Motivating Yourself to Meditate Part 1 – Looking at How You Can Meet Your Needs Through Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

Why meditate, why continue meditating? Why is it worth persisting? The article below considers these questions….

Thanks for reading!

Toby

 


Motivating Yourself to Meditate Part 1 – Looking at How You Can Meet Your Needs Through Meditation

One reason why people find it difficult to hold down a regular meditation practice is that it is very easy for meditation to get knocked down our priorities list. It seems like there are so many things that need our attention. It is easy to think that we have so many “important” priorities that we can put off meditating until tomorrow, and so it goes on. We never really get serious or consistent about our meditation practice because it is not enough of a priority.
So, what I am going to do in this and next week’s article is have a look at Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and see how meditation can help with these basic needs.  If we have a clear idea about how meditation helps us with our human needs, then we will keep it high on our priority list and make sure that we do it!

A quick outline of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, he starts with the most basic first, and then ascends in terms of depth and complexity:

  1. Physiological needs – Food and drink
  2. Security needs – Shelter, physiological safety
  3. Belongingness and love needs – Affiliation, acceptance, affection
  4. Esteem needs – Competence, approval, recognition
  5. Aesthetic and cognitive needs – Knowledge, understanding, goodness, justice, beauty, order, symmetry
  6. Self Actualization

How meditation helps us with these basic needs:

Needs 1&2: Physiological and security needs
I am guessing that if you are reading this article, you will have your basic food, drink and shelter needs being met. You may not be in Buckingham Palace, but you aren’t homeless either right? Although many of us have our basic needs met, many of us remain stuck psychologically in “survival” mode, fighting our way through a hostile universe oblivious of the good fortune of having our basic needs met.
Meditation helps us with this by helping our mind to be calm enough to appreciate and enjoy the fact that our survival needs have been met. Meditation gives us the presence of mind to enjoy life’s simple pleasures; Food, drink, shelter and a basic quality of life. Without peace of mind studies show that those in first world countries are no happier than those in 3rd world countries. Meditation makes sure this does not happen to you!

Need 3: Belongingness and love needs
A daily meditation practice is a statement to yourself that you are important and lovable enough to deserve happiness and peace of mind. Belongingness and love needs are often projected outward onto other people, but in reality our primary love relationship is with ourself. If we get this right it will help our love relationships to others.
Meditation also puts you in touch with a source of love inside you that might be termed as “Universal” or unconditional. This love starts to rise up in our mind whenever we truly touch mental peace and calm (see article on the Two Main Lessons of Love). You deserve to receive love every day right? So give yourself that pleasure by sitting down and doing a bit of meditation every day! One final point here, meditation by its nature makes us more mindful, relaxed and aware. This quality of mind helps us to see that there is love being directed toward us all the time by our friends, family and colleagues. A relaxed, meditative mind can open to this love and receive it deeply into our being, instead of shutting it out.
So, in my next article mid-week next week, I’ll write a few thoughts on needs four, five and six, but I think if you contemplate the above three, there is plenty of reason to renew your determination to find time and space for at least a little meditation each day!

Read part 2 of this article: Motivating Yourself to Meditate Part 2 – Meeting Your Deeper & Higher Needs Through Meditation

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 
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When the Mask Cracks the Light Shines Out

Over the last few months I have had the good fortune to be able to catch up with a few old friends from school days. The conversation immediately becomes 200% more engaging and compelling between us when we discover that we have been through a similar psychological challenge or difficulty, or where we have come face to face with a part of ourselves that we did not like to admit was there. When this happens the tone of the conversation always goes from ‘pleasant’ to genuinely soulful.

Last weekend I facilitated a stress transformation workshop. It was great to see people becoming excited about the ways in which they could make use of the parts of themselves and their personality that they considered obstacles to happiness, that they considered ‘dysfunctional’ or weak.

We spend a lot of time investing in our ‘persona’, the face that we present to society; to cultivating and preserving a mask behind which we can hide our insecurity and vulnerability. We protect this mask, strengthen it, try to keep both it and ourselves ‘looking right’ in the eyes of those around us. Any cracks that appear in the mask often invoke a crisis in us, something we should avoid at all costs.

The funny thing is that when circumstances come together to crack open the mask of our persona, it is often the very opportunity that our soul has been waiting for to shine its light into the world, to start making a difference.

It’d be a shame to miss such opportunities because we were too busy trying desperately to repair our mask.

Related article: Enlightened Imperfection

Upcoming workshops and events at Integral Meditation Asia

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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Simple and Bad, Simple and Good

Dear Integral Meditators,

How do you become really good at meditation and mindfulness? How do you become really good at anything? This weeks article offers a perspective.

I’d like to invite all in Singapore to a free event on the Tuesday 25th at 7.30pm: Integral Mindfulness –Co-creating Professional Success and Personal Wellbeing within Organizations and Leaders . Also, if you know people in companies and organizations who you think may be interested  in bringing mindfulness training into their setup, do feel free to pass the invitation onto them!

Yours in the spirit of simple and good,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in November:

 Still on promotion price until Tuesday 28th October – The Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease Online Course

Tuesday 25th November, 7.30-9pm  – Evening event – Integral Mindfulness –Co-creating Professional Success and Personal Wellbeing within Organizations and Leaders

Sun 30th Nov, 9.30am-12.30pm – Living Life From Your Inner Center – Meditations for Going With the Flow of the Present Moment

Sun 30th Nov, 2pm-5pm – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life: Practical Meditations And Techniques For Working With your Shadow-Self – A Three Hour Workshop


Simple and Bad, Simple and Good

You may have heard the story about the way a great poet evolves:
First his/her poetry is simple and bad,
Then it is complicated and bad,
Then it becomes complicated and good,
Finally at the level of mastery it becomes simple and good.

If you want to develop your meditation and mindfulness practice it is also like this. The key is to recognize that that way to become a great meditator is to accept and enjoy being a bad meditator so that organically over time you become a good one, and eventually a master.

Of course this is a way of approaching any task in life. When I first started trying to run a business as an ex-monk and ex-artist I was simple and bad at it, then I was more complicated but still quite bad! Now I occasionally peak to the complicated and good level, with occasional ‘zen moments’ of good simplicity, rapidly lost!

If I could pick a skill that I would like to pass onto my daughter as she grows up, I think the skill of learning to be simple and bad, but then to persist and be happy to fail well and learn would be in the top three. If she has this skill she can become good at whatever she wants, and success in one form or another will be, as a result difficult, to avoid. If she has this, she will be fine.

Because I have this skill of being mindfully happy to be simple and bad whenever necessary, I know ultimately I’ll be fine, and in all probability successful in my chosen endeavours.

If you have it you probably will be too.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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Mindfully Enhancing Your Psychological Development

Dear Toby,

We have a remarkable amount of power to catalyze our psychological development through mindfulness. The article below explains one easy to apply method.

Final call for this Sunday’s Transforming Stress into Positivity and Enlightenment!

Yours in the spirit of empowered perspective,

Toby


Mindfully Enhancing Your Psychological Development

What is psychological development? Or, put another way, what does it mean to be psychologically evolved? One simple way of answering this question is that the more psychologically evolved you are, the greater the number of perspectives or viewpoints you will be able to take on any given situation.

  • An unevolved person can consider the situation only from their own point of view
  • A more evolved person can view the situation from the perspective of a friend, family member or well known ‘other’ person
  • Moving along, an even more evolved person will consider the situation objectively
  • A still more evolved person will consider/be able to enter into the perspective of people s/he does not know personally but who are involved in the situation

Then there is considering the question from different lines of intelligence:

  • What does this situation look like when evaluated emotionally?
  • Cognitively?
  • In terms of values or ethics?
  • Physically or somatically in terms of touch and sensation?
  • Spiritually?
  • In terms of Gender?

And others:

  • Economically
  • Aesthetically/poetically/artistically
  • From a child’s position
  • From an old persons position
  • From the perspective of history
  • Anthropologically
  • Socially
  • Politically
  • Generationally (as in past, present and future generations and how they see things)

And it so it goes on….

Here is a mindfulness exercise for stimulating your capacity for perspective taking:
Take a situation in your life that you want to investigate. Time yourself for 5 minutes. During that time write down or think about that situation from as many different perspectives as you can think of. Then pause and reflect upon what you have written or thought about allowing it to;

  • inform and change your understanding of what you are experiencing and
  • influence and inform the choices that you make

You may be surprised how powerful this exercise is, and how much intelligence and creative power you have when you really access the power of your own perspective taking!

Related article: Six Questions for Effective Decision-making


© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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Four Mindful Images for Stress Transformation

Dear Toby,

All Hallows Eve, or Samhuin is one of my favorite times of year, I have always found its energy to be dynamic and transformative in a good way. The article below focuses upon four ways that we can transform difficult, challenging and stressful energies in our life into forces for the good.

Yours in the spirit of inner transformation,

Toby


 

Four Mindful Images for Stress Transformation

Stress transformation is the art of transforming adversities and obstacles into strengths and advantages. One of the essential ‘techniques’ involves is learning to bring the right perspective to the challenge that you face. Below are four images that describe the ‘right’ approach to an inner challenge that will enable you to begin transforming your relationship to it.

1: Uncertainty as darkness – We fear darkness because we cannot be certain what is hidden by it. But the darkness is a place where we rest and regenerate during sleep, and seeds rise from the darkness of the earth. Similarly it is just as easy for good and better things to come out of the uncertainty in our life as it is for bad things. With this in mind, why should we fear uncertainty as we do? Why not consciously cultivate curiosity and enthusiasm for the uncertainty in our life?

2. Anger as a fire – Fire provides both warmth and light as long as we stand at the right distance from it. If we stand too close to it we will get burned. Similarly we can use the power of our anger to provide both clarity and power in our life to do what needs to be done and say what needs to be said. However if we get ‘too close to it’ it easily becomes a destructive force in our relationship to ourself and in our relationships. By learning to stand ‘at the right distance’ from your anger you can transform and re-direct it.

3. Attachment and desire as a rose with thorns – The things we desire are like a rose with thorns. If we regard them with lightness, appreciation and respect then they become objects of beauty and joy that enhance our life like a rose flower. However, if we hold onto them too tightly, this is like griping the stem of the rose, the thorns inevitably cut our hands and cause us pain. Hold your objects of attachment lightly!

4. Stress transforms coal into diamonds – As the saying goes, “a diamond is just a piece of coal that learned to respond well to pressure”. Similarly the pressure and stress we find in our life is always potentially useful to us in the sense that it we can use it to develop and evolve ourselves into someone better, wiser, more compassionate, more resilient as a result of it. If you look at the stress in your life in this way, it is possible to start seeing it as something valuable, useful and worthwhile.

For more articles on stress transformation, go to the stress transformation section of Toby’s blog.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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Seriously Light/Lightly Serious

Dear Integral Meditators,

The article below is an encouragement not to forget to to be playful, no matter how serious it gets!

Final call for this Sunday’s Meditation and Mindfulness for Self-Healing and Creating High Levels of Energy.

…and for those interested in the inner equivalent of the David and Goliath paradigm

Yours in the spirit of the deep and the light,

Toby


Seriously Light/Lightly Serious

It is very easy to mistake taking something seriously for taking something ‘heavily’.
It is very easy to use false humour and lightness as a way of avoiding things that we should be taking seriously, or not giving the amount of focused attention that an issue deserves.

Is it possible to take something seriously and yet keep the quality of our mind light and flexible? I think it is. For example:

  • I can recognize a shortage of money or resources without getting heavy or depressed about it, whilst thinking seriously about how I can go about making up the shortfall
  • I can listen to someone talking of their pain and loss seriously and with compassion, honoring it, whilst at the same time consciously not letting my mind become heavy with the burden of what I am listening to
  • I can recognize that I have made a mistake and pay attention to correcting it without giving myself a complete mental hammering for having made that mistake
  • I can have a huge ‘to do’ list without it causing me to get tense, and negatively serious about everything I haven’t done
  • I have a choice when faced with serious changes and uncertainties in my life, the temptation due to the fear can be to get tense and over-serious, but there is always the option of being serious but light!
  • I can be physically tired, but the strain on my body does not mean I have to take the experience without humour and goodwill (but get a good night’s sleep as soon as I can!)
  • I can feel vulnerable and insecure about something, and I can mindfully take care of that insecurity within myself with compassion, whilst at the same time seeing the humour in my paranoia

If you like over the next few days, experiment mindfully with this idea of serious lightness. It’s possible to be deep without being heavy, and it is possible to be light without being superficial or foolish.

Related article: Connecting to your spiritual fool in the mirror world

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When Your Energy Level Follows Your Mind and Imagination

Dear Integral Meditators,

How much does your mind and imagination have to do with your energy levels? The article below explores this question and invites you to participate mindfully in the creation of energy in your body by using your mind and imagination well. This is a theme that I will be exploring extensively and practically in my workshop on 2nd November Meditation and Mindfulness for Self-Healing and Creating High Levels of Energy which I invite you to take a look at!

The workshops and classes for November are out, see full details below.

Finally, iAwake Technologies are having a 30% sale on all products, you can see my own write up of how useful I have found them HERE.

Yours in the spirit of energy following mind,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in November:

 Still on promotion price until Tuesday 28th October – The Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease Online Course

Sunday November 2nd, 9.30am-12.30pm – Meditation and Mindfulness for Self-Healing and Creating High Levels of Energy  – a three hour workshop

Sun 9th November 9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop

Tuesday 25th November, 7.30-9pm  – Evening event – Integral Mindfulness –Co-creating Professional Success and Personal Wellbeing within Organizations and Leaders

Sun 30th Nov, 9.30am-12.30pm – Living Life From Your Inner Center – Meditations for Going With the Flow of the Present Moment

Sun 30th Nov, 2pm-5pm – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life: Practical Meditations And Techniques For Working With your Shadow-Self – A Three Hour Workshop


When Your Energy Level Follows Your Mind and Imagination

A couple of days ago in the morning I was in a state of despair, my mind and imagination was telling me there we so many projects that I had to do, so much uncertainty around the success or failure of each one, it was all unmanageable, I felt exhausted!  In an act of supreme will I swatted aside the doubts and started focusing on the write up for an event that I was due to put on in a month’s time. At this point I am struggling to find any energy at all.

By the time I finish the write up it is past lunch time, I’m so excited about the event that I have just written up that I feel on top of the world, I feel like the man, life is great, the world is watching me on the way to success. I feel super energized, high on energy.

Later that evening I discuss with my squash partner after a game how the employees at his company (engineers and technicians) are not likely to be interested in mindfulness training. “The most important thing in a corporate training event for these people,” he says “is to get to the bar as quickly as possible”. I feel less euphoric than I did at lunchtime but steady within myself, “It’ll be patient work to change the world I think to myself.” My energy level is steady; not high, not low.
Three different times of day, three different states of mind and imagination, three very different levels of energy resulting.
What is the mindfulness lesson here? Mind and imagination are really important factors in your sense of how much energy you have, so be careful not to get crushed by negative imagination and use positive imagination to your advantage when it is working for you, but stay steady if it isn’t, because it does not indicate the end of the world.

When I first started doing qigong meditation the essential discipline was to hold a particular sitting or standing posture and imagine energy travelling and circulating through your body in a certain way. This was the principal that ‘energy follows mind’: if you focus your mind in energy moving in a certain way, it does so. We have a remarkable power to heal ourself and affect our own energy levels each day simply by learning to control, direct and imagine it using the powers of our mind. You can see a very simple meditation forms that follow this principle on my qigong blog here: Building and strengthening your energy body.

So, whether it is paying attention to the way your mind is imagining a situation to be, or whether it is practising a discipline that requires the use of our imaginative faculties such as qigong meditation the message is clear; your mind and imagination do affect your energy levels significantly, so do pay mindful attention to them!

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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Seven Ways to Mindfully Save and Create More Energy

Dear Integral Meditators,

The article below explores how one approach to mindfulness can save and create energy in our life, which is always useful as we often find ourself struggling to keep up with the demands of our daily life.

In the spirit of a mind of ease,

 

Toby


Seven Ways to Mindfully Save and Create More Energy

One of the things that I often do before I do a mindfulness course within a company or organization is to send out a short questionnaire to the participants asking a bit about the challenges that they face in their work. One of the challenges that seems to be coming back more and more in the answers I get is fatigue. With this in mind I have compiled a little list below of ways in which you can use mindfulness to help you save and create more energy in your life and work. So here they are:

1. Recognize when you are in conditions of physical and psychological safety and relax into them – don’t allow your paranoid mind to make you feel like you are in a perpetual state of emergency.

2. Breathe in a way that promotes physiological and psychological relaxation and releases excess tension from the body and mind (See my article on breathing from my Qi gong blog)

3. Practice mindful self-acceptance, or the refusal to be at war with any part of yourself.

4. Each day ask yourself ‘what is good about my life?’, and hold the answers that come from this question with appreciation.

5. Spend at least some time each day focusing on just one activity and enjoying it deeply; allow your mind to gather and dwell in one place.

6. Learn the discipline of stilling your mind; the trick is to see that stillness is something that is present already in your mind (beneath the busyness), rather than something you have to ‘create’.

7. Step back and become a witness to the events of your life; practice the discipline of letting what is going on pass over and through you without clinging to it.

You can find some suggestions for practicing these seven in my previous article “Seven Ways for Creating a Mind of Ease”.

If you enjoyed these seven and want to explore how you can really make them a deeply practical and experiential part of your daily life, then do check out my five module online course “Meditations for Developing a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention”.
© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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Six Mindful Questions for Effective Decision Making

Dear Integral Meditators,

Decisions, choices, options. The article below invites you to start making these parts of your life a mindfulness practice. Last call for this Sundays Mind of Ease Workshop, details on the whats on section.

Yours in the spirit of mindful decision making,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in October:

Sunday October 19th – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention

 Launches 24th October – The Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease Online Course

Sunday November 2nd, 9.30am-12.30pm – Meditation and Mindfulness for Self-Healing and Creating High Levels of Energy  – a three hour workshop


Six Mindful Questions for Effective Decision Making

We have never had so many choices as we have in today’s society.
We have never had the freedoms that we enjoy, or the opportunities.
Perhaps human have never been as busy as we are today, and so each day we have to make more decisions than ever before.
Our freedom to choose is a wonderful thing and a fantastic opportunity, but the fact is that for many of us it is a cause of anxiety.
What is the right choice here?
What if I decide on the wrong thing?
What if I get blamed for my decision (I don’t want responsibility)?

Here are the six questions I ask myself whenever I’m faced with a choice that is of any consequence (and sometimes even small ones are).

  1. What is my personal perspective and experience of this situation?
  2. What does this situation look like if I consider it objectively and impartially?
  3. What is the perspective and experience of others involved in this situation?
  4. What core values am I trying to express and embody in this decision?
  5. What will the short term consequences of this decision be?
  6. What with the long term consequences of this choice be?

If you pop these six questions to yourself and think about them mindfully, I have found they act very well as a revealer of what really needs to be done, of what short cuts should not be taken, of what means the most to you, and what (where possible) will create a win-win situation for all concerned.
It also gives you a confidence and (relative) certainty in the validity of your choice that counters the anxiety and fear that so many of us experience in the face of the many choices we make each day. You may not be ‘right’ all the time, but at least you are making your choices on the basis of meaningful and mindful criteria.
This last few days I have been bothered by whether or not I should continue taking my daughter to squash lessons on Saturday mornings. The location has changed, the commute has become 3 times as long, I have ‘many important demands’ upon my time, it would have been very easy just to ‘let it slip’, I could have found plenty of excuses. I asked myself these six questions and the answer came back very clearly to persist. There is effort involved, but by the mindful insight provided by the six questions, my direction and decision is clear. It is a small daily example, but all decisions are important in that they ask us core questions about how we wish to engage in our life, and engage the freedom, power and privilege that comes with having a choice.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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Taking Care of Your Nervous System Through Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

The article below explains a brief self-healing meditation that can be performed at any time, specifically to calm and balance your nervous system.

In the spirit of mindful self-healing,

Toby


Taking Care of Your Nervous System Through Meditation 

Due to the busyness and stress of our daily life we often find ourselves with nervous systems that are chronically over-stimulated, often trapped in fight or flight mode, and generally wired for anxiety and fear. The main nerve within the nervous system is the spine, so one of the best ways to care for and gain benevolent control of your nervous system is to focus your attention upon relaxing and energizing the spine.
The short technique I describe below is one I use often myself as a short 1-5 minute meditation during the day, and is part of the multi-faceted approach to creating a calm-lucid body-mind that I teach in my Mind of Ease Program. It focuses on the body, but it can have a quick and profound effect on our mental and emotional state as well, due to the inherent interconnectedness of the body-mind.

Relaxing the Spine
Sit, stand or lie down in a comfortable posture with a straight back, your ears and shoulders in line with each other.
Focus your attention upon the length of your spine from the base of the skull all the way down to its base/your coccyx.
Feel your way inside the vertebrae of the spine, to the spinal nerve that runs inside. If you like you can wiggle your neck and hips a little just so as to feel the nerve moving so you get a feel for it.
Now see and feel the smaller nerves radiating out from the spine, spreading out from in between the vertebrae to the rest of the body.
See (visualize) in the centre of your spinal nerve there is a line of light and energy. As you breathe in see and feel this line of energy glowing brightly. As you exhale see that light and energy expanding out into the spinal nerve, and then out along all of the nerves that spread out through the body from the spine. See your whole nervous system in the whole of your body lighting up like a light bulb as you exhale.
Repeat for a few breaths, or for a few minutes, ending with a brief period of relaxation.

It can take a little while to get used to feeling your way into the centre of your spinal nerve and then breathing the energy out from your spine along your whole nervous system, but is a skill you can acquire relatively quickly with practice.

As I mention, I normally just do this as an ad hoc exercise whenever I am feeling a little tired or frazzled, I find it remarkable how quickly I can find a space of physical relaxation,  regeneration and energy by doing it. Try it out!

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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