Can attraction and desire be part of a genuinely spiritual love?

In my previous article on the five types of romantic love I placed the dynamic of romantic love in a larger context, to include our relationship not just with other people, but also ourself, the world/the Universe, landscape and our “art” or work.

What I want to do in this next few articles is have a look at four basic stages that any romantic relationship needs to go through in order to connect us to deep levels of authentic passion and creativity.

When I talk of passion and creativity here I am not referring just to a temporary increase in our creative energy, but a connection to deeper life forces that is continuously sustained over a long period of time.

The four stages of romantic love as I have named them are:

  1. Attraction and desire
  2. Relationship
  3. Union
  4. Creativity

In the article below we will begin by looking at stage 1, attraction and desire. I will focus mainly on the relationship between two people, but bear in mind that it can apply to the other four types of romantic experience as well.

 Stage 1: Attraction and desire

Romantic attraction and desire are often seen as the antithesis of the pure, spiritual experience of love. However, if you look at the state of mind that you enter into when you first “fall in love” with a person, a place or a type of work or art, you will be able to see that it has many magical and spiritual qualities. For example

  • The whole world seems more alive and vivid
  • You seem to be in a kind of telepathic communication with the person you are romantically involved with
  • Daily problems and anxieties fall away
  • You have more energy
  • There is a natural sense of timelessness which is in fact connected to the timeless world of spirit

Attraction and desire are the starting point for ANY romantic relationship, whether the couple are on a high level of consciousness or a low one. Attraction and desire are as natural as breathing and eating for us!

(those last two lines are my answer to the question posed by the title of this article by the way!)

One of the keys to successfully negotiating and enjoying this period of intense attraction and desire is to look closely at the motivations behind your attraction and desire.

  • If you feel attracted to a person because you feel a glaring LACK or POVERTY within yourself, then it is likely that the attachment and desire is going to lead to experiences of pain and suffering in the next stage of the romance.
  •  If you fall into an attraction and desire for someone even though you feel a comfortable sense of FULLNESS and ABUNDANCE within yourself, then it is likely that you will be able to transition to the next stage of the romance where “reality sets back in” without too much problem.

Exercise for appreciating and enjoying desire and attraction

Recall a time when you were in love with someone for the first time (or if you are at that stage in your relationship now, look at what you are experiencing now). Spend a while re-creating the feelings and experiences associated with that time. Creatively imagine your way back into the feeling and texture of your mind, body and emotions at that time. Breathe with it and enjoy it for a while.

Now let go of the specifics of the romance. Forget about the person you were with, the time, the place and so on. Just focus on the essence or essential feeling that is left inside. Breathe with this for a while.

What you will find if you do this is that experiences of desire and attraction lead us quite naturally into a mystical, enraptured, timeless state of consciousness. Most of the time we fail to capitalize on this because we mistake the object of our desire for the STATE OF MIND that he/she evokes. However, if you can let go of the object of your desire and focus on the state of BEING that has been evoked in you, you will find yourself connecting to something timeless, universal and full of life-force…

© Toby Ouvry 2010. You are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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The five types of romantic love that we can experience

www.tobyouvry.com/soulportraits

When you think of romantic love, what type of love do you think of? Chances are that most people will think of love between two individuals who fall in love with each. What I want to do in this article is broaden the idea of what romantic love could be to include five ways of experiencing romantic relationships:

  • With ourself
  • With the Divine
  • With another human being
  • With landscape or place
  • With our art or work

Before I go into detail with each of these, I want to give a working definition of what romantic love is, for the purposes of this article, and for the classes that I will be doing on romantic love starting this coming Tuesday 12th October.

“Romantic love is a type of love that has 4 stages. Firstly there is an attraction toward or a desire for the object (person or otherwise). Secondly we move into relationship with the object of attraction or desire. Thirdly we experience a union with the object, fourthly that union gives rise to a creative result.”

So, in a subsequent article I will be going into these four stages in more detail, but for now within the context of this short definition let’s have a look at the five types of romantic love:

  1. In our relationship to ourself – This can be thought of as the romance between the soul and the personality, or the higher self and the lower self. The spiritual path in some ways can be seen as the development of this romance. The soul(or deeper self) and personality(outer self) feel attraction to each other, move into relationship with each other, accomplish a union though various practices, with the creative result or “birth” of enlightenment within the individual
  2. Romance with the Divine – This is the romance that we experience between ourself as a single human and the divine or creative forces (however we may conceive it, God, the Tao, the Primal Buddha Mind etc..) of the Universe. We all have a different way of relating to the divine, dialoguing and conversing with it, moving into communion with it and finding and finding ways to express that union creatively.
  3. Romance with another human – This is the most common context that we think of romantic love in. It begins when we experience an attraction or desire for someone. If that person responds favourably, then we can proceed into the complex process of relationship, various levels of union (sexual, emotional, mental spiritual) that in turn give rise to creative results, ranging from marriage, to children, to inner transformation, to joint working projects and so on…
  4.  Romance with a landscape or sense of place – This begins when we feel a deep empathy, attraction or simpatico to a particular place. We then move into relationship with it by spending time there (by living there or repeatedly visiting), our communion gives rise to various forms of union with the forces of the landscape which cause a creative result. This creative result can be physical (eg: When we work to build something there or do conservation work) or it can be inner, for example when we are changed or healed in some way through our interaction with the place.
  5. Romance with a type of art, discipline or work – This is perhaps most often thought of in terms of an artist with her artistic muse, who drives him/her toward ever greater heights in his creative work. However we all have work that we feel a natural desire to participate in more than others. If we are lucky we are then able to move into that work more and more deeply by making a career of it. We merge our mind and body more and more deeply with the discipline of the work, which gives rise to greater and greater creative results as time goes by. Relationship to work we love is like a relationship to a human lover, not always easy, but behind the struggle lies a deep passion and belief in the rightness of the partnership, and a desire to remain in creative union.

Suggested reflection:

When you have a quiet moment, work your way thoughtfully through each of these five ways in which romantic love can be experienced. See what types of free associations and feelings come up with regard to the way in which you currently relate to your relationship to yourself, the Divine, your lover, your work/art and the place where you live (or other landscape/place that you love). What new ways of experiencing your life arise when you place these different parts of your life in a “romantic” context?

Final note: Still haven’t found your soul mate yet? Never mind, as you can see there are four other types of romantic relationship you can be pursuing in the mean time 😉

Catch the new serties of classes on the Six stages of love with Toby this coming Tuesday 12th October!

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Walking meditation with the primal ancestors

This is a simple meditation form that can be done as a walking meditation or a sitting form. I am going to explain it here as a walking meditation. It is a creative meditation where the imagination plays a large role in the experience. However by engaging our imagination we connect ourselves to the spiritual energies of the Planetary Being and of our own common and individual ancestral heritage, and this can be a powerful experience.

One of the things that I think we have forgotten in our contemporary day and age is a feeling of connection and participation in some of the fundamental processes of life. By this I mean simple things like:

  • When you walk you are walking on the surface of a planet that is awe inspiring and in many senses alive and responsive to us
  • Above us is a beautiful and wondrous sky with stars
  • Time moves in cycles, daily, monthly, yearly. We can experience this living process just by lifting our head and looking around
  • We are a part of something much bigger than ourselves

To our ancestors living in earlier ages, these simple and awe inspiring things would have been obvious, as they tended to live in immediate proximity to nature and were more obviously vulnerable to it and reliant upon it. In reality we are no less so I think, but this is in many ways hidden from our view these days.

In this meditation we imagine ourselves to be one of the first ancestors of our human family, and imagine what it is like to walk as they did and experience the Earth as they did. The purpose is to re-awaken a sense of wonder, connection and participation to the earth and the universe as a living thing, something naturally divine.

Walking with and as the primal ancestors

–          Find a pleasant natural environment to walk in. In time you can learnt to do this in the midst of a city, but initially it is helpful to find a peaceful place with plenty of greenery and relative quiet. If you can walk barefoot this is preferable

–          Spend a little while simply breathing and centring yourself in the present moment, attune yourself to your environment.

–          In your mind allow yourself to go back in time as far as you can to the times of your oldest, most primal relatives in distant earlier ages of the Earth. Intuitively see one of these ancestors in front of you or beside you. Get a sense of their clothing (or lack of it) their aspect, their manner, their energy. Feel your minds and hearts establishing an energetic link.

–          Walking with your primal ancestor: Walk through your environment with them walking next to you (perhaps you are holding hands). As you walk try and enter into their experience of walking on the earth, their natural awareness and reverence for nature and the Planetary being. Try and feel into their natural sense of timelessness, their understanding of the seasons, of the elements.

–           Walking as your primal ancestor: Once you have done this a few times you can try walking AS your primal ancestor, that is to say you see yourself in their body, see the world through their eyes, and think with their thoughts as you walk.

–          You may find that each time you do the meditation you meet the same ancestor, or you may find that they change periodically. Trust your intuitive imagination here!

Click here to find out about upcoming classes by Toby on the Six stages of Love.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Enlightened transformation – Five levels of motivation for personal change

www.tobyouvry.com/soulportraits

Here are five reasons why people are motivated to make a change in their life:

1)      Self-hate – “I’ve got to change because I hate myself so much”. At this level you have to change because the level of dislike that you feel when you look in the mirror or contemplate your behaviour is just no longer tolerable. Think many of the contestants on “the biggest looser” or a junkie who has been told he will die unless he quits his habit. Unfortunately, for many of us it has to get this bad before we can really make genuine change.

2)      Self-improvement – Here you can like who you presently are, but you have become hungry enough in evolutionary terms to want to continue to change and transform into something even better. High achievers in any discipline; meditation, sport, sport business or whatever, all have to get to at least this level to be where they are.

3)      I want to benefit my circle of influence Sometimes we can’t bring ourself to change our behaviours just for ourself (maybe we don’t feel we are worth it?), and it takes a sense of responsibility to others to make us change. I saw five minutes of an interview with Pamela Anderson last night. In it she explained how she tolerated violence from her ex-husband until she had kids, when he demonstrated violence to her in their company she left him. Classic example.

4)      I want to benefit the world – Here our concern extends beyond our ego and our circle of friends and family to include the whole world as our object of compassionate care. This compassionate care for the Whole has become strong enough for us to actually change ourself and our behaviours.

5)      The universe wants to benefit others through me – Here there is to a greater and greater degree a sense in which our actions are a spontaneous expression of something greater than ourself. Rather than us willing the action, the action flows though us from some deeper source. The transformative action feels spontaneous, effortless, choiceless. 

In this arrangement, level five is the highest motivation, level one is the lowest. However the key to mastering them all is to understand that level 5 transcends and includes all the others. You can be operating largely from level five whilst at the same time:

  • Wanting to change something about yourself you don’t like
  • Wanting to get better at something you already do well
  • Wanting to specifically help your circle of influence in some way
  • Being motivate to make the world a better place

One minute mindfulness of motivation:

For two or three of your actions each day, sit down before hand and think to yourself “Why am I doing this?” Mentally bring to mind the five levels of motivation above (or print off the above summary and have a look at them as you ask yourself the question). How many of these motivations are you currently exercising in your life in an appropriate way? How many of them can you start introducing into your daily actions to deepen and enhance them?

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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The five types of enlightened power

The series of meditation classes that I am teaching at the moment has got me thinking about different ways in which you can express enlightenment in your daily life. Here is a profile of five enlightened powers that, if consciously practised together will make your own attempts to embody enlightenment in the market place more powerful:

The five types of power are:

  • The power of embodiment
  • The power of devotion
  • The power of affirmation and visualization
  • The power of energy
  • The power of karmic action

The power of embodiment – The basic practice here is remembering that you are, in essence a spark of Universal spirit experiencing (temporarily) a physically embodied life on Earth as a human. Whatever situation you find yourself in, grounding your awareness in your true identity and not getting caught up in your small or egoic identity is the power of embodiment. Wherever you are, remember WHO you are!

The power of devotion – This power is the power of invoking prayers to forces greater than oneself regarding any situation that you may be in. The power of devotional prayer connects higher and deeper energies into the situation, and enables them to participate in the event more directly, thus increasing the chances of a more enlightened outcome (See my article on “Why worry when you can pray?” ).

Another aspect of this power could be said to be your devotion to your highest ideal and highest outcomes, not settling for second best so to speak.

The power of affirmation – This power is really a mental training. It involves paying attention to the thoughts and images that you are having, and ensuring that as far as possible they are affirming the highest and best outcome for any given situation. Our thoughts and imagination have tremendous unseen power to influence events one way or another.

The power of energy – This power entails being aware of the subtle energy present in your body and in the environment, and learning to develop and maintain as harmonious, positively powerful and stable subtle body energy as you can at all times. Simply being a point of stable, expansive enlightened energy in any situation will be of help, even if we do or say nothing.

The power of karmic action – This is choosing to physically act and speak in a way that is congruent with the above four enlightened powers, so that the actual daily actions that you engage in are a reflection of the higher intentions that you have been developing.

A five minute meditation for engaging the five enlightened powers in your daily life:

If you do this exercise once a day over the next 7 days, it will give you a feel for how to engage the five powers in any given action.

–          Minute 1 – Embodiment: Select the life situation that you want to engage the five enlightened powers with. Visualize yourself in that situation. Breathe deeply into the core of your being and body, find the formless, timeless space of pure awareness in your heart that is your True or Universal Self. Ground yourself in the awareness that this is your true identity.

–          Minute 2- Devotion: Offer a prayer in whatever manner feels appropriate for the highest good of the situation. Invoke any higher or greater universal powers into the situation and request their help. Give them permission to participate fully in working toward the best outcome.

–          Minute 3 – Affirmation: Offer your highest and most encouraging thoughts regarding the situation. For this time see, think and visualize the highest good and the best outcome

–          Minute 4 – Energy: Feel the subtle energy and light vibration in your body as strong, balanced, harmonious and stable. See this energy spreading out into the situation and the energies of all the people involved. Feel and experience this strong balanced subtle force flowing in the dynamic of the whole scene.

–          Minute 5 – Karmic Action: For the last minute think about practical things that you may be able to do or say to take the situation forward. Make a metal note of when and where you are going to try and engage in these practical actions.

Conclude with a dedication that the energy of all the five forces that you have generated in your meditation should be a cause for the most enlightened outcome possible!

Finnish.

© Toby Ouvry 2010 you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew comments on his own daily meditation practice

(This is extracted from an interview that Lee Kuan Yew recently did with the New York Times, I am not going to add or subtract anything from it, just present it as it is – Toby)

Q: “Tell me about meditation?” (Seth Mydans, New York Times/International Herald Tribune)

Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew: “Well, I started it about two, three years ago when Ng Kok Song, the Chief Investment Officer of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, I knew he was doing meditation. His wife had died but he was completely serene. So, I said, how do you achieve this? He said I meditate everyday and so did my wife and when she was dying of cancer, she was totally serene because she meditated everyday and he gave me a video of her in her last few weeks completely composed completely relaxed and she and him had been meditating for years. Well, I said to him, you teach me. He is a devout Christian. He was taught by a man called Laurence Freeman, a Catholic. His guru was John Main a devout Catholic. When I was in London, Ng Kok Song introduced me to Laurence Freeman. In fact, he is coming on Saturday to visit Singapore, and we will do a meditation session. The problem is to keep the monkey mind from running off into all kinds of thoughts. It is most difficult to stay focused on the mantra. The discipline is to have a mantra which you keep repeating in your innermost heart, no need to voice it over and over again throughout the whole period of meditation. The mantra they recommended was a religious one. Ma Ra Na Ta, four syllables. Come To Me Oh Lord Jesus. So I said Okay, I am not a Catholic but I will try. He said you can take any other mantra, Buddhist Om Mi Tuo Fo, and keep repeating it. To me Ma Ran Na Ta is more soothing. So I used Ma Ra Na Ta.

You must be disciplined. I find it helps me go to sleep after that. A certain tranquility settles over you. The day’s pressures and worries are pushed out. Then there’s less problem sleeping. I miss it sometimes when I am tired, or have gone out to a dinner and had wine. Then I cannot concentrate. Otherwise I stick to it… a good meditator will do it for half-an-hour. I do it for 20 minutes.”

Q: “So, would you say like your friend who taught you, would you say you are serene?”

Mr Lee: “Well, not as serene as he is. He has done it for many years and he is a devout Catholic. That makes a difference. He believes in Jesus. He believes in the teachings of the Bible. He has lost his wife, a great calamity. But the wife was serene. He gave me this video to show how meditation helped her in her last few months. I do not think I can achieve his level of serenity. But I do achieve some composure.”

Read full transcript here 

Upcoming October workshop with Toby: “An introduction to meditation as a way of overcoming stress, anxiety and mental busyness.”

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Why expressing your enlightenment in the marketplace of your life is an ethical imperative (and three things you can do to start NOW!)

In the past, if all those who had some degree of enlightened awareness chose to retreat from society and live in the mountains, then that would be unfortunate for society in general, but at least we could rest secure in the knowledge that the world and humanity would continue to be here. In past times humanity did not have the power to wreak total destruction on the planet, ecosystems and itself.

Now we are in a situation where the LACK of evolved consciousness in human society at large is a huge problem, because the problems that human activity is causing are global in nature. Humans now have the power to alter the ecological balance of the planet through pollution, to wipe out other species of creature in ways that in the past would have been inconceivable. We now have a situation where we have GLOBAL OR “METTA” PROBLEMS, BUT MOST HUMAN BEINGS ARE TRAPPED IN A EGOIC OR “MICRO” MINDSET!

The only way to solve global problems is by adopting a global mindset, where as many individuals as possible are actively caring about the state of the world as a whole. That means that humanity as a whole needs to raise its level of consciousness from a fundamentally self-centred, self-serving mindset to a fundamentally world-serving, globally caring mindset.

 This current situation then places a new onus upon those whose level of consciousness is raised to any degree of enlightened awareness. It urges them to get out into society and start acting to raise the level of consciousness in as many practical ways as they can think of.

With this in mind, here are three areas that you can start working on NOW:

1)      Developing and sustaining your own enlightened level of consciousness: Having a series of practices that you do each day that are specifically designed to raise your level of consciousness and sustain it. It is no use trying to save drowning people if you are drowning yourself! Knowing, experiencing and embodying enlightened awareness personally is essential for raising the level of societal and global consciousness!

2)      Working mindfully with your own circle of influence: Your circle of influence is that group of people over whom you have some kind of personal or direct influence. These are the people and groups of people that you have real power to affect for better or worse right now . Maximising your potential to benefit them and help them raise their consciousness is perhaps the most obvious and direct way to help raise the consciousness of society as a whole!

3)      Being actively involved in metta projects that are designed to benefit the evolution of the planet and society: As a meditation and Qi gong coach, my main metta project is creating a profile of services and education programs that help people to raise their consciousness, heal their mind and body and participate in life in an enlightened manner. Your project might be a long term relationship to a charity, working on conservation, creating new enlightened business systems or whatever. The main point here is that you have some form of long term project that is designed to make an enlightened impact on society in some way and in the long term.

So, the KEY with understanding these three areas is that ALL THREE NEED TO BE WORKING IN BALANCE.

–          You don’t want to be a meditator with a high level of consciousness but completely cut off from society

–          You don’t want to be a charity worker working on metta projects but totally personally burned out due to neglecting your own personal well being

–          You don’t want to be a person who looks after his or her own circle of concern, but whose boundaries never extend beyond the scope of benefiting friends and family

You need to express whatever level of enlightenment you have in a balanced way in all three areas of your life.

I hope you have enjoyed the article, and I hope to see some of you at the Tuesday class where we shall be looking at this subject in depth!

PS: Here is the link to the new Integral teleseminar seiries entitled “Beyond awakening; the future of spiritual practice”  guranteed to stimulate, and free to participate in!

© Toby Ouvry 2010. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Uniting the body, mind and heart: The three levels of mindfulness that we evolve through

Following on from my earlier articles on gratitude and self-love, and articles on spiritual intelligence in general, here are three levels of mindfulness that we can distinguish.

As we develop our meditation practice we gradually evolve our experience of mindfulness through three levels. The three levels are as follows:

– Controlling the desires of the selfish / unconscious heart and instincts

– Engaging the mind, heart and body in communion with our actions and with life

– As an intuitive union of the mind, body and heart in all that we do

Level 1: Controlling the desires of the selfish / unconscious heart and instincts:

At this level mindfulness is basically used as an act of concentration and willpower extending mainly from our mind. We have decided that we wish to live a more conscious, engaged life and we realize that in order to do this we need to start exerting control over our selfish and uncontrolled desires that are leading us to experience repeated patterns of pain, stress, anxiety and emptiness.

We use our mindfulness to consciously direct ourself toward positive actions, ways of thinking and being in the world. At this stage our mind and willpower are like an animal tamer, and often our heart and instincts can feel a bit like the wild animal!

Level 2: Engaging the mind, heart and body in communion with our actions and with life

At this level of mindfulness we have developed a certain level of skillfulness. During our daily actions our mind, heart and body are co-ordinated in a more harmonious whole (as opposed to each going in their own direction, often pulling against each other).

We learn to bring the attention of our thinking mind, our feeling heart and our bodily senses into our actions in a mindful manner that makes life a deeply felt and fulfilling experience. We start to reap the rewards of our mindfulness practice, the main one being that we find that even small or seemingly mundane activities become causes of deep happiness and contentment. Our mindfulness enables us to experience first hand the truth that happiness can always be found in the present moment.

Level 3: As an intuitive union of the mind, body and heart in all that we do

At this stage we no longer a have to exert a large amount of effort to keep our mind, body and heart in a mindful, synchronized whole. The energetic “communication wires” between these three levels of our being have become well established. This means that even when we temporarily loose our mindful awareness, our feelings, thinking and body awareness tend to remain intuitively happy and harmonious through force of long habit.

Attaining the third level of mindfulness indicates a time in our practice where effort and hard work are replaced more and more by a sense of naturalness and flow extending from our deep communion with life on all levels.

Upcoming events with Toby:

Tuesday 15th September, new series of 3 classes on “How to express enlightenment in the market place of daily life”

Three body Qi gong classes with Toby in September and October

© Toby Ouvry 2010, yuu are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Bridging the gap between loving self and loving others; the three levels of self-love

Like the other posts in the series of articles on spiritual intelligence (where I have divided other topic or practices into three), in this article I want to outline three levels of self-love. One of the points in doing this is to illustrate how the practice of self-love goes through developmental stages as our consciousness evolves.

For self-love I am going to call these three stages the following; the first stage moves us from the “topdog undedog” mentality to self-acceptance. The second stage sees a movement from self-acceptance to self-love. The third stage sees a movement to transcendent or transpersonal levels of self love that I call “Love for self-as-the-World”.

Stage 1: From the “top dog underdog” mentality to self-acceptance – Actually, to get to the “top dog underdog” stage you have to have developed beyond the very low levels of relationship to self and life which are basically, “I suck” and “life sucks”!

When you get to the topdog underdog stage, basically you are continuously comparing yourself to others; If you are better than them (let’s say richer) then you feel good about yourself. If you are worse than them (let’s say poorer or less expensive car), then you feel bad about yourself, the worthless underdog. Life is spent see-sawing between feeling ‘better than’ others or ‘worse than’ others, self-loathing manifests easily, insecurity abounds. Make a mistake or do something dumb, and you will attack yourself big time!

So, the first level of self-loving sees a journey from this roller coaster ride of the topdog underdog mentality to a stable state of relationship to self. We are able to accept ourself as we are, without comparing ourself to others or giving ourself an overly hard time when our behaviour does not match our expectations.

This is NOT to say that we do not have goals and expectations for ourself, just that we do not easily move into states of self-criticism and self-loathing when those goals are sometimes not met. Actually self-acceptance when practiced rightly enables us to enhance our ability to achieve our goals and change our behaviours for the better.

Stage 2: From self-acceptance to self-love – This second stage sees the movement within our relationship to ourself from simplay accepting who we are to actively LIKING who we are. There is a big difference. Self-acceptance implies a tolerance which is obviously a good thing, and much better than getting caught in self loathing all the time. Liking ourself means that there is a sense of warmth, enjoyment, rejoicing and enthusiasm that we feel in our relationship to ourself. We become our own best friend, which is a tremendous asset as we are the person that we have to spend 24 hours of our day with!

Stage 3: Love for self-as-the-World – This stage actually looks at how our self-sense itself transforms as we evolve, and particularly as we meditate and spend time with and in expanded states of consciousness.

At this stage our self-sense has expanded to the degree that our idea of our “body” is actually Planet Earth, our sense of “mind and spirit” are the mind and spirit of Gaia, and all the living creatures contained within her (the Planets) consciousness.

As this stage self interest and the good of others are no longer in conflict. The self that we think of when we think “I love myself” is actually the Planetary Being, as opposed to the small self encased within the skin of this one small body. This third stage is what you might call the transcendent, transpersonal or enlightened stage of self-love, the end goal of the practise itself.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article,  but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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The three levels of gratitude

Gratitude is mentioned a lot as a spiritual practice, and with good reason as it is an important one. What you may not have heard before is that gratitude goes through stages of growth, it is not just one practice that stays the same thru-out our journey, it evolves as we evolve. With this in mind here are three basic stages of gratitude that we need to pass through:

  1.  Ingratitude or an absence of gratefulness – At this stage our ego is very contracted and small in its thinking, the things that we have to be grateful for we very quickly take for granted, we have no idea or feel for the interconnectedness of the web of life and the kindness that we are shown directly and indirectly by so many beings on so many levels. We live our lives in a state of perpetual discontent and “lack”. Our mind is like a closed window to the light and grace of gratitude.
  2. Conscious gratefulness for the manifest good in our life – The second stage of gratefulness is where we have developed some form of evolutionary aspiration in our mind, and we recognize the benefits, both for ourself and others, of appreciating the good, the beautiful and the true in our life. Each day is spent consciously taking into account what we have to be grateful for and reminding ourselves not to slip back into a state of taking-things-for-granted-ness. This stage of gratefulness sees a battle between the consciously grateful mind that is growing and evolving in our life, and the old ungrateful ego-contraction that it is trying to replace (and that tends to be stubborn as a mule!)
  3. Spontaneous gratefulness – This third stage of gratefulness arises from a direct perception and experience of our living relationship as an individual to the evolving Life-force of the Universe. More traditionally you could call this a gratitude for being in a living, participating relationship to God and the wonder of creation.

Whether you choose the words Life, the Universe, God or otherwise, the subjective experience here is basically a spontaneous sense of gratitude that arises effortlessly due to our constant connection and ‘simpatico’ with the dancing energies of life and the universe as they continue on the journey and adventure of evolution. At this stage gratitude has become a state of being rather than something that we have to battle constantly to maintain.

Initially we have to work quite hard to journey from stages one to stage two. After a period of years, depending upon our effort we will find ourself starting to ‘peak experience’ into level three for short periods of time, then regressing back. Eventually we are able to stabilize our mind at level three as our “default gratitude attitude”, at which point we can truly have said to have a realization of gratitude.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Upcoming events with Toby:

Tuesday 7th September  evening meditation class – Spiritual intelligence as a path to personal to personal, integrated enlightenment

New series of Three Body Qi Gong™ classes in September and October

Article on “What is Three Body Qi Gong™ (and why you should be interested in practicing it)”

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