and Wise Insight Through Meditation
To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-68714117


Spiritual Fear, Spiritual Courage

Defining spiritual fear and spiritual courage
Spiritual fear is the fear we experience when we are faced with the possibility and challenge of moving from a limited state of identity and awareness to a more expanded and integral state of identity and awareness.
Spiritual courage is the courage that it takes to keep stepping up to and into the challenge and possibility of moving from a limited state of identity and awareness to a more expanded and integral state of identity and awareness.
In other words, spiritual courage is the answer to the challenge of spiritual fear.

Not something new
Spiritual fear and courage not something new to us. All of us can remember the fear and apprehension of moving from kindergarten to primary school, of moving out of our family home for the first time to go to college, of getting our first job, of setting up our first self employed business. All of these situations involved moving from a smaller world and sense of self to a larger world that involved developing both a new sense of who we are, and dealing with the challenges of a larger, more complex and often uncertain universe.
So, there is a sense in which we have already been confronting our spiritual fear; fear of giving up our old, secure identity in order to embrace a larger one, and exercising our spiritual courage; boldly stepping into a new, larger world and embracing a new, bigger and more challenging sense of self.

The challenge to keep on developing and enquiring as we reach adulthood
The challenge for most of us is that once we get to the average, conventional level of functional adulthood, our willingness to keep embracing new and deeper experiences of who we are generally stagnates. We enter a comfort zone where our sense of who we are becomes more and more fixed, more and more comfortable. As we become more comfortable, our willingness to continue developing and pushing ourselves deteriorates.

Spiritual courage is the courage to keep evolving our consciousness
So then spiritual courage is the courage that keep encouraging us out of our comfort zone, and keeping on accessing developing new and deeper dimensions of who we are and what we do.

The stick: The reality of the certain death of the small self
The “stick” that calls us to listen to our spiritual courage and moving beyond our spiritual fear is the knowledge that, at the time of our physical death everything that we are as a personality or ego, and all that we have accumulated materially ceases or is left behind.
If our sense of self only goes as deep as our ego-personality, then at the time of death we will literally feel as if we are losing everything. This mindfulness of the challenge of death encourages us to keep looking deeply into our identity and find something within our moment to moment awareness that is “beyond death” or that continues after our ego-personality ceases at the time of death. You could say that this is one of the main jobs of meditation, to help us develop awareness of that within our awareness that is “deathless”.
Spiritual courage and the actions we engage in over a lifetime based upon spiritual courage enable us to meet our physical death with equanimity and joy, and encourages us to use the time we have in our remaining lifespan as well as possible.

The carrot: Each year of our life becomes the “best ever” as we continue to get older
A life based around spiritual courage will tend toward greater and greater happiness as life goes on and we get older. 
When I was at school when I asked my teachers what was the best time of life, they would either answer childhood or young adulthood, as you have more time for fun and fewer responsibilities. Now, as I pass the 40 year mark of my life, with quite a lot of responsibilities, limited time and a slowly aging body I can still say that this year has been the best of my life so far. This is not because the best outer things have been happening in my life (it has been quite challenging in this way), but rather because my sense of who I am and what I want to do with my life is clearer than ever before, and so the qualitative, moment to moment experience of life is for me now better than it has ever been. As long as I keep enquiring more and more deeply into “who I am” I can only see next year being better than this one, the year after being better still and so on.

Meditating on spiritual courage
Meditating on spiritual courage does not need to be a complex affair it is simply a matter of thinking each day “How would my deepest or highest self respond to the challenges that I face today?” Having asked this question, quieten your mind, look within yourself and connect to the deepest sense of self that you can find within that moment. Observe the perspective that it brings to your life and circumstances, and try and identify with and act upon that deep perspective, rather than the louder and more superficial perspectives that our ego often encourages us to act from.
So, in this sense we could say that meditating on spiritual courage is simply being aware of the deepest, wisest way of viewing ourself and our circumstances, and choosing to act upon that perspective, despite the resistance we may feel from our spiritual fear.

© 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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Mind of Ease Q&A: What to do When you are Overwhelmed by Negativity

Press play below to listen to the Mind of Ease 15minute Q&A Session on “What to do when you are overwhelmed by negativity”:

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Mind of Ease Q&A Sept 2012

Here is a summary of the question:

“In the last meditation class, you shared about developing mental positivity.

However, many times the force of negativity in my mind is so strong that I’m being drowned and the awareness is not even present there to witness the river of mind flowing at all.

For such situations, when there is no awareness to recognize your negativity, how do you even pull back with awareness when awareness itself is absent? (Especially you are in one of those endless loops of negativity which drain your life?)”

And here is the summary of my answer:

Answer:

Meditation is about developing the strength of our conscious awareness and the ability to witness the contents of our mind, it takes practice!

The best time to work on strengthening our self awareness through meditation is when our life and mind are relatively stable and peaceful. If we wait until there is a crisis in our life before we think about trying to meditate, then often it is too late to be of real, practical use.

Most people are leading unconscious lives, being drowned by the force of negativity and habit. Broadly speaking there are four or so stages that we need to go through in order to consciously  re-work deeply engrained and overwhelming negative energies/patterns in our mind:

1)      The first stage is to notice the negativity when we get carried away by it

2)     Second stage is to detach with self compassion and flow with the experience, not fight with it.

3)     Third stage is to dissipate the negativity, and reduce its momentum in our mind and life by practicing non-resistance to it (ie: Not feeding energy by fighting with it or trying to overcome it purely by force of egoic will.

4)     The fourth stage is to replace the negative thought pattern with a new positively structured set of perspectives, thoughts, beliefs and behaviors

This takes time! Our negative personal and inter-personal patterns (ie: in our relationships) have been building up for years and years, of course it takes months and years of consistent practice of conscious awareness to become aware of these patterns, heal them and replace them with appropriate alternatives that wil server the evolution of our consciousness.

Yours in the spirit of a mind of ease,

Toby

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Recognizing Three Types of Fear, Meditating on three Types of Courage

Dear Toby,

Many of the daily challenges we face require dealing with a certain degree of fear, and generating an appropriate degree of courage. The article that I have written below tries to place fear and courage in a particular framework which will help people think about how they can start dealing with fear and consciously use courage to live a more full and fulfilling life, less dominated by fear.

I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of daily courage,

Toby


Recognizing Three Types of Fear, Meditating on three Types of Courage

The three types of fear are:

  1. Instinctive or biological fear – This is activated when we, or someone we care for are in actual physical danger of some sort and that impels us to act decisively. The difficulty for many of us in this day and age is that our biological fears get activated in situations where there is not actually any manifest physical danger, and we find ourself in fight or flight mode when we don’t need to be. So a major part of dealing with this fear is to allow it to affect us only when appropriate and necessary!
  2. Psychological fear – This type of fear occurs when our ego or self image feels threatened either by what someone else says about us (for example a deliberate or non-deliberate verbal insult), or when we have thought or emotion that our self image deems inappropriate or bad, and so we then try and “get rid” of that bad thought or emotion, or otherwise repress it out of fear.
  3. Existential fear – This to use the definition of existential psychology is the fear that we all face arising from “Being in the face of non-being”. That is to say it is the fear that we experience as a tiny unity of temporary human life in the face of our inevitable death, or movement into non-being. This is a fear that all of us faces and experiences.

Accordingly there are three types of courage that we might think of as qualities that help us to deal with the three types of fear:

  1. Instinctive or biological courage – This type of courage we are called to act upon in situations of actual danger to our life or wellbeing, or the life/wellbeing of someone else. It is a courage that we have to activate generally only occasionally, but it is important that it is present and ready for these occasional purposes.
  2. Psychological courage – This type of courage enables us to appropriately repel the threats to our self image that may come from the negativity of others outside of us, but perhaps more importantly it enables us to appropriately acknowledge the difficult emotions and thoughts that haunt our own mind and make a firm decision not to run from these inner fears, or to distract ourself from them, but face up to them and learn how to deal with them appropriately. One of the best ways we can set ourself up for happiness and wellbeing in life is to keep ourself as clear as possible of repressed or “shadow” fears in our unconscious mind that block the flow of energy in our being and make us feel unworthy of genuine and deeply felt enjoyment. Another point here is that quite a lot of our psychological fear is actually our biological/instinctive fears projecting themselves onto our everyday situation, so it is actually fear number 1 projecting itself onto fear number 2. If we can learn to recognize this, then this can also really help us deal in a more relaxed and down to earth manner with our psychological fears.
  3. Existential courage – The third type of courage is existential courage, which is essentially the courage to live a full and creative life even in full knowledge of the fact that eventually we will die and (from the perspective of the small-self of this life) lose everything. Existential courage encourages us to really think about what is most important in our lives, and make sure that each day we are expressing our core values, working toward goals that really mean something to us, and appreciating the things in our life that we really hold dear. To have existential courage means to live life in the present moment fully and vibrantly for as long as it lasts, and then hopefully to die without regrets!

A meditative perspective on the three types of courage:

As meditators on courage then we are trying to:

  • Be mindful of our instinctive courage, calling upon it when necessary and control our biological fear when genuine threats are present.
  • Face our psychological fears with courage, acknowledging and dealing appropriately with thoughts and emotions that appear to threaten the wellbeing of our self-image.
  • Consciously leverage on our existential courage to live a full and meaningful human life.

A final point here is that as we meditate we also start to have experiences that temporarily transcend our existential fear as our self-sense expands beyond our ego. When in meditation we start to develop a sense of ourself as being part of a Universal being or consciousness that did not start with our biological birth and will not end with our biological death, we do start to genuinely transcend our natural fear of death. However, in my experience, even after a part of our awareness does transcend our small self, and identify with its deeper Universal nature, there is still a substantial part of us that still has to work with our life as an individual human, and still has to leverage substantially on the three types of courage in order to deal with the three types of fear.

© 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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