The Birth of Integral Meditation Asia

Dear Everyone,

I just wanted to write a quick email to you to announce the birth of Integral Meditation Asia.

IMA is a project I have been working on in quite a focused way over the last month, and that I have had in mind for the best part of 2012. It is something I am exited about and I just wanted to tell you a little bit about it.

The Mission of Integral Meditation Asia (IMA) is to help people to live more integral, fulfilling, harmonious and dynamic lives by providing high quality meditation courses, coaching and training to both groups and individuals.

Integral meditation aims to provide practices and methods whereby people can effect lasting change in their lives for the better. In particular integral meditation provides people with simple daily practices that will give them a grounded, peaceful and centered experience of their inner being or self, and the ability to exert benevolent and integrated control over their mind and emotions.

IMA is not affiliated to any religious or spiritual group, although it does draw upon material from the great wisdom traditions of the world in combination with contemporary psychology and neuroscience.

In particular, IMA takes its inspiration from integral thinkers and practitioners such as Ken Wilber, who along with a host of other inspirational figures have created an integral movement. The integral movement is one within which people across all disciplines from business to the arts to science to environmentalism use the “Integral approach” to solve contemporary problems and provide an in depth, creative vision for the future of humanity.

You can check out the new website, and the new classes and workshops for the September-December program here: www.integralmeditationasia.com

I have also created an  facebook page that you can follow, with quotes, articles an updates on integral meditation here:  https://www.facebook.com/IntegralMeditationAsia

OK, thanks for reading, I’ll be back with the latest meditation article next Monday!

Yours in the spirit of the ongoing integrative journey,

Toby

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The Three Stages of Non Dual Meditation

Dear Everyone,

At the end of this weeks article below, you will see a reference to something called Integral  Meditation Asia, I will be writing a separate message to you about this later in the week, as it is a new project that I have been working on over the last month or so.
In the mean time enjoy the article on non-dual meditation below. If you ask me what is my primary alternative “healing modality” I would say that it is the meditation on non-duality. Experiential contact with the non-dual state has a completely re-aligning effect on our body mind that I have found effective even in the most difficult and demoralizing mental and physical environments.

Yours in the spirit of the natural union,

Toby



The Three Stages of Non Dual Meditation

There are three stages that you need to engage in order to be a competent non-dual meditator:

  1. Firstly you need to be able to sit in meditation and enter a state of pure formless awareness, where no thoughts objects or perceptions are arising. You should be able to sustain that awareness gradually over longer and longer periods of time, until you can do it at will.
  2. Secondly you need to develop your experience of pure formless awareness so that you can sustain it at the same time as being aware of thoughts, sensations and other objects. Robert Forman calls this second stage a “Dual Consciousness Event”. We are simultaneously aware of both pure formless awareness and the world of form. At this stage the world of form and pure formless awareness appear separate. We simply practice holding awareness of them both at the same time until we can do it naturally and at will.
  3. Thirdly, after a (usually) substantial period of time meditating on stages one and two we start to experience a unitive or non-dual state of awareness, where the experience of pure formless awareness and the appearance of form (ie: mental and sensory objects in our mind and environment) merge together into a single experience. To use the Buddhist expression form appears as empty, and emptiness appears as form. This third stage is paradoxical and cannot be understood by the mind alone(logically how can no-form be form, and form be the same as no-thing?) and it can only really be experienced, understood experientially.

So, three stages; empty the mind and rest in pure formless awareness, secondly learn to be simultaneously aware of both pure consciousness and form, third let them merge together into a natural unitive or non-dual awareness.

Natural Enlightenment
The essential non-dual experience described in stage three above, the unity of form and emptiness is the primary experience of full classical enlightenment as described by the great non-dual schools of meditation, such as Zen, Hindu Vedanta, Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana and Djogchen and so on. The funny thing about the non-dual state is that it appears as completely ordinary, “nothing special” as they say in Zen. Once you have realized this essential non-dual state, all you then really need to do to stay connected to this enlightened state is simply rest in your own natural moment to moment awareness. Everything that appears to that awareness, form or formless, “good or bad”, sacred or profane is seen simply as a manifestation of the primal and perfect non-dual enlightened state, it is perfect just as it is!

How Long do I Need to Meditate to Develop a Stable Experience of the Non-Dual State?
Starting as a scratch meditator, let’s say meditating for 30mins-1hour a dayevery day and taking occasional retreat-type experiences, it might take you five years to stabilize an experience of stage one; being able to meditate in a state of pure formless awareness.
It might then take you another five years to stabilize your experience of stage two, being able to rest at will in a state where you are simultaneously aware of both the form and formless levels of being.
further five years would probably be needed until you had then built the capacity to rest in a unitive state, where the form and formless domains of experience appear to arise simultaneously as a single unified reality.
So, fifteen years to a stable working experience of non-dual enlightenment. Whether you choose to do it within the context of a traditional school of enlightenment such as Zen or Dzogchen, or whether you do it within the context of a more contemporary path such as the meditation courses offered at Integral Meditation Asia, with focus and dedication this is perfectly possible for all of us.
If you are interested in a more detailed explanation of the three meditative states outlined above, you can read a very good article by Robert Forman entitled “What Does Mysticism Have to Teach Us About Consciousness”.

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Is an Idle Mind Really a Devils Workshop?

Dear Everyone,

The article below addresses the idea of an idle mind being a devils workshop. Because of this the language I use to describe the path of meditation is somewhat in the traditional pre-rational terms of God/the Devil. Of course spirituality is a lot more subtle and nuanced than that, but I trust you will be able to use your discernment to be able to perceive the deeper points being indicated in the text 😉

Yours in the spirit of the ongoing journey,

Toby



Is an Idle Mind Really the Devils Workshop? Three Answers from a Mediators’ Perspective

Here in Singapore in the corporate work that myself and my wife do, we are regularly told that we are not allowed to use the word ‘meditation’ in our talks and workshops, or include it in any of the support literature that we give out in such workshops. The reason for this is that certain quite powerful religious groups are strongly warned against meditation, the idea being that an ‘idle mind is a devils workshop’, and so if you sit down and allow your mind to go blank for a while, good ‘ol Beelzebub is going to jump in there and inspire you to go astray. There is a certain amount of irony and sadness in this for me, as through-out history the great meditative and contemplative wisdom traditions have evolved to a large degree within the bosom of the major religions. But nevertheless asking the question “Does an idle mind make a workshop for the devil?” does give rise to some interesting things to consider as a meditator. Here are three responses that occur to me.

An idle mind or an idle no-mind?
If you simply sit around and let your mind think away without purpose or direction, then it is indeed true that it will start coming up with mischief! However, the purpose of meditation is not to sit still and just let the mind think away without direction. The fundamental purpose of meditation is to go beyond the concrete, thinking mind, and enter a state of pure awareness or pure being-ness. This state of pure awareness and being-ness could actually be described as a state of no-mind in the sense that it is empty of the normal discursive chatter and thoughts that fills most people’s mind. This meditative state of no-mind is actually a space where the “devil” of inappropriate thoughts cannot enter. It is in fact a space where we can encounter our own experience of the divine at our leisure so to speak. In this sense you could say that meditation is a way of creating a playground for God, rather than the devil!
Of course progress from our current state of busy-mind to being able create a stable experience of no-mind is a journey that takes substantial effort for most people, and in the journey from busy-mind to no-mind we will undoubtedly go through phases where our mind seems to be “rebelling” against us. However, this  is really no different from the effort that for example someone training for a running marathon might go through. The effort to “get in shape” takes consistent effort and a willingness to bear a certain amount of pain and difficulty. However, once you have stable experience of no-mind it is there for you for the rest of your journey through life and beyond. Certainly a possession worth pursuing, and definitely not “of the devil”!

Talking and Listening to God
A simple but profound saying from the Christian contemplative tradition; “Praying is talking to God, meditation is listening to God”. We want to build a relationship to the divine by telling it what we want in our prayers, but we also need to be prepared to listen to what it might want to say to us in response!
Traditionally the divine speaks to us through the “still small voice within”, and if you really want to hear clearly what is “being said” so to speak, stilling the mind and heightening awareness through some form of contemplative or meditation practice is pretty much a pre-requisite for qualified success.

Meditation as the gateway to both the superconscious and unconscious minds
Now then, meditation is said to be the gateway to the divine, or put another way, to heightened states of subtle awareness that give us access to experiences of the “superconscious”, or that which lies beyond the rational mind.
However, it is also true that meditation relaxes our conscious, rational mind enough for aspects of our unconscious or pre-rational mind to rise up into our awareness. Put another way this means that sometimes in meditation we can find ourself coming face to face with all of the negativity, damage, anxiety and fear that we normally repress and keep out of our conscious mind by “keeping busy” and making sure that the volume level in our mind is turned up high enough to drown all of this scary stuff out!
So, in this sense it can sometimes seem like when we meditate that someone is deliberately placing thoughts in our mind that are triggering all of our buttons, and really doing their best to make us as uncomfortable as possible! This is especially true if you have a lot of repressed material in your unconscious mind (and this is also a reason why meditation is most often not advisable for people who are not mentally stable, they need to build basic mental functionality before they attempt to solve their problems through meditation).
What is actually happening here is that when we meditate, we are activating our body-mind’s natural capacity for self-healing. As a result, over time all that is emotionally and mentally damaged and sick, and that needs healing will start to come to the surface. This is not the devil trying to tempt us, but our own inner damage coming to us in the hope of being healed and loved back into health!
So, this is actually quite an extensive area of exploration that it would take a few articles to explore (you can look under the section on “shadow meditation”on my website for more), but the basic point is that we build stable experience of the divine within us not just by learning to access superconscious states of mind in meditation, but just as importantly by becoming aware of all that is damaged, anxious and neurotic within us, and being prepared to “get our hands dirty” a bit, and love ourself enough to heal that which within us is calling out to be healed.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Tobyas the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Avoiding the Lose-Lose Perspective Trap

Dear All,

I hope this message finds you well, just in case you were wondering why the last few emails have not had a note from me at the top, I have been busy planning new classes and courses for the beginning of September. In particular I am in the process of starting an organization that I am calling “Integral Meditation Asia” which I am quite excited about. The new organization and class schedule should be in place for the beginning of August, so I shall be including more content besides the articles from that time!

Yours in the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Avoiding the Lose-Lose Perspective Trap

One of the major definitions of meditation that I work with in classes and with clients is that it is  a mind that is able to remain focused on a positive object for extended periods. In formal sitting meditation this may involve focusing on a single positive thought, image or feeling without distraction. However, back in the push ad pull of our daily life remaining focused on a positive object means constantly paying attention to the thoughts that we are having about what is happening to us, and mentally framing the situation we are faced with in an optimal way, optimal meaning a way which will give rise to the greatest amount of happiness available.
One of the ways in which we can get “fooled” into thinking in a negative way by our ego is when we are presented with a choice or dilemma. Instead of thinking about the potential good that might come from both choices, we start thinking about the downside of both options until it seems like whichever one we choose (or is chosen for us), we are going to “lose out”.

Here is a simple example that happened for me over the Wimbledon weekend:
Andy Murray and Roger Federer were in the final. As a Brit of course I wanted Any Murray to win (there has not been a British winner since 1936!), but as a kind of fan of Federer I would have liked him to win and equal the record number of Wimbledon titles won by a male competitor. Watching my mind mull this over I could see it starting to feel painful whatever the result;
– If Federer won I would be disappointed because Murray lost, and there was no domestic champion (again!)
– If Murray won I would feel disappointed because one of my favorite players had lost.
With this approach, whatever the result I was going to suffer, it had become a lose-lose situation!

I was smiling a bit about this, because it was really a classic negative maneuver by the conventional ego, a move that it is often unconsciously seeking to make all the time. With  a little bit of thought I mentally re-framed the match something like this:
‘If Murray wins, that is great because Britain finally has a domestic champion, which would be fun for a change! But if Federer wins that is great too, because one of my favorite players will have won and extended his own records, which is something to feel appreciative of!’
With this attitude firmly and mindfully in mind, I was then able to sit back and watch the match unfold, enjoying the quality of tennis.

It’s a simple and slightly funny example, but I think it is a useful illustration of the kind of daily mental “spadework” that we need to be doing each day in order to dig our mind out of lose-lose and other negative perspectives, and keep consciously choosing an approach that is going to reward us with enjoyment an appreciation of ANY situation that we are in.

With this in mind, you might like to ask yourself the questions: “What are the situations in my daily life where I most often get caught in a lose-lose mentality? What would be an appropriate win-win perspective that I could mindfully adopt in such situations and thereby increase my daily happiness?”
A final point here, sometimes the situations where we seem bound to lose out the most can actually in the longer term be very fortuitous, as I read the Dalai Lama say this week “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck!” So, even if we seem to be stuck in a bona-fide, ‘written in concrete’ lose-lose situation, it is always worthwhile keeping at least a part of our mind open to possibilities!

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Tobyas the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

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Meditation, the Salt Analogy and How Our Self-Sense Changes as Our Meditation Practice Evolves

The salt analogy is this; if you put a teaspoon in a cup of water, stir it in and then taste it, it tastes horrible. However, if you take a bucket of water, stir a teaspoon full of salt into it and then take a sip of it, it will still taste basically ok.

In a similar way, if your mind is habitually small, contracted and claustrophobic then even small sufferings and challenges are going to have substantial power to knock you off balance and cause you pain. If on the other hand you make a point of habitually relaxing in into the natural expansive space and stillness of your mind, making your experience of it as big as possible then this will mean that you will be able to bear small challenges and sufferings without any problems, and even larger challenges will have much less power to throw you off balance. You will be able to bear them with a much larger degree of equanimity.
At its simplest there are three objects that our sense of self can identify with; our body, our mind or the spacious awareness that surrounds and contains our experience of both our body and our mind. As small children our identification is almost exclusively with our body and sensory awareness. As we grow up our identification shifts from our body to our mind as our ability to think, feel and conceive in complex ways develops. If we then as adults take up meditation our self sense shifts once more from the mind to the spacious witnessing awareness that surrounds and embraces our mental and sensory experience. The shifting of our self sense from the mind and body to our spacious witnessing awareness is one of the main goals of meditation; it creates a balanced, open inner environment that is able to bear our trails with equanimity and courage, and able to enjoy the gifts that life gives us with conscious appreciation.
I had my fortieth birthday last week, I was thinking about my approach to ageing, and one of the main things that came out of my contemplation is that it is really not so difficult to accept the gradual changes as my body gets older. This is because a substantial proportion of my self-sense is almost always resting in the experience of spacious witnessing awareness that has developed over seventeen years or so of meditation. Ageing just isn’t that big a deal for me, or at least I can say that it is a teaspoon of salt in a very large bucket!
© 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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Transforming Our Attachment into Care

The Tibetan tantras invite us to transform our attachment into a mind of “great bliss”, and in doing so take one of the main causes of our bondage to delusions and change it into a cause of enlightenment. What is a mind of “great bliss” sounds pretty exciting and pleasurable right? To experience an authentic state of great bliss is to experience the primal energy of divine creativity emerging from the emptiness of our causal, or very subtle, formless awareness.  Another way of putting it is to say that the mind of great bliss is the cosmic version of our everyday mind of caring, loving and being compassionate.
Ordinary everyday attachment reduces our ability to care, love and feel compassion because it becomes so obsessed with what it wants (be it a person, pleasure, view or goal) that the longing for it actually blocks our capacity to act with care and consideration for others. From this we can see that if we really want to experience great bliss as well as universal care and compassion, getting to the root of our deluded attachment really is a key.

Why is attachment to people, places and enjoyments so difficult to control for us? Superficially the answer comes back “well, the enjoyments such as food, sex, being “in love”, money and so forth are just so good that it is just natural to want them and desire them”. However, if we scratch a little deeper beneath the surface we discover that beneath our desperate search for sensual enjoyments lie deeper feelings of isolation, separation, loneliness and even desolation. On a deeper level the reason we search so desperately for something outside ourselves to get attached to is because inside we feel fundamentally empty, so we grasp at things outside ourself to “fill” us with the substance that we are searching for. So, one of the first steps in beginning to understand and transform our attachment into feelings of bliss and caring is to get deeply in touch with that part of ourselves that feels empty, desolate, lonely and isolated. Superficially this may not seem like an appealing idea, but if we understand the relationship of our inner separation and emptiness to our deluded attachment then this will give us the courage to explore a little further!

Once we have contacted our own deep feelings of emptiness, we can then begin to transform them by deliberately extending feelings of care, fullness and compassion to ourselves. By consciously extending feelings of care and compassion to ourselves we can then fill that empty space within us, thereby depriving our deluded attachment of one of its core driving factors. This will then result in:
– An increased ability to engage with and enjoy our daily enjoyments and pleasures in a non-deluded way, without the hidden agenda of our deluded attachment.
– Energy that was previously caught up in cycles of deluded attachment within us being released, which can then be re-directed as care and compassion toward ourself, others in our life and out into the world at large.
– An increased ability to experience bliss in our body-mind which if directed appropriately can become an authentic experience of tantric great bliss, which is actually the energy of trans-personal love and compassion.

A suggested practice 

– Take time to get to the root of your deluded attachments and addictions by meditating on the presence of loneliness, isolation and “negative” emptiness in your mind.
– Having found and become familiar with these feelings (that is to say you get to a stage when you don’t instinctively try and avoid or repress them when they arise in your awareness), practice holding them in your mind whilst simultaneously extending feelings of love, tenderness and care toward yourself and specifically these feelings of emptiness.
– Visualize a blissful light or energy at your heart. Identify it as the blissful energy of universal care and compassion. Practice radiating this blissful energy from your heart into your own body at first, filling it from your head to your toes. After this practice extending the energy out to others in your circle of influence, and into the world at large.

Another general practice you might try with your attachment is to meditate on it in the context of the meditation in my article “Using the Energy of Negative Emotions”.

© 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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Going From Deluded Pride to Divine Pride

What is deluded pride?
Deluded pride is quite simply a view of ourself that considers us to be more important or significant than we actually are. It causes us a lot of pain because when we are filled with pride we are vulnerable to the criticisms of others and to our own insecurities (indeed deluded pride may be seen as an attempt to mask our deeply held insecurities). It also prevents us from building healthy friendships and relationships where both parties are considered equals, rather than having one ‘top dog’ and one ‘underdog’.

The core causes of deluded pride
The two major cause of deluded pride are firstly to perceive ourselves as inherently separate from everyone else (as opposed to interconnected), and thensecondly to be caught up in feelings of inferiority. When we feel inferior to others, or when we feel that they threaten our self esteem we tend to overcompensate for the threat by developing deluded pride. If you watch the inner commentary going on in your mind at such times, you will see that it automatically starts coming up with reasons why that person is stupid, or inferior to you and also reasons why you (or your group) are superior to them.
Feelings of inferiority are so deeply embedded within the minds of us human beings that the deluded pride that we develop in order to compensate for it can come in many ways, some very insidious. The subtler manifestations of deluded pride are just as present in spiritual groups and institutions as secular ones.

Humility
One of the main solutions to pride is traditionally the practice of humility. However, many practitioners of humility unintentionally fall into the extreme of simply accepting their own feelings of inferiority as being reality, and thus rather than actually being humble, they are in reality simply staying in their comfort zone, which is simply feeling inferior to others.
Genuine humility I think is a mind that sees our self as no more important or significant than anyone elses, but also includes the caveat that we are also no less important than anyone else. Thus when a person with a lot of deluded pride comes into our life, or we need to stand up for ourselves in any way we are able to do so effectively without being inhibited by our false humility.

Three Types of Non-deluded Pride
You can take non-deluded pride in yourself and what you are or what you do. Indeed it is necessary to take non-deluded pride in what you do if you are going to fulfill your potential. To take a simple example a school teacher who is proud of her profession and the role she plays in helping her students is going to tend to be a good teacher. Without pride in what she does, inevitably the standard at which she does her job will drop.
In this sense you could say that non-deluded pride is very much about caring, caring about what you do, who you are and the effects that you have on your world.

With this in mind here are three types of non deluded pride

Pride in Our Abilities and Achievements
As shown with the example of the teacher above, someone who appreciates their own abilities and the things that they can achieve with them is going to fulfil their potential. We can have pride in what we do without considering ourselves inherently better or superior to others.

Pride in Our Humanity
To be human is to have the ability to go beyond the demands of our biological and socially constructed self and hold ourself to standards of caring, loving and acting skillfully and wisely beyond that which animals are capable (no offense to them!) I think you could safely say that most humans do not have enough non-deluded pride in their own humanity. If they did have such appropriate pride they  would no doubt be many more people fulfilling their genuine human potential than their actually are!

Divine Pride
In Tibetan tantric practice (which I engaged in explicitly for a decade or so) there is a central practice called “divine pride” where you strongly imagine yourself as already being an enlightened deity.  This Tibetan form is a relatively complex form of divine pride, but the essential divine pride that we can all cultivate is simply the recognition that we are all aspects of a single spiritual essence evolving in many varied and diverse ways within time and space.
Our outer form may be that of a single humble human, but the divine essence that flows through us is truly divine spirit-in action. One of the main goals of meditation practice is to learn to recognize this spiritual essence, and take non-deluded pride in it as our true Self or identity.

Final Thoughts
I suppose my main point in the above writing is that both deluded pride and non-deluded pride arise from the same fundamental emotional and mental energy, and that non-deluded pride plays a very important part in both our overall psychological wellbeing and the ongoing evolution of our consciousness. For it to play its role appropriately we need to liberate our pride from the delusion of inflated self importance and from the carousel of our habitual inferiority/superiority complexes. This is not easy, but it is most definitely worth it!

 

© 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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Fertilizer for the mind and body – Using the Energy of Negative Emotions

Hi Everyone,

I hope this newsletter finds you well, this weeks article is a practical meditation technique for working with the energy of negative emotions, which is a theme that I will be building on in articles over the next few weeks.

Yours in the spirit of the ongoing journey,

Toby


Article of the Week:

Fertilizer for the mind and body – Using the Energy of Negative Emotions, a Simple Meditation Technique

In my recent article on “Darkness Emerging as Light” I suggested that the essential energy of negative emotions can be re-worked and re-directed in our life to become a force for the good, and even a force revealing our own enlightened nature. The meditation below is a simple (though not always easy) technique that we can use to:

  •  Work directly to re-direct and transform the energy of  powerful negative emotion
  • Work with at the beginning of a meditation if we are being directly bothered by a negative emotion/thought pattern present in our mind
  • Simply wish to diffuse and recycle ambient negative emotional energy in our bodymind, making it available for us to use in other more positive ways.

The technique is somewhere between a contemplative meditation where we are working with the mind, and a qi-gong type meditation where we are working with the ‘qi’, ‘prajna’ or energy of the body.

Step 1
Sit comfortably in meditation, recognize and rest in a sense of being in a “safe space” for a short while, a safe space meaning here the recognition that at this present time there are no imminent physical or psychological threats to your safety.

Step 2
Bring to mind the negative emotion and accompanying thought patterns that you wish to work with. Try to create it intensively enough so that you can really feel it in your body. This stage can be a bit tricky in that, whenever you try and look at a negative emotion directly it tends to ‘hide’ or ‘disappear’ (and of course there is a lesson in that), so you may have to have to tease it back out again into the open.

Step 3
Ask yourself “Where is the energy of this emotion principally located in my body?” You will probably find that it is somewhere in the torso, between the sacral area and the heart centre, but if it appears to be somewhere else then you can go with that. The main thing is that you should feel you have located the physical and energetic ‘epicenter’ of the emotional disturbance so to speak.

Step 4
See the emotion in that area of your body as being a ball of tightly knotted black light in the centre of that area of your body. At this point let go of the object of your negative emotion (eg the person or situation that has upset you) and simply focus on the ball of light in the body.
See and feel in the centre of that ball an intense point of white light, so that the dark, knotted energy starts to glow from within. Gradually see and feel the knotted dark energy unraveling and lightening. As the energy lightens, it is released from that specific point in the body, and is released and redistributed evenly throughout the rest of the body.

Using the breathing
If you like you can use the breathing to help facilitate this:
As you breathe in, breathe into the centre of the dark energy, seeing the point of light inside growing intensely.
As you breathe out see the point of bright light in the centre expanding through the knotted dark energy, breaking it up and re-distributing it through the body, thus making the energy that has been trapped in the negative emotion re-available for us to use.
(Those of you that are familiar with the way I teach breathing in qi gong will find this basic pattern of breathing familiar, energizing the body upon inhalation, and allowing the energy to flow freely through the body upon exhalation. Here it is the same basic principal applied to a specific area of the body where there is a strong emotional charge).

Step 5 
Conclude the meditation with a brief period of silent awareness, just breathing and focusing on the body as you experience it in the present moment.

Final thoughts
Repeated use of this meditation will sensitize you to build ups of emotional energy in general, and once you are familiar with the basic technique enable you to modulate emotional energy in the body on a more organic, free-form basis.

© 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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Living by the Light of Your Own Mystical Vision

Hi Everyone,

This weeks article is a little bit of a reflection on how mystical vision is something that we all partake of, and how we can go about integrating our own mystical expereinces a bit more into our own daily life. Enjoy!

Yours in the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Upcoming Classes

Thursday Morning Qi gong Classes

Wednesday 13th June, 7.30-8.30pm – Meditation Class: “How to Integrate Mystical States and Peak Experiences into Your Daily Life”

 


Article of the Week:

Living by the Light of Your Own Mystical Vision

For the purposes of this article we will be using two terms to encompass the meaning of mystical vision; “peak experiences” and “mystical states”.
peak experience as any personal, subjective experience that we may have that expands our sense of self and beyond its normal, ordinary day to day egoic boundaries.
mystical state we will define as any experience that moves us into a state of extra-ordinary communion/communication and/or union with the absolute, or the divine.
Put simply both of these types of experience open us to a sense of something bigger than ourself.

From the above definitions we can see that peak experiences and mystical states really work together in tandem; whenever you have an experience that moves us beyond our normal ego boundaries, implicitly we move into a state of deeper communion and union with the universe.

Everyone who has ever led an extra-ordinary life has led a life that was informed by and attuned to their mystical visions. Actually there are very few people who have not had some kind of mystical vision in their life, but for most of us what happened was that we had the experience and then we kind of forgot about it and fell back into the kind of everyday hum drum existence that was the path of least resistance for us.

With this in mind, I would now like you to think of at least one or two experiences in your life that fit into the definition of a peak experience or a mystical state. Spend a minute or two re-creating that experience in your mind and allowing the feelings and images associated with it to pervade your mind and body.
Once you have done this I would then like you to ask yourself the question “What can I start your do today to bring my daily life and actions in line with the spirit of this experience?”
Pondering this question you may conclude that all you need to do today is simply to make your actions at the office or at home a little more loving and considerate,   or you may decide that you want to make a more radical change or shift in the patterns of your life. The main thing is to make a choice to include this state of awareness in your life more, revisiting it and allowing it to inform the choices and actions that you make each day.

Suggested Practicum
This week simply bring to mind your past peak experiences/mystical states, and sit with them for a minute or two. Having done this try and then keep them in mind during your day so that they consciously inform all that you do, say and imagine.

© 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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Darkness Emerging as Light

Hi Everyone,

Instinctively we shun difficult and dark emotion in our search for happiness and wellbeing. But what if the secret to finding really dynamic, enlightened happiness was to be found within those dark emotions themselves? This weeks article explores this idea.

Yours in the spirit of darkness as light,

Toby

 


 

Article of the Week:

Darkness Emerging as Light

Often we hear the spiritual path as described in terms of light fighting against the darkness and conquering it, as if the darkness within us is something so intractably unhelpful and evil that the only constructive thing that we can do is to get rid of it or destroy it.
Consequently when we come across dark and destructive emotions in our mind, the tendency can be to shun them, try and get rid of them, repress them, and fight against them.
A closer examination however reveals that really the process of enlightening our dark emotions and impulses is more a matter of transforming and re-working their essential energy so that from their dark and chaotic core light emerges. If we gain practical experience and insight of this we realize that darkness and light are really two aspects of the same essential energy, merely appearing in different ways.
We can find a precedent for this in the Tibetan Buddhist tantric tradition, where the energy of the five core elements of existence can appear on the emotional and mental level either in their distorted form, or their liberated form.

Element – Earth, Distorted Energy – Arrogance/pride, Liberated Energy – Equanimity/balance/generosity

Element – Water, Distorted Energy – Anger/aggression/violence, Liberated Energy – Clarity/mirror wisdom/penetrating insight

Element – Fire, Distorted Energy – Possessiveness/compulsiveness/obsessiveness/consumerism, Liberated Energy – Discriminating wisdom, compassion, appropriateness
Element – Air, Distorted Energy – Envy, suspicion, jealousy, Liberated Energy – Spontaneity/ free and fluid capacity for action
Element – Space, Distorted Energy – Intentional ignorance/introversion/depression, Liberated Energy – Unrestricted intelligence/Pervasive wisdom.
So, this is not an article on Tibetan tantric Buddhism per-se, rather the point of listing the above set of correspondences is to indicate that all negative emotions are expressions of a core creative energy that has been misdirected and distorted. Therefore the way to deal with such misdirected and distorted energies is not to shun them or reject them, but rather to look deeper into them, re-work our understanding of them and re-direct their energy so that it can express itself as enlightened creative energy in our life.
You don’t have to formally be a ‘tantric’ practitioner to do this, but you do need to have the courage and will to look deeply into your emotional pain and darkness and start using your natural intelligence to re-work, re-frame and re-direct that energy in your life. You need to learn to not be afraid of the energy of powerful emotions, but rather to embrace them, recognizing that the energy that intimidates you now is in fact the very same energy that we will later experience  as the light of enlightenment. It is the same basic creative energy seen understood and experienced from a different, larger context and perspective.

So, all of this is not easy work, and it takes consistent time and dedication. If you would like an example of such a re-working from my own life and process you can read an article I wrote called “In order to find real happiness you first have to get mad as hell” which was written during a time when I was specifically re-working my own relationship to the energy of anger.

Practicum

Here is a simple exercise to get started. Whenever you feel a dark negative emotion/emotional space arising in your mind, rather than running away from it, fighting with it or repressing it, try and relax and just feel your way into the “middle” or central core of that emotional vortex. Try and discover that point of stillness that lies at the heart of even the most volatile emotion. Sit there form a while, letting the emotion flow through and over you. Once you are used to this basic activity, then ask yourself the question “How can I re-direct and re-define my relationship to this dynamic and creative energy so that it is working in a liberated way in my life, rather than a distorted way?

© 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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