Is your meditation a type of therapy, an art-form or a spiritual practice?

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is your meditation an art-form, a therapy or a spiritual practice? Can you combine these three things together into a single meditation practice? The article below examines this question!
For those in Singapore the Practical meditations for spiritual awakening classes begin tonight & tomorrow (Wednesday) evening with a class on the topic of the three types of meditation, and this Saturday we have the Integral meditation & mindful walking retreat. All welcome!

In the spirit of integral meditation,

Toby


Is your meditation a type of therapy, an art-form or a spiritual practice?

Your meditation is a therapy if you are doing it to fix something inside you that is broken. Meditating to cope with stress, heal an emotional wound, to pacify/heal our addictions and demons is a form of therapy.
Your meditation is an art-form if you are using it to push the boundaries of your inner skill, power and capability. It is where you take risks, push the limits of what you thought possible, and experience new ways of seeing, feeling creating.
Your meditation is a spiritual practice when you rest in a state of no boundaries, where the barriers between yourself and the universe dissolve into light and there is just pure being-ness, one-ness, opulence and radiance.
The chances are that your meditation oscillates between these three types in an organic way, but it is extremely useful to be able to differentiate them in these three ways because:

  • There are times when you need to stop trying to fix that which is broken in you and start taking some risks
  • There are times when pushing your boundaries is doing more harm than good, and you need to create a healing space for yourself
  • There are times when you need to get off your butt and stop getting absorbed in the timeless wonder of it all
  • There are times when you need to take a holiday from the bounds of time and space and rest in the regenerative-radiance of your original being
  • There are times when you’re universal, original being explodes into action and demands that you start expressing your inner and outer art-forms. If so, you’d better act on this or watch out!

Related article: The Three Purposes of Meditation

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from June 6-7th – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat

Saturday June 17th, 2-5pm – Developing mindful self-confidence – A three hour workshop
June 20th & 21st – Summer solstice  balancing and renewing meditation 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Mindfully balancing positive thinking with healthy realism (Steering clear of cynicism and the Pollyanna complex)

Dear Integral Meditation Asia,

Is it possible to balance positive thinking with healthy, critical realism? The article below explores some mindful pointers for doing both, together in a mutually supporting manner.

The class schedule for June is out, see the schedule below the article. It includes Practical meditations for spiritual awakening , an Integral meditation & mindful walking retreat & a Developing mindful self-confidence workshop.

In the spirit of mindfulness,

Toby


Mindfully balancing positive thinking with healthy realism (Steering clear of cynicism and the Pollyanna complex) 

One of the basic skills for dealing with stressful situations and becoming more mentally balanced (and therefore more mentally resilient) is to know how to balance positive thinking with a healthy sense of realism. To do this, one of the keys is to understand that both positive thinking and realism have both a ‘higher’ expression, and an extreme or imbalanced expression.

Positive thinking
The higher expression of positive thinking involves:

  • Seeing the positive side of every situation.
  • Thinking and envisioning the best possible outcomes.
  • Thinking from a sense of fullness rather than lack.
  • Taking responsibility for the situation and our role in it.
  • Ensuring that what you think and say about a situation are framing it in a helpful and constructive light, and not a negative one that will sabotage a potentially fruitful outcome.

The lower, imbalanced or negative expression of “positive thinking” involves what is commonly called the Pollyanna complex the characteristics of which are:

  • Turning a blind eye to the very real drawbacks, risks and dangers of a situation due to naiveté, underlying fear or just because we believe we can just ‘think’ our way to a positive result.
  • Choosing to trust people, groups or inner aspects of yourself who are really not reliable. Sometimes this is naiveté, sometimes we have become attached to an outcome that causes us to not want to see what is really there.
  • Confusing realistic risk assessment (necessary) with negative thinking that will sabotage our positive thoughts and visualizations (unnecessary and dangerous).

Healthy realism
The higher or positive expression of realism involves:

  • Being able to take a good hard look at a situation and make an objective or scientific assessment of the real risks or drawbacks of the different courses of action that we might choose. If you doubt the objectivity of your own perspective, get someone else’s.
  • Not being attached to outcomes. Attachment to outcomes blinds us to risks and drawbacks.
  •  Without being cynical, knowing when others are not revealing the truth about a situation, or when we may be hiding the truth from our self.

The lower, unhealthy extreme or imbalanced expression of realism involves:

  • Undue cynicism
  • Being a victim of circumstance
  • Thinking the worst due to fear, anxiety or anger
  • Any time where there is undue or unhealthy emphasis on the worst-case scenario

So, in conclusion mastery of this aspect of transforming stress involves

  • Combining the higher expression of positive thinking and healthy realism together
  • Avoiding imbalanced extremes of either.

Practicum:
This week you might like to take a particular life circumstance and, bringing it to mind ask yourself:

  • What are the positives in this situation that I can enjoy, develop and appreciate?
  • What are the risks, drawbacks or dangers that I need to be aware of and integrate into my response to what is going on?

It can sometimes be helpful to actually write down the answers to these questions, but either way, the idea is to set up a mindful way of processing your reality positively and intelligently, avoiding undue cynicism and the Pollyanna complex.

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from June 6-7th – Practical meditations for spiritual awakening & enlightenment – A six week course

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat

Saturday June 17th, 2-5pm – Developing mindful self-confidence – A three hour workshop
June 20th & 21st – Summer solstice  balancing and renewing meditation 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Meditation as an act of being rather than doing

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can meditation help us improve the quality of our life? The article below explores this topic in a practical way.

In the spirit of being,

Toby


Meditation as an act of being rather than doing 

The title of this article is extremely useful definition of meditation, and one that is very appropriate for information and action overloaded, busy lifestyles. One of the basic challenges that we face today is that there is always so much that we seem to need to ‘do’. Not only that, even when there is nothing left to do, because we have been programmed to “do things” all the time, we just invent stuff to keep ourselves busy. The process of simply sitting down and enjoying the present moment has become an alien and uncomfortable experience for us!
It is also a great definition in the sense that it helps us to see that meditation can include a very broad range of activities, as it is the state of mind that makes an activity meditation, not the particular activity itself. For example if you are sitting in formal meditation on your meditation seat, but your mind is wondering about all that you have to do after you get up, that is not really meditation. However, if you fold clothes and you do so with an awareness of what you are doing and with an appreciation of who you are as a human being, then that is a form of meditation. We refer to ourselves as are human beings not human doings, and whenever we generate an appreciation of that being-ness within us, and the being-ness of the Earth and other living things around us, then we are naturally moving into a meditative state of mind.
Another way of putting this is that a state of being-ness focuses on the quality of our subjective experience, whereas doing-ness focuses on the quantitative, objectively measurable nature of what we are doing. What meditation gives in terms of our daily life is a sense of depth in the quality of our experiences.  Meditation offers a gateway to appreciation, connectedness and depth that we have lost touch with because of an over emphasis on quantitative achievement in our life.
The classic book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M Pirsig is, in large part, an exploration of how modern culture has gradually lost its sense of appreciation of the qualitative experience of life through its obsession with quantity, efficiency, getting things done and generally ticking boxes of all descriptions. To become a meditator is to decide that ticking boxes is no longer good enough for you, and you want to reclaim the quality of life that is rightfully yours. This can be found simply by deciding to appreciate what you have right now, and cultivate your being-ness. Your being-ness is the natural human spirit within you that, when you are in touch with it makes us capable of feeling happy, fulfilled and complete in the here and now, even amidst the ongoing messiness and imperfection of our life.

From the above we can see that, in a sense no specific meditation technique is needed to move into a state of being. It is simply a matter of setting aside time regularly to slow things down for a while, and really being present to the experiences you are having at any given moment in your day or life. However, there are specific meditation practices that we can engage in that lend themselves to being-ness. Here are a couple should you wish to explore further:
What does it mean to meditate on non-doing?
The Man or woman of No Rank

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Monday 15th & 29th May, 10-11am – Bi-monthly Monday morning meditation classes (East coast)

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

Saturday June 3rd 10am-5pm – One Heart Celebration Day

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat

 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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How much effort do I need? – Mindful ergonomics

Dear Integral Meditators,

Coping with stress, fatigue, getting what we need to do done is a challenge for all of us. One of the ways in which mindfulness can really help us in this regard is by encouraging us to put only as much effort as we need into a task in order to get it done, no more, no less….The article below explores this topic!

For those in Singapore, heads up for the  Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment workshop on Saturday 20th May, 2-5.30pm. Anywhere you are, you can view my three short stress transformation videos here:

How to begin transforming your stress
The Deeper Purpose of Stress Transformation
Toby talks about directing and transforming anger

In the spirit of transformation,

Toby


How much effort do I need? – Mindful ergonomics

Coping with stress, fatigue, getting what we need to do done is a challenge for all of us. One of the ways in which mindfulness can really help us in this regard is by encouraging us to put only as much effort as we need into a task in order to get it done, no more, no less. For example:

  • If I am now sitting at my computer typing this article I can be mindful to keep my body relaxed as I type, and relax my mind as I direct my mental attention to the task of writing. If I am not mindful in this way, it is very easy for me to be holding tension in my shoulders and arms, and mentally ‘trying too hard’ to think through my writing. By mindfully relaxing my body mind, I expend less energy on the task and get it done better.
  • If I am walking down the street I can be mindful to use only the muscles that I need to propel myself forward at the pace I need. Often when we walk we are unconsciously holding tension in our face, upper body and so on that is causing us to expend energy for no real purpose. When I relax my body consciously as I walk I am literally conserving energy that I can then use for other things.
  • If I am with someone who is emotionally upset, I can extend care and compassion toward them whilst consciously relaxing and not allowing their intensity of emotion to overtake my own feelings. I can extend care and compassion without exhausting myself emotionally.
  • If I have a stack of tasks to engage in, I can consciously choose NOT to allow the mental tension to overtake my physical and emotional bodies. Instead I can deliberately set up one task at a time, and keep relaxed as I do each one. This way I get more done and expend less energy.

If we keep engaging with this type of ‘mindful ergonomics’ we create a win-win situation in our daily tasks. We get more done with less energy expended, so we have more energy available for other activities, enjoyments and pleasures. More than this the task that we are engaged in in the moment becomes more enjoyable and we tend to be more effective at doing it!

The practice
At the beginning of or during any given task, simply ask yourself the question “How much effort do I need to do this task?” Come back to your body, mind and emotions and see if you can release any unnecessary tension of effort that is eating up your energy when it does not need to be doing so. Seek out the balance point of applying enough energy to get what needs to be done done, and otherwise keeping relaxed.

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Monday 15th & 29th May, 10-11am – Bi-monthly Monday morning meditation classes (East coast)

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

Saturday 20th May, 2-5.30pm – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A 3.5 Hour Workshop

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat

 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Meditation – Life as a positive mindfulness game

Dear Integral meditators,
What if meditation was not something so much that you sit down and ‘do’each day as a way of paying attention to your world? The article below looks at this idea in a practical way.

Wishing you all a blessed Wesak day and full moon in Scorpio!

Toby

PS: For those in Singapore, heads up for the Bi-monthly Monday morning meditation classes (East coast) starting on the 15th May, & Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment workshop on Saturday 20th May, 2-5.30pm


Meditation – Life as a positive mindfulness game

Meditation is a word whose meaning depends upon the context within which it is presented. Different schools of meditation have quite different ideas about what meditation is exactly. For myself, I like to use multiple definitions as it broadens my ability to apply meditation practically to my daily life, making it more effective. Here is the one of the central definitions that I use:

“Meditation means to focus our attention on an object that, when we contemplate it, causes our mind to become positive, calm and/or happy.”

This is the definition that I learned when I first joined the Tibetan Buddhist group that I was connected to for some years and that, as a Buddhist monk, I would teach to people. It is quite specific, telling us that meditation is a form of attention training that functions to generate and hold positive states of mind. It is also quite general, leaving scope for the meditator to choose the objects that he or she wishes to focus on. During my training in Tibetan Buddhism, the foundation of the daily meditation practice that we had were twenty one specific positive or specific mind states that we would train to be mindful of.

What I want to explain now is a mindfulness game that we can do as a form of meditation. In this exercise the positive object of meditation is not so much one particular object, feeling or affirmation. Rather it is a process of paying attention that functions to make our mind calmer and more appreciative. One of the benefits of this exercise is that it gradually trains our mind to orientate itself around positive thoughts and feelings, making them the ‘front and center’ of our moment to moment experience.

STEP 1: Sit down and either think of or write down three things in your life that you feel positive and happy about. There are infinite possibilities. Here are three that I am going to pull out of my mental hat right now:

  1. I enjoyed my Qi Gong class this morning: I was encouraged by the progress that people seemed to be making.
  2. Enjoying learning about how to create a website
  3. Daughter was happy going to school this morning, no tears!

So, there we are – three simple things.

STEP 2: Set aside a certain time, say five to ten minutes. During this time you can choose to sit in meditation, or you might choose to go for a walk, have a bath or any activity where you can maintain a relative state of relaxation and focus.
Once you have settled yourself and the allotted time has begun, your job is simply to keep your mind oriented around the three topics, and the positive feelings, thoughts and images that are generated in your mind in association with them. Your mind may wonder onto any object that is positively related to the above, but it MAY NOT move on to an object of contemplation that is either unrelated to your three topics, or that is a negative contemplation of them.
So, for an example of what I MAY contemplate about my three topics above are:

  • A sense of the positive flow of qi/light and energy within my body (relating to point one).
  • The harmonious sense I get from one of the artworks that I have placed on the website I have created
  • An appreciation of my relationship to my daughter.

Examples of what I may NOT contemplate or get distracted by:

  • Dwelling on something I disliked about one of the Qi Gong class members
  • Getting involved in a ‘to do’ list for my website
  • Worrying about my daughter on any level

So, you get the idea. If you are keeping to an aspect of the three topics that is making your mind positive, happy, peaceful, appreciative etc, then you are on the right track. Any negative or worrisome thoughts are not to be followed, as are any thoughts that are simply distractions!
This is a simple meditation or mindfulness form is very good for the overall long term health of our consciousness. It leaves plenty of room for us to make the practice ‘our own’ and be creative. It enables us to experience first-hand how to train in the meditative activity of learning to generate and hold positive and peaceful states of mind for extended periods.

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

Monday 15th & 29th May, 10-11am – Bi-monthly Monday morning meditation classes (East coast)

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

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

Saturday 20th May, 2-5.30pm – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A 3.5 Hour Workshop

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat

 


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Mindfully building a resilient relationship to yourself – Three levels

Dear Integral Meditators,

Over the year I’ve observed that the better my relationship to myself, the more enjoyable my life is, and the more things start to fall in place naturally in their own time for me. The article below explores how to build a healthy relationship to yourself using mindfulness.

In the spirit of warmth,

Toby

PS: This weeks live stuff in Singapore; Tuesday/WednesdayDeveloping mindfulness around warmth, friendship & love, Saturday 6th:  Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreatMonday 8th: How to do Soul Portraits Workshop


Mindfully building a resilient relationship to yourself – Three levels

The aim of this type of mindfulness practice is to build, over time a positive mental/emotional habit of self-support in our mind. This structure enables your sense of self to remain healthy and robust under increasing levels of pressure that may come from within or without at different stages of your life. It begins with the observation that our most important relationship is to ourself, as we are the one that we spend 24hours a day with. Any strengths or deficiencies in this relationship tends to get projected onto our relationships with others in our professional and personal life. I have outlined the practice in three domains that are sequential but can be done as individual units of mindfulness at any time.

1) Observing your relationship to yourself – Begin by simply watching the way in which you experience yourself daily. What is the inner commentary going on in your mind, is it generally supportive or critical? How do you compare yourself to others, is it favourably and non-judgmentally, or often critical and ‘top-dog, underdog’ oriented? Before you try and ‘fix’ anything in your relationship to yourself, get to know it, be curious about it. Mindfully watch and learn with a degree of objectivity.

2) Practising non-harmfulness & acceptance – The second practice involves learning to sit with yourself non-critically, to not be ‘at war’ with yourself or undermine yourself in the energy that you extend to yourself. Here you are simply accepting yourself as you are and learning how not to extend harmful or negative thoughts, emotions or judgments to yourself. If you can’t do good, at least do no harm!

3) Extending warmth, empathy, support to self – The third practice involves actively extending warmth, support and care toward yourself, so that when you come under stress, your internal reaction is to encourage yourself, be non-judgmental, be caring, and to create inner dialogue that supports rather than undermines a healthy sense of self.

Making this into a practice, formally and informally

In terms of formal practice, let’s say you have a 20 minute period.

  • For the first 6-7 mins you would practice simply being aware of the way in which you experience your relationship to yourself as described in section one. Observing with curiosity and non-judgment, getting to know your patterns
  • For the next 6-7mins you would focus upon non-harmfulness and self-acceptance, perhaps as you breathe in extending non-harmfulness to yourself, breathing out relaxing into a space of self-acceptance.
  • For the final 6-7mins you would then concentrate upon extending the emotional energy of warmth, support and care toward yourself, trying to sustain this fundamentally healthy relationship to self as you breathe in and out.

So that’s one example of a flexible formal practice. Informally you can take any of these practices as objects of mindfulness when you go about your day. For example

  • Watching your inner dialogue with yourself as you work
  • Not allowing unnecessary and negative criticism of self when you make a mistake – extending non-harmfulness
  • When you feel discouraged, being mindful to extend care, support and empathy to yourself

All of this builds fundamental inner resilience, and makes our life a whole lot more fun!

If you want to explore how to then extend this practice into our relations with others, then you might consider reading my article: The energetic dynamics of love

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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How to mindfully thrive with today’s stress (safety & fear)

Dear Integral Meditators,

Integral mindfulness & meditation aims to create positive relationships between different elements of our mind, so that they can support each other and help us become more resilient. The article below uses safety/ease & fear/anxiety as a practical example.

In the spirit of resilience,

Toby

PS: This weeks live stuff in Singapore; Tuesday/WednesdayCreating mindful ease, flow & presence, Saturday: How to do Soul Portraits Workshop


How to mindfully thrive with today’s stress (safety & fear)

The stress that we face today is a little bit of a paradox. On one level, we are safer, more affluent, healthier, and have more freedom than we have had at any other time at human history. On the other hand it seems like we are surrounded by multiple uncertainties, insecurities and tensions (for example the speed of the information age and technology, globalization, environmental degradation, global warming) than we have ever been before. The aim of the meditation below is to create a positive polarity between:

  • On the one hand mindfully resting in the safety, security and ease of this moment and at the same time,
  • Acknowledging our fears, stresses and anxieties, helping our body & mind to process that tension effectively.

The practice has two stages:

Stage 1: Resting in safety – Recognize in this moment that you are:

  • Physically safe; there are no immanent threats to your wellbeing
  • Psychologically safe; you are not being actively attacked by yourself or others
  • If you want you can also bring ‘spiritual safety’ in here, which might simply involve recognizing a sense of something bigger than your individual self that is looking over and guiding your life, and that has some power to keep you safe/ help things work out for the best

As you breathe in, recognize this safety, as you breathe out let your body, heart and mind relax into this safety. Allow your mind to rest at ease and your body’s nervous system to switch over from ‘fight or flight’ mode to ‘rest and recuperation’ mode.

Stage 2: Processing fear, anxiety, stress – In this second stage, deliberately recall something that has been making you fearful or anxious in your life: An uncertainty, work overload, emotional tension in a relationship, anything that is causing fear for you, great or small. Sometimes it can be good to start with a small one and gradually build toward working with bigger ones.
As you bring the fear to mind, focus upon the feeling that it creates in the body, and the particular area of the body within which it is located.  Then let your body’s natural or instinctive intelligence set up a pattern of breathing that helps it (the body) to process that fear or anxiety energy. As you breathe in acknowledge and feel the fear, as you breathe out let the fear energy come up and out of the body; let it go, let it flow. Use this method to become more comfortable acknowledging, feeling and releasing your fear.

You can alternate between these two practices in a single session. For example, you might spend 5minutes ‘resting in safety’, and then 5mins mindfully ‘processing fear’. Then you might repeat that for a few rounds. As originally stated, the idea here is to integrate our capacity to recognize safety and rest at ease in the moment with the ability to process fear mindfully and effectively, without ‘living in fear of our fear’.

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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

Saturday May 6th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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‘Linear breathing’ – De-fragmenting your flow of time

Integral Meditators,

Mindfulness could be thought of in some ways as a de-fragmentation process for your mind and attention. the article below explores how, specifically with reference to our sense of time.

In the spirit of de-fragmentation,

Toby

PS: Final call for those in Singapore for Meditations for creating a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention – A six week course beginning this Tuesday/Wednesday, and for the afternoon talk this Saturday  ‘How to develop your capacity for inner sight, and seeing inner worlds’


‘Linear breathing’ – De-fragmenting your flow of time

Often we hear of mindfulness in terms of being more present, less in the past and future, as if the present moment is something static or fixed. In reality however the present moment in time is an ever-changing flow, from this moment, to the next to the next. To stay ‘in the present’ from this point of view therefore means to keep with this ever-moving flow, rather than remain stuck statically in one place.

If we were to observe our mind for a period, often if not always we would see that our sense of time is fragmented or broken. Our mind leaps from something happening in the present to something that we are planning, to something that happened in the past, followed by something imagined in a non-linear stream-of-consciousness manner, often accompanied by anxiety, fear or stress. Experiencing time like this is like looking into a broken mirror; our reality appears in ‘bits’ and pieces’, as fragments, all jumbled together. This fragmentation adds to our anxiety and stress, as it makes our reality appear chaotic, unpredictable and uncontrollable.

One of the reasons that the breathing is such a good basic object of mindfulness is that it proceeds in a linear flow from past to present to future in a predictable, rhythmic manner. The breath of this moment was preceded by the breath of the previous moment, which looked quite a lot like it (!) The breath of the next moment will succeed this present one in a predictable manner in a steady stream, or flow.

When we start to practice mindfulness of the breathing, one effect is our sense of time starts to de-fragment, to heal and to come together as a linear flow, from this moment to the next in a steady, sane way. To practice what I call ‘linear breathing’ means to focus on the breathing from moment to moment in order to heal our fragmented sense of time. Using the predictable, linear flow of the breathing flowing from past to present to future, where we are always at the point of ‘this moment’ and ‘this breath’. By doing this our mind starts to settle down into a rhythm of calming linear time that is both relaxing, clarifying and strengthening.

Practicing linear breathing

Stage one: Observing fragmented time – Spend time watching your mind and becoming aware of how your present experience of time is broken up, chaotic and fragmented. Don’t try to fix it, just recognize it and see it. As you watch in this way you might also observe how these fragmented thoughts-in-time are also related to feelings and tensions in your physical body.
Stage two: Watching the linear flow of the breathing – Observe how the breathing progresses in a linear fashion, one after the other, from moment to moment, moving in a predictable, rhythmic flow from past to present to future. Allow your attention to follow the breathing, allowing your fragmented experience of time to start to heal and come together into a linear flow.
You can alternate between stages one and two several times in a single meditation. For example, you could spend five minutes on stage one followed by five minutes on stage two. Then you could return to stage one for five minutes, followed by another five minutes of stage two.
Stage three: Watching the non-linear flow of time from the stable flow of the linear breathing – a final stage involves watching the non-linear movement of your mind using the breathing as a rudder or anchor. Here you allow your mind to move more slowly, mindfully and contemplatively to thoughts of past and future in an organic way, whilst returning regularly to the breathing for stability.

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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

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

Saturday May 6th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral meditation & mindfulness deep dive half day retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Bare attention – developing your inner ‘bird-watcher’

Dear Integral Meditators,

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

In the spirit of mindful observation,
Toby

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


Bare attention – developing your inner ‘bird-watcher’

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

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

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

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Mindfulness, beauty & slowing the effects of ageing

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

In the spirit of beauty,

Toby

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


Mindfulness, beauty & slowing the effects of ageing

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you health, beauty and long life!

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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

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

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

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

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

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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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